Gingrich

The man has some ego, doesn’t he?

In the fall, Gingrich might decide to jump in, depending on how the Republican candidates are faring against Clinton, the New York senator.

“If there is a vacuum and if there’s a real need for somebody to be prepared to debate Senator Clinton, then I would consider running. I think we’ll know that in October,” Gingrich said.

Shorter Newt: “Only an intellectual collossus like myself can handle Hillary. Let’s see if Rudy McRomney can measure up… to me.”

Best Seen And Not Heard

But as Times critic Kelefa Sanneh points out, there’s a great plug for due process somewhere in there:

Zack De La Rocha is the lead rapper and agitator and sermonizer of Rage Against the Machine, but on Saturday night at Randalls Island he barely talked between songs. Then, near the end of the set, came the speech everyone was anticipating.

On April 29, during this rap-rock band’s reunion concert at the Coachella festival, Mr. De La Rocha gave a speech accusing the Bush administration of war crimes and said, “They should be hung and tried and shot.” (Hmm. In that order?) A clip found its way to the Fox News program “Hannity & Colmes,” which was not overstocked with Rage Against the Machine fans. The on-screen headline read, “Rock grp ‘Rage Against the Machine’ says Bush admin should be shot.”

Sean Hannity seemed to suggest that the Secret Service should be alerted. Ann Coulter, a guest, got in a good quip (“Has anybody checked in with a Flock of Seagulls to see what their position is on Bush?”), then delivered a final verdict, “They’re losers, their fans are losers, and there’s a lot of violence coming from the left wing.”

On Saturday night Mr. De La Rocha responded. He attacked the “fascist” Fox News pundits for “claiming that we said that the president should be assassinated.” As the crowd shouted its approval, he continued, “No: he should be brought to trial as a war criminal and hung and shot. That’s what we said.” Despite the insistence on due process, this still isn’t a position any mainstream politician would endorse. But that’s precisely the point: At a time when unimpeachable causes and pragmatic endorsements are the norm, it’s nice to be reminded that rock stars can get political without sounding like politicians.

And No, Trying Crack Is Not On The List

Though I’m pretty sure folks like Bruno have checked most of these things off, the Stockton Record suggests 30 things you should do by the time you turn 30:

Sadly, most people don’t fully realize the freedom their 20s hold. They don’t understand that these years might well be their last chance to experience all the world has to offer, unfettered by the obligations of full-fledged adult life.

As a public service, then, The Record presents (in no particular order) 30 suggestions of things to do before turning 30. These activities that will give you a richer, more-rounded perspective on the world and, in the process, bestow upon your 20s a golden glow you will certainly appreciate in later years.

That said, while jury duty (#26) is important and all (“When that notice comes, don’t immediately figure out ways to avoid jury duty”), I’m not sure reading Jeff Chang’s “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop” needs to figure as high as #6.

So yeah, there’s that. But at least one of the commenters helpfully adds an important ommission:

THEY FORGOT TO ADD ‘MENAGE A TROIS’!

Hear, hear.

Point being, what are we as a society coming to when we have to remind the youth to become a regular at a brewpub (#20) or pierce parts of one’s own body before aging sets in (#9)? And I mean, I agree with the wisdom of paying off your credit card (#7), but do I really have to watch an outdoor production of Shakespeare (#16)? By the time you’re 30, you’re pretty much over it anyway.

Young’uns

George W. Bush has successfully managed to alienate an entire generation from the Republican Party. And we know that most people tend to keep their party affiliations for their lifetime. FDR Democrats stayed democrats just as Eisenhower’s Republicans stayed Republicans.

Surely, in the face of such bad youth relations, you’d think the GOP candidates would want to do something “hip” like YouTube debate. But you’d be wrong.

Better, instead, to keep cutting funding for education and SCHIP. Keep the kids too sick and too dumb to vote.

The Channel That Put The Network In Shopping At Home Reaches A Milestone (Gosh, Time Flies!)

It’s hard to believe that the Home Shopping Network is turning 30 this month:

HSN launches its first national network TV campaign in five years today to woo channel flippers to park for a peek at the network’s new look during its 30th anniversary.

“Thirty years is an important milestone to celebrate the business that started this industry,” said Mindy Grossman, president and chief executive. “It’s also the perfect opportunity to show customers we may have lost or who never shopped with us to see how we’ve gradually changed over the past 18 months.”

Retailers have used their anniversaries to promote sales events long before Macy’s was founded in the 19th century, but at HSN there’s an added sense of urgency this time given the network’s flagging sales.

Network officials are mum on how much they are spending to create curiosity, but confirm media costs are in the low eight figures and include national cable and prime-time network TV through the summer.

The TV shopping pioneer, which started out as a Clearwater radio program in 1977, will introduce some product lines, show off its more colorful new look and dish up hoopla with a series of “surprises” for customers including discounts, celebrity appearances and $250, 000 in one-of-a-kind prize giveaways between now and New Year’s Eve.

. . .

The network is trying to shake off a two-year slump of moderate to minimal sales gains. A former senior executive at Nike Inc. and Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., Grossman was brought in to steer a revival. But so far the changes have not gained the traction with shoppers that her bosses at IAC/InterActiveCorp have in mind. After the network reported a meager 1 percent sales gain in the quarter ended March 31, chairman and chief executive Barry Diller rated the initial performance “poor” and said the turnaround will take longer than he expected.

To fine-tune the presentation and keep from chasing off regulars with sudden change, HSN eased in the new look over six months, including new sets, more engaging camera angles, new graphics color-coded to what’s showing and softer lighting that gives the picture an almost gauzy look.

Cameras focus in closer on expert guests and hosts who have been told to show products in use.

“For instance, instead of showing a model getting a makeover, we want to teach people how to do it themselves in a mirror,” said Michael DiCesare, a Hollywood celebrity hair stylist who sells a hair products line on HSN. “We can share a lot of techniques.”

Though HSN banned the hard sell years ago, show hosts have been trained to list and explain product features that customers want or think will solve their problems.

“It’s quite subtle. But we’re trying to make the customer feel comfortable, like we’re a good friend talking to them,” said Andy Sheldon, senior vice president of broadcast at HSN, a veteran of British TV shopping who once hosted a popular kids show in the United Kingdom.

Prosthetics

We’re one step closer to robotic limbs:

…to actually control the hand, the researchers relied on neural activity recorded from a monkey’s brain. According to MIT’s Technology Review, that resulted in the fingers on the hand performing their intended movement about 95 percent of the time. While the system doesn’t currently work in real time, the researchers are reportedly planning a live demonstration with a monkey within the next six months.

Awesome. The fact that they were actually able to use neural impulses from the brain to control the hand’s movements is truly astonishing. The next 10 or 20 years are going to see a flurry of sci-fi-like advancement that is going to make our collective heads spin (and open up a flurry of ethical questions).

In the meantime, we’re one step closer to the day when we can all get a new hand like Luke Skywalker’s.