Friday, November 30, 2007

Obama Girl's Dancing with Obama



The latest from Obama Girl ... based on the clip of Obama, I'm not sure he has much of a future (as a dancer), but, then again, JFK let Jackie do all the twistin' on the dance floor....

See also Obama Girl Applauded in My Class at Fordham and The Barely Political Revolution ...






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

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Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

The Plot to Save Journeyman: Extending The Plot to Save Socrates - Journeyman Contest!

There is excellent news about Journeyman - three more episodes will definitely air, after all!

And - I received such good response to The Plot To Save Socrates - Journeyman contest on Monday - in which Matt Pollari of Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota emailed me with the correct answer to what was the last word that Dan said on Monday's show - "life" - within 30 seconds after the show ...

That I've decided to extend my Plot to Save Socrates giveaway for the next three episodes of Journeyman!

That's right - I will send a free, autographed copy of my time travel novel, The Plot to Save Socrates - Entertainment Weekly said it's "challenging fun" - to the first e-mail I receive, after each of the next three episodes of Journeyman, that correctly identifies the last word that Dan says on the show...

The next three episodes will be broadcast on NBC on Monday, Dec 10 ... Monday Dec 17 ... and Wednesday, Dec 17 ... at 10 pm...

Levinson.paul@gmail. com is my e-mail.

And I'll also be giving away an additional copy to a randomly chosen member of the Fans of Journeyman Unite group on Facebook, if the group gets 500 members before the start of the last episode of Journeyman this year - check Facebook for details.

I'm delighted to do whatever I can to attract viewers to this excellent series, because I'm confident that once you see an episode or two, you'll be a fan!






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

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Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Republican YouTube/CNN Debate in Florida

I didn't find tonight's Republican YouTube/CNN debate as refreshing and provocative as the first YouTube debate among the Democratic contenders for President a few months ago. Possibly the YouTube bloom is off the rose. More likely the questions weren't as humorous or provocative tonight as those received via YouTube for the Democrats.

Otherwise, it was a good, punchy debate which showed most of the candidates off to their best advantage. McCain, in particular, was more eloquent and forceful than usual in his support of the war and his denunciation of torture. Romney was on the receiving end of McCain's torture lecture - Romney falling back on his all-too-typical letting the experts decide - but Ron Paul had a fine moment in his cogent explanation, back to McCain, on the difference between being an isolationist and a non-interventionist (Ron Paul is the latter). And Ron Paul also spoke truth about why violence has decreased in southern Iraq - that has happened because the British have left.

But Romney was excellent in knocking down Giuliani's attack on Romney's alleged employment of illegal aliens - Romney reasonably replied that he contracted with a company to work on his home, he did not directly hire illegal aliens.

I should note here, however, that although I admired Romney's rhetoric in this exchange - a rarity - I think most of the Republicans and many of the Democrats are making too big a deal about illegal aliens (which, not that terminology matters all that much, but I can't help thinking of people from outer space whenever I hear that phrase). One of America's greatest strengths has always been its openness to people from other countries and cultures.

Huckabee was probably the best on stage about this issue, refusing to back down from his funding of education for children of illegal immigrants.

Giuliani, other the exchange with Romney on the employment of illegal immigrants, was pretty much on top of his game, and Fred Thompson was a little more animated than usual tonight, too.

So where do we stand: Huckabee is personable and gaining in the polls and could conceivably pull an upset in Iowa. Even if he comes close, he could be a good running mate for Giuliani. I'd say it's too late for McCain and Thompson, whatever they do or say from now on. Romney is still Giuliani's major competition.

And Ron Paul still has by far the best positions. He alone among the Republican candidates continues to speak to truth to authority about war. We'll soon find out how many votes this translates into in the primaries.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Heroes 2: Episode 10: Penultimate for the Fall

Last night's Episode 10 of Heroes, Season 2 is the last before the "finale" of this first Fall "Volume" of Heroes. And depending upon what happens with the WGA strike, we may have to wait beyond the Spring to see Volume 2.

Last night's show developed and brought together a lot of threads nicely. Claire is coming into her own as a hero in better control of her life - an adult - and stands up well to Elle. Adam has been fully revealed for what he is - a monster in some ways worse than Sylar, who is regaining some of his old ways pretty quickly himself. Hiro saw last week that Adam/Kensei killed his father, and is back on the case in America. But Peter needs (or thinks he needs) Adam to save his Irish love, and in the last scene we see Peter confronting Hiro on behalf of Adam.

Which is a pretty good setup for the Fall finale. The coming attractions say a few of our heroes will die next week. Here's what I think:

Neither Hiro nor Peter.

Maybe Nathan, coming to Peter's assistance. Nathan hasn't had much of a story this year, and seems out of place in this world.

Who else? Strictly on the basis of the storyline and characterizations, I would say Niki might not make it. Micah could be raised by his grandmother. Niki also seems without moorings, without a center of gravity, this Fall. And there would be a sad poetry of sorts in her joining D. L. - on the other hand, Ali Larter has a lot of fans (including me).

Villains? Either Adam or Sylar won't make it - but one should survive. The obvious prediction is Adam will die - because the Fall has been his story, not Sylar's. But Heroes could be pull a switch and have Sylar dead. Not likely, because a lot has been quietly invested in his character this Fall ... but, you never know...

Non-super-hero heroes? I can't see Mohinder dying - his role in the series is unique. Mr. Bennet? I assume he can't be killed now, unless someone blows his head off ... it would be a wild twist to somehow kill him, anyway ... but, not likely. (One possibility, though, is that Claire's blood is not 100% effective in repairing him.) Elle's father ... I don't like the character and would love to see him go - but that's no indication that he will go. Possibly all of the above with survive.

Next week - and the next volume - should be good. I hope the number of heroes is at least slightly reduced, so we can have more of them in our fields of focus every week.

But this volume is ending up on a high note - and I'll be back with more next week.

Review of other Season 2 Heroes: Episode 2 ... 3
... 4 ... 7. Heroes Meets 12 Monkeys ... 9. How Immutable Are Fate and Isaac's Futures? ... 11. My Predictions Last Week Were Right!






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Further Genesis of "The Light That Time Forgot"

I now know what I think of as the "furniture" of this story. The metaphor comes from my editor at Tor for The Silk Code through The Plot to Save Socrates - David G. Hartwell - who likes to talk about "rearranging furniture" when plot elements and/or characters in a draft novel need a major overall. I'm using it here more in the sense of what you put in an empty house or room, after you've constructed it.

The house is "The Light That Time Forget" - otherwise known as the title. I know the story, anthology, novel, whatever will be about time travel. That's where I was a few days ago.

But yesterday afternoon, driving to Fordham University, I realized what the furniture would be - what the texture, characters, vehicle of the story were all about.

Watercolor. Impressionist painters. Better living through captured light. Better living through watercolor. Something like that...

Now, at this point, I'm going to go into sub rosa mode, and not talk about the story. First, I don't like talking about my writing on a blow-by-blow basis. Second, I have no idea how long it will take me to write this - could be tomorrow, could be next year, or much longer...

But I'll definitely keep you posted. And will of course acknowledge the good denizens of Second Life, if and when (ok, I'm pretty confident it's just a question of when) "The Light That Time Forgot" is published.

See also Genesis of a Title: "The Light That Time Forgot"






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Journeyman Continues: 10: Jack's In! // Contest Winner!

And we have a winner for the contest - I got the correct answer for Dan's last word in tonight's superb episode about 30 seconds after it was over. Look for the name of the winner, and some consolation prizes, at the end of this review...

Tonight's Episode 10 of Journeyman was a wonderful, satisfying chapter, in many ways.

First, it daringly courted but avoided paradoxes. Dan's traveling back to stop the guy who shot him risked unraveling Dan's and everyone's reality: had Dan gotten to the boy, gotten him out of his abusive home, then the boy might well have grown up not to do the bad things he did last week, and not to shoot Dan tonight.... Which would have left Dan - and us - where? A lot worse off in the narrative than Dan being wounded and seriously infected.

Speaking of which - I liked that Dan got infected because he carried bacteria back with him two decades, which were resistant to antibiotics back then. Very nice time traveling touch.

Also helpful to maintaining the time travel sanctity of the show was the bad guy killing the FBI guy. Although I'll miss Paul Schulze and his fine acting, the character clearly knew too much to continue on his course. He either had to brought into the fold - not likely if he was FBI - or eliminated.

Which brings us to Jack - the most satisfying development of all in tonight's episode. Jack has been edging closer in previous shows to believing Dan. Tonight Livia comes to see Jack in the present - because Dan needs his help - and that of course finally convinces Jack that his brother is not crazy, and is really time traveling....

Which brings us to the contest winner. At the end of tonight's episode, Jack asks Dan if this - the near insanity, the brushes with death, everything Jack went through tonight - is the way it always is.

To which Dan gives a fine answer: "Welcome to our life."

=======================================================
And Matt Pollari of Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota emailed me with the correct answer within 30 seconds: "life"!

An autographed copy of The Plot to Save Socrates will be in the mail to Matt tomorrow! Congratulations, Matt!

For everyone else who answered, and who keeps watching the show: If you've already answered the question correctly - but got it in after Matt - or if you tell me Dan's last word on the next two shows,* I'll be happy to send you, via e-mail, a copy of my 1997 award-nominated time travel novella, Loose Ends (first published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact Magazine, and widely reprinted, including on Fictionwise.com).

And, further, for anyone who answered tonight's question correctly, or who e-mails me Dan's last word on the next shows,* I'll be happy to autograph and return to you at my expense any copies of The Plot to Save Socrates that you send to me between now and the end of this year.

My email is Levinson.paul@gmail.com

But Matt gets the free copy.

*NOTE ADDED 3O NOVEMBER 2007: I've decided to continue the contest for the next three episodes of Journeyman, and give a free, autographed copy of The Plot to Save Socrates to first person, after each show, who e-mails Dan's last word on the show to me! See Extending The Plot to Save Socrates - Journeyman Contest for details.

And, you know, "life" is an apt last word. Journeyman has more life than ever now. I want to see Dan and Jack finally working together. Years ago, in the 1960s, NBC made a mistake and canceled Star Trek - I hope they don't make the same mistake with Journeyman.

My reviews of other Journeyman episodes ... 1: NBC Quantum Leaps Into Journeyman ...2 ... 3 ... 4 ... 5 ... 6... 7 ... 8. Livia's Story ... 9. Dan Unravels His Present 11. Livia' Beau//Save the Newspaper, Save the World ... 12. The Perfect Time Travel Story ... Lucky 13






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Dexter 2 Episode 9: The Plot Gets Even Tighter and Sharper

Dexter Well, those of us who thought that Doakes would get stuck as the suspect for Dexter's killings were right - it was indeed the logical (and just about only) choice, and there were a few prime clues leading up to it (Daokes' history of violence, his father was a butcher, etc).

But Dexter, of course, is by no means out of the woods just yet, even if he does have Doakes just where he wants him - a prisoner in Dexter's cabin. This was a nice twist - Doakes may literally become Dexter's next victim - which I didn't see coming.

But here's what Dexter has arrayed against him: Lt. Maria Laguerta (beautifully, powerfully played by Lauren Vélez) is clearly no dope, and although she likes Dexter, she loves Doakes, and knows enough about his soul to know that he couldn't be the Bay Harbor Butcher. She could be Dexter's worst nightmare if she starts putting two and two together. And Lundy, of course, is no slouch, either, and even the slightest thing that doesn't add up about Doakes - such as, why is he missing and where is he - could get Lundy thinking that Doakes is not the butcher, after all.

And then there's Lila, who's become a loose, dangerous canon in Dexter's life. Now I've gotta say that I still think she's more a soulmate for Dexter than is Rita, and in a crucial scene tonight she almost gets through to Dexter on that point. But Dexter and Rita seem headed back together, and Lila doesn't like that one bit, which means she could be a threat to Dexter, too.

There's no way she could take the fall as the Bay Harbor Butcher - since everyone knows now that it was an inside job - but she may still play a role in what will be a heart-pounding resolution of this fabulous season in the next few weeks.

The coming attractions on Showtime show Dexter moving to cut up Doakes - but I can't see that happening. Doakes is not a serial killer. Will Lila somehow come to Dexter's rescue, and kill Doakes ... I don't know ... it's hard to predict.

But if Doakes lives, sooner or later he'll be able to convince someone that Dexter's the killer. Maria would be first, and Lundy close after. So unless this season ends on a cliffhanger - to be resolved next season - we should be in for some smart, savage, heart-wrenching twists and turns in the concluding episodes of what is now the best continuing series on television.

See also Dexter's Back: A Preview and Dexter Meets Heroes and 6. Dexter and De-Lila-h and 7. Best Line About Dexter - from Lila and 8. How Will Dexter Get Out of This? and 10. Dex, Doakes, Harry and Deb's Belief Saves Dex and Season 2 Finale: All's ... Well









The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Brotherhood Season 2 Episode 9: The Anti-Thanksgiving Gem

I was thinking that this second season of Brotherhood has been a little more lumpy than the first - still very enjoyable but not as powerful, well-plotted, and original as last year - until tonight.

In many ways, tonight's Episode 9 om Showtime was a perfect standalone, anti-Thanksgiving story. Nobody gets what he or she wants, but some got it worse than others. The turkey never makes to the table at the Caffee house. I wasn't sure which one, because Rose wasn't there - she was going for a tryst with an old flame in the Biltmore. That doesn't quite work the way she wanted, at first - the gent isn't senile, but ...

Meanwhile, Tommy and Michael of course argue about MaryRose's smoking weed (the coming attractions made too big a deal of this), and Eileen's none too happy about this either. But she and Tommy (and Michael and Tommy) do draw closer at the end. Poor Colin gets just about nothing - no American Thanksgiving, which he's seen from afar and wanted to be part of for years - because Michael sends Colin out to do some very important business....

Which brings us to the way the plot was moved surprisingly forward, tonight - but, first, I don't think I've seen as good an anti-holiday show as this in years, if ever. Mary Kate (Tommy and Michael's sister) has a great monologue in which she details the universal aggravations of Thanksgiving and what it's supposed to do but often does not.

Colin doesn't hear it, because he's out on Michael's business, as I've said. Which is ...

Well, Freddie Cork and Marty Trio do have a fine Thanksgiving, at least for the most part. They're in a cottage on the bay, Freddie with his wife and Marty with his lover. The Fed agent is doing this for them because they will spill their guts tomorrow about Michael and Tommy and the Mayor, and the idea is that all three will be sent off packing to prison and disgrace.

Except, Colin has some business to conduct this Thanksgiving, which not only gets in the way of his enjoying a proper family Thanksgiving, but will put a crimp in at least part of the Fed plan to snare the Caffees.

Brotherhood tonight was about as well-crafted as it gets. A brooding, profound masterpiece of an episode which I predict will become a television classic.

And next week's the finale.

See also Checking in Brotherhood Season 2 Episode 6: The Simmering Stu and Episode 10: Finale






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Battlestar Galactica: Razor Sharp!

With rumblings that the WGA strike might nuke the 4th and final season of Battlestar Galactica - at the same time as the Sci Fi Channel tells us on the screen to look forward to the 4th season - Battlestar Galactica blasted back tonight with a scalding, clarifying, glistening, bristling two-hour special, that tells the story of the Pegassus, Admiral Cane, and her protege - a new character, Kendra Shaw, powerfully and sensitively played by Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen. We learn some important new things about Admiral Adama's past and Starbuck's possible destiny.

First, Cane. Michelle Forbes gives another superb performance, as she did in the part in BSG two years ago, and, for that matter, as Ensign Ro in Star Trek. Cain is both softer and more vulernable, at the very beginning, before the Cylon attack, and even tougher than I recall her as being two years ago. The strong suit of BSG has always been the agonizingly tough decisions it requires of our humans fighting the Cylons, staying alive, and it was never stronger than tonight. Differences of assessment between well-meaning people - whether Adama and his son, or Cain and her second-in-command, and the response of the other well-meaning people around them - are the basis of profound plots and complex characters, and as always bear irresistible resemblances to some of the current political struggles in our country and world.

Cain was two years ago, and tonight was again, willing to make more brutal decisions than Adama. We learn at least part of the reason - Cain and Gina (Number 6 Cylon) were lovers before the Cylons attacked. (I thought Tricia Helfer never looked better than in that role tonight, before her Cylon identify is discovered). Whatever the horrors in Admiral Adama's closet, he never (as far as we know) had to face something like that. Further, as he points out to his son Lee, Admiral Adama had the advice and orders of the President, usually staying any actions like Cain's that he might ever have contemplated, and, even more poignantly, Lee's eyes that he had to look into. That scene between father and son was one of the best in the entire series.

The pacing of the narrative was excellent - part of the story before Cain is killed by Gina, interspersed with part of the story after. In case you haven't seen it, I won't say any more, except that the ending is motivated and chilling.

So where does that leave us? As the quick preview for Season 4 indicated - the one which said it would begin in March - we have all the Cylons on board identified now, except one. We have a word or two about Starbuck's ultimate destiny that make everything she does, already suspect, even more so.

I wish March were tomorrow. I'm eager to see what the most politically powerful, ethically trenchant show on television has in store for us.

See also Galactica Dylan and listen to a 20-minute podcast about the Season 3 finale, with choice music samples...









And see also Is Mitt Romney a Cylon? (I couldn't resist...)







The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Genesis of a Title: "The Light that Time Forgot"

People often ask me where I get my ideas for stories. Part of my answer is that sometimes a title comes into my head, and I write a story around that.

Which of course leads to the question - well, then, how do you come up with titles, if you haven't already written at least part of the story?

Now that's a good question, especially for me, because, truthfully, I really can't remember how I came up with most of my titles...

But I came up with what I think is good title late last night, or early this morning, and since that's not all that long ago, it turns out I can indeed remember exactly - more or less - how I came up with it. Which I thought I'd share you... And then, years from now, if you come across something I published with that title, you'll recall reading someplace just how I came up with it...

To begin ... I've been spending a lot of enjoyable time the past few days in Second Life - the virtual world that Ken Hudson (Kenny Hubble in SL) brought me into earlier this month to do an interview.

In large part because of Ken's encouragement, I've even decided to open a virtual book shop in Second Life - I'm calling it the Soft Edge bookshop, and it will sell all of my books via Amazon links, and I'll be doing live readings there, holding contests, other fun stuff. The store's still under construction... I'll be making an announcement about the grand opening soon.

Now, in addition to Ken, I've met a whole bunch of interesting people in Second Life, including Mike Stackpole (a fellow science writer whom I've known and whose work I've enjoyed for years) and Jeremy Owen Turner, who did a great interview with me years ago about Digital McLuhan (that was in 1999 - small worlds...)

So, last night, I was having a fascinating talk about writing in general, style in Second Life, etc with Jeremy (whose SL name is Wirxli Flimflam) and aurel Miles (her SL name - her real name is Stephanie Farrington) and her friend. Now, aurel and her friend do visual design, among other things, and at some point they showed Wirxli and me a mural by an artist whose name I can't recall (see, I'm forgetting already). Started with a J, and was something like Juria. Anyway, there were words on this mural, and scenes, and one of them was something about lighting and forgetting (no kidding)....

And something about that hit me, and I began playing around with titles...

The first one I came up with was, "The Time That Light Forgot". Which I like, but a few hours later - I was long gone from Second Life by then - I realized that that would make a good title for maybe a story about the Dark Ages.

So I switched two of the words, and come up with "The Light That Time Forgot"....

Now there, I think, is a proper title for anything having to do with time travel - which as you know, I love - or, more specifically, observing the past, as it's actually happening, live and directly from the present (looking at the light time has forgotten).

I can't say, at this point, what exactly I'll do with the title. At very least, I'll likely use it as a title for a collection of my time travel stories that I'll someday publish. But it could lead to more ... a short story, or even a novel...

If you still know me then, you'll let me know what you think of it...

And I'll be back here later tonight with my review of the Battlestar Galactica special.

See also Further Genesis of The Light That Time Forgot...

Here's a screen shot of the Soft Edge book shop, under construction...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Paul Levinson Interviewed about Old and New Media by Mark Molaro on The Alcove



Mark Molaro - the Charlie Rose of the Internet - interviewed me a few weeks ago about the state and future of old and new media, and what I call "new new media" - not just the web, but YouTube, blogging, podcasting and their impact on our lives and uses in education. Twenty-five minutes of civilized conversation, in which I talk about everything from Bill O'Reilly telling me to "shut up" on his radio show earlier this month (not civilized, but one of my proudest moments) to Rich Sommer coming over to this blog last month and correcting a small error I made when posting about Mad Men (an example of the self-correcting powers of the Web - Rich plays Harry Crane on Mad Men).

Mark Molaro's interviews on "The Alcove" are the best I've seen on the Web - the interview immediately preceding mine was of Peter, Paul, and Mary's Peter Yarrow - and I'm happy to be among them...




Books discussed in the interview...



Mark Molaro has a group on Facebook well worth joining.

Thanks to Emon Hassan for putting Mark in touch with me.

Listen also to my interview of Rich Sommer on Light On Light Through

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Silk Code and The Plot to Save Socrates in Second Life


The Silk Code on a wall in Second Life


The Plot to Save Socrates on a wall in Second Life

Hey, tell me what you think of these ads. They cost, literally, just a couple of bucks, and will be up on the wall in Second Life for two weeks.

You can click on the image and see what the ads actually look like in Second Life (you'll need to join SL, if you're not already a member, but it's free).

Journeyman Continues: 9: Dan Unravels His Present//Announcing Contest!

Two intense, important stories are going on in NBC's Journeyman right now. One, as reported in BuddyTV yesterday, is about how much longer NBC will continue the series. The future is stormy - the series could be pulled after next week's Episode 10.

To help keep the series alive, in whatever small way I can, I'm announcing a contest about next week's episode (look for it in this text after I conclude my review of Episode 9). But, first, my review...

Last night's episode was by far the best yet, and I've been pretty much saying that about every episode of Journeyman. It's one of my two-three favorite series now on television, and the best time travel series, ever.

It keeps pushing the envelope - which, in time travel stories, means playing ever more dangerously with the paradoxes time travel inevitably engenders.

Dan strays from his mission last night. Against Livia's advice, he does things he was not "meant" to do (we still do not know who is calling the ultimate shots and thereby the meaning). But, in the process, Dan undermines the crucial progress he has made with his brother Jack - who, on the basis of an event that first took place, was beginning to believe that Dan might really be time traveling, or at least not psycho. Dan's going beyond the plan in the past results in that crucial event not occurring, which leaves Jack in the present back to his doubting ways - which are now so much in the driver's seat that Jack is on his way to trying to get Dan committed ... (I'm reminded of Marshall McLuhan's great quip that the only people who have proof of their sanity are those who have been discharged from mental institutions)...

But this is just the tip of things "not going well" because of Dan's divergence from the plan - as Livia so aptly put it. Once you change just one thing in the past - as Ray Bradbury mapped out so well, so many ways ago, in his "Sound of Thunder" - your whole present and future can crumble around and on top of you...

Which raises an interesting point about Journeyman. Apparently, if Dan follows the plan - whoever is devising it - he's relatively free of paradox. Only if he diverges does he court disaster....

I look forward to finding out more next week, when this two-part episode concludes.

Which brings me to our CONTEST: Here it is: I will send a free, autographed copy of my own time travel novel, The Plot to Save Socrates, to the first person who e-mails me at

Levinson.paul@gmail.com

with the last word that Dan says on next week's episode.

I just want that last word, and I'll send the novel to the first person who e-mails me on gmail - "first" determined by the gmail time stamp.

You can see what the novel looks like, and read some of the blurbs about it, below.

But, more importantly, watch the show! Television will be at lot less compelling if it's taken off the air.

My reviews of other Journeyman episodes ... 1: NBC Quantum Leaps Into Journeyman ...2 ... 3 ... 4 ... 5 ... 6... 7 ... 8. Livia's Story ... 9. Dan Unravels His Present ... 10. Jack's In!... 11. Livia's Beau//Save the Newspaper, Save the World ... 12. The Perfect Time Travel Story ... Lucky 13






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Weeds Season 3 Finale: The Fire and the Clean Slate

A very satisfying, contemplative, slap-in-your face finale of Season 3 of Weeds on Showtime tonight.

The pivotal moment came when Nancy decided to help the fire along, and make sure her house and with it her life from Judah's death till now succumbed to the flames.

This proved to be a good move, to say the least, insofar as Celia gave up Nancy's name about two seconds after she was called in for questioning, when police discovered her house full of weed. Another casualty of the fire - you can't keep secrets when the world around you is going up in flames and police and firefighters are everywhere - and Celia's behavior was 100% predictable.

But that's not all Nancy lost tonight. She and Conrad realize what they don't have in common - he doesn't recognize Nancy's Grateful Dead reference, and she has no interest in cooking him a turkey - and that looks like it may be it for them.

Though maybe not. As everything around Nancy is turning to ash, and she gets ready with brother and kids to leave - there remains the question of what will she do next season, or whenever she gets to where she is going, and the fire in Lower Majestic is over.

What has she learned from these last two years? What new skills - or, what better in terms of earning money than growing and selling weed?

And though she and Conrad have lots not in common, there is still a powerful emotional connection between them.

Quite the opposite of a cliff-hanger - blowing the mountain away, instead, and leaving us wondering what Nancy will find in the valley.

Showtime has left all options open for Season 4.

As long as Congress and the FCC don't get their way and extend their unconstitutional control of broadcasting to cable, we should be in for a great story next year.

Listen to the end of the following podcast for WINNERS to Weeds poster contest - and the correct answer!







5-minute podcast of this Weeds review


and reviews of other Season 3 episodes ... 1. Weeds is Back! ... 2 ... 3: Appealing, Important Questions ... 4-5: Prius and Gluteus ... 6. Ray of Hope ... 7. Conrad Rules! ... 12. Nancy and Conrad! ... 13. Shane Pays the Price ... 14. Just When Nancy Thought It Couldn't Get Any Worse






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

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Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
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Monday, November 19, 2007

Heroes 2: Episode 9: How Immutable Are Fate and Isaac's Futures?

The best episode of Heroes so far season - Episode 9 - in which it seems that fate, or, at very least, what Isaac's paintings depict, can't be defied.

Hiro wants to save his father from being thrown to his death from the New York City terrace. Hiro travels through space/time from his father's funeral, where he is about to speak, to the NYC terrace where his father (Kaito - played by Star Trek's George Takei) is talking to Mrs. Petrelli. Hiro watches as they finish their conversation, then teleports/time-travels with his father back to the funeral. Hiro meets his younger self there, and realizes that his father was right to tell him that although they have the power of gods, they cannot act like gods and change fate. Hiro takes his father back to the terrace to meet his "inevitable" fate (Hiro does decide to stick around to see who killed his father). But, of course, the fate is inevitable only because Hiro acceded to it. A nice free-will/predetermination intertwining - one of the hallmarks of thoughtful time-traveling science fiction.

The second example revolves not around time travel but Isaac's paintings - in particular, the one that shows Mr. Bennet shot dead through the eye by Mohinder. Bennet stops that from happening, once, and then gets caught up in a double twist which was doubly satisfying.

Good story telling. But where does that leave us regarding the predictive powers of Isaac's pictures?

The fates they show have certainly been defied a few times prior to tonight - Claire was saved Peter last year, and New York City didn't succumb to a nuclear inferno.

But we've yet to see a consistent explanation of why the paintings sometimes depict unavoidable events and other times do not. Is this changeability of fate due the actions of the heroes - is it within their power to change what Isaac has wrought - or is there some other factor at work?

Either way, Heroes has got me interested. Last week's explanation about what happened when New York City was saved was late in coming, but much better late than never. And tonight not only played well with the paradoxes of knowing and trying to avoid fate, but brought in some good new elements such as Parkman's expanding mental powers, and a mystery woman who looked strangely familiar in that photo of the older Heroes generation.

Good material for the continuing story...

Review of other Season 2 Heroes: Episode 2 ... 3
... 4 ... 7. Heroes Meets 12 Monkeys ... 10. Penultimate in Fall ... 11. My Predictions Last Week Were Right!






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
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How Will Dexter Get Out of This?

DexterA stunningly incisive, blade-brilliant Episode 8, Season 2, of Dexter on Showtime tonight, as the noose, vice, take-your-pick tightens all but irrevocably on Dexter...

Agent Lundy is every bit as sharp as Dexter. Last week, Lundy concluded from the manifesto that Dexter/the Bay Harbor Butcher sent in to the Miami paper for publication that the Bay Harbor Butcher was with law enforcement, and the purpose of the cleverly concocted manifesto was to send Lundy and his team scurrying around in half a dozen contradictory directions. This week, Debra and Angel discover the license plate of the car that the BHB used for one of his victims. Debra's puzzled because there are no Florida matches for the plate. Lundy walks by and suggests out of state, and, bingo, it comes up from Georgia, and a car that was in the possession of Dexter's unit.... All that's keeping Lundy from Dexter is knowledge of who signed that car out on the crucial day of the butchering.

And even worse for Dexter: Lundy questions Daokes, and lets him know that - in that same case with the Georgia license plate - the DA failed to get a conviction because of bad blood work. The released killer soon after became the Bay Harbor Butcher's victim. This leads to Doakes to search Dexter's apartment - and find the trophy blood slides that Dexter has been keeping in a little box in his air conditioner.

For his part, Dexter at last realizes that Lila has been manipulating him (but I still like her - call me a romantic), but he's killed again, and with Lundy and the all evidence arrayed against him ... How can Dexter get out of this?

Here are my suggestions:

1. Doakes found the slides. We already know that his superiors including Maria have him tagged as violent and out-of-control. Maybe Dexter can somehow make it look as if Doakes was the Bay Harbor Butcher.... He works, after all, in same unit as Dexter.

2. Lundy and Debra may be falling in love. Lundy so far is by the book - but love can bend the straightest arrow. Maybe one or both of them will figure out a way to deflect the spotlight of guilt from Dexter.

Neither of the two options looks all that likely to me - at this point, I would go with Doakes taking the fall... Or maybe Lundy allowing that to happen ...

What do you think?

Whatever happens, nothing beats Dexter for sheer, startling, sparkling story tightening on television.

See also Dexter's Back: A Preview and Dexter Meets Heroes and 6. Dexter and De-Lila-h and 7. Best Line About Dexter - from Lila and 10. Dex, Doakes, Harry and Deb's Belief Saves Dex and Season 2 Finale: All's ... Well









The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Marshall McLuhan and Barack Obama: Medium is the Message in this Presidential Campaign?

I was just interviewed by Mark Austin Thomas in my regular Sunday spot on KNX 1070 all-news radio out of Southern California - about what happened to Barack Obama in Thursday's Presidential debate.

It is generally agreed by observers, including me, that Obama did not do well in the debate. He certainly had some excellent moments - I thought his lecture to Wolf Blitzer that we shouldn't just accept the current technological options for energy was memorable - but, in general, he seemed not on top of his game, certainly not as much as in command as Hillary Clinton. But only a few days before, Obama gave the speech of his life in Iowa - electrifying his audience and building upon Hillary Clinton's weak performance in the previous debate.

Did Obama just have a bad night?

For better or worse, it's likely something more profound - a refection of something Marshall McLuhan famously pointed out back in the 1960s: the medium is the message.

What McLuhan noticed is that the means of communication can often have decisive impact on the message we receive. Obama clearly wanted to deliver the same message in the Thursday debate as in his Iowa speech. But he clearly is more comfortable giving speeches than standing up on stage with a group of candidates and answering a question every now and then.

Does this mean that Obama would not make a good President, or a weaker President than Hillary Clinton?

Of course not. Historians tell us that Abraham Lincoln had a voice that sounded more Truman Capote than Henry Fonda. Fortunately for America, there was no radio or television back then.

The enormous amount of exposure that our mass media, especially television, give to Presidential contenders is by and large a very good thing. Democracy operates best on a maximum of information. But we need to recognize that the way that information is presented - the forum in which it is offered - can often speak far more loudly than what it is the candidates are saying.

A Conversation with Kenny Hubble aka Ken Hudson about Second Life

Latest episode of my Light On Light Through podcast: I converse with digital artist Ken Hudson aka Kenny Hubble of and about Second Life. At 10,000 accounts and growing, the vibrant virtual community of Second Life is becoming a way of life for many. Ken interviewed me in his Media Ecology Second Life series a few weeks ago - see the 60-minute video here - and I'm still enjoying it. Ken and I talk about life in Second Life - how to do it, how to live it, and its relationship to real or "first" life in everything ranging from art and music to (of course) sex. Whether you're an old hand at Second Life, a newbie, or just want to learn more about this fascinating place, you won't want to miss this special 40-minute interview (and, actually, there is no way that you can, because it will always be available here - and likely somewhere in Second Life, too).







my 40-minute interview of Ken Hudson



For more of my work about the differences between realspace and cyberspace...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

2006-2007 exchange with John Titor

I've already shared with you a bit of Sierra Water's correspondence with Zeshua Alpha (Sierra has received more, which I'll post here later).

In the meantime, I might as well post this exchange with John Titor on my Paul Levinson web page ...


Tuesday, December 26, 2006, 7:52:00 PM
John Titor IP: 24.31.22.93

Hello, Paul. I am looking forward to reading "The Plot to Save Socrates." I find it very amusing if only co-incidental that my partner in this worldline is a TT named Ciara.

Syncronicity? I doubt it. But then again, all things are possible in all worldlines...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007, 4:51:35 PM
Paul Levinson IP: 71.167.152.250

John - Truly honored that you came by to say hello ... I hope you enjoy The Plot to Save Socrates (you of all people should appreciate it)... The synchronicity with Sierra Waters is, as far as I know, purely coincidental ... though, who knows...
=================

John Titor also supplied this e-mail address: futuretech2037@yahoo.com








"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Obama Has Best Line in Democratic Debate on CNN

Well, the self described "best" team of political commentators on CNN said Hillary Clinton had the best night in the Democratic Presidents debates in Las Vegas just concluded, but I disagree.

Hillary was indeed excellent, and did have memorable lines - most notably that the other Democratic contenders are ganging up on her not because she's a woman, but because she's ahead - but I thought the best line belonged to Obama, and certainly has the most important meaning for the future:

Pressed by Wolf Blitzer about energy choices - in particular, the problems of disposing nuclear waste - Obama insisted that he and the American people not be bound by the confines of current technology. Obama challenged Blitzer to think big, and have an open mind as to what we could do to technologically improve our energy situation in the future.

Maybe it's because I'm an historian of technology, maybe it's because I'm a science fiction writer, but I found Obama's point very profound and indeed crucial to improving our future.

Meanwhile, in general, the debate was about the strongest we've seen among the Democrats, so far. And, although I don't agree with some of Hillary Clinton's positions - especially her Senate vote declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard "terrorist" (the last thing we should do is give the Bush administration any more license for military action) - I was moved by what she said about what her election would mean for women in America. It is long since time that a woman was President of this country, and, although Hillary Clinton is far from perfect, her election would be revolutionary and healthy if for no other reason than she is a woman.

So perhaps Hillary Clinton did slow Barack Obama down a bit tonight. Debates are clearly not Obama's medium - he gives much better speeches at rallies than answers at debates. Edwards and the other Democratic candidates were fine, as usual, but did not light any new fires. Kucinich can indeed lay claim to being against the war, and on the best side of the important issues, from the very beginning. In a better world, he would be at least among the top three candidates running for the Democratic nomination for President.

Sierra Waters Gets Email from John Titor Associate...

Sierra has received e-mail from Zeshua Alpha - this e-mail really came in on Sierra's LightonLightThrough.com account. Zeshua is apparently an associate of John Titor - I just found this out when I did a search on Zeshua's name.

Here's the correspondence (Zeshua was apparently responding to Sierra's letter from the future to me)...

From: "Zeshua Alpha" (zeshua@gmail.com)
To: Sierra@LightonLightThrough.com
Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2007 00:32:05 -0400

Hello Sierra,

What is your current method of communication with the 2007 timeframe?
What year is it that you are in communication from?

I do hope that we can share and express certain communication between us.

Good Days... <

Thank you so much for writing, Zeshua Alpha! You are the first - I was afraid no one would reply!

I'm writing this from a "Chair" - which has an email option - in 2061.

Do you have any information about Alcibiades, Heron, or Thomas O'Leary?

Even if not, let's stay in contact - I greatly value having a connection in the early 21st century!

Sierra Waters
=============================

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Weeds 3 Ep 14: Just When Nancy Thought It Couldn't Get Any Worse...

Another powerful episode of Weeds on Showtime last night - the next to last episode of this season - which ends not with a bang (as in the end of the Nancy and Conrad episode, week before last), but with a fire, and not a good one.

Silas is healing physically, Shane is not mentally, Nancy makes a deal with the Mexicans to protect her family and operation from the bikers and ... she gets back home to see news of a wildfire in her area, on television.

This will no doubt be the theme of the finale next week - and, if done in true Weeds fashion, with truly harrowing elements mixed in to the usual hilarity.

But here let me interject the contents of a press release which the good people at Showtime sent to me:

On Monday, November 19th at 10 pm PT/ET, SHOWTIME will air the shocking third season finale of the hit comedy series WEEDS, which stars Mary-Louise Parker. Please be aware that in episode 314 and 315 (Season Finale), there is a storyline that deals with a wildfire which affects the main characters.

These episodes were written and filmed this past summer, long before Southern California experienced a real-life tragedy. On behalf of the cast and crew of Weeds and everyone at Showtime, we'd like to acknowledge the thousands of families who've been affected by the devastating fires. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.


I think Showtime is a class act, and did the right thing here. To not have aired the last two episodes would have gutted the storyline in Weeds this season. And, the wildfires are an awful reality in Southern California, which means they are, unfortunately, part of the human condition there. In the tradition of Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year, catastrophes have the subject of quality fiction. I would go so far as to say the treatment of public tragedies on the screen, or in the pages a novel, may help us come to better terms with the tragedy - help us better understand our deepest responses.

Weeds has earned this right as a comedy series that was always packed with dark, profound, unfunny elements. I'm looking forward to next week's finale.


Still a chance to win a free, cool Weeds poster... Listen for ADDITIONAL CLUES at the end of the following 5-minute podcast of this review...








5-minute podcast of this Weeds review


and reviews of other Season 3 episodes ... 1. Weeds is Back! ... 2 ... 3: Appealing, Important Questions ... 4-5: Prius and Gluteus ... 6. Ray of Hope ... 7. Conrad Rules! ... 12. Nancy and Conrad! ... 13. Shane Pays the Price ... 15. Finale: The Fire and the Clean Slate






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Journeyman Continues: 8: Livia's Story

I don't care how Journeyman is doing in the ratings - if there were any justice in this cosmos it would be in the top 5. Maybe it will, someday. Who knows what impact the WGA strike will have the ultimate winners and losers on television this season.

As it is, Journeyman just keeps getting better and better. And tonight's Episode 8 on NBC was the best so far.

We finally learn some more about Livia. I'd figured, pretty obviously, that she was not from this time. I thought her other-worldly quality likely made her from the future (like the heroine in my own time travel novel, Sierra Waters, in The Plot to Save Socrates). But it turns out that Livia's from the past - 1948 - which would also account for her other-worldly quality in 2007, if you think about it. And, as she explains to Dan, she gets boosted from the past, into the future, just as Dan gets yanked from the future back to the past. Symmetry in time travelers - very nice, poetic touch.

Dan also later tells Katie that the sojourns in time will get longer - which creates a good, sad tension in their relationship.

Meanwhile, it turns out that Jack did roll over for the FBI guy - as I thought last week - but he redeems himself this week, and does all right by Dan.

And one other thing - our tachyon scientist contacts Dan - and it is 100% clear, now, that he is aware of what Dan is doing, and, I still think, at least in part calling the shots.

What's setting Journeyman more and more apart from Quantum Leap is the way Journeyman is slowly, powerful weaving together Dan's specific missions and his larger story. Last week, the unabomber character was clearly conversant with time travel. This week, one of the misguided hippies in the 70s is hip to quartz, which the tachyon scientist said he was looking into...

It's all coming together, like a shattered puzzle coalescing, I hope creator Kevin Falls and his team can keep this fine science fiction going.







5-minute podcast of this Journeyman review

My reviews of other Journeyman episodes ... 1: NBC Quantum Leaps Into Journeyman ...2 ... 3 ... 4 ... 5 ... 6... 7 ... 9. Dan Unravels His Present ... 10. Jack's In! ... 11. Livia's Beau//Save the Newspaper, Save the World ... 12. The Perfect Time Travel Story ... 12. The Perfect Time Travel Story ... Lucky 13






The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Best Line About Dexter - from Lila

DexterThe crucial line in tonight's brilliant Episode 7 (Season 2) of Dexter on Showtime tonight came from Lila...

Dexter's being torn between the passion, honesty, and sheer liberation he feels with Lila, and the normalcy, love, and warmth he felt - and still feels - with Rita and her children. Dexter tells Lila that Rita and her family are were kept him human before he met Lila.

Lila responds - but how human was that, Dexter? How human were you? You were addicted...

And, of course, Lila doesn't know the half of it, but Dexter does, and so do we, the viewers, and Lila's point certainly rang true to me. Rita may have kept him human - but also, not deliberately but nonetheless, a serial killer...

The battle for Dexter's heart and soul is far from over, though. Dexter goes to Cody's (Rita's son's) performance at school, and very much enjoys it and the feelings it brings. Rita sends her mother packing. But Lila strikes back by burning down her studio, saying it was an accident, and calling on Dexter for support - which he cannot refuse.

Other important developments in tonight's show were among the best in the two-year series. Dexter's sister Debra is really falling for Special Agent Lundy, who may be smart enough to get Dexter even without anything Debra may accidentally reveal. And, following Lila's encouragement to be proactive, Dexter manages to get Doakes suspended in a masterpiece of manipulation.

But Doakes is not gone for good. And Lundy has come to the conclusion that the Bay Harbor Butcher's astute manipulation of the investigation means he knows police procedure as only an insider would ... And Dexter may not be quite cured of his craving as yet, either...

Edge of your seat, heart in your throat time as this stiletto superb second season of Dexter continues.

See also Dexter's Back: A Preview and Dexter Meets Heroes and and 6. Dexter and De-Lila-h and 8. How Will Dexter Get Out Of This? and 9. The Plot Gets Even Tighter and Sharper and 10. Dex, Doakes, Harry and Deb's Belief Saves Dex and Season 2 Finale: All's ... Well










The Plot to Save Socrates


"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book


more about The Plot to Save Socrates...

Get your own at Profile Pitstop.com



Read the first chapter of The Plot to Save Socrates
.... FREE!

Newspapers Continue to Excel, and Broadcast Media Fail, in Fair Coverage of Ron Paul

Superb video of mainstream media pundits smirking and disinforming the public about Ron Paul and his supporters...



For some reason, I find the George Stephanopoulos smug comment on ABC News at the end that Ron Paul can't possibly win - made directly to Ron Paul - the most irritating. If for no reason other than to see Stephanopolous's reaction, it would be great for Ron Paul to win at least the Republican nomination. There would be many good and profound results from that, and among them - no place close to the top of the benefits but still among them - would be once and for all exposing the damage the mass media do to our democracy, and the power of voters to overcome it.

Thanks to Lee on MySpace for bringing this video to my attention.

Meanwhile, my student Mike Plugh e-mailed me about the following New York Times article about Ron Paul today, written by Katharine Q. Seelye and Leslie Wayne. It's a fair, factual, intelligent essay on where the Ron Paul candidacy stands now, and how it got there.

As I've noted before, it's interesting that the print press by and large has been doing a much better job of reporting this election campaign, and in particular Ron Paul's candidacy, than the mainstream broadcast and cable media. Certainly, some of the television coverage of Ron Paul - Alan Colmes on Fox, Tucker Carlson and sometimes Chris Matthews on Fox - has been objective, but more often than not we get Stephanopoulos, Hannity, and their snide misrepresentations.

Possibly there is something about text - whether online or on paper - the encourages fairness and accuracy of reporting.

Whatever the reason, the election of 2008 is so far shaping up as the traditional paper press, and the Internet's, finest hour.
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