Sunday, September 30, 2007

If you care about your rights, don't buy an iPhone:

Late last fall, the Library of Congress issued six exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the far-ranging anti-piracy law that governs virtually all modern technologies. Among the exemptions was this: It is perfectly legal to unlock your mobile phone in order to move it to a cellular network of your choice. (See item No. 5 here.)

Consumer advocates hailed the decision. Not only is "cell phone portability" obviously fair, allowing customers to do what they choose with devices they have purchased legally, but it is also inarguably good for the wireless phone business, promoting competition in an industry that regularly scores in the pits for customer satisfaction.

It's not surprising that, a year after the Library of Congress's ruling, wireless companies have not appreciably changed their business models; they still frown on unlocking. But this week something dramatic occurred in the war for consumers' "freedom to tinker." Apple, a company highly regarded by its customers, staked out its position in the fight. The wrong position: Apple adopted a draconian policy against people who dared to do something perfectly legal with their iPhones, and thus came out in support of the wireless industry -- and against its own customers' rights.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

hands off!
New York Press - MATT TAIBBI - Flathead:

After golf, he meets Nilekani, who casually mentions that the playing field is level. A nothing phrase, but Friedman has traveled all the way around the world to hear it. Man travels to India, plays golf, sees Pizza Hut billboard, listens to Indian CEO mutter small talk, writes 470-page book reversing the course of 2000 years of human thought. That he misattributes his thesis to Nilekani is perfect: Friedman is a person who not only speaks in malapropisms, he also hears malapropisms. Told level; heard flat. This is the intellectual version of Far Out Space Nuts, when NASA repairman Bob Denver sets a whole sitcom in motion by pressing "launch" instead of "lunch" in a space capsule. And once he hits that button, the rocket takes off.

And boy, does it take off. Predictably, Friedman spends the rest of his huge book piling one insane image on top of the other, so that by the end—and I'm not joking here—we are meant to understand that the flat world is a giant ice-cream sundae that is more beef than sizzle, in which everyone can fit his hose into his fire hydrant, and in which most but not all of us are covered with a mostly good special sauce. Moreover, Friedman's book is the first I have encountered, anywhere, in which the reader needs a calculator to figure the value of the author's metaphors.

God strike me dead if I'm joking about this. Judge for yourself. After the initial passages of the book, after Nilekani has forgotten Friedman and gone back to interacting with the sane, Friedman begins constructing a monstrous mathematical model of flatness. The baseline argument begins with a lengthy description of the "ten great flatteners," which is basically a highlight reel of globalization tomahawk dunks from the past two decades: the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the Netscape IPO, the pre-Y2K outsourcing craze, and so on. Everything that would give an IBM human resources director a boner, that's a flattener. The catch here is that Flattener #10 is new communications technology: "Digital, Mobile, Personal, and Virtual." These technologies Friedman calls "steroids," because they are "amplifying and turbocharging all the other flatteners."
Water forms floating 'bridge' when exposed to high voltage:

When exposed to a high-voltage electric field, water in two beakers climbs out of the beakers and crosses empty space to meet, forming the water bridge. The liquid bridge, hovering in space, appears to the human eye to defy gravity.

Upon investigating the phenomenon, the scientists found that water was being transported from one beaker to another, usually from the anode beaker to the cathode beaker. The cylindrical water bridge, with a diameter of 1-3 mm, could remain intact when the beakers were pulled apart at a distance of up to 25 mm.
New AT&T terms of service: We'll cut off your Internet connection for criticizing us - Boing Boing:

AT&T has brought down new Terms of Service for its network customers. From now on, AT&T can terminate your connection for conduct that "tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries." So AT&T customers aren't allowed to write/podcast/vlog critical things about AT&T, its billing-practices, or its cooperation with illegal NSA wiretapping, on pain of having their connections disconnected.
Birmania FREE!!!
Space Case: The New Yorker:

Sith. What kind of a word is that? Sith. It sounds to me like the noise that emerges when you block one nostril and blow through the other, but to George Lucas it is a name that trumpets evil. What is proved beyond question by “Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith,” the latest—and, you will be shattered to hear, the last—installment of his sci-fi bonanza, is that Lucas, though his eye may be greedy for sensation, has an ear of purest cloth. All those who concoct imagined worlds must populate and name them, and the resonance of those names is a fairly accurate guide to the mettle of the imagination in question. Tolkien, earthed in Old English, had a head start that led him straight to the flinty perfection of Mordor and Orc. Here, by contrast, are some Lucas inventions: Palpatine. Sidious. Mace Windu. (Isn’t that something you spray on colicky babies?) Bail Organa. And Sith.

What can you say about a civilization where people zip from one solar system to the next as if they were changing their socks but where a woman fails to register for an ultrasound, and thus to realize that she is carrying twins until she is about to give birth? Mind you, how Padmé got pregnant is anybody’s guess, although I’m prepared to wager that it involved Anakin nipping into a broom closet with a warm glass jar and a copy of Ewok Babes. After all, the Lucasian universe is drained of all reference to bodily functions. Nobody ingests or excretes. Language remains unblue. Smoking and cursing are out of bounds, as is drunkenness, although personally I wouldn’t go near the place without a hip flask. Did Lucas learn nothing from “Alien” and “Blade Runner”—from the suggestion that other times and places might be no less rusted and septic than ours, and that the creation of a disinfected galaxy, where even the storm troopers wear bright-white outfits, looks not so much fantastical as dated? What Lucas has devised, over six movies, is a terrible puritan dream: a morality tale in which both sides are bent on moral cleansing, and where their differences can be assuaged only by a triumphant circus of violence. Judging from the whoops and crowings that greeted the opening credits, this is the only dream we are good for. We get the films we deserve.
flying high
Gawker Underminer: "Have A Little Bit More Of A Social Life, Instead Of Sitting At Home In A Pair Of Shorts, Trying To Give Yourself Hepatitis" - Gawker:

Let me guess: you got that top at Uniqlo, you are picking up a salmon patty at Whole Foods, and you are going home to watch amateur porn while wearing a Biore nosestrip.

Ha! No, I am not psychic, silly. But I AM a chief executive at the new internet phone venture, Pudding Media! As you know, we offer cheap phone service through the internet like Skype, but we use voice recognition technology and listen in to your conversation, and then deliver ads that pertain to what you are talking about. They pop up on your laptop or cellphone, lickety split!

As my co-executive Ariel Maislos said in the New York Times, we did LOTS of research and found that most people are doing something else while they talk on the phone -so we came up with a way to sell people advertising during those previously ad-free moments. I know, it's brilliant, right? We saw a niche, we saw a niche.

Friday, September 28, 2007

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» Blog Archive » How I got ‘thrown’ out of Glasgow’s Apple Store:

“We have people who take care of Apple’s imaging,” he assured me. Smirk. Well,” he said, “I’m going to have to ask you not to take pictures in the store.” I opened my camera bag, slipped my notebook into it and pointed to the lens cap of my camera, firmly in place.

“If you’re finished…” he continued, gesturing me towards the staircase. I nodded that I was, put my earbuds back in and resumed listening to The Mountain Goats, walked down the curving glass staircase and out of the store.


* taking business calls while in the Glasgow Apple store is suspicious
* taking notes in a notebook while in the Glasgow Apple store is suspicious
* taking photos of Apple products is prohibitted in the Apple store
* posting photos of Apple products online is illegal
* Flickr users beware - Apple will be contacting you

Apple Features
Why have municipal Wi-Fi networks been such a flop? - By Tim Wu - Slate Magazine:

Setting up a large wireless network isn't as expensive as installing wires into people's homes, but it still costs a lot of money. Not billions, but still millions. To recover costs, the private "partner" has to charge for service. But if the customer already has a cable or telephone connection to his home, why switch to wireless unless it is dramatically cheaper or better? In typical configurations, municipal wireless connections are slower, not dramatically cheaper, and by their nature less reliable than existing Internet services. Those facts have put muni Wi-Fi in the same deathtrap that drowned every other company that peddled a new Net access scheme.

Today, the limited success stories come from towns that have actually treated Wi-Fi as a public calling. St. Cloud, Fla., a town of 28,000, has an entirely free wireless network. The network has its problems, such as dead spots, but also claims a 77 percent use rate among its citizens. Cities like St. Cloud understand the concept of a public service: something that's free, or near-free, like the local swimming pool. Most cities have been too busy dreaming of free pipes to notice that their approach is hopelessly flawed.

The lesson here is an old one about the function of government. When it comes to communications, the United States relies on a privateer system: We depend on private companies to perform public callings. That works up to a point, but private industry will build only so much. Real public infrastructure costs real public money. We already know that, in the real world, if you're not willing to invest in infrastructure, you get what we have: crumbling airports, collapsing bridges, and broken levees. Why did we think that the wireless Internet would be any different?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Brooklyn — “The parking lot gate was open, and we ran in with the skateboard.” — [ hitotoki ]:

One evening as we drank our second bottle of wine on our stoop in Fort Greene my husband decided he wanted to teach me how to skateboard. The rain had stopped, and the light of summer had turned a deep gold against the sycamore trees. We have lived in our apartment together for five years, and though dust of renovated brownstones is in the air, generations of families remain on the block, which is unusual. It’s the first place I’ve lived where I know my neighbors well. The escalating real estate drove me out of Manhattan, where I dwelt among artists and social workers until the city began to change and my building filled with transient business types. I’ve seen friends come and go, through the city’s revolving door, all in search of the rare commodity of space.
Childish moments
Court Strikes Down 2 Key Patriot Act Provisions:

A federal district court judge struck down two key pillars of the Patriot Act Wednesday, ruling that using a secret spying court to wiretap and secretly search Americans' homes for criminal prosecutions violates the Constitution's protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Federal district court judge Ann Aiken struck down the government's ability to get orders from the secret spy court for anything other than acquiring foreign intelligence activities, saying that using that court and its lowered standards -- instead of getting a traditional criminal wiretap order -- violates the Fourth Amendment's ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. The ruling applies to Patriot Act changes to wiretapping laws and to so-called sneak-and-peak searches, where the government can search someone's home secretly and never have to disclose the search to the individual.
Watching the Dem Debate:

This happens every time. The moderator (in this case, Russert) asks Hillary Clinton a hypothetical (in this case, whether she’d support Israel if it decided to attack nuclear facilities in Iran) and Clinton refuses to answer, saying it’s a hypothetical. Inevitably, the moderator protests, trying to get Clinton to answer the question anyway, and Clinton engages, sticking to her guns, talking over the moderator, telling him, basically, to shove it—and, however you feel about her not answering the question on the excuse that it’s a hypothetical, Clinton comes out looking tough. Or, at least tough enough to talk over and nearly shout down a big-ego Washington pundit.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Respectful Insolence: Frolicking in the shadow of hell:

The photos provide a stunning counterpoint to what up until now has been the only major source of preliberation Auschwitz photos, the so-called Auschwitz Album, a compilation of pictures taken by SS photographers in the spring of 1944 and discovered by a survivor in another camp. Those photos depict the arrival at the camp of a transport of Hungarian Jews, who at the time made up the last remaining sizable Jewish community in Europe. The Auschwitz Album, owned by Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust museum, depicts the railside selection process at Birkenau, the area where trains arrived at the camp, as SS men herded new prisoners into lines.

The comparisons between the albums are both poignant and obvious, as they juxtapose the comfortable daily lives of the guards with the horrific reality within the camp, where thousands were starving and 1.1 million died.

For example, one of the Höcker pictures, shot on July 22, 1944, shows a group of cheerful young women who worked as SS communications specialists eating bowls of fresh blueberries. One turns her bowl upside down and makes a mock frown because she has finished her portion.

On that day, said Judith Cohen, a historian at the Holocaust museum in Washington, 150 new prisoners arrived at the Birkenau site. Of that group, 21 men and 12 women were selected for work, the rest transported immediately to the gas chambers.
prepped for launch
My Business Failure - AnywhereCD:

With CD sales slumping sharply, I thought it would be a good time to approach the record labels with a new idea to spur sales. Obviously $1 song sales on iTunes are ongoing, but losing a $15 CD sale means a $14 net loss for the music business. I thought the labels would be receptive to the proposition of reinventing the CD by making it Internet friendly. In our web-savvy world, people expect everything immediately -- we want to bank, shop and communicate in real time. While we can buy a CD on the web immediately, we can't listen to it immediately -- instead we have to wait for the postman to show up with the plastic. It's no wonder that fewer and fewer people are buying CDs.

But what if anyone could buy a CD and immediately get the corresponding MP3 tracks to play anywhere? I assumed the labels wouldn't be too excited about users getting MP3 tracks, but CDs are perfect digital copies anyway so customers wouldn't be getting anything they couldn't already have. To entice the labels my strategy was to pay the wholesale price for CDs plus give them $2 for the digital tracks.

I met with all of the major labels (Universal, EMI, Sony, and Warner Music) and they seemed open minded to new ideas. One had a cautious 'wait and see' type of attitude. Another wanted millions of dollars up front. One insanely asked me if I would embed the purchaser's credit card number in the song files they bought. (I pointed out as politely as I could that no one would shop at Barnes and Noble if they printed your credit card number on every page of every book you bought. And, um, oh yeah, I'd be breaking a variety of federal and state laws!)
I Believe I Can Fly
Moon Rising over the Seattle Waterfront
Thoughts Had While Reading Garfield With Charlie (Age 6):

1. This is my duty as a father, to encourage my son's interests even when there is nothing remotely funny or entertaining about Garfield.

2. Why does Garfield hate Mondays? He doesn't even have a job.

3. Jon can't hear Garfield's thoughts can he?

4. You know what's worse than Garfield? Nothing. Nothing is worse than Garfield.

5. How about his fixation at age 2 with "Barney Goes to the Pet Shop"? Cause that was pretty bad.

6. No, this is worse.

7. This is much worse.

8. Is the house that Jon and Garfield live in completely full of counters? Cause almost every strip they're in involves sitting at a counter of some sort. Are there counters on every single wall?
Good Luck Chuck - New York Times:

I’ve occasionally heard Dane Cook, one of the stars of “Good Luck Chuck,” described as a comedian. I find this confusing, since my understanding is that comedians are people who say and do things that are funny. Perhaps Mr. Cook is some new kind of conceptual satirist whose shtick is to behave in the manner of a person attempting to be funny without actually being, you know, funny. Or maybe he answered an ad in the back of a magazine and sent away for a mail-order license to practice comedy. Whether Jessica Alba, his co-star, acquired her acting credentials by similar means is an issue that will be addressed if she ever tries to act.
Correfoc - Fire run
The Typing Life: Books: The New Yorker:

It is a shame that Wershler-Henry, so willing to generalize about our experience with the typewriter, does not spend much time on the difference between that and our relationship to the personal computer. Consider, for example, our physical involvement with the typewriter, which stands in relation to our connection with the P.C. as a fistfight does to a handshake. On the P.C., we use the same typing skills that we used on the typewriter, but the contact is not the same. We run our fingers lightly over the keys, making a gentle, pitter-patter sound. On the typewriter, by contrast, we had to stab, and the machine recorded our action with a great big clack. We liked that. (As Wershler-Henry tells us, a silent typewriter was put on the market in the nineteen-forties, and nobody wanted it.) The noise told us that we had achieved something. So, in larger measure, did the carriage return—another line done!—and the job of changing the paper—another page done!

Which brings us to the white page. Mallarmé spoke of the uncertainty with which we face a clean sheet of paper and try, in vain, to record our thoughts on it with some precision. As long as we were feeding paper into a typewriter, this anxiety was still present to our minds, and was revealed in the pointillism of Wite-Out, or even in the dapple of letters that were darker, pressed in confidence, as opposed to the lighter ones, pressed more hesitantly. A page produced on a manual typewriter was like a record of the torture of thought. With the P.C., the situation is altogether different. The screen, a kind of indeterminate space, does not seem violable in the same way as the page. And, because what we write on it is so effortlessly and undetectably erasable, the final text buries the evidence of our struggle, asserting that what we said was what we thought all along. Wershler-Henry suggests that the P.C.—with some help from Derrida and Baudrillard—ushered us into a world in which the difference between true and false is no longer cause for doubt or grief; falsity is taken for granted. I don’t know if he was thinking about the spurious perfection of the computer-generated page, but it would be a useful example.
Every Fall
It's fascinating to me that the right always accuses the left of hating America--it seems to me that at both ends of the political spectrum there's plenty of focused hate to go around. This is from the Values Voter Debate, and isn't a marginal event--you can see presidential candidates standing behind the gospel choir singing about how God should turn his back on America now that it's a godless place.

Why should God bless America?
She’s forgotten he exists
And has turned her back
On everything that made her what she is

Why should God stand beside her
Through the night with the light from his hand?
God have mercy on America
Forgive her sin and heal our land

The courts ruled prayer out of our schools
In June of ‘62
Told the children “you are your own God now
So you can make the rules”
O say can you see what that choice
Has cost us to this day
America, one nation under God, has gone astray
Daring Fireball: Hacking the iPhone Notes App for the Admittedly Nit-Picky Purpose of Changing the Text Font to Helvetica:

I can’t recommend doing this. Binary files are fragile; make a mistake while editing and it’s likely, very likely, the application will no longer work properly. Plus, any changes you make to MobileNotes today are going to be overwritten before the end of the week, as Apple has already indicated that the next iPhone software update is imminent.

On the other hand, if you have the urge to hack around on your iPhone, you might as well do so now, as I strongly suspect that this week’s imminent iPhone software update is going to render inoperable the existing ways of hacking/jailbreaking the iPhone. Notice how no one’s yet figured out how to install or modify the software on the iPod Touch? Whatever Apple’s doing on the Touch in this regard, I expect them to begin doing on the iPhone this week. (I’d love to be proven wrong.)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Why knockoffs are good for fashion - Boing Boing:

James Surowiecki (author of the great book The Wisdom of Crowds) has a fantastic, tight little article about copyright and fashion in this week's New Yorker. Fashion designs aren't covered by copyright, and this means that couture designs are knocked off and sold at huge discounts in department stores and shops like H&M within seconds of appearing on the runway. This upsets many designers, but there's plenty of evidence that it's good for the industry as a whole -- the knockoffs sell to people who'd never buy the couture originals, so they don't really cannibalize sales; what's more, by making a hot new look ubiquitous, the knockoffs contribute to making it look tired and boring, which creates the market for next season's clothes.
1399458245 62252E5B56 B
MITM Podcast #56: Mike Daisey and Jean-Michele Gregory:

On today’s show, I’m joined by award-winning storyteller and bestselling author, Mike Daisey, and his wife and director, the inimitable Jean-Michele Gregory. The three of us discuss shrinking kilograms, handy accidents, and lucky dogs.
As the Fall Season Arrives, TV Screens Get More Cluttered - New York Times:

Kyra Sedgwick, star of “The Closer” on TNT, walks under a police tape and scans the screen with her flashlight. And every time she does, she makes Gretchen Corbin, a technical writer in Berkeley, Calif., irate.

The promotional ads for “The Closer” run in the bottom right of the screen during other TNT programs — a graphic called a snipe. But for Ms. Corbin, who sometimes watches movies that have subtitles, the tiny images block the dialogue.

“Some ad just took over the entire bottom of the screen so I missed what the characters said to each other,” said Ms. Corbin, describing a recent experience. “And it’s TV, so you can’t rewind.”

Snipes are just the latest effort by network executives to cram promotions onto television screens in the age of channel surfing, ad skipping and screen-based multitasking. At first, viewers may feel a slight jolt of pleasure at the sight of a new visual effect, they say, but over time the intrusions contribute to the sense that the screen is far more cluttered — not just with ads, but with news crawls and other streams of information.

For better or worse, viewers say, the additions are making the experience of watching television more closely mirror the feeling of using a computer.

That may be so, network executives say, but the extra content is here to stay. The snipes — not to be confused with bugs, those network logos that pop up in screen corners during shows — are important enough to the beleaguered television industry that the networks plan to tolerate the backlash.
Mime Legend Marcel Marceau Dies at 84:

A French Jew, Marceau escaped deportation to a Nazi death camp during World War II, unlike his father who died in Auschwitz. Marceau worked with the French Resistance to protect Jewish children, and later used the memories of his own life to feed his art.

He gave life to a wide spectrum of characters, from a peevish waiter to a lion tamer to an old woman knitting, and to the best-known Bip.

His biggest inspiration was Charlie Chaplin. In turn, Marceau inspired countless young performers—Michael Jackson borrowed his famous "moonwalk" from a Marceau sketch, "Walking Against the Wind."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Naomi Wolf: Fascist America, in 10 easy steps | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited:

They were not figuring these things out as they went along. If you look at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been used again and again in more and less bloody, more and less terrifying ways. But it is always effective. It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy - but history shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps.

As difficult as this is to contemplate, it is clear, if you are willing to look, that each of these 10 steps has already been initiated today in the United States by the Bush administration.

Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree - domestically - as many other nations. Because we no longer learn much about our rights or our system of government - the task of being aware of the constitution has been outsourced from citizens' ownership to being the domain of professionals such as lawyers and professors - we scarcely recognise the checks and balances that the founders put in place, even as they are being systematically dismantled. Because we don't learn much about European history, the setting up of a department of "homeland" security - remember who else was keen on the word "homeland" - didn't raise the alarm bells it might have.

It is my argument that, beneath our very noses, George Bush and his administration are using time-tested tactics to close down an open society. It is time for us to be willing to think the unthinkable - as the author and political journalist Joe Conason, has put it, that it can happen here. And that we are further along than we realise.
anti-gravity freedom

Friday, September 21, 2007

Heading East: Late Last Night...:

After a few minutes a very tall girl with long brown hair who I would later learn was a Parsons design student, broke social convention, turned to her fellow benchmates, and said, "My God, wasn't today beautiful." At first she just got a few quiet affirmations,"yeah, gorgeous", "best day yet" etc, but then a young woman in a business suit again broke social convention and revealed personal information: "It was so nice, when I woke up I decided I didn't want to feel miserable about anything, and broke up with my boyfriend. I ditched him at 7:30 in the morning. He didn't know what hit him." This revelation shattered the dam of silence and soon the entire group: a couple from Denmark, the Parsons student, the businesswoman, a somewhat scruffy writer named Mike, a lady carrying a violin, and a young tough-looking couple from Coney Island were all chatting. In short order we covered breakups, design books, Facebook, muggings (The Danish couple were surprised to learn none of us had been violently mugged...), and Thai food in Brooklyn. Another half hour passed. Finally Mike, said, "screw the train, let's walk, my car is on the other side and I can take some of you home." We immediately lost the Coney Island couple ("That's foolish man. Foolish.") but everyone else was on board. The violin woman slipped out of her heels into white tennis shoes and we headed out into the night. » Oversimplification is confusing (or, Don’t ask stupid questions):

Sometimes I notice things in software that raise the same kind of questions. Here’s the dialog you get when you save a file in Photoshop CS2:


When saving a file, you have an option to “maximize compatibility”. The thing is, they never tell you what the alternative is. Why would you ever choose to not maximize compatibility? Even worse, the dialog explicitly warns you that turning the option off is a bad idea. Seems like a stupid question then, doesn’t it?
Colour for Sale
This means I'm gonna have to watch all season, doesn't it? |

One of the contestants on the new season of Survivor (yes, it's still on the air) is a Christian talk radio host. The first episode began with a ceremony at a Buddhist temple, and immediately I said, "there's no way she's gonna do this." Many evangelicals would happily attend such a ceremony without actually worshipping, as a simple sign of respect and politeness, but those are not qualities that get one a job as a talk radio host, and sure enough Leslie walked out after a few minutes.

When Jeff Probst asked her about it, she said, "I'm not a religious person, but I have a relationship with Jesus Christ" — totally confounding all the other players, and, no doubt, most of the audience. What you need to know is that evangelicalism today is all about being "not religious." It's a trope that started among the younger, hipper set ("the emerging church," or at least one definition of it) who wanted to distinguish their intense and dynamic personal relationship with Jesus with what they saw as the static and uninspired blandness of "religion" -- that is, mom and dad's church with all its habits and rules and consumer trappings, which had more to do with man than God. The youngsters who first expressed this probably meant it, but by now it's become so entrenched in the language of evangelicals that it's, well, just another habit. If anything, declaring yourself "not religious" is really a way of saying "more religious than you."
Giuliani: Excuse Me While I Take This Call - The Caucus - Politics - New York Times Blog:

It’s unclear whether Republican presidential candidate Rudolph W. Giuliani, whose previous positions on gun control are likely to make his presidential candidacy a tougher sell to members of the influential National Rifle Association, scored points or lost a few today when he decided to take a cell phone call from his wife in the middle of a speech to the group.

“Hello dear. I’m talking to the members of the N.R.A. right now. Would you like to say hello?” he said, apparently speaking to his wife, Judith. “I’ll give you a call as soon as I’m done. Have a safe trip. Bye bye.”

Though there was some scattered laughter, the audience was mostly quiet as Mr. Giuliani ended the call and added: “This is one of the great blessings of the modern age – to always be available.”
Skull and Crossbones!

EB: I think it's changing so dramatically, I mean, just two years ago none of us were talking about YouTube - now it's part of everybody's daily life. Who knows what technology is going to come out in six months from now, or two years from now. That's going to revolutionize the way we think about watching films. You know, the idea that people watch a movie on an iPod for someone my age, that's insane, yet I recognize if you've grown up watching small images on your laptop or you've been downloading via friends to your phone, an iPod is a pretty good invention. So, I think it's changing and you have to embrace it. You know, digital cinema is coming at us fast and furiously, film will die, day and dark releases are here already, and like I said, people go to movies for different things.

Reporter: I just can't imagine watching "The Godfather" on iTunes for the first time.

EB: But you know what? I think it's analogous, in a way, to music. You know, you have to embrace the change because I know, like, our parents did not buy albums, they only listened to the radio. And then in the '60s, albums came out and people were obsessed with the LP. And then when CDs came out, all the purists were like ‘What the fuck is this? I'm never going to listen to a CD,' and CDs are over now, and nobody buys full length albums when they download it digitally anymore, so it's almost like we come back to the way your guys' grandparents listened to music where it was an individual song by an individual artists that was playing on the radio as opposed to the computer. So it's that thing that happened in 70 years of music that I think is happening now for us in movies, and we'll just have to see where it goes.

I posted this years ago, but I think it might be the finest thing on YouTube, so I'm posting it again today.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pub customers happily line up for drug testing - Boing Boing:

Police in Bicester set up a drug testing station in a pub, and swabbed the palms of every customer before they were allowed to enter. The swab was checked for drug residue. Anyone who tested positive was searched on the spot for possession of drugs. 150 people submitted to the test.

The police explained that it was part of a crackdown on violent street crime. But for some reason, they did nothing to stop the patrons from ingesting the drug that the pub was selling -- alcohol -- which is often found in the bloodstream of people who commit acts of violence.
Constant Advice:

Guess what? People don’t wear clothing to be comfortable. People wear clothing to be attractive.
If comfort was our only goal as a species, we’d all be wandering around in velour sacks, idly masturbating, and eating fistfuls of pudding. So don’t wear your pajamas around campus.
Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!
Call Me Fishmeal.: iPhone & iPod: contain or disengage?:

So it is with iTunes. Apple has engaged two of the most cock-thirsty and money-grubbing conglomerates in the United States -- the movie and record industries -- in what we all wanted to believe was an attempt to engage and contain them. And, initially, we all agreed Apple was doing good: they had, for the first time, made legal downloads more compelling than stealing music. For a single data point, I've personally bought 915 songs from the iTunes music store, and hundreds of TV episodes and dozens of movies. I own six iPods and have bought 18 iPhones to give away.

And we all took heart when Steve published that letter saying how much he hated DRM, and how he'd drop it if the labels would, and even if the rumors are correct and EMI was already planning to drop DRM and Steve just rushed in and took credit, it was still a bold stance for him to take; a challenge to the rest of the industry. And I immediately upgraded all the tunes I could to iTunes Plus, and bought a bunch more albums. And it was good.

But recently, well... the generous view would be that Apple's screwing up, and the non-generous view would be that they are just plain getting greedy.
Thanks to everyone who came out to the show last night--it was a big night for us, and thank you.
Thanks to everyone who came out to the show last night--it was a big night for us, and thank you.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


It's opening day for TONGUES WILL WAG--this will be the first time this monologue gets performed in NYC, and we're delighted to be doing this one-night presentation at Ars Nova, with whom we've had such success with TRUTH and THE UGLY AMERICAN.

The show is completely sold out, but I have talked to box office and they will be having a wait list at the door, so that if any seats do become available you'll have a chance of seeing the show.

I'm off to prepare--more posts tomorrow!
Amy Thone - Pullout - Genius Awards - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:

Some of it's how she dresses—leather shoes, jeans, slightly billowing button-up cotton shirts, the kind of clothes you could raid a ship in. Some of it's her person—thin and muscular with dark, curly hair and a strong, unflinching posture. Some of it's how she talks—direct and untactful and with many swear words.

Amy Thone on being a mother: "It's contact improv with a psychopath."

Amy Thone on pretentious theater: "If you're going to take a risk, it has to be supported by discipline. Some people just pull out their dicks and jump off a diving board, and that's just boring, jackass behavior."

Amy Thone discussing a line from Two Gentlemen of Verona with one of her students: "Fuck that 'farthingale' shit. What the fuck is going on with that? Cut, cut, cut!"
Co-host of The View doesn't know if Earth is round or flat (video) - Boing Boing:

The View co-host Sherri Shephard told her other co-hosts that she does not believe in the theory of evolution. Whoopi Goldberg then asked her if she thought the world was flat. Here's the transcript of the conversation that followed.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG: Is the world flat?

SHERRI SHEPHERD: Is the world flat? (laughter)


SHEPHERD: …I Don’t know.

GOLDBERG: What do you think?

SHEPHERD: I… I never thought about it, Whoopi. Is the world flat? I never thought about it.

BARBARA WALTERS: You’ve never thought about whether the world was round or flat?

SHEPHERD: I tell you what I’ve thought about. How I’m going to feed my child–

WALTERS: Well you can do both.

SHEPERD: …how I’m going to take care of my family. The world, is the world flat has never entered into, like that has not been an important thing to me.

ELIZABETH HASSELBECK: You’ll teach your son, Jeffery, right?

SHEPHERD: If my son, Jeffery, asks me ‘is the world flat,’ I guess I would go…

JOY BEHAR: You know, didn’t some person already work this question out? I mean, why are we doing this again? (laughter, applause)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Terror Dry Run... NOT! [Zentastic!]:

I've been debating for a while whether I should post this or not. This photo was taken in flight in the washroom of an airplane after passing through security at an international terminal. Yes, that's a box cutter, like what was used in the 9/11 attacks (taken on accidentally). Not only that but they searched the bag that contained it and missed it. Not only that, but they did require pouring out a coffee that had been bought at the entrance to the security line-up. Well, that made me feel safe.

What's That Smell? | Slog | The Stranger | Seattle's Only Newspaper:

For all the painful proximity of the dirty stuff itself—stained carpets, brown pillows, cracked mirrors—the one artwork that was totally distant was C. Davida Ingram’s cooking performance, the one I most wanted to see/smell/taste/touch/talk about.

I could only look through the window of the room to see a set table with wine bottles and a bowl of cut cucumbers on it, and behind that, the occasional glimpse of Ingram cooking in the kitchen. A sign on the door said “Private,” because Ingram was cooking for groups of pre-assigned people (I’d have signed up, but I was out of town), and they decided whether they wanted their meals private or public. The whole thing was based on an ad Ingram put out that said,
“Black woman willing to make your favorite meal. You share the recipe. I prepare. Come hungry.” The text of that last sentence splayed on the window expanded the racial implications of the premise into startingly sexual territory, as did the “private” sign on the motel room door. Even without getting in, I loved the piece. (Does anyone care to share what went on inside?)
Way too much coffee man
Times to Stop Charging for Parts of Its Web Site - New York Times:

The New York Times will stop charging for access to parts of its Web site, effective at midnight Tuesday night.

The move comes two years to the day after The Times began the subscription program, TimesSelect, which has charged $49.95 a year, or $7.95 a month, for online access to the work of its columnists and to the newspaper’s archives. TimesSelect has been free to print subscribers to The Times and to some students and educators.
It's Coming on Autumn
Ayn Rand’s Literature of Capitalism - New York Times:

One of Rand’s most famous devotees is Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, whose memoir, “The Age of Turbulence,” will be officially released Monday.

Mr. Greenspan met Rand when he was 25 and working as an economic forecaster. She was already renowned as the author of “The Fountainhead,” a novel about an architect true to his principles. Mr. Greenspan had married a member of Rand’s inner circle, known as the Collective, that met every Saturday night in her New York apartment. Rand did not pay much attention to Mr. Greenspan until he began praising drafts of “Atlas,” which she read aloud to her disciples, according to Jeff Britting, the archivist of Ayn Rand’s papers. He was attracted, Mr. Britting said, to “her moral defense of capitalism.”

Monday, September 17, 2007

How Computers Transformed Baby Boomers:

This summer I was talking to some young Google employees, and at one point the conversation somehow turned to the antediluvian document-creation processes of an older generation: mine. So I (born 1951) told these twentysomethings that there was a time when people wrote on machines called typewriters, beginning at the beginning and plowing through until the end, at which point they would mark up the manuscript with pen or pencil for the next run through the typewriter. If there was a need to recast a couple of sentences or even an entire paragraph, you would type on a new sheet of paper, cut the new text from the page with scissors and use Elmer's glue to paste it over the original not-so-hot lines. "Oh!" said one of the Googlers, of 1980s vintage. "So that's where 'cut-and-paste' came from!"
aisle 10, USA
Top Murdoch Critic Flees Journal | The New York Observer:

While at the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, Tunku Varadarajan was one of Rupert Murdoch's toughest critics—especially regarding News Corp.'s relationship with the Chinese government.

Here's how one anti-Murdoch screed began: "Rupert Murdoch, a master practitioner of the corporate kowtow, has instructed his son James perfectly in the craft of craven submission to the communist regime in China."

So it's strange that when the New York Post reported today that Mr. Varadarajan is leaving the Journal for academia, his criticism of Mr. Murdoch—who also happens to own the Post—wasn’t mentioned.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Spare Us Oprah Winfrey's "Ethical Dilemmas":

There was a moment about halfway through yesterday's Oprah show about If I Did It where Oprah Winfrey turns to the Goldmans and says that in the 13 years since the double homicide of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson, "we've been able to move on with our lives," and I thought to myself, wow, Steve Almond was right, she really is a "zillionaire narcissist." And the irony of a woman who just last year spent an hour publicly humiliating a memoirist because she felt personally betrayed by the extent of his artistic license suggesting that a family who had lost a son and brother in a brutal killing by a man who had escaped punishment thanks to the bungling of the two prosecutors plopped on stage across from them ought to be ready to find some peace along with everybody else?
Gran sabana