Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

‘Aftermath’ brings Iraq war close to home - The Boston Globe:

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.

Barring the Unforeseen:

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.
H.P. Lovecraft Goes Bump in the Night - Theater - New York - Village Voice:

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.
Karl Kraus | Superfluities Redux:

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 Iraq War: A Descent Into Hell - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan:

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.

HP's Slate specs slated by bloggers - Boing Boing:

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

Office for Mac Isn't an Improvement -

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

John Sculley On Steve Jobs, The Full Interview Transcript | Cult of Mac:

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

Rudy’s Blog » Blog Archive » Remembering Benoit Mandelbrot:

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

Hyper-libertarian Facebook billionaire Peter Thiel's appalling plan to pay students to quit college. - By Jacob Weisberg - Slate Magazine:

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.
The FCC's new "bill shock" rule for cell phones doesn't go far enough:

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

The One Who Writes It Down Wins by Brendan Kiley - Theater - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:

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

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
Samuel Beckett
Burning Inside
Ben Pieratt's Blog In Praise of Quitting Your Job:

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.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Foxconn study shows 50% of workers have faced abuse | Electronista:

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

Reverend Billy’s Revelation - A Useful Role for Money -

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.”

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

“I Love You, SpartaciOS:” Tony Curtis Buried With His iPhone | Cult of Mac:

Tony Curtis was a wonderfully idiosyncratic man. His roles included a cross-dressing jazz musician, a medieval Briton with a Brooklyn accent and a Lawrence Olivier’s slave boy toy. He once cheated on his blonde bombshell wife, Janet Leigh, to have an affair with another blonde bombshell, Marilyn Monroe… and afterwards almost came to blows with her husband, playwright Arthur Miller.

Now, after his death, add one more charming idiosyncrasy to the list: he was buried with his iPhone.

Apparently, when Tony Curtis was buried on Monday, he was interred with his favorite possessions. Not only did he go into the ground still clutching his iPhone, but the 85-year old Oscar-nominated actor was also buried with a Stetson hat, an Armani scarf, driving gloves and a copy of his favorite novel, Anthony Adverse.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Google's CEO: 'The Laws Are Written by Lobbyists' - Derek Thompson - Technology - The Atlantic:

"Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it," he said. Google implants, he added, probably crosses that line.

At the same time, Schmidt envisions a future where we embrace a larger role for machines and technology. "With your permission you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches," he said. "We don't need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less now what you're thinking about."
Print - My Days with Tony Curtis - Esquire:

He was even more than what he represented — Hollywood — and even more than what he was, which was, of course, a star. He was, pardon the term, an existentialist, as unflinching in his estimation of himself as he was in his estimation of others, as he was in his conversations with me. He took himself seriously, but as a comic character. As an actor, he was never quite as convincing in heroic roles as he was when he revealed an element of cowardice, and so he was, to my mind, brave.
Want to Help Developing Countries? Sell Them Good Stuff — Cheap | Magazine:

The Tata Group, India’s version of Acme and maker of the supercheap Nano automobile, recently introduced a $22 water purifier that works without electricity or running water. (Every few months it needs a new $6 filter.) A big-hearted, philanthropic, and important effort? You bet—cue the somber stats about preventable waterborne diseases. But check out the size of the market for a product like that: Some 900 million people worldwide lack access to clean water, 200 million of them in India alone. Tata is saving lives and making a killing.
The comic geniuses of "Real Housewives" - The Real Housewives | Atlanta, New Jersey, New York, Orange County -

Maybe I'm biased because I'm over 30 and I wasn't raised with the Nickelodeon and Disney TV show model (which features performers that are the same age as their target viewers), but my taste preferences have always skewed toward entertainment starring, well, grown-ups. I may be in the minority, but I just find adults over 35 more interesting. I grew up with "Designing Women," "Murphy Brown" and "The Golden Girls" on TV, and watching "Troop Beverly Hills," "Working Girl" and "Steel Magnolias" in the theaters. Leading roles that would, today, be played by Gwyneth Paltrow or Rachel Bilson then went to genuine comedic ingénues like Julie Hagerty and Joan Cusack. The '70s and '80s were kinder eras to character actresses -- before the time when somehow, Cameron Diaz became considered a "comedienne" -- and the popularity of shows like "Real Housewives" prove how hungry audiences are, still, for personalities, not just the Photoshop-perfect skin-having and body fat-deficient mainstays of Us Magazine's "Who Wore It Better?" feature.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

What I Think About Atlas Shrugged « Whatever:

That said, it’s a totally ridiculous book which can be summed up as Sociopathic idealized nerds collapse society because they don’t get enough hugs. (This is, incidentally, where you can start your popcorn munching.) Indeed, the enduring popularity of Atlas Shrugged lies in the fact that it is nerd revenge porn — if you’re an nerd of an engineering-ish stripe who remembers all too well being slammed into your locker by a bunch of football dickheads, then the idea that people like you could make all those dickheads suffer by “going Galt” has a direct line to the pleasure centers of your brain. I’ll show you! the nerds imagine themselves crying. I’ll show you all! And then they disappear into a crevasse that Google Maps will not show because the Google people are our kind of people, and a year later they come out and everyone who was ever mean to them will have starved. Then these nerds can begin again, presumably with the help of robots, because any child in the post-Atlas Shrugged world who can’t figure out how to run a smelter within ten minutes of being pushed through the birth canal will be left out for the coyotes. Which if nothing else solves the problem of day care.
Digital Domain - What Apple’s Steve Jobs Learned in the Wilderness -

In this period, Mr. Jobs did not do much delegating. Almost every aspect of the machine — including the finish on interior screws — was his domain. The interior furnishings of Next’s offices, a stunning design showplace, were Mr. Jobs’s concern, too. While the company’s strategy begged to be re-examined, Mr. Jobs attended to other matters. I spoke with many current and former Next employees for my 1993 book, “Steve Jobs and the NeXT Big Thing.” According to one of them, while a delegation of visiting Businessland executives waited on the sidewalk, Mr. Jobs spent 20 minutes directing the landscaping crew on the exact placement of the sprinkler heads.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Friday, October 01, 2010

Exclusive: Blackwater Wins Piece of $10 Billion Merc Deal | Danger Room |

Never mind the dead civilians. Forget about the stolen guns. Get over the murder arrests, the fraud allegations, and the accusations of guards pumping themselves up with steroids and cocaine. Through a “joint venture,” the notorious private security firm Blackwater has won a piece of a five-year State Department contract worth up to $10 billion, Danger Room has learned.