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.

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!

Forget Ping for Now; Apple TV’s the Real News

Apple TV

Apple TV

… iTunes in the context of Apple TV is vastly more interesting—in fact, Apple TV is by far the most enthralling thing Apple announced this week, a model for what Apple products should be more like.

Apple TV’s integration with AirPlay and an upcoming, more powerful new Remote app soothes a lot of the anxiety about the inexplicable sense of disconnect between various Apple products.

The Seeds of Apple’s Cloud – Gizmodo

There was peculation that Apple would make good on its purchase of Lala this week by finally putting iTunes in the cloud, allowing you to stream your music library from anywhere. That didn’t happen. But the connectivity heralded by the new Apple TV to all IOS devices is a really cool step in the right direction.

Despite it’s “meh” debut, the undercooked Ping might pay off farther down the road (name another social network that has more than 100 million credit card numbers already on file). The bigger announcement this week was the new Apple TV — not so much the odd “rent and don’t purchase” model, not even the Netflix integration, which should have been part of Apple TV from the git-go — but the way it easily brings together files on your Mac, iPad, iPhone and every other AirPlay enabled device third-party manufacturers can crank out.

You could argue that other services like Boxee already do this and even allow more customization and better access to wider variety of file formats. But like everything else from Apple, the new Apple TV makes it easier, particularly if you’re already part of its ecosystem. And if you’re not, this might make you want to be.

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.

#ARElections: Let’s Try This Again, Shall We? Join Us for Coverage on Today’s THV Tonight

It’s deja vu all over again!

Once again, Arkansas Business Publisher Jeff Hankins and I will be on Today’s THV tonight, part of the CBS affiliate’s local election coverage.

You can catch coverage during the 5, 6 and 6:30 p.m. newscasts, the latter featuring a segment with Hankins. We’ll both be aboard starting at 9 p.m. on THV’s regular network channel and its second digital channel, THV2. And of course, there will be coverage at 10 p.m. during the regular nightly newscast.

And you’ll be able to watch online. And Jeff and I will tweeting and updating ArkansasBusiness.com with analysis and news throughout the night.

We’re on Twitter at:

@JeffHankins

@LT

Hankins will be offering his analysis of the returns as they come in after polls close at 7:30 p.m., and I’ll be monitoring the online buzz and offering additional commentary. And THV reporters will be at crucial watch parties. Join us tonight and let’s get this thing over with, already.