Leno Leaves A Legacy Of Hard Work And Being #1

May 30, 2009
Jay Leno & Chin

Jay Leno & Chin

OK, so it’s not an expose on Barack Obama’s plan to become World Emperor by 2014, but hey, remember that Grand Rants is about “Our World Discussed.”  And sometimes that discussion goes to those few remaining sources of entertainment left in a world that’s teetering on the brink.

One of those sources bade us farewell last night. Jay Leno has passed that noble position of host of “The Tonight Show” to Conan O’Brien. No offense to Conan, but good luck – you’ll need it.

NBC treated Leno rather shabbily from the get-go. Shortly after naming him as the man to take the reigns from Johnny Carson, David Letterman started whining and threatened to leave his “Late Night” show in protest.  Carson made it known that he wanted Letterman to have the gig as well. Suddenly, the execs at NBC were having “buyers remorse” in having signed Leno to a long-term contract.

In that now-famous telephone conference, NBC executives from New York and LA discussed how they might be able to get rid of Leno in favor of Letterman. What they didn’t know was that Leno had heard about the conference call and was hiding in a closet adjacent to the conference room at the NBC Studio in Burbank  where the West Coast execs were on the phone to New York. They also had no idea that Leno listened to the entire call from an extension.

He knew the majority of them had turned against him. Even long-time friend Arsenio Hall got into the late night talk show game and vowed to “kick Leno’s ass.” But rather than demand legislation for fairness, Leno simply worked twice as hard to prove them all wrong. Rather than seek some sort of vengeance or to embarrass his bosses, he simply worked his tail off every day to make sure his Tonight Show would be number one.  It’s a lesson in behavior and professionalism we could all learn from, especially those men and women serving in our Congress.  Sometimes it’s best to simply shut the pie-hole and let your work speak on your behalf.

As for Arsenio Hall, his show folded in about 6 months. Leno graciously invited Hall onto the Tonight Show to show there were no hard feelings. There was no gloating by Leno.

Meanwhile, Letterman announced he would also move to 11:30 (later both would move to 11:35) but he jumped ship and went to CBS to go head-to-head against Leno.

For the first 6 months or so, Letterman led Leno in the ratings. Something that didn’t escape the attention of NBC executives.

Leno continued to put his heart and soul into making the Tonight Show better and better. On the other hand, Letterman appeared to be “mailing it in” and acted as if the war was won.

Not long after, the late night battle WAS won… by Leno. In another example of his work ethic, he had taken the Carson Franchise and molded it into his own unique presentation, one that remained in the number one slot for over 15 straight years. He  weathered the storm of controversy  (and NBC abuse) and used that to feed his hunger to work harder.

Leno’s success is one of the classic of examples how, if we all can stay focused on our goals and ignore the criticism, backstabbing, and envy of others, we can also achieve what others might see as impossible. A man who has an insatiable appetite for automobiles, he took only the high roads throughout his 17 year journey.

The only nights he missed during that time was a few nights when his parents died and, more recently, when he wound up in the hospital with a temperature of 103 degrees. In an age where the word “Celebrity” has become synonymous with “Self-absorbed narcissist, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would describe Leno as anything but a hard-working, friendly guy with a smile and a handshake for anyone he meets. Show business Our society could use a lot more like him.

Conan O'Brien

Conan O'Brien

I’d hate to be in Conan O’Brien’s shoes. But then, 17 years ago, he was plucked from a writer’s behind-the-scenes job with NO experience hosting television and was given the coveted position of replacing David Letterman at NBC for his Late Night show. Using the same work ethic, O’Brien has made that slot his own over the past 17 years.

See? And you thought we could learn nothing from watching television.

Gerry Ashley


A Possible Future

May 29, 2009


If the California Carbon Gals have their way…

Big Brother? No! Big Sisters will be watching you!


Czar Wars Episode 1: May The Farce Be With You

May 29, 2009


Cyberspace: The Final Frontier (of free speech)

It’s a troublesome time in the galaxy. Talk radio has been muffled by a series of end-run laws enacted by the FCC that don’t violate the free speech amendment, but levy fines on broadcasters who air programs that criticize the leadership of Global Emperor Problama. Voices of conservative viewpoints were silenced:

  • Crush Limbaugh was forced to shut down the Limbaugh Institute for Advanced Conservative Studies because it would have required he start including courses in Community Organization 101, Advanced Entitlement Theory and “How To Win The Hearts Of Voters (or rig voter registration if necessary).  
  • Sean Vanity (known as “Van Solo” for his brave efforts on his own) disappeared from backstage at one of his “Freedom Concerts” and was never heard from again.
  • Glenn Dreck was Baker-acted for a week-end and then forcibly admitted to The Rum Emanuel Center for Ex-Broadcaster Socialist Studies (RECESS). The only remaining conservative voices were the bloggers of the Internet (BOI).

Pockets of those bloggers continued to post their conservative views on the Internet. It was all that’s left of “The Resistance” and we all knew those days would be numbered if Buh-Spock had his way.

For months, we heard rumblings that Problama was planning to seize control of all political Internet content.  Princess Balkin tried her best to warn the masses, but it was too late: The Cyber-Czar had already been launched and within mere weeks, “The Great Darkness”  had begun.

It seemed innocent enough at first.  The Cyber-Czar, Problama assured us, would only be interested in hunting down threats to military and defense Internet sites and networks accessible through the Internet. As a secondary concern, the Czar would also watch for threats to the public network sectors upon which all Internet  Commerce depends.

But soon it became obvious that what the government saw as “threats” was quite different than the average civilian. And so it began. The first blow came when the Emperor secretly added extra power to the job description of the Internet Czar. None of this went through the normal process of creating new government positions, but that had never stopped Problama before. Besides, even if he DID seek the official blessing of Congress, he know he had it, so why bother with formalities? It just slowed him down…

Cap and Trade was another tool Problama used to grasp control. With electric rates going up by an average of 500%, it was fast becoming too expensive for the Resistance to go on-line to post their work.  The combined effect created an environment of darkness.

Was the world doomed to live this way forever? Had the voice of opposition been permenantly silenced in this dimension?

Stay tuned for episode 2.

Gerry Ashley

Accidents and Consequences

May 29, 2009


Speaking as an engineer, I’ll tell you right up front that I don’t worry so much about a temper tantrum from North Korea, Pakistan, Iran (et al)… as I do a ballistic accident. Consider the high-tech disasters from the past…

OK, you get the idea… At some point some nation is probably going to screw up with something like a high-tech ballistic missile or worse. Then what? You tell me… Here are my guesses, (probably as good as anything coming out of the White House or the Pentagon…)

  • Iran: If they accidentally pop something sizable into Israel, no doubt that the Israelis would answer back with something that resembles a mushroom cloud (especially under Netanyahu’s watch.)
  • India/Pakistan: Boom! Say no more.
  • N. Korea: Well, they could foul up and blast China in which case North Korea would no longer be an issue for consideration. (China is none too keen on refugees and they’re just a little bit more fussy about their border than we are.) Then again, Jim Jong Il could really screw the pooch and accidentally nail South Korea or even Japan… Needless to say that we’d stomp ugly on either of those scenarios.

And so it goes… Make your own Armageddon global, humanitarian, and financial disasters… It’s just a slight mistake away.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I’m an engineer… I used to work in the dreaded “Military Industrial Complex”. I understand the pressures working under even the best of conditions, and the folks mentioned in the nations above certainly aren’t working in the best of conditions.

Wouldn’t it be a hell of a note… So this is how it ends – with both a bang and a whimpering “oops.”

Alan Speakman

Oh No, Joe, Say It Ain’t So!

May 28, 2009


Vice President Joe Biden is up to his old tricks again. Last week he revealed the location of a secret bunker; now he’s trashing the president’s use (or over-use) of his teleprompter.

According to The Christian Science Monitor, his audience was at best, less than enthusiastic:

The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that it didn’t seem to be a great day for him anyway. According to the paper, Biden “didn’t get much love from the crowd” while delivering his speech.

One of the three times that he did receive spontaneous applause, however, was when he made fun of his boss. That’s when the teleprompter blew over.

“Made fun of his boss.” This man is one heartbeat away from the Oval Office. Hmmm, maybe he’s trying to embarrass Obama to death. At the rate he’s going, he may just make it.

And really, how do you go from bluebirds to falcons? If he must quote Thoreau, why not:

“The hawk is aerial brother of the wave which he sails over and surveys, those his perfect air-inflated wings answering to the elemental unfledged pinions of the sea.” 


Paranoid Delusion of the Week

May 27, 2009


From Seraphic Secret comes a fascinating video of Muslim cleric Safwat Higazi explaining on television to Egyptian viewers why all Starbucks Coffee shops in Arabia should be boycotted. Not surprisingly, Mr. Higazi offers no proof for his assertions. His tone is both reasonable and persuasive as he encourages his viewers to blame the Jews for yet one more conspiracy.

You would think hope be wrong if you thought that some of the brighter folks there would begin to question this worldview. Or, you might think that an enterprising young Egyptian or Saudi would simply look at the Starbucks site to see if this rumor is true. Had anyone thought to do that, this is what they would find:

According to rumors on the internet, Starbucks logo represents an Israeli Queen – How accurate is that?

This is totally inaccurate – the Starbucks logo does not represent Esther, the Old Testament Jewish Queen of Persia. This myth has been brought about by the similarity in looks on the cover of a children’s book about Esther to the Starbucks logo.

 When we were looking for a logo when Starbucks began in 1971, we wanted to capture the seafaring tradition of early coffee traders. The name Starbucks itself comes from the first mate’s name in the classic novel, Moby Dick. We pored over old marine books until we came up with a logo based on an old sixteenth-century Norse woodcut: a two-tailed mermaid encircled by the store’s original name, Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spice. The twin-tailed mermaid, or siren as she’s called in Greek mythology, has come to mean good coffee around the world.

For some, it’s hard to think independently, to take action, to find out. For some, it’s easier to hate. And the Middle East will continue to be a cesspool of hatred until rational thought trumps paranoid delusion.



May 27, 2009


One of my favorite Heinlein quotes, good for pondering on a rainy day:

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”


Sotomayor on Video

May 26, 2009


In her own words.

Oh, she’s not promoting it, not advocating it. No, not much.


CA Court Upholds Prop 8

May 26, 2009


Via AP. In a stunning victory for common sense, and in a move that actually supports the will of the people of California, that state’s supreme court upheld Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriage. The court did rule, however that existing same-sex marriages would be allowed to stand.

More as this develops.


No Big Surprise: It’s Sotomayor

May 26, 2009


Well, so President Obama has made his pick for Justice Souter’s replacement on the Supreme Court: Sonia Sotomayor. You may recall it was Ms. Sotomayor who said that a “court of appeals is where policy is made.” Below, the quote in context, according to the New York Times:

This month, for example, a video surfaced of Judge Sotomayor asserting in 2005 that a “court of appeals is where policy is made.” She then immediately adds: “And I know — I know this is on tape, and I should never say that because we don’t make law. I know. O.K. I know. I’m not promoting it. I’m not advocating it. I’m — you know.”

Sheesh! She sounds like Obama when he’s off the prompter. She also sounds like our president when she says of her college years, “The Puerto Rican group on campus, Accion Puertorriquena, and the Third World Center provided me with an anchor I needed to ground myself in that new and different world.” 

Malkin says “identity politics triumphs.” Ed Morrissey at HotAir wonders about a possible GOP fillibuster.

Some of her decisions border on the ridiculous:

As a federal judge, Sotomayor’s commitment to “serving the underprivileged” has led her to some highly contentious legal decisions where she has placed “empathy” over common sense or the dictates of the law. In 1998, the Family Research Council mockingly bestowed on Sotomayor its Court Jester Award for her decision to extend the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act to a woman whose self-identified “handicap,” which caused her to fail the New York State bar exam several times, was her illiteracy. (emphasis mine)

 But her liberal street cred is impeccable. From the Wall Street Journal:

She was part of a three-judge panel that decided a case recently argued before the Supreme Court about the validity of a civil-service exam for firefighters in New Haven, Conn. Ms. Sotomayor was part of a panel that decided the test could be deemed invalid because no minority applicants passed.

What does Karl Rove have to say about this awful pick?

Hope everyone’s in a praying frame of mind. This country is going to need all the prayers it can get for the next four years.