Monday, December 31, 2007

Last image of the year, from Peter Luger's, the World Citadel of Steak.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Nintendo Wii hacked -- homebrew games ahoy! - Boing Boing

Nintendo Wii hacked -- homebrew games ahoy! - Boing Boing:

During yesterday's Why Silicon-Based Security is still that hard: Deconstructing Xbox 360 Security presentation at the 24th Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin, hackers Michael Steil and Felix Domke demonstrated a blown-wide-open hack for the Nintendo Wii. They've extracted the keys for signing Wii code, and now you can run anyone's code on your Wii, not just programs that Nintendo has sanctioned. Incredible as it may seem, there are still companies that think that they should have the right to tell you what you can and can't do with your hardware after you pay for it.

Why Starbucks actually helps mom and pop coffeehouses. - By Taylor Clark - Slate Magazine

Why Starbucks actually helps mom and pop coffeehouses. - By Taylor Clark - Slate Magazine:

So now that we know Starbucks isn't slaughtering mom and pop, the thorny question remains: Why is Starbucks amplifying their business? It's actually pretty simple. In contrast to so-called "downtown killers" like Home Depot or Wal-Mart, Starbucks doesn't enjoy the kinds of competitive advantages that cut down its local rivals' sales. Look at Wal-Mart. It offers lower prices and a wider array of goods than its small-town rivals, so it acts like a black hole on local consumers, sucking in virtually all of their business. Starbucks, on the other hand, is often more expensive than the local coffeehouse, and it offers a very limited menu; you'll never see discounts or punch cards at Starbucks, nor will you see unique, localized fare (or—let's be honest—fare that doesn't make your tongue feel like it's dying). In other words, a new Starbucks doesn't prevent customers from visiting independents in the same way Wal-Mart does—especially since coffee addicts need a fix every day, yet they don't always need to hit the same place for it. When Starbucks opens a store next to a mom and pop, it creates a sort of coffee nexus where people can go whenever they think "coffee." Local consumers might have a formative experience with a Java Chip Frappuccino, but chances are they'll branch out to the cheaper, less crowded, and often higher-quality independent cafe later on. So when Starbucks blitzed Omaha with six new stores in 2002, for instance, business at all coffeehouses in town immediately went up as much as 25 percent.
I write from the fifth circle of Hell:

Choosing A Dog

"It's love," they say. You touch
the right one and a whole half of the universe
wakes up, a new half.

Some people never find
that half, or they neglect it or trade it
for money or success and it dies.

The faces of big dogs tell, over the years,
that size is a burden: you enjoy it for awhile
but then maintenance gets to you.

When I get old I think I'll keep, not a little
dog, but a serious dog,
for the casual, drop-in criminal --

My kind of dog, unimpressed by
dress or manner, just knowing
what's really there by the smell.

Your good dogs, some things that they hear
they don't really want you to know --
it's too grim or ethereal.

And sometimes when they look in the fire
they see time going on and someone alone,
but they don't say anything.

William Stafford

The Airport Security Follies - Jet Lagged - Air Travel - Opinion - New York Times Blog

The Airport Security Follies - Jet Lagged - Air Travel - Opinion - New York Times Blog:

Yet that’s exactly what we’ve been doing. The three-ounce container rule is silly enough — after all, what’s to stop somebody from carrying several small bottles each full of the same substance — but consider for a moment the hypocrisy of T.S.A.’s confiscation policy. At every concourse checkpoint you’ll see a bin or barrel brimming with contraband containers taken from passengers for having exceeded the volume limit. Now, the assumption has to be that the materials in those containers are potentially hazardous. If not, why were they seized in the first place? But if so, why are they dumped unceremoniously into the trash? They are not quarantined or handed over to the bomb squad; they are simply thrown away. The agency seems to be saying that it knows these things are harmless. But it’s going to steal them anyway, and either you accept it or you don’t fly.

But of all the contradictions and self-defeating measures T.S.A. has come up with, possibly none is more blatantly ludicrous than the policy decreeing that pilots and flight attendants undergo the same x-ray and metal detector screening as passengers. What makes it ludicrous is that tens of thousands of other airport workers, from baggage loaders and fuelers to cabin cleaners and maintenance personnel, are subject only to occasional random screenings when they come to work.
How we got to this point is an interesting study in reactionary politics, fear-mongering and a disconcerting willingness of the American public to accept almost anything in the name of “security.” Conned and frightened, our nation demands not actual security, but security spectacle. And although a reasonable percentage of passengers, along with most security experts, would concur such theater serves no useful purpose, there has been surprisingly little outrage. In that regard, maybe we’ve gotten exactly the system we deserve.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

nytheatre mike’s Favorites of 2007 « nytheatre mike 2.0

nytheatre mike’s Favorites of 2007 « nytheatre mike 2.0:

Invincible Summer (The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival): The solo show of the year, hands down. Author and performer Mike Daisey brought together such seemingly disparate threads as 9/11, his own life, and the history of the MTA in a dazzling display that beat the late Spalding Gray at his own game.

NPR : The Story of the Family that Couldn't Sleep

NPR : The Story of the Family that Couldn't Sleep:

Science writer D.T. Max talks about a family that suffered from a disease called fatal familial insomnia. Upon onset of the disease's symptoms, typically around middle age, sufferers become unable to sleep. They die within months. We'll talk with the author about one family's case, and their efforts to find a cure.

The Death of High Fidelity : Rolling Stone

The Death of High Fidelity : Rolling Stone:

Over the past decade and a half, a revolution in recording technology has changed the way albums are produced, mixed and mastered — almost always for the worse. "They make it loud to get [listeners'] attention," Bendeth says. Engineers do that by applying dynamic range compression, which reduces the difference between the loudest and softest sounds in a song. Like many of his peers, Bendeth believes that relying too much on this effect can obscure sonic detail, rob music of its emotional power and leave listeners with what engineers call ear fatigue. "I think most everything is mastered a little too loud," Bendeth says. "The industry decided that it's a volume contest."

Producers and engineers call this "the loudness war," and it has changed the way almost every new pop and rock album sounds. But volume isn't the only issue. Computer programs like Pro Tools, which let audio engineers manipulate sound the way a word processor edits text, make musicians sound unnaturally perfect. And today's listeners consume an increasing amount of music on MP3, which eliminates much of the data from the original CD file and can leave music sounding tinny or hollow. "With all the technical innovation, music sounds worse," says Steely Dan's Donald Fagen, who has made what are considered some of the best-sounding records of all time. "God is in the details. But there are no details anymore."

BBC NEWS | Technology | Web icon set to be discontinued

 41162701 Netscape203Index

BBC NEWS | Technology | Web icon set to be discontinued:

The browser that helped kick-start the commercial web is to cease development because of lack of users.

Netscape Navigator, now owned by AOL, will no longer be supported after 1 February 2008, the company has said.

In the mid-1990s the browser was used by more than 90% of the web population, but numbers have slipped to just 0.6%.

In particular, the browser has faced competition from Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE), which is now used by nearly 80% of all web users.

Netscape Navigator 2.0

Friday, December 28, 2007

Threat in Maine, the Whitest State, Shakes Local N.A.A.C.P. - New York Times

Threat in Maine, the Whitest State, Shakes Local N.A.A.C.P. - New York Times:

BANGOR, Me. — In October, the N.A.A.C.P. chapter for northern Maine got shocking news. A man from a nearby town had threatened to shoot “any and all black persons” attending the group’s meetings at an old stone church here, and state prosecutors were worried enough to seek a restraining order.

Such remarks are not unheard of in Maine, the nation’s whitest state, which has fewer black residents — 10,918 in 2006, or less than 1 percent of the population, according to the Census Bureau — than some neighborhoods of Chicago or New York. But nor are they usually so blunt.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Slashdot | Alexander Graham Bell - Patent Thief?

Slashdot | Alexander Graham Bell - Patent Thief?:

"MSNBC is carrying an AP article reviewing a book, due out January 7, that claims to show definitive evidence that Bell stole the essential idea for telephony from Elisha Gray. Author Seth Shulman shows that Bell's notebooks contain false starts, and then after a 12-day gap during which he visited the US Patent Office, suddenly show an entirely different design, very similar to Gray's design for multiplexing Morse code signals. Shulman claims that Bell copied the design from Gray's patent application and was improperly given credit for earlier submission, with the help of a corrupt patent examiner and aggressive lawyers. Shulman also claims that fear of being found out is the reason Bell distanced himself from the company that carried his name. And if Gray Telephone doesn't seem to roll off the tongue, Shulman also noted that both of them were two decades behind the German inventor Johann Philipp Reis, who produced the first working telephony system."

The Gift-Card Economy - New York Times

The Gift-Card Economy - New York Times:

The financial-services research firm TowerGroup estimates that of the $80 billion spent on gift cards in 2006, roughly $8 billion will never be redeemed — “a bigger impact on consumers,” Tower notes, “than the combined total of both debit- and credit-card fraud.” A survey by Marketing Workshop Inc. found that only 30 percent of recipients use a gift card within a month of receiving it, while Consumer Reports estimates that 19 percent of the people who received a gift card in 2005 never used it.

Considering that two-thirds of all holiday shoppers in 2006 planned to give someone else a gift card, you most likely received one yourself in recent weeks. Perhaps you are among the exceptional minority, and you have already spent it, or soon will. But the odds say that it has instead wound up in your sock drawer.

Does this mean that a gift card is a bad gift? The answer depends on whom you ask, and it also requires the asking of a separate question: What is gift-giving meant to accomplish in the first place?

Straight Dope Message Board - I waterboard!

Straight Dope Message Board - I waterboard!:

Next up is saran wrap. The idea is that you wrap saran wrap around the mouth in several layers, and poke a hole in the mouth area, and then waterboard away. I didn't reall see how this was an improvement on the rag technique, and so far I would categorize waterboarding as simply unpleasant rather than torture, but I've come this far so I might as well go on.

Now, those of you who know me will know that I am both enamored of my own toughness and prone to hyperbole. The former, I feel that I am justifiably proud of. The latter may be a truth in many cases, but this is the simple fact:

It took me ten minutes to recover my senses once I tried this. I was shuddering in a corner, convinced I narrowly escaped killing myself.

Here's what happened:

The water fills the hole in the saran wrap so that there is either water or vaccum in your mouth. The water pours into your sinuses and throat. You struggle to expel water periodically by building enough pressure in your lungs. With the saran wrap though each time I expelled water, I was able to draw in less air. Finally the lungs can no longer expel water and you begin to draw it up into your respiratory tract.

It seems that there is a point that is hardwired in us. When we draw water into our respiratory tract to this point we are no longer in control. All hell breaks loose. Instinct tells us we are dying.

I have never been more panicked in my whole life. Once your lungs are empty and collapsed and they start to draw fluid it is simply all over. You
know you are dead and it's too late. Involuntary and total panic.

There is absolutely nothing you can do about it. It would be like telling you not to blink while I stuck a hot needle in your eye.

At the time my lungs emptied and I began to draw water, I would have sold my children to escape. There was no choice, or chance, and willpower was not involved.

I never felt anything like it, and this was self-inflicted with a watering can, where I was in total control and never in any danger.

And I understood.


Sometimes when I phoned
my mother back in Tulsa, she would
say, "Hold on a minute, Ron, let me
turn this thing down," the thing
her TV, and she would look
around for the remote and then fumble
with its little buttons as an irritation
mounted in me and an impatience
and I felt like blurting out "You watch TV
too much and it's too loud and why
don't you go outside" because I was
unable to face my dread of her aging
and my heart made cold toward her
by loving her though not wanting to give up
my life and live near her so she
could see me every day and not
just hear me, which is why she
turned the TV down and said,
"Okay, that's better," then sometimes
launched into a detailed account
of whatever awful show she was watching.

Ron Padgett

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Conical Glass: Theatrical genius

The Conical Glass: Theatrical genius:

Overall, I saw a lot of incredible stuff in 2007 and except for my #1 choice, the rest of the top 10 could be fairly fluid.

1. "Great Men of Genius," Mike Daisey (Berkeley Rep): If I may quote myself, back on June 11 of this year: "Is it too early to declare 'Great Men of Genius' the theatrical event of the year?" Why, no; it wasn't too early at all, as it turns out. This was a genuine tour de force by the young, prolific monologist, five absolutely riveting hours. I'm on Daisey's mailing list and I keep getting notices of new monologues he's performing in places like New York and Seattle; his latest is called "How Theater Failed America." This is a guy with ambition and big ideas to spare. I hope the Berkeley Rep invites him back again in 2008, 'cause even after five hours, I want more.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

FAQ | dooce ®

FAQ | dooce ®:

Q:“I’m surprised you haven’t been reported to child welfare with how public you are about some of the things you think and do regarding your daughter. Paper towels are very dangerous for your daughter to chew on. She could suffocate. don’t let her be alone with them. I’m amazed at how foolish you can be sometimes.”

A: When you call DCFS, please get the story straight. Not only do I leave her alone with paper towels, I set her in the middle of a flea-infested floor and surround her with sharp objects and porn. Then I turn on a wood-burning stove in the corner of the room and seal all the windows. Before I leave the room and lock the door, I stick a bottle full of vodka in her mouth, to muffle the screaming.

Diana Athill on aging and sex | Weekend | Guardian Unlimited

Diana Athill on aging and sex | Weekend | Guardian Unlimited:

That acceptance was sad. Indeed, I was forced into it at a time when our household was invaded by a ruthless and remarkably succulent blonde in her mid-20s and he fell into bed with her. There was one sleepless night of real sorrow, but only one night. What I mourned during that painful night was not the loss of my loving old friend who was still there, and still is, but the loss of youth: "What she has, God rot her, I no longer have and will never, never have again." A belated recognition, up against which I had come with a horrid crunch. But very soon another voice began to sound in my head, which made more sense. "Look," it said, "you know quite well that you have stopped wanting him in your bed, it's months since you enjoyed it, so what are you moaning about? Of course you have lost youth, you have moved on and stopped wanting what youth wants." And that was the end of that stage.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Preview video for UNDER THE RADAR 2008

There's really some thrilling work coming this January--check out the complete guide here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A young blonde Icelandic woman's recent experience visiting the US -- Signs of the Times News

A young blonde Icelandic woman's recent experience visiting the US -- Signs of the Times News:

The story of Eva Ósk Arnardóttir:

During the last twenty-four hours I have probably experienced the greatest humiliation to which I have ever been subjected. During these last twenty-four hours I have been handcuffed and chained, denied the chance to sleep, been without food and drink and been confined to a place without anyone knowing my whereabouts, imprisoned. Now I am beginning to try to understand all this, rest and review the events which began as innocently as possible.

Last Sunday I and a few other girls began our trip to New York. We were going to shop and enjoy the Christmas spirit. We made ourselves comfortable on first class, drank white wine and looked forward to go shopping, eat good food and enjoy life. When we landed at JFK airport the traditional clearance process began.

We were screened and went on to passport control. As I waited for them to finish examining my passport I heard an official say that there was something which needed to be looked at more closely and I was directed to the work station of Homeland Security. There I was told that according to their records I had overstayed my visa by 3 weeks in 1995. For this reason I would not be admitted to the country and would be sent home on the next flight. I looked at the official in disbelief and told him that I had in fact visited New York after the trip in 1995 without encountering any difficulties. A detailed interrogation session ensued.

I was photographed and fingerprinted. I was asked questions which I felt had nothing to do with the issue at hand. I was forbidden to contact anyone to advise of my predicament and although I was invited at the outset to contact the Icelandic consul or embassy, that invitation was later withdrawn. I don't know why.

I was then made to wait while they sought further information, and sat on a chair before the authority for 5 hours. I saw the officials in this section handle other cases and it was clear that these were men anxious to demonstrate their power. Small kings with megalomania. I was careful to remain completely cooperative, for I did not yet believe that they planned to deport me because of my "crime".

When 5 hours had passed and I had been awake for 24 hours, I was told that they were waiting for officials who would take me to a kind of waiting room. There I would be given a bed to rest in, some food and I would be searched. What they thought they might find I cannot possibly imagine. Finally guards appeared who transported me to the new place. I saw the bed as if in a mirage, for I was absolutely exhausted.

What turned out was something else. I was taken to another office exactly like the one where I had been before and once again along wait ensued. In all, it turned out to be 5 hours. At this office all my things were taken from me. I succeeded in sending a single sms to worried relatives and friends when I was granted a bathroom break. After that the cell phone was taken from me. After I had been sitting for 5 hours I was told that they were now waiting for guards who would take me to a place where I could rest and eat. Then I was placed in a cubicle which looked like an operating room. Attached to the walls were 4 steel plates, probably intended to serve as bed and a toilet.

I was exhausted, tired and hungry. I didn't understand the officials' conduct, for they were treating me like a very dangerous criminal. Soon thereafter I was removed from the cubicle and two armed guards placed me up against a wall. A chain was fastened around my waist and I was handcuffed to the chain. Then my legs were placed in chains. I asked for permission to make a telephone call but they refused. So secured, I was taken from the airport terminal in full sight of everybody. I have seldom felt so bad, so humiliated and all because I had taken a longer vacation than allowed under the law.

They would not tell me where they were taking me. The trip took close to one hour and although I couldn't see clearly outside the vehicle I knew that we had crossed over into New Jersey. We ended up in front of a jail. I could hardly believe that this was happening. Was I really about to be jailed? I was led inside in the chains and there yet another interrogation session ensued. I was fingerprinted once again and photographed. I was made to undergo a medical examnination, I was searched and then I was placed in a jail cell. I was asked absurd questions such as: When did you have your last period? What do you believe in? Have you ever tried to commit suicide?

I was completely exhausted, tired and cold. Fourteen hours after I had landed I had something to eat and drink for the first time. I was given porridge and bread. But it did not help much. I was afraid and the attitude of all who handled me was abysmal to say the least. They did not speak to me as much as snap at me. Once again I asked to make a telephone call and this time the answer was positive. I was relieved but the relief was short-lived. For the telephone was setup for collect calls only and it was not possible to make overseas calls. The jailguard held my cell phone in his hand. I explained to him that I could not make a call from the jail telephone and asked to be allowed to make one call from my own phone. That was out of the question. I spent the next 9 hours in a small, dirty cell. The only thing in there was a narrow steel board which extended out from the wall, a sink and toilet. I wish I never experience again in my life the feeling of confinement and helplessness which I experienced there.

I was hugely relieved when, at last, I was told that I was to be taken to the airport, that is to say until I was again handcuffed and chained.Then I could take no more and broke down and cried. I begged them at least to leave out the leg chains but my request was ignored. When we arrived at the airport, another jail guard took pity on me and removed the leg chains. Even so I was led through a full airport terminal handcuffed and escorted by armed men. I felt terrible. On seeing this, people must think that there goes a very dangerous criminal. In this condition I was led up into the Icelandair waiting room, and was kept handcuffed until I entered the embarkation corridor. I was completely run down by all this in both body and spirit. Fortunately I could count on good people and both Einar (the captain) and the crew did all which they could to try to assist me. My friend Auður was in close contact with my sister and the consul and embassy had been contacted. However, all had received misleading information and all had been told that I had been detained at the airport terminal, not that I had been put in jail. Now the Foreign Ministry is looking into the matter and I hope to receive some explanation why I was treated this way.

(English Translation: Gunnar Tómasson, Certified translator)

Crocodile Cafe Windows

Crocodile Cafe Windows, originally uploaded by Todd Sackmann.

Macenstein | 10.5.2 fixes Stacks!

Macenstein | 10.5.2 fixes Stacks!:


It seems that our daily e-mails to Apple just might have gotten to someone on the Leopard development team! According to a source familiar with the latest Leopard build seeded to developers, in addition to all those meaningless “little” fixes (like Data Detectors, the Mac OS X Dock, the Finder, grammar checking, iCal, iChat, Mail, Parental Controls, Quick Look, Rosetta, Safari, Time Machine, and AirPort), our source tells us that Apple has fixed Stacks by adding the missing “list view” option that should have been there all along!

Onward and Upward with the Arts: Demolition Man: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker

Onward and Upward with the Arts: Demolition Man: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker:

Over the years, Pinter’s work has inspired a journal (The Pinter Review), added words to the English language (the Oxford English Dictionary lists “Pinteresque,” “Pinterism,” “Pinterian,” and “Pinterishness” as acceptable terms), won dozens of awards, including the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 2005, and made him an object of perpetual public fascination in Britain. (His recent performance in Samuel Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape,” at the Royal Court—he began his career as an actor—sold out its entire run in sixteen minutes.) No other British playwright since Noël Coward has so dominated and defined the theatrical landscape of his time. Even Coward, who hated the New Wave that put him out of fashion, considered Pinter an exception. “Your writing absolutely fascinates me,” he wrote to Pinter in 1965 after seeing his third full-length play, “The Homecoming.” “You cheerfully break every rule of the theatre that I was brought up to believe in, except the cardinal one of never boring for a split-second. I love your choice of words, your resolute refusal to explain anything and the arrogant, but triumphant demands you make on the audience’s imagination. I can well see why some clots hate it, but I belong to the opposite camp—if you will forgive the expression.”

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I am rarely in agreement with Mitt Romney, but I am today.


Romney ‘disgusted’ by Time choice:

GLENN: No, I'm serious. It is Vladimir Putin, Time Magazine Man of the Year. A guy who, you know, with all of the KGB stuff in the past, Time magazine says has transformed the country and congratulations. Time magazine man of the year, Vladimir Putin.

GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Well, you know, he imprisoned his political opponents. There have been a number of highly suspicious murders. He has squelched public dissent and free press. And to suggest that someone like that is the man of the year is really disgusting. I'm just appalled. Clearly General Petraeus is the person or one of a few people who would certainly merit that designation and I know Time magazine makes a distinction. They say, well, people who had an impact, whether it's good or bad, is the man of the year. I think that's a --

GLENN: No, no, hang on.

GOVERNOR ROMNEY: -- a false --

GLENN: Before you go too far down this road -- wait a minute. Before you go down this road, this is the quote why he's the man of the year, "For bringing stability and renewed... what was it, impact? Status. Renewed status to his country. That's why.

GOVERNOR ROMNEY: Isn't that something. So a good dictator -- I guess Raul Castro will get it next. A good dictator that imprisons or murders political and media opponents and therefore brings stability, I mean, there's nothing like the stability that martial law provides or dictatorship provides. I find it a truly appalling designation.