Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cinematic Geekgasms

There have been a handful of movies that have fundamentally altered my perceptions of the world and its future. The earliest one I can remember is, unsurprisingly, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Another is Tron. As with 2001, I forgot I was watching a movie and thought I was seeing a documentary of the future as it was surely going to be ... no, of having been in the future. It was an imperfect movie, but it captured my imagination and my thinking.

News of a sequel has been floating around for years, but it looks like a real, true new Tron movie is coming. You can see a trailer here. It's a grainy, murky, tiny, bootlegged view, but it's more than enough to impress the living crap out of me. I'll say only two words: light cycles.

There's also a movie adaptation of the graphic novel Watchmen coming out next year. A trailer has been released that can be seen here. In this case, the trailer is giving me conflicted emotions. On the one hand, the adaptation appears to be scrupulously true to the original. Characters and settings in the movie look like the graphic novel. It's fantastic; especially the depiction of Dr. Manhattan (the blue guy). Everything looks exactly right.

And that's the problem. If the whole project is the literal "book on the screen" then what's the point of me seeing it? I already know the story and have thought deeply on some of its themes. What's gained by seeing one guy's vision of how it might look as a movie when Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons have already given us the definitive one?

There are nits. Can a cinematic Rohrschach character possibly be as creepy as the guy in the novel? The Ozymandias character in the movie is, I'm sorry to say, not quite as impressive as the novel's version. He looks puny! I have to admit, they certainly got Dr. Manhattan right. Maybe even the Comedian. (briefly glimpsed flame-thrower guy)

Barring reports of a true disaster, I'll probably go see it, though, just to see it.
Another Step to the Strange New Future

Watch this video:

Noticed something strange about the woman, right? Well, she's an android. Competely mechanical from toes to head.

According to a commenter at BoingBoing (where I found the video) the announcer says, "Even androids can recommend Kincho bug spray."

The future is coming and it's going to be weirder than you'll ever want to know. It will be years or decades yet before someone can successfully combine the androids being developed in Japan with something like the fleshlight (Site NSFW!) into a fully functional sexbot that is indistinguishable from a real human. That's because of the uncanny valley effect. In other words, humans react increasing well to androids that look more and more human until you get to a point where our subconscious first perceives them as humans, then triggers the alarm/fear response because we detect something's "wrong" with them. Humans instinctively recoil from other humans with perceived physical, biological or genetic abnormalities.

(There's also the Turing Test threshold, meaning can the android carry on a realistic conversation? For a sexbot I'd imagine the expectations would be awfully low, but that's for another post.)

On the other hand, humans react remarkably well to clearly non-human things with very human characteristics. Look at Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, the vehicles in Cars or the robots in Wall*E. Or Jessica Rabbit:

Remember all the va-va-va-voooom! when she first came along? Then someone developed a more 3D, painted and realistic Jessica Rabbit:

We still perceive her as torridly hot, even though she's an exagerration, because of the filtering effect of paint.

And, of course, you can cosplay her now:

Search the net and you'll find all kinds of communities of people who are happy to dress up as Klingons, furries, aliens, elves and dwarves, cartoon characters, you name it, and willingly suspend disbelief in order to interact with them as whatever they are presented as. I've done it myself with anime characters, Star Wars characters, Dr. Girlfriend of The Venture Brothers, etc. at MidSouthCon.

It won't take much more work to develop non-human but anthropomorphic enough sexbots to satisfy the stranger sides of the sex trade. And being non-human machines completely side-steps law on prostitution. How many men do you think might want to have pretend but physically real sex with a Jessica Rabbit 'bot? What might they pay for it?

Let's go another, kinkier, step further. How many men have fantasised about Brittney Spears? With all the media exposure she has had over the years, it would be rather easy to create a 3D map of her face and body, even the few parts we haven't seen yet. Create a 'bot with those features and suddenly Brittney Spears is within the (pervy) reach of a lot of men. At a guess, I'd say trademark laws would cover marketing a "Brittney-sexbot" but how close can you get to the real thing without a judge slapping a restraint order on you?

What about an underage Brittney-bot, from her scandalous teenage years? Or just underage boys and girls in general? If it's a machine, do the laws still apply? Or will they be made to apply, just as laws against depictions of children in sexual images have been stretched to cover non-sexual but suspicious pictures of fully clothed children and painted or drawn depictions of child pron with no real human model involved?

And then there are furries....

Or.... Imagine a computer-drenched world in which you plug up your hyper-realistic, articulated and pneumatic sex doll (NSFW) to the Internet, then put on your virtual-3D helmet. You sign on to some pron site across the world where the helmet tells you an incredibly beautiful woman is in your arms, in place of the sexbot. The sex worker's body is wired up to connections in your sex doll so that it responds to her commands, like biofeedback. The two of you have completely detached but moderately realistic sex. No one will ever know what happened, so how can the law do anything?

Internet geeks would never leave their basements, having satisfied that last, nigh-unobtainable need. With a fundzmental need for real-life human interaction taken care of vicariously, through electronic mediation similar to online game playing (games like The Sims are a related phenomenon) what kind of world we will be creating?

Yep, one very, very strange universe is coming indeed.
Why Aren't More Young People Doing This?

From Australia:
UNIVERSITY students are entering into "sham" marriages in a bid to get financial support to cope with rising tertiary costs.

As the Victorian Government moves to pressure Canberra for improvements to support schemes such as Youth Allowance and Austudy, students admit they are resorting to drastic measures in a bid to qualify for government aid.

One student from the University of Sydney told The Age he married his housemate a few years ago in order to become eligible for the Independent Youth Allowance.

Under the scheme - which critics claim is either too hard to obtain or insufficient to make ends meet - students can receive between $194.50 and $355.40 a fortnight if they can prove they are "independent" through a range of criteria, such as earning $18,850 after spending 18 months out of school, having deceased parents, or being married.

"We went to the registry on Thursday and by Monday we were at Centrelink. [Note: the Australian welfare office.] It seemed like the easiest, clearest solution - simply because there was no other accessible means for us to survive," said the student, who did not wish to be named.
Gaming the system! Gotta love it.

I've floated the idea with some acquaintances about a possible exploit that more Americans can use to similarly game our insurance system, via using the newly minted "domestic partnership" laws.

It's simple. Two young men (Or any combination of men & women, really.) have left college and remained good friends. One is a successful management type or office drone with a good benefits package including health care for himself and his "partner." His buddy is an artistic type with great ideas and a great future, but nothing in the way of insurance and health care.

They move in together, then go downtown to register as "domestic partners." Now the artistic type has access to the same excellent health care system as the office drone at a fraction of the cost it might otherwise be if he was single and alone!

The office drone has little to fear. Workplace harrassment laws will protect him. He doesn't even have to say anything at all. He can continue to live his life as a swingin' single guy. Only the folks in Human Resources will really know and they can't say anything. If they did for some reason, via whispers or rumors, then we're back to workplace harrassment protection.

It ought to be easy to keep the insurance fraud sniffers away. They have to prove fraud. You need only assert they are delving into your personal life and how you choose to live it is your business. Keep your morality out of my bedroom!

It seems such a fundamental and easy dodge it really surprises me that more artist types aren't taking advantage of it.
A Pointer to Obama's Future?

Followers of Australian poltics know that former Prime Minister was derided by the Australisan Left as a Bush clone and a warmonger. The Australian Labor Party (roughly their equivalent of our Democratic Party) went mad for years trying unsuccessfully to remove him from office. He was especially hated for his participation on Bush's War on Terror. Everything you've seen in American Bush Derangement Syndrome has been present in Australia.

A year or so ago, the ALP finally got the Prime Minister's office (when Howard retired; not by electoral rejection) and Australian Lefties were overjoyed, thinking they were at last going to change the direction of the country.

Sadly, that's not happened so much. And now comes word that one of the ALP's most-expected actions -- getting Australia out of Iraq for good and all -- isn't going to happen on the ALP's watch!
[Defence Minister Joel] Fitzgibbon told The Age that while Labor opposed the invasion of Iraq, Australia now had an obligation to help get the country on its feet.

He said that on his recent visit to the United States he assured senior members of the Bush Administration that Australia remained committed to the Iraq "project".

That completes a comprehensive adjustment of the ALP's policy on Iraq and a significant shift from the impression created by Labor in opposition that Australia's role in Iraq was all but over.

In the lead-up to the 2007 election, Labor promised to withdraw Australia's combat troops from southern Iraq. To meet that undertaking this year, it brought home the 550-strong Overwatch Battle Group and 70 instructors....

"I reassured the US that we remain committed to the Iraqi project, including our P-3 Orions, the security detachment in Baghdad and the frigate protecting the offshore oil export terminals," he said.

"While the Labor Party opposed the intervention, having been part of it as a country we've got a responsibility to see the project through.
What does that have to do with America?

Just watch Barack Obama. He's already shown signs of trying to back away from his previous pledges. See if he doesn't follow a similar path.

His Congressional leaders -- Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- have already caved, and hard. Do you think they want their President making them look like chickens? Of course not.

Obama also realises that a lot of Americans who might vote for him don't want us pulling willy-nilly out of a committment to Iraq, leaving another Vietnam-style mess behind us.

Just watch for him to change.
More on Making Main a Street Again

New-to-me downtown blogger memphis Limelight posts a recap of the Center City Commission open meeting.

It makes for interesting reading, so I won't quote much. I do want to highlight a couple of things. First, here's ML's breakdown of keys to successful pedestrian malls:
* Mixed activity uses - Maybe
* Population of captive users - Yes
* Programmed activities - No
* Efficient public transit - Maybe
* Strong anchors - No
* Centralized/coordinated retail management - No
* Extensive parking - Yes (currently 22,600 spaces)
* High tourism area - Maybe
* College town or near college neighborhood - No
Memphis only hits two of those keys. ML wants to stretch some of the "maybes" and "nos" into yesses but I think he's trying to massage bad news into supporting his vision of what he wants. (She? Don't know.)

Also, there's this:
And one very community-involved downtown resident and business owner replied that there's already a test - the cops drive on it all the time and use it as their personal parking lot. She was vehemently against the proposal, based on her firsthand experience through 24 years of different phases. She was one of many that expressed frustration with the trolleys.

A spokesperson for Carriage Tours of Memphis compared Main to surrounding streets, asking for proof that traffic makes any difference. A few people pointed out that if the answer was vehicle traffic, South Main and The Pinch District would be booming.
Ahh ... the Pinch was booming when there was activity at the Pyramid and the city was trying to make it the expansion zone for downtown activity. That was before South Main took off on its own and the Pyramid closed. That's the problem with downtown: remove the government subsidies and it falls into disuse!

And the point about the police ignoring the "no traffic" zone is well made. But they aren't the only ones who do as they please along the pedestrian mall. I think that's a strong sign that Main should be made a street again.

After all, New York and Chicago get along just fine with street canyons. Just because some residents want "their" downtown to satisfy some personal desire for decoration and greenspace doesn't mean the rest of the city -- and its future -- should be held hostage to them. It's just a stark reminder of why folks move to the suburbs -- they want greenspaces, too, but are willing to pay for it themselves.

I posted a comment over at the Smart City Memphis blog (which blog I strongly recommend to folks) that's related, so I'm going to post the whole thing here. It rambles and is disjointed because I knocked it out in a space of minutes so I apologise. Here it is:
Open up Main Street to vehicular traffic, with parking along the side, same as other downtown streets. Parallel parking would offer more slots, but I'm not sure there's space enough.

Talking about inter-related problems, parking downtown is the elephant in the room that city leaders seem to want to ignore. Why hasn't the city been working to develop a space that can be converted into another parking garage, city-subsidised if need be? Instead, they keep bringing in more and more businesses and events, then let the city-as-it-is absorb the extra vehicles as best it can. Which means overstuffing the private lots. That makes no sense.

It also used to be that you could catch all the city busses you need almost anywhere downtown. When the dimwits decided to put the new MATA bus terminal at the FAR END of downtown (and it turned out to be the wrong end when the Pyramid flopped and the Pinch didn't become the growth area) it created an untenable situation.

Few people want to walk eight blocks or more from wherever they are downtown to the bus terminal. Almost as many don't like paying extra for a trolley ride or a connector bus to get there, besides the hassle of having to walk to where the trolley runs instead of catching the old busses that ran nearby.

I understand the wisdom of decreasing bus traffic so as to increase space for other vehicular traffic, but the city and MATA went too far the other way.

SCM, you might also want to look into the federal subsidies for the trolleys downtown and along Madison. The first was due to expire this year, I think, and the Madison line is due to expire soon after. That's several millions of dollars going away from MATA at a time when their fuel prices have nearly doubled. Tell me that's not a recipe for cutbacks and diminished service.

For the life of me, I do not understand why MATA hasn't been investigated. It's over-ripe for it.

And not to be too snarky about it, but the same urban design "leader" types who are redesigning downtowns today to resemble the downtowns of fifty-sixty years ago are the same twits who talked cities into creating those urban malls in the first place! Fashions and trends, my friend, and the easily-folled, gullible types who buy their blather.

Cities had strong downtowns until the Sixties because of the weight of historical inertia. It's where the businesses always had been. The majority of people at the time lived within a few miles of there, and the transportation web was designed around that centrality. Easily done; easily followed.

Then came the "sprawl" as you call it of the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies. It was, in my mind, the explosion of the middle-class in America which is, I think, a good and healthy thing. Folks moved farther out to find space, instead of living in cramped neighborhoods (drive through Cooper-Young and really look).

Business moved to follow them and, logically, the centrality of the downtown to a city disappeared, except as government, police and the legal establishment are "central" to daily lives. Folks didn't want to drive all the way downtown to search for parking, so offices followed too.

The idea of a "central downtown" is a holdover from an earlier era. Especially in the technology/information age, it's not really necessary. Government could, and should, build more satellite offices to cut down on travelling downtown. Police already have satellite precincts.

And using government as a tool for forcing people to move back into denser, smaller-lot or tower living is non-democratic. We used to live that way, which is why the wealthy moved out along Peabody and Madison and Monroe decades ago. The old neighborhoods between the Pyramid and Rhodes College were the sprawl of their day, but with better built, longer-lasting homes. The Parkway Villages and Westwoods of the Fifties and Sixties are a problem in the brewing that's being looked at from the wrong angle.

Anyway, enough of that. With the large populations of 21st century cities you need lots of space. That requires cars (albeit better designed ones!). That means streets and parking. Let's optimise those first.
There's an idea I just toss off above that I need to think on some more -- the idea that cities don't really need centralised downtowns anymore, now that communications technology is maturing and so much data doesn't require hardcopy to be kept on file.

It strikes me that a lot of downtown's "attractions" are publicly funded or subsidised. They are museums, Forums, public parks, events, etc. Take away that crutch, that prop, and downtown becomes a ghost town again. But the only design alternative we see are endless shopping streets like Summer, Poplar, Germantown, etc. Why isn't there a middle alternative?

Isn't part of the "lakes of tarmac" problem with suburban shopping centers that zoning laws require them to provide year-round parking sufficient for that peak shopping month between Thanksgiving and New Years? Compare the compactness of smaller strip malls with the wide-open vistas of a Sam's Club, Wal-Mart or Target shopping center. Wouldn't altering that requirement go a ways to reducing the footprint of many shopping centers?

Bunching up attractions is the conscious design theory of downtown and the unconscious imperative of Germantown Parkway. Surely the laws can be tweaked to find a middle solution? I don't see people looking for one. I wish they would.

As I noted above, I don't see the post-WWII suburban "sprawl" of America as a bad thing, a disease on America's cities. It's a sign, as clear as you can ask for, of the success of the America middle class. Of the American dream of our own homes with yards kids can play in relatively safe neighborhoods of like-minded people.

I think a lot of the folks who wish to erase the suburbs and repack people into small-scale New Yorks aren't seeing the reality of cities. They are crowded, unclean, smelly and dangerous. That's the nature of any mammals crowded together.

Scrath the folks who espouse the "new urbanism" (I'm old enough to remember when it was more honestly called gentrification.) model and you'll soon find the statist controller underneath. Crowded cities need strong governments with a lot of powers and a strong police force given a lot of leeway. They also require a plethora of commissions and associations and public-private partnerships that can stifle life's diversity. Or create one kind of government-guided "diversity" at the cost of whatever real diversity the city's residents want for themselves.

For an example, look at what Memphis' government-directed downtown puts forward. Beale Street: a huge public-drunk zone that destroyed the old, original, "real" black business zone to remake it as an oligarchic "entertainment zone" version of itself. Our "music history" is a Burgess Shale of fossilised people: Elvis, Sun and, when Memphis' black power became a reality, Stax. We're pimping the past's corpses even as we ignore the incredible wealth of new music blooming underneath us right now. There is no reason Memphis shouldn't be -- right now -- this decade's Seattle or Athens, Liverpool, or New York/London. None. The growth of museums and related public spaces is another problem, as they lock down parts of the city into staring at the past and deliberately downplay the vibrant present.

Let downtown become what it's going to become based on who lives and works there. It will be a radically different place in ten or twenty years than anything America's seen, driven by the remaining need for some City / State / Federal entities to remain, along with their ancillary industries (law, paper record-keeping, etc.) and by the actual residents.

I know. Too radical for a hide-bound place like Memphis. Maybe even for me! I like how Memphis is America's Biggest Small Town, a collection of vibrant and history-laden neighborhoods. But what's wrong with how the current residents want to shape their neighborhood? Look at Cooper-Young and what they are becoming. It's an instructive example and I'm sure there are more.

A place like Houston -- which effectively has no zoning laws or city-guided growth scheme -- is the counter-example, the warning. But the downtown-centric model is just old, out of date. We need to find that new, middle way.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Don't Fear the Reaper

Radio programmers are total idiots. Here's a smokin' live version of Blue Oyster Cult and Don't Fear the Reaper. No data but it looks to be from the past 5 years or so. These guys are still touring regularly, still releasing good albums and still sound great! But you won't hear them on radio, except this and Godzilla, and certainly not the new stuff. They just put out a live album a couple of years ago that's full of awesome. Won't hear that on the radio, either.

Idiots and bastards, all.

So many, many artists and bands from the Glory Days of Rock who are still touring, making good new music and still sound great. Maybe the line-up's a little different, but the band is still essential.

Radio could care less. Gone and forgotten. For the life of me, I cannot understand the people who listen to the same few damn songs over and over again, sometimes day after day, for decades on Rock 103 and The Max. I mean I have my favorites too, and I listen to them regularly, but not every damn day!


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Draft is Coming Back

For years, New York Congressman Charles Rangel has introduced a bill in Congress to reinstate the draft. It's purely political theater. The dimmer bulbs on the Left occasionally discover the bill, don't bother to read any deeper than the summary, and then start hollering about "Bush is bringing back the draft!" I'm sure Rangel giggles every time it happens.

But now, Rangel is really serious. He does want to bring back a draft -- one that is a requirement of everyone who turns eighteen, no exceptions. This draft does have a diversion in it, where you can opt out of military service and go into "National Service." Read about it here. You may not go to war, but you will serve.

Tie this in with Obama's call earlier this month for a new volunteerism and a massive expansion of the AmeriCorps:
At $3.5 billion a year, his service plan, laid out last December and expanded on only slightly Wednesday, has been derided by conservatives as an example of big government. He would expand the AmeriCorps program established by President Bill Clinton by 250,000 slots, double the size of the Peace Corps by 2011, expand the Foreign Service, and create an Energy Corps to conduct renewable-energy and environmental-cleanup projects. Veterans would be enlisted to help other veterans find jobs and support, and a Social Investment Fund Network would support the nonprofit sector.

An American Opportunity Tax Credit would offer $4,000 to college students for 100 hours of public service. A planned expansion of the Army and Marines by 92,000 would be fostered with pay raises, more family-friendly policies and an end to recruiting impediments such as "stop-loss" decrees that prevent service members from leaving on schedule.
Note the part about the tax credit for college-student service.

There's already a strong movement by high schools and colleges to require some form of community service in order to receive a degree. (More here and here.)

Bring this all together, add in an Obama presidential win, and I think every 18- to 24-year-old out there has something to think about. Imagine having to put all those prime college years, early career/family years, or prime slacking / drinking / gaming / fucking around years on hold, to do the bidding of old farts like ... Charley Rangel!

It's not that Democrats are opposed to involuntary national service, just to what ends you put it to.
Nashville Ranks Higher Than Memphis ... And That's Good News!

Reason magazine lists 35 American cities on various measures of nanny-statism, from most to least repressive. The good news is that Memphis (23) ranks lower than Nashville (29), but we still rank pretty high up there.

From the list:
This year Shelby County, where Memphis is located, passed an ordinance banning beer sales at strip clubs, requiring dancers to wear pasties, mandating a six-foot separation at all times between entertainers and customers, and forcing all employees of girlie bars to undergo criminal background checks and obtain permits. At press time, the rules were being challenged in court.


Sex: 32 Tobacco: 2 Alcohol: 25 Guns: 4

Movement: 19 Drugs: 25 Gambling: 21 Food/Other: 22
Scroll to the very bottom for an explanation of the measures and for a highly hilarious corrections list.

But hey! We're better than Nashville! Neener neener.
Book Promotions of the Future

No doubt you've already seen book commercials on television, but this is a whole new level of promotion:

Best of all, you don't need a book publisher to do it for you and it doesn't have to go on a book promotion tour.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Monday's Commercial Appeal runs a story congratulating itself and its editor in chief extolling its writers and photographers for winning industry awards.

But Editor-in-Smarm Chris Peck says this:
"In a year in which newspapers are having some difficulties on the business side, it's a sign of good health in Memphis that The Commercial Appeal's journalism continues to shine," Peck added.
Isn't this a non-sequitur? How does the CA's winning awards relate to the industry's circulation and advertising crashes? The awards are issued by folks within their own industry, independent of any influence by or on the general public. The public is voting with its eyes and dollars on the value of newspapers -- they are reading less and buying significantly less advertising. The CA can win all the awards it can; it doesn't affect their problems.

(Gotta love Peck's whitewash of the severe problems of newspapers with "some difficulties." If he's willing to violently twist and spin that reality to you the reader on something not especially consequential, then what else might he be willing to be less than fully honest and forthcoming on? What do I always say? If someone is willing to fudge the small and inconsequential things, then you can believe they'll fudge the important stuff, too.)

I also like how they single out Marc Perrusquia's series Culture of Corruption for special mention but fail to give you a link to it! The hyperlinked picture of the story's big splash page goes to ... the same image! As the page stands at the time of posting, you have to go and dig out the story for yourself. Or use the handy link I've provided just above.

Nothing else is linked either. Nothing and no one. I can understand the paper version not having much or anything (haven't seen it yet, so I don't know for sure); even on a Monday I'm sure space is still an issue. But online? No excuse. It's effectively trivial to link these works up.

Also, can someone clarify something for me? No to piss on Perrusquia, but the story series he won the award for was a rehashing of old reports. It didn't have any new, ground-breaking work in it that I see. Yes, he called the prosecutors' offices involvedand some folks who provided quotes on corruption in general. And yes, he went into the paper's archives to dig up old stories (written by other people!). So, is he being honored for all the previous work -- the parts he's responsible for -- that went into the series? How many of the stories predated press releases out of the various prosecutors' offices or news broken by other media sources? How many were completely new information developed and broken by him? How much was original (truly original) to Perrusquia? I'm not saying he doesn't work hard or doesn't deserve it; I'm just curious about the scope and meaning of the award.

I would also mention this:
The other first-place awards from TAPME were:

Daniel Connolly for Features Reporting, for his stories on the impact of immigration on Greater Memphis.
The plug might more accurately say, "... the impact of Greater Memphis on immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries." That would be far more accurate.

I started to write about this during my tenure at Mediaverse Memphis. (Related MM story here. Richard's take on another story in the series here.) Richard was taken by Connolly's writing but seems to have not been bothered at all by the viewpoint that went into it. I was.

Connolly's story about the large numbers of illegal aliens excuse me, immigrants in local temp staffing agencies came down hard on the companies and was very sympathetic to the illegal aliens. Sympathy for them and almost no expression of the viewpoint of legal citizens appalled at the large numbers on non-citizens living in this country were hallmarks of the series. (If you want to read the stories in this series, start with this story as it has the most links to the rest of the series. Today's article on the award-winners neglected to link to them as well. You're welcome.)

The whole series was built around the "immigrants from Central and South America," to use Connolly's phrasing. It barely touched at all on the experiences of Chinese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Somali, Indian, etc. in this city. None of those immigrant communities are as large as the illegal Mexican one, but certainly the Southeast Asian and Indian communities -- and the Arab Muslim community, too -- are all influential in "Greater Memphis."

No. He deliberately downplayed aspects of or points of view toward that larger story that might undermine what he wanted to achieve. Connolly wanted to gin up sympathy for the illegal Mexican community rapidly building up in the area. His approach was "How do we change to accept these people? rather than "How do we deal with this growing problem?"

Compare his attitude toward his subjects with Perrusquia's treatment of his. Are they even close to the same? That's a part of my point. Would Perrusquia even consider writing in sympathy for his subjects? Would Connolly write criticism of his for their open-ended crime of entering this country illegally and staying here?

I'm not disparaging their hard work. Just asking questions.