Saturday, December 31, 2005

12:49 PM

Pasta Club Fountain
12:45 PM

City council graffiti markdown:

Young taggers, consider yourself warned. It's now illegal in New York City for anyone under 21 to carry a single can of spray paint -- or even a wide marker -- on city streets.

"The police love this bill," said Council member Peter Vallone Jr. of Queens, who sponsored the new law that Mayor Bloomberg signed into law Thursday. "All the cops have to do is see a youth with a can of spray paint and they can arrest him right there."

The law was decried as "overreaching" by the New York Civil Liberties Union, and a library group wondered whether librarians would have to start wresting markers from the hands of kids.

"People need to realize that a 19-year-old has no business walking around New York City with a can of spray paint," Vallone said.

9:54 AM

Echelon; Worldwide Conversations Being Received (Transcript of 60 Minutes):

KROFT: (Voiceover) Is it possible for people like you and I, innocent civilians, to be targeted by Echelon?

Mr. FROST: Not only possible, not only probable, but factual. While I was at CSE, a classic example: A lady had been to a school play the night before, and her son was in the school play and she thought he did a--a lousy job. Next morning, she was talking on the telephone to her friend, and she said to her friend something like this, 'Oh, Danny really bombed last night,' just like that. The computer spit that conversation out. The analyst that was looking at it was not too sure about what the conversation w--was referring to, so erring on the side of caution, he listed that lady and her phone number in the database as a possible terrorist.

KROFT: This is not urban legend you're talking about. This actually happened?

Mr. FROST: Factual. Absolutely fact. No legend here.

1:04 AM

Friday, December 30, 2005

FRESH YARN presents A Memo I Wish I'd Received ... by Jackie Cohen:

Even though I may call you ten times a day, PLEASE NOTE that I will not call you on Valentine's Day. I will be no more busy on that day than I am on any other day. After a few days, when you have cooled off from being mad, accept NEITHER my apology NOR my invitation to dinner. And when we go out to dinner and I offer to pay, please notice the passive aggressive manner in which I make you feel guilty when I reach for my wallet.

Even though it is a very couple-y thing to do to go to the gym in the morning together, DO NOT think that we are a couple. Other things that do not mean that two people are a couple include: getting breakfast together every day before work, kissing goodbye when we go our separate ways, waking up at 9 on a Saturday to watch you run a race, meeting your parents, allowing your parents to take me out to lunch, telling you how much I like you, holding hands when walking down the street, sex.

11:37 PM

11:35 PM

Chronic What Narnia
10:20 PM

Boing Boing: Ignoring UK ban, bloggers publish leaked torture memos:

A forthcoming book covering his time as ambassador is currently being blocked by the Foreign Office, which has demanded he remove references to two documents from the book and his web site. Murray has responded by publishing the documents in full there, and by encouraging bloggers to disseminate the documents as widely as possible.

The documents consist of a Foreign & Commonwealth Office legal opinion concerning evidence that may have been obtained by torture, and several letters sent by Murray to the FCO during his time as ambassador. These letters state that the use of torture is routine in Uzbekistan, that US policy there (which the UK supports) is focussed on oil, gas and hegemony rather than democracy or freedom, and that by knowingly receiving evidence obtained through torture the UK is in breach of the UN Convention on Torture. "With Tony Blair and Jack Straw cornered on extraordinary rendition," says Murray, "the UK Government is particularly anxious to suppress all evidence of our complicity in obtaining intelligence extracted by foreign torturers."

10:19 PM

10:14 PM


1:08 PM

Bitter Brew - I opened a charming neighborhood coffee shop. Then it destroyed my life. By Michael Idov:

I never realized how ubiquitous the dream of opening a small coffeehouse was until I fell under its spell myself. Friends' eyes misted over when my wife and I would excitedly recite our concept ("Vienna roast from Vienna! It's lighter and sweeter than bitter Italian espresso—no need to drown it in milk!"). It seemed that just about every boho-professional couple had indulged in this fantasy at some point or another.

12:26 PM

11:49 AM

11:45 AM

Sizeable Minorities Still Believe Saddam Hussein Had Strong Links to Al Qaeda, Helped Plan 9/11 and Had Weapons of Mass Destruction:

Forty-one percent (41%) of U.S. adults believe that Saddam Hussein had "strong links to Al Qaeda." -- Twenty-two percent (22%) of adults believe that Saddam Hussein "helped plan and support the hijackers who attacked the United States on September 11." -- Twenty-six percent (26%) of adults believe that Iraq "had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded." -- Twenty-four percent (24%) of all adults believe that "several of the hijackers who attacked the United States on September 11 were Iraqis."
11:44 AM

Thursday, December 29, 2005

UMass teacher blasts colleagues on hoax story - The Boston Globe:

The head of policy studies at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth wants the university to suspend a student who made up a story about being grilled by federal antiterrorism agents over a library book and to reprimand faculty members who spread the tale.

Following the student's admission Friday that it was a hoax, Clyde Barrow, chairman of the policy studies department, said UMass should punish the student and faculty members, in particular two history professors who repeated the unsubstantiated assertion of the history student to a New Bedford Standard-Times reporter.

''It's unbelievable that this student is not being suspended for a semester," wrote Barrow, who said he does not know the student's identity. ''It's even more unbelievable that the faculty who jumped the gun on this story and actively promoted it on campus, the Internet, and blogs will walk away from their misconduct without any consequences."

11:55 PM

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005):

The screenplay systematically elevates the role of the children and the Witch herself at Aslan’s expense. In the book, when Father Christmas arrived, he said, “She has kept me out for a long time, but I have got in at last. Aslan is on the move. The Witch’s magic is weakening.” In the film, a curiously un-festive, brown-clad Father Christmas (James Cosmo) offers a contrary explanation, attributing his arrival to the Pevensies rather than to Aslan: “The hope brought by Your Majesties is starting to weaken the Witch’s power.”

Perhaps the single gravest change to the story is one that greatly empowers the Witch at Aslan’s expense. It is simply the eradication of the whole motif of the Witch’s overt fear of Aslan. This is absolutely crucial to the book’s emphasis on the utter lack of parity between the omnipotent Aslan and the powerful but limited Witch. The whole vision of good and evil at work in the story turns on the fact that the Witch is never even close to being a rival or threat to Aslan, any more than Lucifer to Christ himself.

The filmmakers, perhaps motivated by a misguided dramatic notion of needing the villain to be a credible threat to the hero, eliminate practically every indication of the Witch’s fear of Aslan from the story — in the process jettisoning much of the point Lewis was making about the nature and relationship of good and evil.

5:07 PM

ABC News: iPod Replaced With Meat:

Rachel Cambra couldn't wait to see the look on her 14-year-old son's face when he opened a very special present on Christmas morning.

The Mililani, Hawaii, woman had saved up to surprise her son with what he wanted most for the holiday, a new Apple iPod with video.

Surprised he was, and so was Cambra. When her son opened the box for the high-tech toy, he discovered the iPod that should have been there wasn't. It had apparently been replaced with some kind of mystery meat.

3:32 PM

2:53 PM

Bob Coulter Milk
2:44 PM

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Scotch Tape Stymies Sony Copy Protection:

Sony BMG Music's controversial copy-protection scheme can be defeated with a small piece of tape, a research firm said Monday in a demonstration of the futility of digital rights management (DRM).

According to Gartner analysts Martin Reynolds and Mike McGuire, Sony's XCP technology is stymied by sticking a fingernail-size piece of opaque tape on the outer edge of the CD.

That, the pair said in a brief posted online, renders "session 2 -- which contains the self-loading DRM software — unreadable. The PC then treats the CD as an ordinary single-session music CD, and the commonly used CD 'rip' programs continue to work as usual."

11:39 PM

Hoopty Rides:

I am so profoundly disappointed. The New Yorker is in the business of selling magazines. Certainly, they make a few dollars off the Cartoon Bank and their various editorial compilations, but I would bet, that the overwhelming money comes from ad space. Perhaps I am wrong, but I doubt it. What are they afraid of? The 8 DVD's are going to be on P2P sites? The New Yorker is concerned that people will be downloading 60 GBs to read old Talk of the Town snippets? That high school kids are going to be trading them in the parking lot? They will be sold on street corners along with Harry Potter? Wouldn't this huge black market of Complete New Yorker piracy just create more demand for the magazine and more ad space dollars? It is fitting of a New Yorker cartoon!

I would be downloading all 60GBs, I am that devoted. But I don't have to because The Complete New Yorker is cheap, beautifully packaged and comes with a great highlights book. The scans are good, the software adequate, the extracts are decent so the searching really works, but I do revoke my recommendation that it is worth buying. You buy it, but you don't own it. Conde Nast still owns it. You can't use it in a fair, legal and sensible manner and you don't know that until you own it, as it doesn't have a sticker reading 'This DVD is Fucked.' It is not unreasonable to expect that consumers would choose to archive and eliminate the onerous disc swapping that is caused by being spread over 8 DVDs.

8:21 PM

7:14 PM

New York Daily News - Breaking News:

Michael Vale, the actor best known for his portrayal of the sleepy-eyed Dunkin' Donuts baker who said "Time to make the doughnuts," has died at age 83.
6:14 PM

5:31 AM

The Agency That Could Be Big Brother - New York Times:

DEEP in a remote, fog-layered hollow near Sugar Grove, W.Va., hidden by fortress-like mountains, sits the country's largest eavesdropping bug. Located in a "radio quiet" zone, the station's large parabolic dishes secretly and silently sweep in millions of private telephone calls and e-mail messages an hour.

Run by the ultrasecret National Security Agency, the listening post intercepts all international communications entering the eastern United States. Another N.S.A. listening post, in Yakima,Wash., eavesdrops on the western half of the country.

4:10 AM | 12/26/2005 | Fear destroys what bin Laden could not:

President Bush recently confirmed that he has authorized wiretaps against U.S. citizens on at least 30 occasions and said he'll continue doing it. His justification? He, as president -- or is that king? -- has a right to disregard any law, constitutional tenet or congressional mandate to protect the American people.

Is that America's highest goal -- preventing another terrorist attack? Are there no principles of law and liberty more important than this? Who would have remembered Patrick Henry had he written, ``What's wrong with giving up a little liberty if it protects me from death?''

4:09 AM

Tuesday, December 27, 2005 / World / Europe - Putin’s chief economic adviser quits:

Andrei IllarionovAndrei Illarionov, President Vladimir Putin’s chief economic adviser but also an acerbic critic of the Kremlin’s grab for economic power, offered his resignation on Tuesday, saying Russia was “no longer free”.
7:48 PM

5:54 PM

Maud Newton: Blog:

My guilt metamorphosed into rage. I’ve worked with nearly fifty graduate students, and I feel confident saying that not a single one has possessed Derek’s raw talent, his courage, or his willingness to write about the scary stuff that most people refuse to look in the eye. It’s safe to call Derek a "dark" writer. His stories are relentless and terrifying, despite the fact that he writes about the mundane — about manual labor and emotional exhaustion and bad relationships and the like. He’s an innovator, a sorcerer with a sentence and a writer with a vision. In short, he’s not what MFA programs are looking for.

The program in which I teach is stocked with competent students writing competent prose, crafting competent stories modeled after the stories they see published in the major trade magazines and placed front and center in their local bookstore’s atrium. Their teachers (my peers) extol the same compentent, well-crafted stories, written by the same set of writers lionized by booksellers across the country. The students, in short, are bcoming what they’ve been taught to become, and their acceptance into the MFA program is based less on how talented they are than on how well they adhere to this standard model of fiction writing. If Faulkner had submitted the first twenty-five pages of The Sound and the Fury as part of his 2005 MFA application package, he would have amassed a collection of rejection letter to make poor Derek’s stack look wafer-thin.

2:50 PM

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Stranger - Features - Feature - Holiday in Hell:

The editors of The Stranger decided to destroy my love of Christmas. I am their worst enemy, you see, and so they couldn't let me enjoy Christmas in peace. Instead, they sent me to suicide hot spots, support groups, caroling expeditions, the Seattle Men's Chorus—anyplace where the Christmas spirit might give way to despair and isolation, I was ordered to go. It was only after my seventh excruciating hour spent humming Christmas jingles inside a Nordstrom bathroom stall to keep from chewing my tongue off that I realized the editors of The Stranger probably just wanted me dead.
12:24 PM

Friday, December 23, 2005

11:19 PM

Blog of Floyd: All about me, Floyd:

People say to me, "Floyd, who are you"

Well, I am a writer and a poet and a dancer and a singer and a painter and a sculptor and a musician and an organizer and a keeper of birds and also cats. I am a good person and I used to have a moustache.

I enjoy art and culture and I like to play marbles. I enjoy television and yummy desserts and chickadees.

I once wrote a play called The Crucible even though someone else wrote a play with that name too.

I have very many crushes but I won't tell you on who unless you get a drink in me and then--WATCH OUT!!! Ha HA!

10:53 PM

10:51 PM

Inside Bay Area - Oakland Tribune - Op-Ed:

Bush is unapologetic. The president believes he has the legal authority to spy on American citizens without a warrant, and he plans to continue to reauthorize the program "for so long as the nation faces the continuing threat of an enemy that wants to kill American citizens." But when the enemy is poorly defined, who determines when the threat is over? In this case, the same government that secretly taps our phones.

Turns out the truth is no stranger than fiction.

We think it's time for Congress to heed the warning of George Orwell.

To that end, we're asking for your help: Mail us or drop off your tattered copies of "1984." When we get 537 of them, we'll send them to every member of the House of Representatives and Senate and to President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Feel free to inscribe the book with a note, reminding these fine people that we Americans take the threat to our liberties seriously. Remind Congress that it makes no sense to fight a war for democracy in a foreign land while allowing our democratic principles to erode at home.

Remind President Bush that ours is a country of checks and balances, not unbridled power.

Perhaps our nation's leaders can find some truth in this fiction and more carefully ponder the road we're traveling.

Bring or mail your books to the Oakland Tribune, 401 13th St., Oakland CA 94612. Doors are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

7:45 PM

My friend Samantha Hahn is having a gallery showing of her art work next month--I'd go, but I'll sadly be out of town the entire time. Perhaps those reading this might have a more conducive schedule?

Samantha Hahn at
219 9th Ave

January 3rd to 23rd, 2006

2:05 PM

Every year I rediscover how much I love this clock:

1:56 PM

1:30 PM

You Can't Make It Up: Taxi Cab Aggressions: The Most Violent Strike Story Ever:

So we're driving along and Nick says he needs to go to Bayridge. The cabbie says "No, I'm going off duty to Coney Island. I have to give this cab to my partner." Nick says "No, you're not going to leave me 7 miles from my house." They argue and the cabbie points at Nick and says "You can't change your destination, I am not going to Bayridge!" Nick says "Don't point your fucking finger at me or I'll break it off!" They keep yelling and Nick grabs his finger and bends it backwards and says "I'll break your fucking finger off..." yada yada. (Ed: Way to "yada yada" the action there, friend.)

The cabbie pushes him off and Nick fucking PUNCHES THE CABBIE IN THE FACE while we are driving. The guy slams on the brakes and Nick jumps out and opens my door for me to get out. And I'm like hell no, I don't even fucking know this guy and he just punched a dude in the face! So I stay in and he says fine and walks away. The cabbie is sort of shocked and keeps saying "I don't know why he punished me in my face! This never happen to me!!" And I'm sympathizing and explaining I don't really know Nick and I'm sorry and he's bleeding a little and does he need help.

12:38 AM

NOTEBOOK: Cheney Flies in Comfort - Yahoo! News:

[Cheney] is an iPod fan, and keeping it charged is a priority for his staff. Normally that isn't an issue, even when he's flying around the world. Air Force II is equipped with outlets in each row of seats. But when Dick Cheney was traveling home overnight Wednesday from his diplomatic mission, most of the outlets went on the fritz.

Working passengers began lining up their laptops to share the power from a couple of working outlets — particularly the reporters who urgently needed to prepare their articles to transmit during a quick refueling stop in England.

But when Cheney said his iPod needed to be recharged, it took precedent above all else and dominated one precious outlet for several hours. The vice president's press staff intervened so a reporter could use the outlet for 15 minutes to charge a dead laptop, but then the digital music device was plugged back in. That way, Cheney got his press coverage and his music, too.

12:34 AM

Thursday, December 22, 2005

President George W. Bush, 2004:

    "[T]here are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."

Link to transcript on White House website.

6:22 PM

Gothamist: Molly Crabapple, Artist, Model, Burlesque Performer:

When you were 17, you took off with $300 in your pocket and spent 3 years traveling the globe. Did you ever have any moments of doubt, and how did you go about making a living and figuring out where to go next? How did this early period of travel shape who you are today?

I had plenty of moments of doubt. Once, on a night train to Marrakech, my wallet got knicked, the policeman tried to argue me into having sex, and, when I arrived at 5am, all the hotels were closed. Luckily, I talked a cleaning lady into letting me sleep in the hotel kitchen. While I lay there, sleep deprived and almost broke, I thought “this is what it’s like to be at the end of your rope.” But it’s at the end of your rope that magic happens.

6:18 PM

5:25 PM

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

. . . unlimited? - Commentary - The Washington Times:

President Bush presents a clear and present danger to the rule of law. He cannot be trusted to conduct the war against global terrorism with a decent respect for civil liberties and checks against executive abuses. Congress should swiftly enact a code that would require Mr. Bush to obtain legislative consent for every counterterrorism measure that would materially impair individual freedoms.

11:39 PM

11:23 PM

051207 09074713843
11:21 PM

11:20 PM

Think Progress » Fact Check: Clinton/Carter Executive Orders Did Not Authorize Warrantless Searches of Americans:

The top of the Drudge Report claims “CLINTON EXECUTIVE ORDER: SECRET SEARCH ON AMERICANS WITHOUT COURT ORDER…” It’s not true. Here’s the breakdown.

6:15 PM

How Wiccans do themselves in:

Religions gain legitimacy by lasting, and by that measure Wicca is well on its way to being mainstream. Now 50 years old, the earth-centered faith (also known as paganism or witchcraft) has thousands of adherents and many more occasional dabblers in the United States and Europe. Dozens of new Wicca books are published every year. There are dozens of Wicca conferences and retreats. And solstice celebrations are now seen as normal in the United States—and in freethinking Unitarian churches, practically required.

But Wiccan teachings are for the most part a stew of demonstrably false historical claims. There's no better time to examine this penchant for dissembling than at winter solstice on Dec. 21, which Wiccans say has been their holiday for thousands of years. For it's just such unfounded claims to old age and continuous tradition that may keep Wicca from growing to be truly old.

5:09 PM

Boing Boing: Staples charges for "virus scanning":

Today I visited a local Staples to print some color files. As an employee wrote up my order, he mentioned there would be a $2.49 fee per file for virus scanning. Incredulously, I asked if I am really expected to pay for my files to be scanned for viruses, to which he replied yes. I canceled my order and left. This experience brings up some very disturbing thoughts. Should I assume that until now Staples has never scanned customer files for viruses before processing? I've worked in many offices and service bureaus and consider virus scanning a necessary and common sense practice when handling any unknown files. I doubt that this is a new concept to Staples, and am even more dismayed by the next logical reason for this fee. Most likely, Staples is trying to bilk naive customers for a "service" that should be routine to any sensible and responsible computer user. Will customers be expected to pay for their cash register receipts next? Staples has lost me as a customer, and my respect.

4:25 PM


4:13 PM

Stalin Ordered the Creation of Half-Man, Half-Ape Super Warriors:
1:51 PM

Via Gawker:

In case there was any question about the lines between terrorism and homosexuality, the New York Blade reports that a February protest by New York University Law school’s gay advocacy group OUTlaw was under government surveillance. NBC News reported last week the group was categorized as “potentially violent” by the homo-hating sleuths at the Pentagon. It was also revealed that a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” protest at University of California Santa Cruz, which included a gay kiss-in, was also labeled as a “credible threat” of terrorism.

New York Blade Online: Pentagon spied on gay student groups, report says
1:38 PM

3:23 AM

The Transit Strike - December 20, 2005 - The New York Sun - NY Newspaper:

The union's demands are unrealistic and its tactics irresponsible. It is the union that is primarily to blame for the strike. It needs to be said, though, that the mismanagement of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is a major factor that has also contributed. In 2003 the subway fare increased to $2 from $1.50 amid claims that the system was in a fiscal crunch. Then all of a sudden the authority discovered a surplus so large that it decided to cut the fare to $1 as a holiday present to riders. You don't have to be a labor-management negotiating genius to know that the best moment to discover a billion dollar surplus isn't on the eve of triennial contract negotiations. Other events contributed to a sense of cynicism, from a contract for new subway cars that was awarded on the basis of a reported $500,000 phone call by a former senator, Alfonse D'Amato, to indictments for overbilling in connection with renovations to the MTA headquarters at 2 Broadway. Management reportedly spent $7.6 million to renovate the bathrooms at 2 Broadway, which tends to undercut the case for parsimony with the union.
3:22 AM

3:16 AM

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Donors Underwrite DeLay's Luxury Lifestyle:

As Tom DeLay became a king of campaign fundraising, he lived like one too. He visited cliff-top Caribbean resorts, golf courses designed by PGA champions and four-star restaurants _ all courtesy of donors who bankrolled his political money empire. Over the past six years, the former House majority leader and his associates have visited places of luxury most Americans have never seen, often getting there aboard corporate jets arranged by lobbyists and other special interests.

Public documents reviewed by The Associated Press tell the story: at least 48 visits to golf clubs and resorts with lush fairways; 100 flights aboard company planes; 200 stays at hotels, many world-class; and 500 meals at restaurants, some averaging nearly $200 for a dinner for two.

Instead of his personal expense, the meals and trips for DeLay and his associates were paid with donations collected by the campaign committees, political action committees and children's charity the Texas Republican created during his rise to the top of Congress.

Put them together and an opulent lifestyle emerges.

5:34 PM

4:56 PM

Lolita at 50:

Every now and again it's probably healthy to crack open the glass, remove a certain world masterpiece from the display case, and in re-reading it recall that—unlike Ulysses and Lady Chatterley's Lover, two other novels once deemed obscene by the tribunes of moral upkeep—Lolita is a disgusting book. Furthermore, the day will never come when it is not a disgusting book. By comparison, in fact, it can make Lawrence and Joyce look like a pair of old village bluenoses.
1:28 PM

The horrors of December in a one-party state:

And yet none of this party-line unanimity is enough for the party's true hard-liners. The slogans must be exactly right. No "Happy Holidays" or even "Cool Yule" or a cheery Dickensian "Compliments of the season." No, all banners and chants must be specifically designated in honor of the birth of the Dear Leader and the authority of the Great Leader. By chance, the New York Times on Dec. 19 ran a story about the difficulties encountered by Christian missionaries working among North Korean defectors, including a certain Mr. Park. One missionary was quoted as saying ruefully that "he knew he had not won over Mr. Park. He knew that Christianity reminded Mr. Park, as well as other defectors, of 'North Korean ideology.' " An interesting admission, if a bit of a stretch. Let's just say that the birth of the Dear Leader is indeed celebrated as a miraculous one—accompanied, among other things, by heavenly portents and by birds singing in Korean—and that compulsory worship and compulsory adoration can indeed become a touch wearying to the spirit.
1:25 PM

1:57 AM

1:56 AM

Monday, December 19, 2005

What the hell kind of a tortured title is that?
6:37 PM

Media Photoshop Retouching:

The media world is becoming increasingly fixated on appearances. And the number of tricks used to achieve the increasingly exaggerated ideals is growing. Many models have plastic surgery and even more are retouched so they appear to have bigger breasts, smaller stomachs or fuller lips.

We wanted to show how easy it is to change someone’s appearance in this campaign.

5:54 PM

Boing Boing: KRON-TV: everyone in the newsroom is a one-man-band.:

San Francisco's KRON recently became the first major-market TV station in the US to supply much of its newsoom staff with laptops and digital video cameras, then train them to shoot, write, and produce stories on their own. KRON calls them VJs. Others in the biz sometimes refer to the combo role as "sojo" (solo journalist) or "one-man-band," while a producer + editor mashup is a "preditor."
5:51 PM

5:41 PM

You're Either With Us or You're Against Us, Mr. President:

It looks to me like you're against us.

Just as the idea that "it was necessary to destroy the village in order to save it" became the derisive (and accurate) analysis of America's illogical strategy during the Vietnam War, Bush's idea that it's necessary to defile the Constitution in order to protect our Constitutional freedoms is now the bottom line on his War on Terror.

President Bush said it himself in his speech on Saturday when he defended authorizing electronic eavesdropping without first obtaining the required warrants: "This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American protect them and their civil liberties. And that is exactly what I will continue to do so long as I’m the president of the United States."

12:32 PM

Sunday, December 18, 2005

New York, Once a Lure, Is Slowly Losing the Creative Set - New York Times:

Relentless inflation in real estate and health care costs are endangering New York's long dominance in the creative sector, according to a new report, as artists and companies migrate to less expensive cities eager to lure them.

For example, 20 years ago, New York was the headquarters for half of the world's advertising agencies, but is now home to fewer than a third, according to the report, written by the Center for an Urban Future, a left-leaning New York research group that analyzes urban policy issues.

While the city still is home to most of the American publishing industry, the number of jobs in that field fell 3 percent in the last decade in New York, while increasing in San Francisco, Boston and Denver. And from 2001 to 2004, the number of jobs in New York City's motion picture and sound recording industries declined by 36 percent.

9:23 PM

9:07 PM

In Exurbs, Life Framed by Hours Spent in the Car: here is framed by hours spent in the car.

It is a defining force, a frustrating, physical manifestation of the community's stage of development, shaping how people structure their days, engage in civic activities, interact with their families and inhabit their neighborhoods.

Ask residents why they moved here, and they tend to give the same answers: more house for the money, better schools, a lifestyle relentlessly focused on the family.

Ask them what the trade-off is, and most often they mention the traffic.

Chris Gray, 34, moved to Frisco with her husband eight years ago, eager for a bigger house in an affordable, family-oriented community. Ms. Gray quit her job as a financial consultant for Electronic Data Systems in Plano, the previous exurban boomtown just to Frisco's south, and decided to become a stay-at-home mother for her two daughters. But her husband, who works near downtown Dallas, has paid the price.

Dan Savage's retort, which warms my heart:

Suffer, bitches.

Let me look inside my heart and see if it's breaking for the Gray family...


You can have a family-focused life in the big city, Mrs. Gray—tons of people do it. And a family of four can live comfortably in an apartment in the city. It all depends on what you value. Do you value your time? Or do you just want "more house for the money"? If it's all about having a "great room" and two spare bedrooms and a media room and a mud room then, by all means, go live in some soulless exurbian shithole. But don't bitch about the traffic—all those other people clogging the roads made the same idiotic choice you did. You have no one to blame but each other for a lifestyle dominated by cars and for your husband's two-hour commute.

And check out this winner from the article:

Christine Obenberger was living in Menomonee Falls, Wis., a suburb of Milwaukee, when her husband said he wanted to move on with his career in high-tech security systems, to greater opportunities someplace else.

Almost immediately, he got a job offer with a sizable raise in Phoenix. "So I jumped on the Internet and was trying to research the area," Ms. Obenberger said, "when suddenly, this box popped up asking me to take a survey on the best place for us to live. It took me about 20 minutes and gave me a list of 20 potential cities. To my surprise, three-fourths of them were in Texas."

Austin she rejected as being too liberal. Houston seemed too hot. So she started looking at the Dallas area, going for the best combination of highly rated schools and lower-than-average house prices. "And I kept coming back to Frisco, which I'd never heard of before," she said.

On July 1, she, her husband and their two children moved into their new house in the Lone Star Ranch development on Frisco's west side. "I got twice the house for the same price, half the property taxes and better schools," she said. "And politically, I feel a lot more at home here."

Look, conservative or not, who the fuck chooses where they live this way? If people really rate where they live entirely by fucking test results on the internet that measure house prices and school scores I can only hope their goddamn commutes swallow them up.
8:59 PM


Back on foot, Marcus bumped into a pedestrian who bore a passing resemblance to Tony Soprano. The man responded, “Hey, pay attention, asshole!”

Kamil sighed. “That’s what most Americans think of New Yorkers,” he said. They observed that the game pandered to out-of-towners’ stereotypes in other ways—piles of garbage, ubiquitous graffiti, and boarded-up windows in even the best neighborhoods. Ebejer, the producer, confirmed this. “We took a little bit of creative license and made the city grittier and dirtier than it is in real life,” he said, “because that’s the common perception of what New York City is.”

The guides noticed more peculiarities. Somehow, practically every statue in the city—George M. Cohan, in Duffy Square; the Maine Memorial, in Columbus Circle; Hans Christian Andersen, in Central Park—seemed to have become George Washington being sworn in on the steps of Federal Hall. The only place the guides couldn’t find him was on the steps of Federal Hall, because Federal Hall itself was missing. A quick check identified additional absentee landmarks, including the Apollo Theatre, the Intrepid, and New Jersey. (True Crime’s Battery Park City has fabulous views of the open ocean.)

8:49 PM

3:58 PM

Saturday, December 17, 2005

5:04 AM


After court, Junior thanks me for the coffee and egg sandwich. This is a good sign. It's reassurance that, at least for a minute, he's experiencing the same reality I am. He has Felicia's name in elegant calligraphy tattooed around his neck, and he has an impish smile I've always understood could inspire love. But because his psychosis makes him unable to converse normally, he is isolated from the organized world. And he won't let her get off his island. Even if he did, she might not leave anyhow. But there's nothing for her in Junior's world, no home, no job, no people, no help. No mentor. It's a good sign that he thanks me for the coffee. Sometimes, when she tries to call me, he screams and pulls the phone out of her hands, after which I might not hear from her again for months.

Tonight, hours after we say goodbye, she calls collect. This time she's speaking even more softly. She gives me a phone number to call back and a room number to ask for. We talk honestly for a long time. She cries quietly. Junior is asleep next to her on the motel bed, and if she wakes him, he'll surely hang up the phone. But I can hear what she's saying. Junior is cruel and abusive and then alternately needy and frightened. He begs her to stay with him and then calls her a "whore." She's so torn. Through the tears, she keeps asking me, "Martha, what should I do?" But she's not ready to do what I tell her. Sometimes she's self-aware enough to say, "But I'm not ready." More often, though, she tosses understandable but weak justifications at me: She'll be lonely without him; he'll end up back in jail; he's fine when he doesn't use drugs; she has nowhere to go.

4:55 AM

Correction: Teri Hatcher does not have a passion wagon:

Buried on Page 30 of the National Enquirer is a small-type "apology" to the Desperate Housewives star: "A cover story we ran entitled 'Teri Hatcher—Amazing Bedroom secrets' was based on an interview sold to us by an experienced freelance journalist who we now believe never actually conducted the interview. … Ms. Hatcher has never engaged in sexual relations with men in a van parked on her property, nor does she leave her child alone in her house while having 'steamy romps' with men in a 'passion wagon.' … We also published a story suggesting that Ms. Hatcher … had become 'desperately thin' and was 'wasting away.' … We now know that during the past seven years, her weight has fluctuated by only three pounds—a result of healthy diet, moderate exercise and a good metabolism. Ms. Hatcher is fit and looks great, and her healthy appearance is nothing new."
4:48 AM

Friday, December 16, 2005

The film of tomorrow will be even more personal than an individual and autobiographical novel, like a confession, or a diary. The young filmmakers will express themselves in the first person and will relate what has happened to them: it may be the story of their first love or their most recent; of their political awakening. ... The film of tomorrow will resemble the person who made it, and the number of spectators will be proportional to the number of friends the director has.

François Truffaut

6:46 PM

Thursday, December 15, 2005

9:29 PM

Bush Secretly Lifted Some Limits on Spying in U.S. After 9/11, Officials Say - New York Times:

Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.

9:29 PM

My name is Shake-Zula
the mic rulah
the old schoolah
you wanna trip
I'll break it to ya.

Frylock and I'm on top
rock you like a cop
Meatwad you're up next with your knock-knock

Meatwad make the money see
Meatwad get the honeys G
Drivin in my car
livin like a star
ice on my fingers and my toes
and I'm a Taurus.

3:05 AM

1:58 AM

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Pete Murphy
10:50 PM


This is Heidi's mom, looking very stylish. I think it's interesting that I see that particular facial expression on Heidi all the time. This creates in me the undeniable urge to have children immediately and then experiment on them, tracking what they look like and where the points of similarity and divergence lie.

I would also like to have this car.
4:48 PM

4:22 PM

3:54 PM

3:50 PM

3:04 PM

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Lifehack Your Books: Dogear, Writing In Books, and Apologizing to Librarians:

The first taboo I think everyone should just plain get over is the taboo of writing in books. I write in most of my books. Notes about the content, things the content reminds me of, etc. When you just plain write in the margins, inside the cover, etc. there’s no way the notes for that content will get lost. They’ll forever be attached to the text they refer to.

The second is the folded over page corner (dogear). I know some of you just tuned me out as a heretic, but I dogear pages. Worse than that, I dogear for 2 different purposes. I use the top right corner of the right page as my bookmark. I also use the bottom corner of a page that contains something interesting as a marker as well. That lower dogear is often accompanied by notes written in the margin. By folding over the bottom corner of interesting pages, I can quickly look at a book of mine and see how useful I find it. It also lets me flip through a book I haven’t used in a while and easily find the bits I’m likely to want to find again. For a particularly interesting book, like The Big Moo(Seth Godin), you can see the density of interesting material easily.

11:58 PM

8:32 PM

6:10 PM

3:47 PM

4:33 AM

12:10 AM

Monday, December 12, 2005

BREITBART.COM - Bush denies he lives in a 'bubble':

Embattled US President George W. Bush denied that living in the White House "bubble" of security, policy advisers and political strategists had left him out of touch. "I feel like I'm getting some really good advice from very capable people and that people from all walks of life inform me and inform those who advise me," he said. "I feel very comfortable that I'm very aware of what's going on."
5:44 PM

TrustedReviews - The UK's Premier Source for IT Reviews & News:

Called the Wallet Flash 1.1, is the slimmest USB drive on the market and it couldn’t come in a more easily stored shape. Rather impressively, sizes will also range from 128MB all the way to 2GB.
5:39 PM

5:36 PM

2:28 PM

I find your lack of faith disturbing: Diary of a Mad HouseJosh:

I watch Bruce Springsteen's "Making of Born to Run" documentary. The engineer from the album describes a 24 year old Springsteen standing in front of a microphone working on a guitar solo. Every time he finishes a take he turns to the engineer and simply says "Again." He does this for twelve hours straight. The recording of the song "Born to Run" takes six months. The drummer and the keyboardist quit and don't record the rest of the album. Thirty years later they asked the drummer how he felt when he heard the song today. He said "I feel like running out into the middle of traffic." He sort of laughs afterwards, says he was happy to be a part of the album, but you know the day he quit the E Street Band plays over and over in his head like a fever dream.
1:23 PM

Baja, Top to Bottom:

At lunchtime, I pull off the highway onto a washboarded dirt road. Three bumpy miles lead me to a stretch of empty coast, where I find a restaurant built from the remains of an old wooden cannery building. I'm the only customer here. The maitre d', who is also the waiter (and the only visible employee), seats me by a window overlooking the water. There is nothing outside but whipping wind, a bobbing boat, and a fisherman casting off the dock. I order the tacos de pollo.

Halfway through my lunch, a weathered old sport-fishing guide moseys in and takes a seat at the bar. The maitre d' mixes him a drink and they start to chat in a mishmash of Spanish and English. I eavesdrop, expecting to hear sad, wistful tales about that brutal mistress the sea. It turns out they're discussing an episode of Judge Judy.

1:19 PM (video/quicktime Object):

This video from the Tourette's Without Regrets freestyle rap competition features an astonishingly funny and talented rapper in a giant jelly donut costume kicking all kinds of ass.

(Thanks to Boing Boing and Killing My Lobster)
12:52 PM

I say MEAT, you say BALLS!:

Standing in the middle of the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City, outside Carmine’s restaurant, Krista and I are watching fourteen top-ranked competitive eaters devour plates heaped with Carmine’s famous meatballs, and as the eaters enter the sixth minute, something happens we weren’t prepared for: we hit the wall. The smell of the meatballs has permeated the first few rows of screaming fans and the reality of people masticating piles of mushed meat starts to lose some of the romantic sheen. Floppy pieces of basil escape from their mouths, greasy marinara sauce stains shirts and clouds the outside of drinking glasses, and the competitors’ eyes are tearing. We have to look away periodically and breathe through our mouths. But we didn’t come all this way to give up on them now, and they sure aren’t giving up anytime in the next six minutes. So we do what we came here to do and shout encouragement as loud as we can. “Looking good, Chestnut! You can do it, Sonya! Keep it together, Crazy Legs! Do it, Eater X! C’mon Chip! Brian, looking good!”
9:51 AM


What is it?
Clocky is an alarm clock for people who have
trouble getting out of bed. If you hit the snooze
button, Clocky will roll off of the nightstand, fall
to the floor, and run around the room, searching
for a place to hide.

9:47 AM

9:36 AM

Couple at Coney Island

It was early one Sunday morning,
So we put on our best rags
And went for a stroll along the boardwalk
Till we came to a kind of palace
With turrets and pennants flying.
It made me think of a wedding cake
In the window of a fancy bakery shop.

I was warm, so I took my jacket off
And put my arm round your waist
And drew you closer to me
While you leaned your head on my shoulder.
Anyone could see we'd made love
The night before and were still giddy on our feet.
We looked naked in our clothes

Staring at the red and white pennants
Whipped by the sea wind.
The rides and shooting galleries
With their ducks marching in line
Still boarded up and padlocked.
No one around yet to take our first dime.

Charles Simic

2:13 AM

Sunday, December 11, 2005

3:13 PM

3:00 PM

Tracing Shadows - New York Times:

It began this spring without explanation: fire hydrants, street signs and bicycles all over Park Slope and Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn were suddenly standing watch over their own distorted chalk outlines, as if anticipating some violent demise. Whoever did this left no clue other than an ambiguous signature: "© Ellis G. 2007," scrawled next to the chalk etchings.

During daylight, the outlines did not make much sense. Shopkeepers and bar owners had little information. Deliverymen muttered to themselves as they moved their outlined bicycles indoors. Parents were just as confused as their young children.

But under the orange glow of the streetlights, the intent became clear: the outlines are shadows, burned into the sidewalk.

5:32 AM - Comedian Richard Pryor dies at 65 - Dec 10, 2005:

Richard Pryor, the caustic yet perceptive actor-comedian who lived dangerously close to the edge both on stage and off, has died, his ex-wife said Saturday. He was 65.

5:27 AM

The Stranger - Slog:

This "War on Christmas" bullshit would be amusing if it weren't so fucking scary. This aggrieved/oppressed majority stuff doesn’t just smack of fascism, it is fascism. How did Adolph Hitler get World War II started? By running around claiming that German-speaking people in Czechoslovakia were being persecuted. It was bullshit, but the Brits let Hitler carve up Czechoslovakia in the hopes of mollifying him. And then what did Hitler do? He claimed that all those poor German-speaking people in Poland were oppressed too, and invaded Poland, which launched WWII. So let’s not be too amused by O’Reilly’s “War on Christmas” act. It’s deeply creepy, and it stokes the Christian Right’s bizarre belief/assertion that Christians in America are an oppressed majority. And if we appease the fundies on this, they'll just demand more.
5:22 AM

The Dead - Exquisite Corpses:

I WORK IN a funeral home in Seattle. At the end of my shift, the embalmed corpse in its open casket takes no notice of me when I turn out the lights in the "slumber room." The corpse does not slumber; it cannot fall asleep any more than it can decay or die. Its decay has been temporarily halted by chemical injection; its death is impossible because it has already died. Abandoned by death, brought scandalously near to life by the embalmer's art, it is as if the corpse cannot stay in one place, neither in life nor in death. It does not even stay here in its "home" for long. The dead are not always where you think they are.
5:20 AM


What sort of a marriage is this?  She hasn't
spoken to me all day.  I've started to blame myself:
something I've said must be responsible for
those tears.  And when I speak she doesn't answer;
she just looks disconsolate.  Her behaviour
is atypical, hard to fathom; for years
we've got on well, with few disputes.  Then this.
And why does she put our displayed photographs
in a drawer, prepare lunch only for herself, pick
at her food like a lovesick teenager?  I try
to cheer her, but she's beyond reason, inarticulate,
inscrutable.  This is ironic conduct for one
who spent time yesterday in church, though
what she was doing there--it being a Tuesday--
she has not said.  "Look," I say, "be reasonable.
Tell me what's bothering you."  But she rises, without
answering, and walks through me to the kitchen.

Paul Groves

4:50 AM

4:08 AM

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Instructional video: How To Fold A Shirt
6:26 PM

3:24 PM

3:21 PM

3:18 PM

Good Experience Games - good games, fun games:

These are online games that, in my opinion, offer a "good experience" - good game design with an overall attention to quality. Unless otherwise noted, they're all free, online, and available right now.
3:17 PM


BREITBART.COM - Paper-thin, foldable battery to attach to clothes:

Japan's NEC has developed a thin, foldable battery to be used in cards or clothes, leading to new possibilities such as people walking through ticket gates with fare passes in their pockets. The 0.3-millimeter (0.012-inch) thick battery can support tens of thousands of signal transmissions on a single charge and can be recharged in less than 30 seconds, NEC said.

1:36 PM

UK sources report that rapper 50 Cent is planning to create a vibrator of his manhood - so his female fans can pretend to have sex with him. The "In Da Club" hitmaker is desperate to release a line of condoms and waterproof sex toys designed to excite his female fans and make them feel closer to his idols.
"Blue is my favourite colour so it will probably be blue. But I don't know how big. I don't know if big is better because I'm not sure a man wants his woman playing with a really big dildo."

2:36 AM

Friday, December 09, 2005

The dwindling refuges of creationism:

Nobody here is a candidate for Fetish Night. But nobody seems horrified by it, either, just as nobody really doubts evolution. What used to be shocking is now just fun or silly, even to those of us who think of ourselves as believers. Fundamentalists have lost the media, the colleges, and the science academies. The battleground has been reduced to public schools, and creationism has been reduced to intelligent design—a pathetic, agnostic, empty shell. Creationists can't teach a dogma, so they "teach the controversy." They accept more and more of Darwin's theory, narrowing the dispute to isolated systems—the eye, the flagellum, the blood-clotting system—that they say Darwinism can't explain. They just want science to stop short of denying God's possibility. A little bit of mystery, a parcel of unspoiled divine wilderness, is all they ask.

I think about that as I bike around the perimeter of the island that evening. I think of all the territory that's been mapped, drawn, and quartered. This island, the last of the stepping stones into the tropics, now covered with concrete, tchotchkes, and thongs. In the dimming light, I pass a band of tall, white birds prancing offshore, their long necks craning forward majestically. They look for all the world as though they're walking on the water. I know that's the mirage of the Keys: What looks like the sea is really wet flatland, and the birds' long legs are touching the ground. But if I can just put that out of my mind, I can hold on to my beautiful illusion till darkness comes.

10:35 AM

Bolted Dictionary And Lock

The world of Harry Eng.

8:46 AM

The Ministry of Propaganda...

Retired generals in various cities
are interviewed nightly about the war.

The maps are shown and strategies
discussed with great enthusiasm.

Our troops are grabbing the bulls
by their horns.  Resistance is soon

to be overcome.  But resistance
to what is never quite defined.

The news anchors gaze upon
these guests with the admiration

until now shown only to movie stars.
There are no views represented

other than this gung-ho enthusiasm
for war.  From every military base

intelligence and publicity personnel
fan out to offer their services to media

as part-time advisers and experts.
They explain and make palatable

all the President's policies, e.g.,
allowing no photos of flag-draped

coffins bound for Arlington or home
town cemeteries, though it would be

hard to find one that has not added
a few from overseas to its holdings.

Every technique described by Orwell
or practiced by Goebbels is in place,

but so far few have dared say so.

David Ray

2:26 AM

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Nintendo DS game concept where you stimulate a little bunny the way you would stimulate a woman.
4:09 PM

3:45 PM

11:28 AM

11:27 AM

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

pearworks: pearLyrics:

This is a sad time for all those of us with a passion for music and song lyrics. As of December 6th, 2005 pearLyrics is no longer available due to a cease and desist letter from Warner/Chappell Music Limited. As a freeware developer I can not afford to risk a law suit against such a big company, although personally I don't see where pearLyrics should infringe any copyrights handled by them. After all pearLyrics only searches and accesses publicly available websites, displays, and, at the users wish, caches its content. Something that can easily be done with any combination of search engine and webbrowser too. Well, but I'm just a developer and not a lawyer.

I feel very sorry for all users of pearLyrics who provided me with such great feedback - I would have loved to provide them with even further enhanced versions.

What disconcerts/disappoints me most however is that now, after fighting against illegal filesharing (something I can fully understand) and trying to shut down lyrics sites, Warner/Chappell seems to want to dictate Internet users what applications they are allowed to use for searching and browsing content on publicly available websites.

12:26 PM

1:37 AM

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

12:43 PM

12:42 PM

Touring for a book I didn't write:

I've been touring the country lately promoting a new book. Nothing unusual about that, but I happen not to be the author of the book I'm hawking. Its author is my wife, Marjorie Williams, who died this last January of liver cancer.

The book, titled The Woman at the Washington Zoo, is a collection of her writings, many of them previously published in the Washington Post, Slate, and Vanity Fair, and a couple of them previously unpublished. In the introduction, I state that editing the book—which I did in the months after Marjorie died—was an act of mourning. This is particularly manifest in the final section, which consists of essays Marjorie wrote about her illness and her thoughts about impending death. As you might imagine, I am still very much consumed by—sometimes paralyzed by—grief.

11:45 AM

5:13 AM

Monsters of Photorealism:

What's the culprit here? Ironically, the blame falls partly on the Xbox 360 itself, and its bleeding-edge graphics engine. Sure, the 360 can generate the most photorealistic human avatars of any game console in history. But that is precisely why they look so creepy.

This paradoxical effect has a name: the "Uncanny Valley." The concept comes from the Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori, who argued that simulacra of humans seem lively and convincing so long as they're relatively low-resolution. Think of history's best comic strips: With only a few quick sketches on a page, Bill Watterson can create vivid emotions for the characters in Calvin and Hobbes. When an avatar is cartoonish, our brains fill in the gaps in the presentation to help them seem real.

But when human avatars approach photoreality? Something weird happens. Our brains rebel, and we begin focusing on the tiny details that aren't quite perfect. The realism of our avatars suddenly plunges downward into a valley -- and they begin to look like zombies.

2:33 AM

You Go to School to Learn

You go to school to learn to
read and add, to someday
make some money.  It--money--makes
sense: you need
a better tractor, an addition
to the gameroom, you prefer
to buy your beancurd by the barrel.
There's no other way to get the goods
you need.  Besides, it keeps people busy
working--for it.
It's sensible and, therefore, you go
to school to learn (and the teacher,
having learned, gets paid to teach you) how
to get it.  Fine.  But:
you're taught away from poetry
or, say, dancing (That's nice, dear,
but there's no dough in it).  No poem
ever bought a hamburger, or not too many.  It's true,
and so, every morning--it's still dark!--
you see them, the children, like angels
being marched off to execution,
or banks.  Their bodies luminous
in headlights.  Going to school.

Thomas Lux
2:24 AM

Monday, December 05, 2005


1:58 AM

1:56 AM

Sunday, December 04, 2005

11:09 PM

11:07 PM

My friend Tanner sent an email on a reading he's doing for his new book, BELUSHI:

On Monday, December 5th, Dan Aykroyd, Judy Belushi Pisano and I will be discussing and signing our new book, BELUSHI. Come! Stop by! Ask a question! Pick up the perfect Christmas present for that hard-to-shop-for older brother or emotionally distant stepfather! Pertinent information is below. Hope to see you there.


Dan Aykroyd, Judith Belushi Pisano and Tanner Colby
Monday December 5th
7 PM
Barnes & Noble
Lincoln Center (66th & Broadway)

In the meanwhile, enjoy this week's
review in the New York Times.

11:01 PM

1:41 PM

Remembering Bush's worst public moment:

In pondering the relationship between governors and the prisoners over whom they have power of life and death, I find myself remembering the single worst thing I ever heard about President Bush. It was something Bush, then governor of Texas, said to a reporter during his first presidential campaign. The reporter in question was Tucker Carlson—hardly a hostile figure—and Carlson reported it in Talk magazine in 1999. It was about Karla Faye Tucker, a convicted murderer whose execution Bush, as governor, had refused to stay. Here is what Carlson wrote (as quoted in National Review, another source hardly known to be hostile toward Republicans):

In the week before [Karla Faye Tucker's] execution, Bush says, Bianca Jagger and a number of other protesters came to Austin to demand clemency for Tucker. "Did you meet with any of them?" I ask.

Bush whips around and stares at me. "No, I didn't meet with any of them," he snaps, as though I've just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed. "I didn't meet with Larry King either when he came down for it. I watched his interview with [Tucker], though. He asked her real difficult questions, like 'What would you say to Governor Bush?' "

"What was her answer?" I wonder.

"Please," Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "don't kill me."

4:48 AM

How News Is Made:

First, most of what we call "news" today starts out as a press release, which then becomes a headline, a sound-bite, and eventually a story. In a parallel to the way government operates, in which special interest groups lobby to create or defeat legislation, most of our news stories come as a result of PR efforts paid for by special interest groups (businesses) who have a stake in what becomes "news." (I'd love to come up with a taxonomy of stories by type just to show how few types there really are but that's a different point.)

Second, reporters like to ask good questions for which there may not be good answers. However, they'll force an answer because you can't say "nobody knows."

The third is that everybody loves numbers, regardless of where they come from, and these are the best kind of answers, regardless of whether the numbers are true.

4:39 AM

First snowfall of the season.
3:32 AM

Friday, December 02, 2005

12:41 PM

How to end the world on a budget:

The Lalonde brothers admit that the first "Left Behind" movie was a major flop, but it sold well on video and so we got a sequel, Left Behind 2: Tribulation Force, which was a pathetic attempt at filmmaking even by the standards of straight-to-video movies. For the third film, Sony Entertainment got involved and signed the checks. While each installment's budget is estimated to be around $17.4 million, I think that number might be off by $16 million or so. In Left Behind 2: Tribulation Force, for example, Kirk Cameron has to take Ben Judah, a respected rabbi, to the Wailing Wall so that he can tell Jews everywhere that Jesus Christ is Lord. Israel is represented by a few stone walls obviously made of plywood, some Christmas-tree lights, and 500 volunteer extras wearing leftover costumes from a Nativity pageant. The Wailing Wall is patrolled by soldiers dressed in World War II army uniforms. The producers have also dubbed in the sound of goats during scenes set in downtown Jerusalem, which leads to the unusual notion that modern-day Israel is populated by WWII re-enactors, nervous-looking people in bathrobes, and goats.
11:02 AM

2:15 AM

'The kinds of thing are more important than the Individual thing, though the specific is supremely Interesting. Right?'

John Ashbery

2:11 AM

2:08 AM


"We call it 'Baby Marquee,'" says 17-year-old Lexi Lehman, the promoter of Crush, a nightclub expressly for and by teenagers. Very smart, very privileged teenagers, that is.

"Everyone is so intellectual and intelligent, because these are the top schools," says Lehman of her peers. "They're all hanging out with A-listers. They hang out backstage at concerts. This club is for the crowd that everybody looks up to for the latest trends. It really is the Teen Vogue market."

Her friends, she adds, often are in Teen Vogue. Or they work there: "That's a big thing at Spence."

Crush is the brainchild of Grant Shapolsky, a 33-year-old real estate agent who grew up on the Upper East Side - "Nobody's perfect," he jokes - and who himself is a product of the city's private-school system.

"This is a vision I've had for a while," he says. He grew up with "Noah and Jason" (nightlife impresarios Tepperberg and Strauss) and says he was struck, as early as third grade, by the sophistication and taste level of Diana Ross' daughter, a classmate at Dalton. He set up a meeting with Grubman, whom he calls "the club queen with the Rolodex."

"I went up to her conference room and told her the idea, and she was like, 'Interesting - have you met my 16-year-old socialite-private-school-jappy-spoiled-Upper-East-Side intern?'" says Shapolsky. "I was like, 'No! But I really want to talk to her!'"

12:49 AM

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Bush Finally Has a Plan:

It is symptomatic of everything that's gone wrong with this war that, after two and a half years of fighting it (and four years after starting to plan it), the White House is just now getting around to articulating a strategy for winning it.

To put this in perspective: From December 1941 to August 1945, the U.S. government mobilized an entire nation; manufactured a mighty arsenal; played a huge role in defeating the armies, air forces, and navies of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan; and emerged from battle poised to shape the destiny of half the globe. By comparison, from September 2001 to December 2005, the U.S. government has advanced to the point of describing a path to victory in a country the size of California.

5:44 AM