Friday, December 31, 2010
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Bethany Jean Clement, managing editor of The Stranger, and Lindy West, film editor of The Stranger, do not regret attempting to ask Dave Reichert about the health of his head at the big Republican fiesta at the Bellevue Hilton on election night, nor do they regret being issued an in-house restraining order from a Hilton employee vis-à-vis Dave Reichert, nor do they regret riding the elevator up to the top floor to hide from security behind an ice machine, nor do they regret drinking Four Loko behind said ice machine, nor do they regret attempting to get Slade Gorton to hold a can of Four Loko for a commemorative photograph, nor do they regret being ejected from the big Republican fiesta for "causing problems for parties."
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
The scope of Steve Jobs' gains in 2010 is truly impressive. People bought more than 8 million iPads after the Apple CEO shipped the tablet computer in April; a device no one imagined needing in 2009 now outsells Apple's flagship Macintosh. Jobs' previous creation, the iPhone, doubled 2009 unit sales and now generates half of Apple's revenue. Apple stock is up 50 percent year over year; profits, 70 percent.
Then there's Jobs' growing influence outside of tech. In 2010 old-school media moguls had to worry if he might get them fired or publicly embarrassed as they raced to replace technologies he didn't like and submit to his bans on political cartoons, gay literature, racy fashion spreads, and other "porn."
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
I immediately inquired about upgrading to an iPhone, but the kind and helpful sales clerk explained that since I had only been an AT&T customer for seven years and I had purchased this particular RAZR just eleven months ago, I wasn’t due for an upgrade. As such, AT&T would do the reasonable thing and tack a $200 markup onto the price of the iPhone. Why? Because the contract goblins at at&t have to rape angels in order to feel, that’s why.
The clerk went on to tell me that the best he’d be able to do is process me as an “exceptional upgrade,” which would grant me access to a bizarre sort of semi-rebate on certain phones. Not the full rebate price, the one they print in big letters, but one of the numbers listed lower down on the display tag. One of the more depressing numbers.
Dirty bunch of angel rapers.
Opening Day--Tonight's TECHING IN INDIA performance at Joe's Pub is ON, and looking forward mightily to talking about curry, auto rickshaws, and performing in 110 degree heat in the midst of the ice and frozen wonder of New York! Leave early to give yourself time to get to the show!
Monday, December 27, 2010
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
In your letter, you say “the Mac App Store will be the best destination for users to discover, purchase, and download your apps,” but that doesn’t apply to my two best-selling applications, nor to those of many other developers. The guidelines put in place for the Mac App Store disqualify Default Folder X and App Tamer from inclusion in the App Store, despite their popularity and utility. I’m left to reinvent my products and company (again) as they don’t fit Apple’s vision of what a Mac application should be. There are numerous developers in my position. We make useful – some would say essential – products that users will now have a more difficult time finding as Apple drives customers and market focus to the Mac App Store.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
But these oddball antics prepared no one for what would happen in 2007: Randy’s expulsion from Actors’ Equity for bad behavior on the set of Lone Star Love—a retelling of The Merry Wives of Windsor set in the 1860s in which Randy was cast as Colonel John Falstaff. The musical would have been a coup for Quaid; if it had gone to Broadway, it would have fired up a career comeback that had begun with his 2005 appearance in Brokeback Mountain. (In 2006, Quaid sued the producers of the film for $10 million, claiming they had misled him into believing that it was an indie production, causing him to take a lower fee, when it was really a big-budget release. “The circumstances of him dropping the suit are as mysterious as the circumstances under which he filed his claim,” a Focus Features spokeswoman said at the time.)
Two weeks before Lone Star Love, then in rehearsals in Seattle, was set to move to New York, Quaid “called in sick and was not seen again,” said Jack Herrick, the composer and musical director of the show. (Randy denied this, saying, “I would never walk off any show.”) “We had got a lot of warnings from people in the industry that [the Quaids] were dangerously unhinged,” said Herrick, “but Randy had been entirely charming and won the creative team over in the casting process.”
Problems began when “Evi became more and more involved, and as that happened it became more and more contentious,” Herrick said. A major issue was Randy’s costume, over which he insisted he had final approval. “He ended up in a very strange costume of [his and Evi’s] creation,” said Herrick. Randy dyed his hair beet red and wore a codpiece the size and shape of an official N.F.L. football. “It was a huge cock,” said Evi. “It was fucking great. It looked like gay Vivienne Westwood.”
Monday, December 20, 2010
Clearly, roughly 1,300 email senders is more than a handful. On the other hand, 1,300 people wouldn't be enough to sell out one performance of "Wicked" on Broadway. More to the point, it represents a tiny fraction of the Times' overall readership. If our results are accurate—and a Times spokeswoman confirmed that the list is based on individual senders and did not have any disagreement with this story's methodology—out of the 30-plus million Times website visitors each month, it takes only one out of every 25,000 emailing a particular story to secure it a spot, at least for a day, in the hallowed most-emailed list. (The Times spokeswoman did indicate that hitting the No. 1 spot would have required significantly more email senders.)
LAST July Peter Orszag stepped down from his post as the head of the Office of Management and Budget. As budget director, Mr Orzsag helped shape the first stimulus package and, more visibly, the health-care reform legislation. Apparently, the market values this sort of experience. Last week, Mr Orszag accepted a senior position at the investment-banking arm of Citigroup, an institution that exists in its present form thanks to massive infusions of taxpayer cash. Exactly how much Citigroup pay Mr Orszag is not public knowledge, but swapping tweed for sharkskin should leave him sitting pretty. Bankers who spoke to the New York Times ballparked his yearly salary at $2-3m.
James Fallows rightly observes that not only is the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street unseemly, its frictionless gliding action suggests corruption is built right into the interface between our government and our great profit-seeking institutions.
"The Last Cargo Cult." The exceptionally gifted storyteller Mike Daisey transformed Woolly Mammoth's stage into a rousing bully pulpit for a mellifluous rant about the global banking system and his visit to an island where prayers were offered for material enrichment.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Katz lamented that gays and lesbians were "once again being offered as raw meat" to political activists and the Catholic League, which he accused of being a hate group and anti-Semitic. "We have an American Taliban that we have not called as such," he said.
Ward decried the lack of deliberation and the speed of the decision by Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough to censor the video. Ward said that there should have been at least "a fighting retreat."
But Stallman is unimpressed. "I think that marketers like "cloud computing" because it is devoid of substantive meaning. The term's meaning is not substance, it's an attitude: 'Let any Tom, Dick and Harry hold your data, let any Tom, Dick and Harry do your computing for you (and control it).' Perhaps the term 'careless computing' would suit it better."
He sees a creeping problem: "I suppose many people will continue moving towards careless computing, because there's a sucker born every minute. The US government may try to encourage people to place their data where the US government can seize it without showing them a search warrant, rather than in their own property. However, as long as enough of us continue keeping our data under our own control, we can still do so. And we had better do so, or the option may disappear."
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
From the beginning of his detention, Manning has been held in intensive solitary confinement. For 23 out of 24 hours every day -- for seven straight months and counting -- he sits completely alone in his cell. Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he's barred even from exercising and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions. For reasons that appear completely punitive, he's being denied many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including even a pillow or sheets for his bed (he is not and never has been on suicide watch). For the one hour per day when he is freed from this isolation, he is barred from accessing any news or current events programs. Lt. Villiard protested that the conditions are not "like jail movies where someone gets thrown into the hole," but confirmed that he is in solitary confinement, entirely alone in his cell except for the one hour per day he is taken out.
In sum, Manning has been subjected for many months without pause to inhumane, personality-erasing, soul-destroying, insanity-inducing conditions of isolation similar to those perfected at America's Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado: all without so much as having been convicted of anything. And as is true of many prisoners subjected to warped treatment of this sort, the brig's medical personnel now administer regular doses of anti-depressants to Manning to prevent his brain from snapping from the effects of this isolation.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
To which I'd add, what hackers and painters don't have in common is everything else. The fatuousness of the parallel becomes obvious if you think for five seconds about what computer programmers and painters actually do.
Computer programmers cause a machine to perform a sequence of transformations on electronically stored data.
Painters apply colored goo to cloth using animal hairs tied to a stick.
It is true that both painters and programmers make things, just like a pastry chef makes a wedding cake, or a chicken makes an egg. But nothing about what they make, the purposes it serves, or how they go about doing it is in any way similar.
Monday, December 13, 2010
While Gawker has posted a notice indicating that it is the user names and passwords of people who comment on their web site that have been compromised, analysis of the file released by the crackers themselves indicates that the breach extends to employees of Gawker, includes credentials for internal systems (Google applications, collaboration tools) used at the company, includes a leak of Gawker’s custom source code, includes credentials of Gawker employees for other web sites, includes FTP credentials for other web sites Gawker has worked with, includes access to Gawker’s statistics web site, and includes the e-mails of a number of the users who left comments at Gawker as well as users of lifehacker.com, kotaku.com, and gizmodo.com.
The evidence also suggests the attackers have had access to Gawker’s internal systems for a period of time that is at least a month, and that they gained root level access to servers the Gawker Media web properties are hosted on.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Once you strip away the derision at the heart of the script, what you're left with is the patron raising the following issues:
I can get equal (or greater) entertainment value elsewhere for less money, why should I pay so much for your tickets?
I can download this music for free, why should I buy a CD?
Why should I prioritize donating to the arts over donating to needy people?
As a sector, we haven't answered these questions in a way that satisfies anyone other than ourselves. We're bad at answering these questions, so bad I'm routinely surprised at how many "natural allies" we miss out on. Ticket price again (sorry to beat a comatose horse) being a big one of them.
On the third Wednesday of every month, the nine members of an elite Wall Street society gather in Midtown Manhattan.
The men share a common goal: to protect the interests of big banks in the vast market for derivatives, one of the most profitable — and controversial — fields in finance. They also share a common secret: The details of their meetings, even their identities, have been strictly confidential.
Drawn from giants like JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the bankers form a powerful committee that helps oversee trading in derivatives, instruments which, like insurance, are used to hedge risk.
In theory, this group exists to safeguard the integrity of the multitrillion-dollar market. In practice, it also defends the dominance of the big banks.
"My 62 year old friend was released from prison today after serving 36 years. This is a picture of him enjoying his first meal outside."
Saturday, December 11, 2010
I think that would be a serious mistake. In my opinion, RIM is indeed in danger, probably a lot more danger than its executives realize. But I don't agree on the reasons most people are giving for why RIM is in trouble, and I think most of the solutions that are being proposed would make the situation worse, not better.
The fault lies not in our ties, but in our selves. In my opinion, RIM's real problems center around two big issues: its market is saturating, and it seems to have lost the ability to create great products. This is a classic problem that eventually faces most successful computer platforms. The danger is not that RIM is about to collapse, but that it'll drift into in a situation where it can't afford the investments needed to succeed in the future. It's very easy for a company to accidentally cross that line, and very hard to get back across it.
Friday, December 10, 2010
I was listening to OK Go’s latest album (Of the Blue Color of the Sky) which has interviews on it (the extra nice edition). The lead singer is asked how he finds it to sing songs that were written during (and about) his divorce from his wife. My ears perked up as he described sometimes focusing on the syllables of what he is singing and other times he flashes back to all the feelings he experienced during that difficult time. It made me realize that when it comes to artists * the flashbacks to a loss can be a whole other thing than someone who doesn’t have an artistic reminder for that person, that relationship. When you perform a piece about it over and over again (or in my case re-watch it) you relive it fresh and new. I have had a major loss before and it is painful even 15 years later, but this experience has another level to it. Such a reminder. However, I think mixing art with pain and re-living it over and over again has transformative properties and I am intrigued to how it will play out for me.
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Network executives were not at all keen on several aspects of the show, forcing Schulz and Melendez to wage some serious battles to preserve their vision. The executives did not want to have Linus reciting the story of the birth of Christ from the Gospel of Luke; the network orthodoxy of the time assumed that viewers would not want to sit through passages of the King James Version of the Bible. A story reported on the Whoopi Goldberg-hosted version of the making of the program (see below) that Charles Schulz was adamant about keeping this scene in, remarking that "If we don't tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?"
Another complaint was the absence of a laugh track, a common element of children's cartoons at the time. Schulz maintained that the audience should be able to enjoy the show at their own pace, without being cued when to laugh. (CBS did create a version of the show with the laugh track added, just in case Schulz changed his mind. This version remains unavailable, though unauthorized copies have appeared on YouTube.)
A third complaint was the use of children to do the voice acting, instead of employing adult actors. Finally, the executives thought that the jazz soundtrack by Vince Guaraldi would not work well for a children's program. When executives saw the final product, they were horrified and believed the special would be a complete flop.
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
The key, though, is that democracies have a process for creating such restrictions, and as a citizen it sickens me to see the US trying to take shortcuts. The leaders of Myanmar and Belarus, or Thailand and Russia, can now rightly say to us “You went after Wikileaks’ domain name, their hosting provider, and even denied your citizens the ability to register protest through donations, all without a warrant and all targeting overseas entities, simply because you decided you don’t like the site. If that’s the way governments get to behave, we can live with that.”
The phrase is a simple observation, like saying “a compass wants to point north”. Information intrinsically has a tendency to spread. Controlling information, bottling it up and keeping it limited, is difficult. There's a bit of a poetic turn in saying “wants”, since of course information has no agency. The underlying truth is really a statement about human nature; people tend to share information.
Monday, December 06, 2010
Sunday, December 05, 2010
Friday, December 03, 2010
The machine now has 1.16 terabytes (1,160 gigabytes) of hard drive space, 160 gigs of which is on a solid state disk (SSD) drive. It has also cured my MacBook Air lust, as I now feel that I’m getting a ridiculous amount of value out of that extra two pounds of weight.
I opted to completely replace my optical drive with MCE Technology’s OptiBay hard drive chassis. Hence the extra space for the additional 1TB hard drive.
There’s lots of geek-centric commentary out there about whether the time is right yet for SSD (it is), and which of the many available drives on the market will actually give you the benefits the technology promises.
This post is intended for the pseudo-technical, “I’m sold; what do I do?” crowd that doesn’t care about the nuances, and just wants to get cracking with a credit card and a screwdriver.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
TECHING IN INDIA
ONE NIGHT ONLY
December 28th at 7pm
Tickets are limited, and are available at this link.
Mike Daisey returns to Joe’s Pub with a one night only event: the technicolor story of his five-city tour performing across India last summer. From the slums of Calcutta to the high-tech warrens of India’s call centers, from Bollywood prop shops to Bombay curry houses, from the American Consulate’s political maneuverings to a multinational corporation’s hunger for workers, Daisey takes us on an unforgettable journey across a brilliant and unpredictable land . . . a place where he discovers anew the power of theatrical performance in our time.
"Mike Daisey has a masterful command of his art. Sitting alone at a simple desk, he is all-powerful for 100 minutes. When he wants you to laugh, you laugh; when he wants you to think, you think. He is at all times exactly himself, yet in subtle ways, he winds up speaking for everyone. He doesn’t draw you into the stories he tells—instead he shows how, perhaps unawares, you have been part of them all along."
TIME OUT NEW YORK
"Daisey's skill is that he is able to talk about the historical and make it human, the personal and make it universal, so that the listener is both informed and transformed."
"What distinguishes him from most solo performers is how elegantly he blends personal stories, historical digressions and philosophical ruminations. He has the curiosity of a highly literate dilettante and a preoccupation with alternative histories, secrets large and small, and the fuzzy line where truth and fiction blur. Mr. Daisey’s greatest subject is himself."
NEW YORK TIMES
MIKE DAISEY has been called “the master storyteller” and “one of the finest solo performers of his generation” by the New York Times for his groundbreaking monologues which weave together autobiography, gonzo journalism, and unscripted performance to tell hilarious and heartbreaking stories that cut to the bone, exposing secret histories and unexpected connections. His monologues include last season’s critically acclaimed The Last Cargo Cult, the controversial How Theater Failed America, the six-hour epic Great Men of Genius, the unrepeatable series All Stories Are Fiction, and the international sensation 21 Dog Years. He has performed in venues on five continents, ranging from Off-Broadway at the Public Theater to remote islands in the South Pacific, from the Sydney Opera House to abandoned theaters in post-Communist Tajikistan. He’s been a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman, as well as a commentator and contributor to WIRED, Vanity Fair, Slate, Salon, NPR and the BBC. His first film, Layover, was shown at the Cannes Film Festival this year, and a feature film of his monologue If You See Something Say Something is currently in post production. His second book, Rough Magic, a collected anthology of his monologues, will be published next year. He has been nominated for the Outer Critics Circle Award, two Drama League Awards, and is the recipient of the Bay Area Critics Circle Award, four Seattle Times Footlight Awards, a MacDowell Fellowship, and the Sloan Foundation’s Galileo Prize.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
We shouldn't be surprised by the recurrence of scandals, but, of course, we always are. Why is that? Is it because when scandal rips up the turf, revealing the vile creepy-crawlies thrashing and scurrying about, we're glad when authority intervenes to quickly tamp the grass back down and re-establish our pastoral innocence with bland assurances that the grubby malfeasants are mere outliers and one-offs who will be punished? Is it because our schooling has left us hopelessly naïve about how the world works? Or do we just fail to pay attention?
Information conduits like Julian Assange shock us out of that complacency. Oh, sure, he's a pompous egomaniac sporting a series of bad haircuts and grandiose tendencies. And he often acts without completely thinking through every repercussion of his actions. But if you want to dismiss him just because he's a seething jerk, there are about 2,000 journalists I'd like you to meet.
Monday, November 29, 2010
It's quite a turnabout for an economy that American and British bankers and economists derided for years as the sick man of Europe. German banks, they insisted, were too cautious and locally focused, while the German economy needed to slim down its manufacturing sector and beef up finance.
Wisely, the Germans declined the advice. Manufacturing still accounts for nearly a quarter of the German economy; it is just 11 percent of the British and U.S. economies (one reason the United States and Britain are struggling to boost their exports). Nor have German firms been slashing wages and off-shoring - the American way of keeping competitive - to maintain profits.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
I quote Daniel Gilbert all the time about how we can adapt to anything. Gilbert says that we think some changes will be terrible – like losing a limb – but in fact we are great at adapting to circumstances that don't change. This is true of putting stuff in storage. You quickly learn to live without it.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Leading the outcry in NYC is Council member David Greenfield, who has introduced legislation to ban the scanners at all NYC buildings, not just airports. In an op-Ed in today's Post, Greenfield recalls that after last year's failed Christmas underwear bomber, "Michael Chertoff, former secretary of Homeland Security, was trotted out before the national media to proclaim that if these full body scanners were deployed they 'would pick up this kind of device.' What Chertoff neglected to mention to the nervous American public, while shilling for a machine that wouldn’t have stopped Abdulmutallab, is that, as the head of The Chertoff Group, he was now being paid as a lobbyist for Rapiscan, a company actively pursuing a contract for these scanners. Within days, Chertoff’s client received an astonishing $173 million to manufacture and install these machines in airports across the country."
Friday, November 19, 2010
Sorry for the very last-minute notice, but I just got word about this myself: Brainy populist monologuist (and admitted Time Out Chicago favorite) Mike Daisey will be in town Friday morning for a presentation in the Arts Engagement Exchange Open Forum series. Titled “The Beautiful Struggle: Art and Commerce,” Daisey’s manifesto (no ironic quotes necessary there) will address the intersections and frictions of art and marketing in the modern age: “Touching on horror, comedy, theory, and practice, Daisey peels back the layers to reveal the rich heart of our artistic exchange in a candid and frank talk about the crossroads where we find ourselves at the opening of the 21st century.” He’ll be joined for a panel discussion by: DanceWorks Chicago CEO Andreas Bottcher; Henry Godinez, artistic director of Northwestern University’s Theatre and Interpretation Center and artistic associate at the Goodman Theatre; Fifth House Ensemble member and director of artistic programming Adam Marks; and urban planner/coordinator of arts programming for the University of Chicago/visual artist/performer Theaster Gates. The free event takes place at 10am at the Chicago Cultural Center’s Claudia Cassidy Theater (77 East Randolph Street); registration begins at 9:30.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
While full-length stand-up acts tend to jump from place to place, Quinn and Seinfeld have worked with skill to shape the material into a fluid discourse in the manner of monologists such as Spalding Gray or Mike Daisey.
The connective tissue, unsurprisingly, is the U.S., "the bouillabaisse of fallen empires." Quinn digresses frequently throughout the show to consider the ways in which the modern world has picked up bad behavior patterns from history. International skirmishes are wryly compared to bickering families trying to get through the holidays.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
When Hurd was displeased, he let people around him know, and one person who was always around was Caprice Fimbres. A former public relations account executive, Fimbres was Hurd's "program manager," an aide with broad sway over the CEO's schedule.
Fimbres took on the challenge of allaying Hurd's concerns. At some point, she began thinking about a television show she'd been watching. Fimbres was hooked on reality TV, and that summer she'd been following a particularly bad NBC series called "Age of Love." Its gimmick was inane, even for an inane genre: "Age of Love" pitted a group of female twentysomethings—the "kittens"—against a group of fortysomethings—the "cougars"—vying for the affections of a real-life tennis star.
Apparently Fimbres concluded that experience in a made-for-TV cat fight was the ideal preparation for playing gatekeeper to one of the most important corporate CEOs in the world. Whatever her rationale (she declined to be interviewed), Fimbres decided to recruit among the cougars, according to Nadine Jolson, a publicist for some of the contestants, who says Fimbres contacted her at the time.
At least two other contestants from the "Age of Love" discussed an HP role with Jolson. But the tech giant ultimately hired a 47-year-old divorced single mom from Los Angeles named Jodie Fisher to act as a greeter at events where Hurd met top customers. Her job was to gracefully steer clients, ensuring that Hurd spent the right amount of time with the right people.
Saturday, November 06, 2010
Remember old police chief Norm Stamper, the guy who presided over Seattle cops from 1994 to 2000, left his office after the WTO debacle, and has since become an anti-drug-war warrior, speaking out for the need to "legalize and control" narcotics instead of letting the violent, chaotic black market ruin people's lives both north and south of the U.S./Mexico border? Well, he's in a play, a community-theater production of Brilliant Traces, in which a woman in a wedding gown crashes into the hut of an Alaskan hermit during a snowstorm. Over the course of the play, the woman (Melinda Milligan) and the man (Stamper) reveal their secret guilts and truths and kiss once or twice. It's a sweet little show, brought to sweet little life by the Actors Theater of Orcas Island. It probably won't change your brain or reorder the cosmos for you, but there are worse ways to pass an evening. recommended
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Moreover, “Aftermath’’ underscores how some theater artists are also playing a quasijournalistic role, shining a light on issues and stories that once might have been left to reporters, as Jensen and Blank previously did with “The Exonerated,’’ a look at wrongfully convicted inmates who had been on death row.
In July, for instance, Mike Daisey performed “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs’’ in a production presented by the Cape Cod Theatre Project in Falmouth. In putting together the monologue, Daisey drew partly on his research during a three-week trip to China, where he studied the working conditions of the people who manufacture products for Apple.
Wading into these deep, murky waters, one can ask for no better guide than Mike Daisey. Here, as in his previous works, Daisey arms himself for the journey with only two weapons: the pen and his voice. In Unforeseen, Daisey displays an absolute and expert control over them both. Like a great piece of literature that wraps itself around you, not a word of Unforeseen feels wasted or of second thought. The same is true of Daisey's delivery. His tone is perfect; at times funny, at other times scholarly, and when called for by the story, capable of chilling his audience to the very bone. Surely no one can convey the image of a cracked skull spilling its contents like Mike Daisey. Sitting behind his ominous black wooden desk, Daisey calls to mind a tele-evangelist, those masters of the spoken word; able to move and convince, individually, each member of their audience, with almost no physicality at all. It is a brilliant something to behold, this ability to engage with such deceptively simple surroundings and direction.
Why are we compelled to tell scary stories? And why do we love listening to them, nerves on edge, quivering with terrible anticipation? These questions are at the center of master storyteller Mike Daisey’s eerie new solo piece, Barring the Unforeseen. Like the bars suggested by his title, tales of horror give us a manageable glimpse of the unknown and unbearable, while also holding fearful events at a safe aesthetic distance.
Kraus listed his themes at one point as: “Sex and untruth, stupidity, abuses, cadences and clichés, printer’s ink, technology, death, war and society, usury, politics, the insolence of office … art and nature, love and dreams,” castigating politics as “what a man does in order to conceal what he is and what he himself does not know.” Along with his literary career, Kraus was also a playwright; in 1929 Peter Lorre starred in Die Unüberwindlichen at Vienna’s Volksbühne, a satire of Vienna’s police chief whom Kraus held responsible for the deaths of ninety people during a street demonstration; the play was shut down after one performance. He also had a long career as a solo performer (he gave over seven hundred performances over 44 years), long before the likes of Spalding Gray and Mike Daisey, reciting from not only his own works but also those of Brecht, Goethe and Shakespeare to large enthusiastic audiences.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
The forces that conducted these horrific acts are the forces we are handing the country over to. History will harshly judge this war, and those of us who supported it, its long-term strategic effect, and so forth. In particular, it appears, that one of the main actors was Iran, and Iran has emerged as the core winner. But the hell unleashed by the incompetent occupation led to over 100,000 often gruesome civilian deaths in what was a nation-wide bloodbath of almost frenzied proportions.
I think it can be said, now more forcefully than ever, that whatever moral legitimacy this war once had is now gone forever.
It was worse than a mistake. It was, in many ways, a crime.
I assume there will be more about Lion down the line, and hopefully that will mean feature announcements which actually give me reason to get excited about the next major revision.
But so far, only one thing stands out in Lion. Every previous Big Cat OS X announcement has focused on what will be good for users. The Lion announcement primarily focuses on what will be good for Apple.
Basically, Apple plans to raid the already thin margins of small developers and foist yet another schizophrenic interface change on us, all in exchange for a few marginal refinements. Couple this with Steve Jobs' unconscionable commitment to policing the private morality of his customers and I'm left with less and less reason to stick with Apple.
The only thing keeping me here now is the financial pain of re-purchasing software on another platform. The Mac experience itself is evaporating.
Its most interesting characteristic is a bizarre slide-out tray that exists only to display the Windows 7 licensing information. It's like something from some kind of screwball comedy about awful product design: HP was apparently obliged to do this because it didn't want to mess up the exterior with this compulsory information panel.
When explaining to people why iOS and Linux (i.e. Android and WebOS) are the only credible options in the near future for consumer tablets, I used to have to explain to people exactly why non-touchscreen desktop operating systems like Windows 7 make them suck. Now, however, I just have to point out that Microsoft's lawyers get to impose design decisions on their hardware partners.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
The Mac suite now includes the Ribbon, a horizontal toolbar that’s built into Office for Windows. What I don’t get is this: Last time I checked, computer screens were all wider than they are tall. The last thing you’d want to do is to eat up that limited *vertical* screen space with interface clutter like the Ribbon. Don’t we really want those controls off to the *side,* like as with the Formatting Palette in the previous Mac Office?
You can collapse the Ribbon, sure—but what a pain to have to keep doing that! When collapsed, you still see the names of the tabs (one each for Layout, Tables, Review and so on) — but, maddeningly, you can’t click a tab to open it. You have to manually open the ribbon and *then* click the tab you want.
In Word, I do all my writing in Draft view — a scrolling, endless page. (Why bother with having to scroll past big empty white margins and phony page breaks when you’re editing on the screen?) But in Word 2011, the spacing of characters in Draft view is so broken, it’s almost unbearable to use. Letters literally crash into each other; it’s very ugly.
Macros are back, which is great. Finally, I thought, I can automate the series of search-and-replace operations that are necessary to prepare my weekly column for use in plain-text e-mail (turning curly quotes into straight ones, for example).
But the new Find/Replace panel in Word is broken, too. You can’t tab from the Find box to the Replace box — you have to click the mouse in each box. And even then, the Macro recorder simply doesn’t record search/replace operations.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Here’s a full transcript of the interview with John Sculley on the subject of Steve Jobs.
It’s long but worth reading because there are some awesome insights into how Jobs does things.
It’s also one of the frankest CEO interviews you’ll ever read. Sculley talks openly about Jobs and Apple, admits it was a mistake to hire him to run the company and that he knows little about computers. It’s rare for anyone, never mind a big-time CEO, to make such frank assessment of their career in public.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Mandelbrot is waiting for me at the end of his driveway, he’s worried I might not find the house as the address on the curb is covered by snow. A white-haired balding man, stocky, somewhat diffident, he sees me, I wave, he doesn’t wave back, not sure yet I’m the one he’s waiting for, when I’m closer he says “Are you Rudy Rucker?” We introduce ourselves, shake hands, I tell him I’m thrilled to meet him. In the house his wife Adèle greets us, Mandelbrot disappears to take a pee I suppose, then we sit in a cold room with some armchairs. They don’t seem to really heat their house. He sits on an odd modern chair with parts of it missing, a collection of black corduroy hotdogs. He wears a jacket, a vest, a shirt, trousers with a paperclip attached to the fly to make it easier to pull up and down, I guess he’s 75. Rather rotund and, yes, a bit like the Mandelbrot set in his roundness and with the fuzz of hairs on his pate.
He starts talking almost right away, an incredibly dense and rich flow of information, a torrent. Fractal of course, as human conversation usually is, but of a higher than usual dimension. It’s like talking to a superbeing, just as I’d hoped, like being with a Martian, his conversation a wall of sound paisley info structure, the twittering of the Great Scarab.
His wife listens attentively as we talk and from time to time she reminds him to tie up some loose thread.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
While he clearly enjoys playing Richie Rich—various profiles have commented on his Ferrari Spyder, his $500,000 McLaren Supercar, an apartment in the San Francisco Four Seasons, and a white-jacketed butler—Thiel fancies himself more than another self-indulgent tech billionaire. He has a big vision and has lately been spending some of the millions he has made on PayPal, Facebook, and a hedge fund called Clarium trying to advance it. Thiel's philosophy demands attention not because it is original or interesting in any way—it's puerile libertarianism, infused with futurist fantasy—but because it epitomizes an ugly side of Silicon Valley's politics.
Should regulation be necessary? Of course it shouldn't. Mobile carriers shouldn't stoop to making money in dishonorable ways. Verizon chairman Ivan Seidenberg, heralded by USA Today as a "true visionary," should shudder at the thought that his family and friends might find out he made $17.5 million in 2009 partly by conning cell phone customers into incurring catastrophically expensive overage charges. Sadly, we don't live in that world. So we need a government regulation—one stronger than what the FCC just put on the table.
Friday, October 15, 2010
What makes me sad about the more experiential stuff is there is no future for it. Same with some of the stuff I do with Reggie [Watts, the New York–based singer and comedian]—there is no future for it, and nobody else will do it.
It's sort of like dance—it's built to disappear.
Yeah, but I always get slightly sad that there is no legacy for that. I'm sentimental that way—I like to keep stuff. Samuel Pepys, he wrote down every theater performance that he saw, and that's the only living document from that era because all the plays were so bad. The person who wins out is the person who writes it down. Early Richard Foreman, early Wooster Group—it almost might as well have not existed. Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter and Caryl Churchill are still gods and they will be, because they wrote it down. recommended
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Creation is entirely dependent on ownership.
Ownership not as a percentage of equity, but as a measure of your ability to change things for the better. To build and grow and fail and learn. This is no small thing. Creativity is the manifestation of lateral thinking, and without tangible results, it becomes stunted. We have to see the fruits of our labors, good or bad, or there’s no motivation to proceed, nothing to learn from to inform the next decision. States of approval and decisions-by-committee and constant compromises are third-party interruptions of an internal dialog that needs to come to its own conclusions.
Your muse can only be treated as the secretary of a subcommittee for so long before she decides to pack up and look for employment elsewhere.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
A study leaked today by the Chinese government through the state-backed Global Times suggests a large amount of violence and other rough treatment at Foxconn plants. About 50 percent of the 1,736 workers secretly studied allegedly said they had faced some kind of abuse at factories. About 16.4 percent of that was directly from supervisors or other managers.
The same study also claimed that the initial 30 percent raise for workers wasn't directly translating to workers. Some claimed to have only been getting 9.1 percent increases, the report said. Many also said that bonuses were few.
Interns were supposedly exploited as well, working twice as much overtime as is legal and being exempted from medical coverage due to the lack of a contract. Full-time staff have also said health checks aren't as frequent.
Saturday, October 09, 2010
Reviews in the Dutch press were mixed, and in some ways the production disappointed its New York muses. Mr. Talen was upset that, instead of simply having a political viewpoint, Domini Bob has a backstory with a psychological twist: his father owns a supermall. And any anticonsumerist message might be drowned out when, at the end of each show, the audience is literally showered with gift bags full of pricey beauty products. They drop from the ceiling to the music of “The Phantom of the Opera.”