A Sleepy Week at the Legislature on Tonight’s Arkansas Week

I’m back on AETN’s “Arkansas Week” at 8 p.m. tonight along with the Associated Press’ Andrew DeMillo and KUAR’s Kelly MacNeil. We’ll go over the week that was at the General Assembly, including no raises for judges and lawyers, an attempt to reign in independent state agencies and redistricting. We’ll also go over the Arkansas delegation’s vote to repeal Obama health care and major news from Tyson Foods Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Got a big night ahead? Watch it right now online.

#ARElections: Election Day in Arkansas

Bipartisan Coffee Break

(From left) Democratic Lt. Governor candidate Shane Broadway, Democratic Secretary of State candidate Pat O'Brien, Republican Governor candidate Jim Keet and Republican U.S. House candidate Tim Griffin chat over coffee after appearing on "Today's THV This Morning" live from Community Bakery.

Arkansas Business Election Guide | Today’s THV Election Guide | Video: All the AETN Debates

Don’t forget: Tonight at the Clinton School, we make final predictions then watch the returns roll in. Also: Tweet-In! Track analysis from Clinton School students under hashtag #UACS2010.

Arkansas Business Publisher Jeff Hankins joins “Today’s THV” tonight for live coverage starting at 7 p.m. See THV2.com for continuous coverage. Updates on ArkansasBusiness.com, @ArkBusiness, @JeffHankins, @LT.

Coffee with the Candidates: #ARElections Day on Today’s THV This Morning

Your Vote 2010

Your Vote 2010

We’ve got what’s shaping up to be an unpredictable — but fun! — Tuesday morning on “Today’s THV This Morning” tomorrow, Election Day.

Hosts Alyson Courtney and Tom Brannon will be live at Community Bakery in downtown Little Rock throughout the show. I’ll be there too, and we’ll chat with some of the state’s candidates for Congressional and state offices, as well as give some final info on all the races and what to watch for on Election Night.

So who exactly’s gonna show up early? “Today’s THV This Morning” Producer Matthew Carroll says he’s called just about everybody — particularly in the U.S. House and Senate races, along with those for the state’s Constitutional offices — and most have agreed to pop in for a final informal chat over some hot coffee and pastries. Elections and eclairs! Should be hoot.

Check it out tomorrow starting at 5 a.m. on Today’s THV to see who shows.

The Final Push: Staring Down the Barrel of the Midterm Elections

Finally! It’s less than 90 hours until this long national nightmare of a mid-term election comes to hideous close. We can’t wait for the relative calm (maybe?) of Nov. 3, when everyone sleeps for a full day before gettin’ wound up for 2012.

Until then, we’ve got lots to do:

1) “Arkansas Week,” 8 p.m. tonight. I join KUAR-FM, 89.1’s Kelly MacNeil, the University of Arkansas’ Hoyt Purvis and host Steve Barnes for a final assessment of the state’s Congressional and constitutional officer races, such as they are. Remember that big exciting Senate race? Not so exciting heading into the final weekend. We look to the 1st District for any final fireworks. Also: Swepco’s 0-3 in court rulings. Check your local AETN station tonight or watch it online here.

2) “Today’s THV This Morning,” election day. Last week, I appeared on the noon show each day for a quick, final summary of all the Congressional races. On Tuesday’s “Morning” show, I’ll be live throughout the morning with some last-minute notes and maybe a guest or two.

3) Midterm Election Watch Party, the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock. I’ll be on a panel with a couple of other yahoos to give some final impressions of this year’s campaigns. We’ll also take questions from the audience and enjoy a warm bowl of bean soup before the returns start, er, returning. Fun!

4) Election Night Returns on Today’s THV and ArkansasBusiness.com. Pop up some popcorn, grab a Coke and settle in for a long night. You’ll be on the couch, we’ll be in at the parties, on the phone, online and in studio delivering the latest election night news as it happens. Arkansas Business Publisher Jeff Hankins will analyze the county-by-county returns live on Today’s THV and THV2.com, and I’ll be manning coverage for ArkansasBusiness.com.

5) The Morning After. Hankins and I will be on “Today’s THV This Morning” and “Today’s THV at Noon” to go over the results and, maybe, What It All Means.

And if this year’s elections weren’t scary enough: Happy Halloween!

In the Firing Squad for Tonight’s AETN Governors Debate Among Mike Beebe, Jim Keet and Jim Lendall

AETN's video-heavy election page

AETN's video-heavy election page. Nicely done.

I’m among the panelists for today’s hour-long gubernatorial debate starring incumbent Mike Beebe (D), Jim Keet (R) and Jim Lendall (G). We tape the debate at 2 p.m. in Conway and it airs tonight at 8 p.m. on your local Arkansas Educational Television Network affiliate.

Also on tonight’s panel: Ron Breeding of NPR affiliate KUAR-FM and Bill Simmons of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. I haven’t seen anyone’s questions except my own, but I expect hot topics to include jobs, the economy, health care and, more than likely, state vehicles.

Each panelist gets ask two questions, so expect six questions total, plus opening and closing statements from each of the candidates.

Today’s debate is part of a series of debates airing each weeknight this week on AETN stations as well as on KUAR. Also tonight: the Lt. Governors debate between Shane Broadway (D) and Mark Darr (R), airing at 7 p.m.. And on Wednesday, Arkansas Business Editor Gwen Moritz is on the panel for the U.S. Senate debate, and Publisher Jeff Hankins will be part of Friday’s Attorney General debate.

You can see the full schedule of this week’s debates at AETN’s Web site here.

And speaking of that site, kudos to AETN for a solid multimedia Web effort. In its excellent debates section, you can see videos of each of the debates and conversations with voters.

Update: You can watch the full debate here.

Cable Sees Its Worst Subscriber Loss, Which Makes Perfect Sense

Cable suffered its worst video loss, shedding 711,000 video subscribers in the second quarter, as six of the eight biggest cable firms reported their most dismal three-month period. Overall, cable, satellite TV and telecom providers shed 216,000 video customers in Q2 compared with a 378,000 gain in the same period a year earlier.

SNL Kagan estimates that almost 3 million U.S. households will use Hulu and other Web TV options as their primary video solution by the end of the year, up from 1.5 million in 2009. For 2011, the company expects that figure to hit 4.3 million. (There are about 115 million TV households in the States.)

– Cable’s decline an incentive for Yahoo, Hulu deal

This has been a long time coming, of course. People can only put with with subpar customer service and expensive, overstuffed channel packages for so long. Add to that the rise of Web-enabled TVs with apps that allow streaming from Netflex, Vudu, YouTube and Hulu and you’ve got all kinds of reason to dump traditional cable.

Mad Men on iTunes

No AMC? We've decided 'Mad Men' is worth paying for, so we get new episodes via iTunes.

Here’s how it’s been working at my house this summer after a move necessitated dumping Comcast. Now we get the four major networks, in HD, and any of their secondary digital channels over-the-air via digital antenna for free. We supplement  that with an $11 per month Netflix subscription, which gets us one DVD or Blu-ray at a time, plus unlimited streaming of Netflix’s Watch Instantly library.

We access streaming content via our Samsung Blu-ray player, which comes equipped with a Netflix app, along with other services like Wal-Mart’s Vudu, Blockbuster, Pandora and YouTube. It’s connected to the Web with our $35 per month SuddenLink high-speed Internet access.

Any other shows we’re missing, we can always connect the MacBook Pro to the TV to access iTunes content or, really, anything else out there for free on Web.

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Mad Men and The Sopranos: Dropping the Mask

If there is a single theme to such disparate productions as The Sopranos and Mad Men, a single theme that explains their hypnotic attraction, however different their settings, it may be dignity—the struggle of humans to hold onto it in their own, often enough crazy ways. In Mad Men, that struggle takes place in changing social times as the characters try to preserve the best of themselves and discard the worst. But the human condition being what it is, we may wind up doing the reverse. Maybe it depends on the models we choose.

– Paul Greenberg in today’s “Column One.”

There’s a lot of common themes between these two shows, but I’d never considered human dignity to among them. I suppose it’s there, particularly in The Sopranos, as Tony and his Family run roughshod over the whole of New Jersey, contaminating or destroying those they touch.

I’d argue the real common ground between these excellent series is in how these characters constantly lie to each other and themselves. These people are simply unable to tell the truth. And when the insights come, they are quickly dismissed or — worse — willingly misinterpreted.

This is why Tony might as well be dead in the series finale. At that point, his inner circle decimated, he’s out of therapy, persuaded his children to make the easy choices and insulated himself from any further insight. He’s anesthetized to the brutal truth of his world. There’s a reason so many of those final episodes open or close with Tony in bed, asleep.

It’s too early to tell how long Don Draper will maintain the lie. Early in the fourth season, the mask shows signs of slipping.

And maybe that’s where this talk of “dignity” comes from. Don’s been the very model of success and station, a complete transformation from his hardscrabble roots. That’s the struggle: At the core, what is the best of Don, and what must be discarded? Tony already made his choice.