Thursday, January 31, 2002

Our grandfathers died at Normandy to bring us the random kitten generator.

Now that I'm working with show business people here in the Big Apple, crazy stories about new shows headed for Broadway seem even weirder, especially when you know what's involved. Check out this report on The Body Ventura, a musical in development about the Governor of Minnesota and his illustrious life. It's the song titles that really get me:

The musical will explore Ventura's youthful ambitions in the song ``Take the World by Storm,'' his stint as a Navy SEAL in ''Hooyah,'' the launch of his wrestling career as Jesse The Body in ``Sign with Me.'' It will also depict his brand of politics in the tune ``Retaliate in '98.''

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Latest websurfing trend: move over Kevin Bacon, because the question is have you Googlewhacked?

Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Hurry up and play along at home--

The State of the Union Address Drinking Game

Good times, good times.

Monday, January 28, 2002

Friday, January 25, 2002

From SatireWire:

Amazon Turns Profit, Say Flying Pigs

Seattle, Wash. ( - Pigs flying over the frozen landscape of hell reported that online retailer turned in the first profit in its history on Tuesday, just moments after the sun set in the East.

"Amazon is proud to announce that in our fourth quarter, we achieved a net profit of $5 million on revenues of $1.1 billion," said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, as monkeys flew out of his butt.

Bezos cut short the press conference to join the victory parade for the World Series champion Boston Red Sox, which was winding its way through the eye of a needle led by a camel.

This really requires no introduction: a series of psychotic love letters written to are dutifully responded to by CS reps. I remember getting letters like these when I worked there, and to some degree it is the receiving of these letters that made me decide to start writing my own. It's addictive...and this set is particularly funny.

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Karen, a frequent listener but first-time caller, submitted this quirky little piece by Peggy Noonan. I'm normally immune to Ms. Noonan's charms, and this one is a little too earnest (which she cops to), but I'm a sucker for combat metaphors with good tag-lines.

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

My good friend Paul Bacon drafted this straight-edged and funny FAQ for understanding the Enron collapse.

Today's game is compare and contrast. Take a gander at this article in the SF Gate about life as a temp in the tech world's overlooked core: manual labor. Who builds the New Economy? These people do, just like every economy. Please, give it a quick read.

Now that you are primed, please check out another piece, this time written from management's perspective at Amazon. Over half of Amazon's employees at the warehouses are now permatemps, eliminating the need for seasonal workers and costly health benefits in one step.

I owe the good folks over at Slashdot for bringing this to my attention.

In the 1970s, neo-fascist summer training centers nicknamed ''Hobbit Camps'' were set up by the National Alliance's predecessor, the neo-Fascist Italian Social Movement (MSI).

Only in Italy could The Lord Of The Rings become the central symbol for the extreme right wing party--the forces that brought us Mussolini are now bringing us hobbits as master race metaphor.

Full Reuters story here. Trust not the hobbits, for they are small and deceive with abandon.

Monday, January 21, 2002

For pure serendipity's sake it's hard to beat viruses that mail out random documents to entire address books--I get about three or four a week, and I always make a point of opening the document in a controlled environment in order to see what random love letter, economics essay or home budget I've received from a total stranger. (Kids: if you don't know how to do this without asking, don't: you'll infect your computer. End of warning.) Top of my mailbox just now is a book report from Karl Semple of English W.

The Silver Chair

The Silver Chair was the book I read. I liked this book because it had fantasy characters. The author uses personification for the animals. The imagery and characterization in this book were valuable to the story. The Silver Chair is written by C.S. Lewis and is in a series of books called The Chronicles of Narnia. My favorite part of this book is when Jill and Eustace, the main characters, come back from Narnia to the wall with Aslan and Caspian. The next thing Aslan breaks part of the wall down and lets Eustace and Jill walk through in there Narnian clothes and the bullies see them with the lion and in between them the broken wall and all run and scream. The main idea of this story is the serpent that was also the witch deceived Prince Rilian and kept him under a spell until Jill and Eustace saved him with the help of the marshwiggle.

Karl Semple
English W

I take some issue with Karl's contention that the main idea of the story is the serpent/witch plot--I suspect Karl is conflating the idea of 'main revelation' or 'main discovery' with the classic book report term 'main idea'. I'd also like to see the marshwiggle receive further development, as it is the story of the marshwiggle's redemption that adds texture to this volume of the Chronicles. I enjoyed this report very much--like Karl I have a sadistic streak, and when I read The Silver Chair at a very young age my favorite part was also without a doubt the running and screaming of the bullies. In my mind's eye I always attached the addendum,

"And then Aslan ate them all, devouring every last child who had laughed at Michael and Mary." (Mary is my sister.)

This impulse reflects both a shallow understanding of the moral universe C.S. Lewis was trying to convey to me and an unexpected appreciation for the Old Testament/New Testament schizophrenia at the heart of my Catholic upbringing.

Sunday, January 20, 2002

Whoops! Plaque honoring James Earl Jones mistakenly pays tribute to James Earl Ray. It reads, "Thank you James Earl Ray for keeping the dream alive." Gah.

Tid-bit from this morning's Slate I really enjoy, because it cuts through some of the noise around Enron to show something tangible:

Nestled in under the NYT lead is a full-color photo of a father reading a bedtime story to his son, with the caption, "'I was let go by voice mail,' says Mark Lindquist of Enron. Now he must figure out how to pay for therapy for his autistic son, Garrett, 3." The picture accompanies a case-by-case slam of Enron by its brutalized employees, people who lost thousands (sometimes hundreds of thousands) in salary and stock when the company flamed out. The NYT stuffs a photo of the motivational rocks given to employees over the years, with the Enron logo carved on one side and words like respect, communication and integrity on the other.

Let's hear it for pictures, eh?

Friday, January 18, 2002

Going through all my back mail I found this pearl had been submitted. As many know, a dot-com tradition has grown up of spinning your failures into valiant dreams of success--you usually see these reverse mission statements on the only remaining splash page the site has before it sinks forever. I've read a lot that are strange and indulgent, but in my book this one takes the cake. Note how the author actually quotes himself in his own letter--fantastic!

Subject: Last Moment of CitiZEN
Date: Wed, 9 Jan 2002 01:00:21 -0800


-the community email from Halcyon and your fellowcitizens at [note: this is the last ever email of this type. No need to unsubscribe.]

"I am so grateful for this magical journey we've shared. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you."


This is the End. This is the beginning.

Dear current user of

The beta period of is over and we are shutting down the site on January 15. To all who have been a part of our family during this 1.5 year beta period, THANK YOU. It has been amazing.

But it is time for CX to shut down and evolve.

This is not a bad thing. It is part of natural progression,

Our grand digital experiment has gone as far as it can.

It is time to evolve or die. Like the Phoenix, we hope to do both.

A story

CitizenX was like a bonfire at the beach. We invited a few friends, who invited a few friends. It was intimate and loving. During the last year and a half, countless magical moments happened dancing around the flames.

Other people noticed the light of our fire and came over to check it out. Most who dropped by were like-minded souls. But some were buzz kills.

They would ogle the women and make them feel uncomfortable. They started arguments. They made the party feel less safe.

Since this was a party on a public beach, it became near impossible to police it. The jerks were rare, but it only takes one to ruin the vibe.

Many of the original partiers left. Many of the women put baggy sweaters over their bikinis to avoid the leering.

There was still much fun and good vibes to be shared, but it took effort. It took a tough skin to deal with the occasional bad seed trolling the bonfire.

The party continues to grow. Despite it all, much magic happens around our glowing fire.

As 2001 came to a close, we realized we were out of wood.

The number of people who volunteered to gather logs and kindling was inspiring.

It became clear that amidst all the 140,000 member craziness was a core of passionate people that truly cared about our community. They saw our community as more than a place to see chicks or act tough to compensate for real life insecurities. There is a group of people who, like me, saw this place as their home.

So we're gonna extinguish the fire.

We'll see what happens when we close the door and start from scratch.


Regardless, I hope to see you at a weekly HugNation Hug. Or a monthly Globalgasm.

Or just a late night chat around the bonfire.

I am so grateful for this magical journey we've shared.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

With love,


Breathtaking. I need to have my Globalgasm now.

Thursday, January 17, 2002

I'm making a somewhat bizarre guest appearance tonight on TechTV's show The ScreenSavers. If you get TechTV on your cable system, the show airs at 7pm Eastern and repeats at 10pm and 1am.

More to follow--juicy gossip, tidbits and epic stories that I've been too frazzled to take down while closing the book on

Thursday, January 03, 2002

Man, oh man, the editing of the book is driving fast and furious. I work best under pressure, at the edge of breaking down, so I suppose I'll look back someday and think, "Ah, that was the best of times." Right now that seems unimaginably distant.