The War On Terror: September 11, 2001 - December 30, 2006:
The War on Terror ended early Saturday morning, as Saddam Hussein was hanged by the neck until he died. The War on Terror was just over five years old, beginning on September 11th, 2001, with the attacks on the World Trade Center. Finally, with Hussein’s death, all terror everywhere has come to an end.
It’s been a long and arduous process, tracking down and destroying the terror networks that led directly to Hussein, but now the work is done, the mastermind behind the attacks of September 11th has been executed, and we can all rest easy.
There are five men in black face masks who are visible on the gallows platform around Saddam, acting as guards. As they guide him towards the trap door and put the noose over his head, they start chanting religious slogans with the names of Moqtada al Sadr (the head of the Mahdi army, accused of organizing death squads against Sunnis) and Baqr al Sadr (the father-in-law of Moqtada). Saddam, a Sunni, is outraged at this last-minute provocation, and tells them to “go to hell.” This is generally where the two TV stations cut the video, but on at least one occasion that we saw, Arabiya allowed the video to keep rolling: The cell phone camera is jerked down to the ground, as if the person holding it had to conceal the camera, then it is slowly raised up to Saddam again, and suddenly his body shoots down through the trapdoor. At this, the Arabiya anchor came on and made a scissors symbol with two fingers with a mischievous grin on his face, as if to say that they really shouldn’t have shown that, but so be it. A cynical voyeuristic ploy, nudge nudge wink wink
However, the impact of this video could be quite significant. First, it may reinforce Sunni suspicions that the execution of Saddam was merely an act of Shiite revenge for decades of repression under Saddam. The building where the execution took place was expressly chosen because it was once used as a detention center by a division of Saddam’s secret police that was focused on the Shiite Dawa party. Some of the witnesses whom the government invited to the execution had themselves once been tortured in that same building. Indeed, Prime Minister Maliki, who signed the execution order the day before the hanging, is a long-term member of the Dawa party and had himself been sentenced to death by Saddam back in 1980 before fleeing the country.
Worse, it may also reinforce the fears of Sunnis that Maliki’s government is beholden to the Mahdi army, Moqtada’s militia. Executions are generally expected to be solemn affairs –- certainly not opportunities for thugs to score some final sectarian points before the “enemy” is disposed of. The video itself seems quite distasteful –- but it is informative to the extent that it reveals the political baggage that the current government carries on its shoulders. It does not add up to a pretty picture.
1990-1995: Microsoft's Yellow Road to Cairo:
Even shipping Windows 95 became a difficult task. In early 1994, Jim Allchin announced that Microsoft was reassigning more programmers to work on Windows 95, and that Cairo would be delayed until late 1995.
By the end of 1994, Microsoft Vice President Mike Maples was quoted as saying that Cairo would slip again, to "sometime in 1996."
A year later, at the end of 1995, Microsoft shipped Windows 95 with what it described as a subset of the Cairo user interface. However, Windows 95 didn't offer the world anything new in user interface technology. It copied liberally from both the Mac and NeXT, and was commonly criticized in the phrase "Windows 95 = Mac '89."
At the release of Windows 95, Microsoft announced that a "first test version" of Cairo would debut in late 1996, with the actual release happening in 1997, more than half a decade after its original announcement.
By 1996 however, Cairo was being described as a vision instead of a real product. In a Computerworld interview, Bill Gates said, "Cairo is a futuristic system. It's something we're working on."
After a half decade of being presented as a legitimate competitor to NeXT's object oriented development tools and various other products, Cairo was revealed as a complete hoax.
Microsoft had fooled the world with a story about delivering the equivalent of NeXT only a few years late, but only ended up shipping a rewarmed version of the 1990 DOS based Windows, and an unworkable, unstable new OS kernel in NT that was not ready for prime time.
The Art of Baby Wearing:
Dara Freed has never used a stroller. She and her husband have carried their 18-month old baby Haakon in slings since he was born. “I can’t imagine using a stroller in the city,” says Freed, a Williamsburg resident. “It is so much easier to use a sling. I would never bring a stroller on the subway.”
Baby wearing has gained popularity in New York in recent years, as many new types of slings have come on the market and the benefits of baby wearing have become more known.
My Way News - Saddam Hanged for War Crimes in Iraq:
Saddam Hussein struggled briefly after American military guards handed him over to Iraqi executioners. But as his final moments approached, he grew calm.
He clutched a Quran as he was led to the gallows, and in one final moment of defiance, refused to have a hood pulled over his head before facing the same fate he was accused of inflicting on countless thousands during a quarter-century of ruthless power.
‘The Sublet Experiment’ Puts a Different Spin on Home Theater - New York Times:
Going to the theater is, in many ways, a respectable sort of voyeurism. You pay for your ticket, grab a program and sit down in the dark to peek into the inner lives of complete strangers. It’s like flipping through an Architectural Digest of other people’s neuroses.
“The Sublet Experiment” is a play that taps into the thrills of theater’s psychological voyeurism but also includes the shallower pleasures of the real estate variety: it is presented every weekend in a different apartment. The play, written and conceived by Ethan Youngerman, has so far been put on in apartments in the neighborhoods of Washington Heights; Greenwich Village; Astoria, Queens; and Chelsea.
Straight Dope Staff Report: Do Eskimo men lend their wives to strangers?:
It's true Eskimo men sometimes let other men sleep with their wives. But did they offer that privilege to any horny schmuck who showed up on the front stoop? Generally not. The lending of wives to perfect strangers happened occasionally in some places, but it was never the widespread custom it has been made out to be.
There were several contexts in which a husband would let another man sleep with his wife. The most widespread was ritual spouse exchange, practiced in one form or another in every region where Eskimos lived, from eastern Greenland to the Bering Sea. This sort of spouse exchange was always associated with a religious purpose, and was always done at the instigation of an angekok (shaman). Often the point was to effect some desired outcome, such as better weather or hunting conditions.
The best known example of ritual spouse exchange was the "putting-out-of-the-lamps game" played in Greenland. This was a sort of combination of seven minutes in heaven, Roman orgy, and prayer meeting. The prayer-meeting aspect failed to overcome the objections of the early Christian missionaries, one of whom called it the "whore game." Those guys really know how to ruin a party. To play at home: gather together a number of married couples (according to some sources, singles could play too); wait for the angekok to contact the spirits; turn out the lights; screw a random member of the opposite sex; turn on the lights. The idea seemed to be that the spirits would be more willing to cooperate if you did it that way. Who are we to disappoint the spirits? This game was played only in Greenland, but other spouse-exchange rituals were practiced elsewhere. One example from Alaska was called the "bladder feast," which sounds a bit less appetizing. (Despite the name, the bladders weren't eaten, and sex was only a minor part of the festivities).
My friend Cabel made this, and I find it very amusing.
Here's the story.
Boing Boing: Report: HD-DVD copy protection defeated:
A hacker known as Muslix64 posted on the Internet details of how he unlocked the encryption, known as the Advanced Access Content System, which prevents high-definition discs from illegal copying by restricting which devices can play them.
The AACS system was developed by companies including Walt Disney Co., Intel Corp., Microsoft Corp., Toshiba Corp. and Sony Corp. to protect high-definition formats, including Toshiba's HD-DVD and Sony's Blu-ray.
Muslix64 posted a video and decryption codes showing how to copy several films, including Warner Bros' "Full Metal Jacket" and Universal Studios' "Van Helsing," on a popular hacker Internet blog and a video-sharing site.
The hacker also promised to post more source code on January 2 that will allow users to copy a wider range of titles.
THAT DIDN'T TAKE LONG.
X-51 Hypersonic Cruise Missile: The Pentagon's Prompt Global Strike Weapon Plan - Popular Mechanics:
First, there's the matter of intelligence. If a president is going to launch the first intercontinental ballistic missile attack in history, he'll need overwhelming evidence. Our ability to nail down that kind of quality information is patchy, at best. On March 19, 2003, the United States launched 40 cruise missiles at three locations outside Baghdad in hopes of killing Saddam Hussein and other senior military officials. It turned out the former Iraqi leader wasn't in any of the locations; the strikes killed at least a dozen people, although it's not clear if they were civilians or leadership targets.
The mission failed even though friendly forces controlled the area. At the heart of Prompt Global Strike is a much darker scenario: American troops are far from their intended target — or the enemy's air defenses are too tough to penetrate. "So let me get this straight," says Jeffrey Lewis, a Harvard University nuclear energy and weapons analyst. "We've got exquisite, fleeting intelligence in an area of immediate concern, but no forces nearby and, miraculously, a sub in just the right spot to attack. I suppose there's some chance of that. But it's pretty small."
More difficult to explain is how a conventional Trident could be launched without provoking a crisis even bigger than the one that it was meant to solve. The Navy's plan calls for arming Ohio class subs with two conventional and 22 nuclear Trident II missiles. (The Navy intends to cut its Ohio class fleet from 18 to 14 subs, with 12 in the water at any one time.) To outside observers, the subs' conventional and nuclear weapons would appear identical — the same size, the same speed, shooting from the same location.
Boing Boing: What's ahead in 2007? Predictions from 7 thinkers.:
Ballmer had this and this only to say about 2007, "You'll be back in control."
How viciously will this man have to insult his customers before they just go away? The Vista licensing agreement is being described as the "world's longest suicide note." Has Steve read it? Did you know that it goes WAY beyond DRM on content... to the extent of reserving the right remotely to disable YOUR hardware should MS decide at some time in the future that it's not up to snuff? "Back" in control? Does he imply that I am already out of control? Suppose I am, how much of that is due to his handiwork?
Never mind Steve. I have converted one of my old machines to Linux and so have begun the process of stepping away from my 23 years of MS experience to make his arrogantly worded prediction come true -- at least for me. By the end of '07 I hope to be running none of his products anywhere in my life.
The police had detained Tharp—a sometime Seattle theater artist who was part of an infamous company called Piece of Meat and has been teaching English in Pusan, South Korea, for the past two and a half years—over a sketch comedy he helped produce. Called Babo-palooza (babo is Korean for "fool"), the show sold out two nights in a 60-seat theater with bits about drunken English teachers, overzealous customs agents, and some doggerel about dog-meat soup, called boshintang: "I will not eat this boshintang. I will not eat it, Kang-Jae Wang." It was, Tharp said, a silly evening that gently mocked both Koreans and Westerners.
Less than two weeks later, police came to the university where Tharp works and detained him and another performer for questioning, fingerprinting, and a drug test. "Luckily, we were all clean," he said. "In Korea, failing a piss test is the same as possession: You go to jail for a few months and get deported." At the station, he remembered selling one of his interrogators a ticket: Two undercover detectives had attended the show. The police said that the performance violated the expatriates' work visas, but most of the questioning was about the content: why it was called Babo-palooza, what the jokes meant, what the performers were "trying to say."
FT.com / Companies / IT - Apple ‘falsified’ files on Jobs’ options:
Steve Jobs, chief executive of Apple Computer, was handed 7.5m stock options in 2001 without the required authorisation from the company’s board of directors, according to people familiar with the matter.
Records that purported to show a full board meeting had taken place to approve Mr Jobs’ remuneration, as required by Apple’s procedures, were later falsified. These are now among the pieces of evidence being weighed by the Securities and Exchange Commission as it decides whether to pursue a case against the company or any individuals over the affair, according to these people.
Roger Boisjoly - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Eventually, in late 1985 Boisjoly advised his managers that - if the problem was not fixed, there was a distinct chance that a shuttle mission would end in disaster. No action was taken.
Following the announcement that the Challenger mission was confirmed for 28 January 1986, Boisjoly and his colleagues determined to try and stop the flight. Temperatures were due to be down to -14°C overnight. Boisjoly felt that this would severely compromise the safety of the O-Ring - and potentially lose the flight.
The matter was discussed with Morton Thiokol management - who agreed that the issue was serious enough to recommend delaying the flight. They arranged a telephone conference with NASA management and gave their findings. However, after a while, the Morton Thiokol managers asked for a few minutes off the phone to discuss their final position again. Despite the efforts of Boisjoly and others in this off-air briefing, the Morton Thiokol managers decided to advise NASA that their data was inconclusive. NASA asked if anyone objected. Boisjoly stayed silent and the decision to fly the ill-fated STS-51L Challenger mission was made.
Boisjoly's theory of a massive disaster proved to be correct when, on the morning of January 28, 1986, at Cape Canaveral, 73 seconds into the mission, the space shuttle Challenger disintegrated, killing its seven member crew. In fact, Boisjoly was quite relieved when the flight lifted off, as his investigations had predicted that the SRB would explode during the initial take-off. 73 seconds later he witnessed the shuttle explosion on TV.
After Ronald Reagan ordered a Presidential Committee to review the disaster, Boisjoly was one of the witnesses called. He gave accounts of how and why he felt the O-Rings had failed. After the Committee gave its findings, Boisjoly found himself shunned by colleagues and managers and he resigned from the company.
What’s Wrong With Cinderella? - New York Times:
Diana may be dead and Masako disgraced, but here in America, we are in the midst of a royal moment. To call princesses a “trend” among girls is like calling Harry Potter a book. Sales at Disney Consumer Products, which started the craze six years ago by packaging nine of its female characters under one royal rubric, have shot up to $3 billion, globally, this year, from $300 million in 2001. There are now more than 25,000 Disney Princess items. “Princess,” as some Disney execs call it, is not only the fastest-growing brand the company has ever created; they say it is on its way to becoming the largest girls’ franchise on the planet.
Meanwhile in 2001, Mattel brought out its own “world of girl” line of princess Barbie dolls, DVDs, toys, clothing, home décor and myriad other products. At a time when Barbie sales were declining domestically, they became instant best sellers. Shortly before that, Mary Drolet, a Chicago-area mother and former Claire’s and Montgomery Ward executive, opened Club Libby Lu, now a chain of mall stores based largely in the suburbs in which girls ages 4 to 12 can shop for “Princess Phones” covered in faux fur and attend “Princess-Makeover Birthday Parties.” Saks bought Club Libby Lu in 2003 for $12 million and has since expanded it to 87 outlets; by 2005, with only scant local advertising, revenues hovered around the $46 million mark, a 53 percent jump from the previous year. Pink, it seems, is the new gold.
Gerald Goddamned Ford | Features | The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:
The first month of Gerald Goddamned Ford’s presidency, as detailed in Barry Werth’s recent book 31 Days, turned out to be one of the biggest disasters in American history. Ford failed the one mission that mattered: not pardoning Richard Nixon. The only thing he had to do to come out of the presidency with a legacy was not pardon Richard Nixon. It took Ford a month to fuck that up and then he dared to announce that “our long national nightmare is over.”
That’s bullshit, and we’ll get to precisely why in a moment. First, it has to be said that the stench of Gerald Goddamned Ford, the Presidential Shitrag, lingers in the White House to this day. Though he opted to not nominate the odious George H. W. Bush as his vice president, choosing instead Nelson Rockefeller, Ford hired men whose names we’re still living with today: Dick Cheney replaced Donald Rumsfeld as Chief of Staff after Ford named Rumsfeld Secretary of Defense. It was Ford that gave both these men toe-holds in the Executive Branch, positions that paid off big for them and, um, for us, 25 years later.
tiny nibbles - violet blue:
In recent weeks, Google has been changing its search algorithms and now many (though not all) sex websites have been dropped -- including this one. It seems to have coincided with changes they made relating to their pay-for-play keyword ad program, AdSense. What's disturbing to me (besides the harm it's done to small businesses over the holidays) is that Google's snafu seems to have dropped more sex-positive businesses (that focus on accurate sex ed) than big-gun, mainstream adult businesses (that sell unsafe sex toys and skanky product). To me, this also shows the huge problem with having a monoculture wherin a single business is depended on to provide a communication service. They screw one thing up, and an essential feature (like access to accurate search result information) disappears.
Wired News: Vaporware '06: Return of the King:
Pull back the red curtain and dim the lights. It's the 9th annual presentation of the Wired News Vaporware Awards, our ode to the year's top technology products promised, hyped and scheduled, but not delivered.
The nominees were chosen by you, our readers, in November. We've sifted through the submissions and selected the 10 finalists. The race was tight this year, but we've managed to declare a winner. OK, maybe it wasn't that tight.
Faked Docs May Be Core of Apple Case:
It must be some consolation for Apple Computer that the company's annual report is going to be published during the slowest news week of the year.
Given the uncomfortable admissions about its past stock options practices — and the cost to the company — that Apple will have to make in the delayed SEC filing due by Friday, less public attention is probably a good thing.
But the lull is unlikely to last long. According to people with knowledge of Apple's situation, federal prosecutors are looking closely at stock option administration documents that were apparently falsified by company officials to maximize the profitability of option grants to executives.
Brooklyn Record: Beware of the Phantom on Cropsey Ave:
At 2255 Cropsey Ave. in Bensonhurst, there is a curb cut that once led to the circular driveway for a house demolished almost a century ago. The driveway is long gone, and has been replaced by a fence, but those who park along this patch of curb are slapped with $160 tickets. Police from the 62nd Precinct did not return calls, but city officials agree that these tickets are ridiculous.
This is a careless world without your voice.
Courtesy is gone; nobody tips their hats.
There is no one to name the shrubs and birds,
To suggest a heavier coat.
You watched while I stood by the window
Saying goodbye to Sixth Avenue.
The pavement was always being torn away.
Watching the hammers
I kissed the glass four times;
Once for you and mother
And Richard and me.
You knew that four was a special number,
My number for watching things end.
You, at the door, made the room mine.
In five months I have lost your voice.
Its tone, a clearing throat;
Trailing off, "be a good girl."
Former President Gerald Ford, who entered the Oval Office after Richard Nixon's resignation, died this evening at age 93 at his home in Rancho Mirage, California.
The effectiveness of self-imposed deadlines on procrastination « Tasty Research:
Why do people procrastinate? This is an effect psychologists attribute to “hyperbolic time discounting”: the immediate rewards are disproportionally more compelling than the greater delayed costs. In other words, Procrastination itself is the reward.
However, the eventual cost of neglecting a task has such an impact on people that they learn to impose deadlines on themselves to restrict their own behavior. At what lengths do people do this? This article looks at three questions:
1. Do people self-impose costly deadlines on tasks in which procrastination may impede performance?
2. Are self-imposed deadlines effective in improving task performance?
3. Do people set their deadlines optimally, for maximum performance enhancement?
For those that are interested, I'm hosting the Moth Slam this evening--the theme is GIFTS, and it should be a lot of fun. Doors open at 7pm at the Bitter End, and details can be found in the sidebar--hope to see you there!
Also, here is a Chihuahua with a rifle:
Rolling Stone : Being James Brown:
So, the James Brown statue may seem to have walked on its flat bronze feet the mile from Twiggs to Broad, to which it keeps its back, reserving its grin for the gentlefolk on and across Broad Street, the side that gives way to the river -- the white neighborhoods to which James Brown, as a shoeshine boy, hustler, juvenile delinquent, possibly even as a teenage pimp, directed his ambition and guile. Policemen regularly chased James Brown the length of that mile, back toward Twiggs -- he tells stories of diving into a watery gutter, barely more than a trench, and hiding underwater with an upraised reed for breathing while the policemen rumbled past -- and, once the chase was over, he'd creep again toward Broad, where the lights and music were, where the action was, where Augusta's stationed soldiers with their monthly paycheck binges were to be found. Eventually, the city of Augusta jailed the teenager, sentenced him to eight-to-sixteen for four counts of breaking and entering. When he attained an early release, with the support of the family of his friend and future bandmate Bobby Byrd, it was on the condition that he never return to Augusta. Deep into the Sixties, years past "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," James Brown had to apply for special permits to bring his band to perform in Augusta; he essentially had been exiled from the city for having the audacity to transverse that mile from Twiggs to Broad. Now his statue stands at the end of the mile, facing away. Grinning. Resolving nothing. James Brown, you see, may in fact be less a statue than any human being who ever lived. James Brown is kinetic; an idea, a problem, a genre, a concept, a method -- anything, really, but a statue.
We're Watching You, Slacker:
The question is part of the broader study of "peer effects." When my neighbor, classmate, or housemate is particularly smart, dishonest, or lazy, what does that do to me? The question is tricky because most people can select their peers. For example, observing that many kids in a school play truant, we might conclude that they are a bad influence on one another, but we might also conclude that the school is in a deprived area where richer parents choose not to live.
Some economists have looked at situations where peers have been assigned randomly—to a college dormitory, for instance, or even (through a government housing program) to a particular neighborhood.
Mas and Moretti rely instead on scarily detailed data: having somehow sweet-talked a supermarket into cooperating, they compiled a data-set that tracks every single "beep," every transaction, for 370 workers in six stores, timed by the second, for two years. They can measure each worker's productivity by the second and note how it changes depending on who else is working at the same time.
Lesbians of Mass Destruction:
And let's not forget that the case against nonbiological parenthood is based on averages. Averages make bad law. The best critique of gay parenting studies is that because many homosexuals are closeted, those who are found by researchers and who agree to participate are disproportionately white, well-educated, and female. But that's exactly what Mary Cheney is. She's a vice president of AOL. Her partner's current occupation is renovating their home. Should they abstain from motherhood because they're above average?
The same goes for gender averages. James Dobson, chairman of Focus on the Family, says Cheney's pregnancy is a bad idea because a father "makes unique contributions to the task of parenting that a mother cannot emulate," such as "a sense of right and wrong and its consequences." You must be kidding. Cheney's partner is a former park ranger. They met while playing collegiate hockey. If they want a night out to catch an NHL game, Grandpa Dick can drop by to read bedtime stories about detainee interrogation.
If you're going to base family policy on averages, the chief problem isn't stepparents; it's men. That's what "pro-family" groups keep covering up. According to Focus on the Family, "Increased risks of physical and sexual child abuse at the hands of non-biological parents are another serious concern for same-sex families." Nope, not for lesbians. The latest study cited by the group actually concludes that the "key risk factors are living with a stepfather or the mother's boyfriend." Of 55 child deaths reviewed in the study, zero were caused by a stepmother or by a biological mother in a stepfamily or live-in relationship. Other studies show the same pattern in child abuse generally.
Slashdot | Disabling the RFID in the New U.S. Passports?:
"Along with the usual Jargonwatch and Wired/Tired articles, the January issue of Wired offers a drastic method for taking care of that RFID chip in your passport. They say it's legal ... if a bit blunt. From the article: 'The best approach? Hammer time. Hitting the chip with a blunt, hard object should disable it. A nonworking RFID doesn't invalidate the passport, so you can still use it.'
We're rushing through our holiday preparations, so more from me after Monday--all the best to everyone out there.
(A view of the snowed in Denver airport.)
CONFIDENTIAL TO LAST NIGHT'S PARTYGOERS: I'll agree that Liz Lerman's guidelines make a lot of sense, so long as we never have to talk about them again.
Gothamist: Law & Order: Dumbass Edition:
What happens when young assistant district attorney sees a brick he can't resist? The Post reports that 27 year old Matthew Knouff, a prosecutor in the Brooklyn DA's office, was arrested after throwing a brick through the window of the Water Street Restaurant & Lounge in DUMBO. During the office holiday party, no less.
asdf - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"asdf" is the sequence of letters that appear on the first four keys on the home row of a QWERTY or QWERTZ keyboard. They are often used as a sample or test case or as random, meaningless nonsense. It is also a common learning tool for keyboard classes, since all four keys are located on Home row. asdf is also typed in lowercase letters most of the time.
'asdf' is a default password for some systems. Therefore the word is used in many dictionary crackers, since there is always the possibility that some user has left their password as 'asdf' by default.
The Internet has taken to the idea that many users type in the characters 'asdf' when they're not searching for anything in particular and just want to fill in a given field. If you run a search through any given search engine, you'll see many websites listed with the keyword 'asdf'
In Shirt-Sleeve Holiday Season, Overcoats Linger on the Racks - New York Times:
Retailers are calling it the Coat Crisis of 2006, a fashion fiasco measured in racks of unsold fur-lined shearlings at Saks Fifth Avenue and down puffer jackets at Bloomingdale’s.
Balmy temperatures on the East Coast, with average highs this holiday season 15 degrees warmer than last year, have been disastrous for sales of all kinds of cold-weather clothing, from cashmere caps to wool scarves.
What seemed like a meteorological aberration — the coatless, hatless, gloveless morning commute in Washington, New York and Boston — is starting to feel like the new normal, encouraging consumers to splurge on a flat-screen television instead of a peacoat.
The glut of winter wear has sent a chill through the executive suites of major retailers, who count on big profits from coats in the crucial holiday shopping season. They are even starting to grumble about the first “global warming Christmas.”
Bog Face: who put a quarter in me?:
Last year, I watched plays unfold in the most surprising ways at Soho Rep. Often what I thought was "wrong" about a play turned out to be what was most right about it in the end. And, yes, it might have been damaging for me to point out what I thought was "wrong" - or what I thought the playwright should do instead - but more to the point it would have been a waste of time.
Okay, I confess, I did bring in my agenda full force on one occasion and it turned into a scintillating fight between myself and another participant:
Other Playwright: You have issues!
Me: I have issues?!? You have issues!
Other Playwright: You have issues!
Me: You have issues!
The fight was actually fun and I learned a lot: we all have issues.
NY Houses 4 Sale: If I had only done this and that back then.....:
The other night a friend of my husbands was over and we were all chatting about the "if I only did this" and "If I would have only known" type stories. The two men have known each other since they were six. They went all through elementary school and high school together. While we were chatting they remembered a time in the late 80's - (they were in their early 20's at the time) they both had been working and saving while living at home, so they were able to save up a good chunk of money each on their own. They had an opportunity to buy a two family home, on a corner lot, R4 Zoning with a property size of 60x110, in College Point. They remember that at the time the asking price for this house was $220,000. They would have been able to purchase the home for $200,000. Out of fear and not knowing "what the market would do" they backed out of the deal. They both felt relieved that they were not going to buy any real estate and "burden" themselves with a mortgage payment. Their parents were happy that they did not buy this property for the fact that they would have gone "bankrupt".
I know that while I was growing up, not one person ever talked to me about buying real estate. Not one person said to buy or not to buy. This was not ever taught to my generation. I was taught to work and save - work and save. That was it. But what was I saving for?
The Gowanus Lounge: The Morning After: Dr. Ratlove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Atlantic Yards:
The only real difference between Atlantic Yards and a story we could have written 20 years ago is that Brooklyn has been hornswaggled largely on the basis of "affordable housing" rather than jobs. As such, Atlantic Yards is a reflection of the desperate affordable housing situation in New York City. A developer could probably site a nuclear waste repository in the borough if he promised to build a few thousand apartments on top of the storage caverns, swore up and down that the radiation would only amount to a few extra dental x-rays a year and produced an "independent" consultant's report that concluded "Don't Worry, be Happy."
The fallout of the Altantic Yards decision--and the unwillingness to make any significant reductions in density or to fully address impacts from traffic to pollution--will change Brooklyn in fundamental ways. Start with a decade of massive construction projects at Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues. Then, consider the impact of block upon block of highrises, and you begin to get the picture of the legacy that Gov. Pataki, Mayor Bloomberg, Empire State Development Corp. Chair Charles Gargano, Borough President Marty Markowitz, developer Bruce Ratner and all of the other officials, both public and private, who pushed this development through will leave to our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We're not convinced that in 25 years they'll be saying "Go Nets!" so much as "Screw this traffic."
There are those that are cheering yesterday's decision as a victory for jobs and housing and as a return of big-time professional sports to Brooklyn. In its own way, Atlantic Yards will bring those things. But at what cost? Brooklyn's soul has been sold to achieve those goals. And, now, we're going to have to deal with the consequences.
Brooklyn Record: Big Changes for Brooklyn: State Approves Atlantic Yards:
A state oversight board voted yesterday to approve the Atlantic Yards Project. According to the Times, the project will encompass "eight million square feet over 22 acres along Atlantic Avenue," and will include "a huge residential housing complex with about 6,400 market-rate and subsidized apartments, a basketball arena for the Nets, and a smattering of office space, with a design punctuated by elaborate towers that dwarf nearby residential neighborhoods."
What We Wanted to Tell You About Iran - New York Times:
HERE is the redacted version of a draft Op-Ed article we wrote for The Times, as blacked out by the Central Intelligence Agency’s Publication Review Board after the White House intervened in the normal prepublication review process and demanded substantial deletions. Agency officials told us that they had concluded on their own that the original draft included no classified material, but that they had to bow to the White House.
Indeed, the deleted portions of the original draft reveal no classified material. These passages go into aspects of American-Iranian relations during the Bush administration’s first term that have been publicly discussed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; former Secretary of State Colin Powell; former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage; a former State Department policy planning director, Richard Haass; and a former special envoy to Afghanistan, James Dobbins.
These aspects have been extensively reported in the news media, and one of us, Mr. Leverett, has written about them in The Times and other publications with the explicit permission of the review board. We provided the following citations to the board to demonstrate that all of the material the White House objected to is already in the public domain. Unfortunately, to make sense of much of our Op-Ed article, readers will have to read the citations for themselves. (See links at left.)
Saying Yes to Mess - New York Times:
But contrarian voices can be heard in the wilderness. An anti-anticlutter movement is afoot, one that says yes to mess and urges you to embrace your disorder. Studies are piling up that show that messy desks are the vivid signatures of people with creative, limber minds (who reap higher salaries than those with neat “office landscapes”) and that messy closet owners are probably better parents and nicer and cooler than their tidier counterparts. It’s a movement that confirms what you have known, deep down, all along: really neat people are not avatars of the good life; they are humorless and inflexible prigs, and have way too much time on their hands.
Fuck - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
* SNAFU — Situation Normal, All Fucked Up. Initially used in WWI in the US military, but then migrated into common usage in the US.
* FUBAR — Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition. Initially used in WWII in the US military, but then migrated into common usage in the US. This acronym transmogrified into "FOOBAR" which entered into computer jargon. The word FUBAR was also popularized in the films Tango & Cash (1989) and Saving Private Ryan (1998).
* LMFAO — Laugh My Fucking Ass Off. Used as a txt.
* PTFO — Passed (or Peace) The Fuck Out. Used as a txt.
* OMFG — Oh My Fucking God. Used in internet forums.
* GTFO — Get The Fuck Out. Used in internet forums.
* Charlie Foxtrot (CF) — Play on the NATO phonetic alphabet meaning "Cluster Fuck".
* STFU — Shut The Fuck Up. Used in Internet forums.
* WTF — What The Fuck. Used on Internet forums.
* FFS — For Fuck's Sake or For Fucking Sake. Used in Internet forums and online video games, e.g. "FFS n00b get outta my tank"
* BFD — Big Fucking Deal.
* BFE — Butt Fucking Egypt, Bum Fuck Egypt, or Butt Fucked Egypt. Used as "middle of nowhere."
* FO(A)D — Fuck Off and Die. Most notably the name of a song by Green Day.
* FYAD - Fuck Yourself And Die. Originated on the website YTMND
* RTFM — Read The Fucking Manual.
* BUFF — Big Ugly Fat Fucker. Military slang for the B-52D aircraft.
* BFG — Big Fucking Gun. The term originated with the BFG9000, a weapon in the popular video game, Doom.
Shipwreck - The Coast of Utopia - Theater - Review - New York Times:
But the most stunning moment of all arrives when Mr. Stoppard simply pulls the plug on the dense talk that has been buzzing from the stage of the Vivian Beaumont Theater, where “Shipwreck” opened last night, and asks us to experience a world hitherto defined, above all, by words through the perspective of a deaf child.
It’s not exactly that the passionate debating, which has been going on with scarcely a pause through the first half of the first act, comes to a complete stop. That would be asking too much of the play’s logorrheic characters, who are never happier than when they are arguing about lofty subjects. They continue to work their mouths and gesticulate madly.
But we don’t hear them. The focus of attention in the scene — set in the lavishly appointed Paris salon of the Russian exile Alexander Herzen (Brian F. O’Byrne) and his wife, Natalie (Jennifer Ehle) in 1847 — shifts to their small son, Kolya (August Gladstone), who is playing with a top at the edge of the stage, his back to the throng of chattering adults. Deaf since birth, Kolya is aware only of the spinning top and the ominous vibrations of thunder.
Peter Schickele - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
His fictitious "home establishment," where he has allegedly taken tenure as Very Full Professor Peter Schickele of both "musicolology" and "musical pathology," is the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople, a little known “institution” which does not normally welcome out-of-state visitors. To illustrate the work of his uncovered composer, Schickele invented a range of rather unusual instruments. The most complicated of these is the Hardart, which consists of a variety of tone-generating devices mounted on the frame of an Automat (a coin-operated food dispenser). It is used in the Concerto for Horn and Hardart, a play on the name of proprietors Horn & Hardart, who pioneered the North American use of the Automat. Schickele also invented the dill piccolo (for playing sour notes), the left-handed sewer flute, the tromboon, the lasso d'amore and the pastaphone (an uncooked tube of manicotti pasta played as a horn). P. D. Q's 1965 Concerto for Bagpipe, Bicycle and Balloon demonstrated the inherent musical qualities of everyday objects in ways not equally agreeable to all who listen to them.
Thomas Bowdler - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Thomas Bowdler (July 11, 1754 – February 24, 1825) was an English physician who published an expurgated edition of William Shakespeare's work that he considered to be more appropriate than the original for women and children. He similarly edited Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. His expurgation was the subject of some criticism and ridicule and, through the eponym bowdlerise (or bowdlerize), his name is now associated with prudish censorship of literature, motion pictures and television programmes.
NBC - Saturday Night Live - Special Treat in a Box - Report - New York Times:
Given the subject matter, it was little surprise that NBC bleeped a recurring word in the chorus 16 times. But soon after the broadcast concluded at 1 a.m. Sunday, viewers who’d seen the bit on TV (and others who had just heard about it) could find the uncensored version online. That’s because the network itself had placed it on its own Web site (nbc.com) and YouTube.com, under the headings “Special Treat in a Box” or “Special Christmas Box.”
In less than a week the official uncensored version of the video has been viewed by over two million people on YouTube alone. In the process “Saturday Night Live” appears to have become the first scripted comedy on a broadcast network to use the Web to make an end-run around the prying eyes of both its internal censors and those of the Federal Communications Commission, whose jurisdiction over “Saturday Night Live” effectively ends at the Web frontier.
Lorne Michaels, the creator and executive producer of “Saturday Night Live,” cautioned in an interview that the strategy of treating Internet users to the equivalent of an authorized “director’s cut” of his late-night show “will be the exception” going forward. But he also predicted that other shows and networks, time and money permitting, would surely follow NBC’s lead in making available material that was deemed not ready for prime time, or even late night. “My sense is that, as always, now that the door has been opened, some things will go through it,” he said.
A number of Christmastime theatrical engagements over the holiday weekend for your amusement:
Tonight at 8:30pm, catch me at SPEAKEASY, where I'll be telling stories with Mike Albo, Frank Damico and a cast of thousands...you can find details here.
Tomorrow at 8pm I'll be performing in OCCURRENCE at Galapagos, where I'll be joining Reggie Watts, Kristen Schaal, Tommy Smith and some kickass film. Details.
Tuesday, in a post-holiday haze, I'll be hosting a StorySLAM for the Moth--it's the annual regifting Slam, which I hosted last year, so come the day after Christmas to do battle over some amazingly improbable gifts. The theme is "gifts", naturally. It's at the Bitter End, and doors open at 7pm, and the Moth has the specifics.
Hope to see you at something if you're in town, and to all a good night!
War on Christmas talking points: The case against gift giving:
The gift-based economy died out because currency rendered it obsolete. So it's curious that one month out of the year we resurrect this brutally inefficient custom. It has little to do with generosity: gift transactions are enforced by threat of social alienation--the accusation of being a "Scrooge"--and undertaken with the expectation of receiving compensation. (Unilateral gifts, like those from parents to young children, are OK in my book.) But if greed is the motivation for holiday gift giving, then it's misplaced. Which brings me to the crux of my economic argument against rampant present-purchases. Gift givers and receivers actually deprive one another of wealth. How? Well, holiday presents are usually not functional goods, such as cereal, but instead luxuries that we wouldn't buy for ourselves, such as fancy chocolates (or some such frippery), we've essentially forced one another to purchase chocolates for ourselves. But there's a reason people don't often buy themselves fancy chocolates: most of us would rather get M & Ms and spend the rest of the money on something else. Christmas spawns industries devoted to useless goods like fruitcake and flavored popcorn. More commonly, it forces us to pay for things we like, but whose cost exceeds their worth to us. Suppose a box of chocolates costs $15. I don't buy chocolates for myself, because they're worth only $5 to me. You choose not to buy $15 cologne because it's worth only $5 to you. Swapping chocolates for cologne penalizes each of us $10. Yes, sometimes you can buy somebody a gift he would buy for himself. But the more likely this is, the higher the likelihood that he actually has it already. OK, so gifts detract from our material welfare. But, you point out, they still provide psychological benefits--goodwill, etc.--beyond their tangible value. The problem is, you can use that argument to preserve any inefficient practice. Gift-based societies also buried the dead with all their worldly possessions. This often impoverished the deceased's surviving family, but it gave them considerable psychological benefits. Of course, once society figured out its wastefulness, those psychological benefits disappeared. Why should we derive satisfaction from impoverishing those we hold dear?
LOST IN MYSPACE By MANDY STADTMILLER - New York Post Online Edition: Seven:
When I respond to George, he starts barraging me with messages. What is my favorite drink? Can we change where we meet? No, and no. We meet in Union Square, and it's kind of like "Sleepless in Seattle" except that he lives in his parents' basement in The Bronx and I want to kill myself.
New York Retires Last Mechanical Parking Meter - New York Times:
The last New York City mechanical parking meter — an emblem of street life, an object of motorist frustration and endless source of fascination for city children since 1951 — was withdrawn from service at 10:25 a.m. today.
The demise of the mechanical meter was painless but not swift. Since 1995, when the city first tested battery-powered digital meters and quickly found them to be more accurate, reliable and vandal-proof than the older spring-loaded devices, the days of the mechanical meter have been numbered.
A Mormon president? No way. - By Jacob Weisberg - Slate Magazine:
Someone who refuses to consider voting for a woman as president is rightly deemed a sexist. Someone who'd never vote for a black person is a racist. But are you a religious bigot if you wouldn't cast a ballot for a believing Mormon?
The issue arises with Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's as-yet-undeclared bid for the 2008 Republican nomination. Romney would not be the first member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to run for the nation's highest office. He follows Orrin Hatch (2000); Mo Udall (1976); his father, George Romney (1968); and not least of all Joseph Smith, who ran in 1844 on a platform of "theodemocracy," abolition, and cutting congressional pay. Despite a strong showing in the Nauvoo straw poll, Smith didn't play much better nationally than Hatch did, and had to settle for the Mormon-elected post of King of the Kingdom of Heaven.
What Has Bush Learned From His Mistakes?:
At his press conference Wednesday, the president was asked what lessons he's learned after five years of war. He's been asked a version of this question many times since he had such trouble answering it in April 2004. He has tried various responses over the years and none has been satisfying. This morning's answer also fell short: "It is important for us to be successful going forward is to analyze that which went wrong, and clearly, one aspect of this war that has not gone right is the sectarian violence inside Baghdad."
It is progress of a kind for the president to talk about the need to examine past failures—there was a time when he didn't even admit them—but the answer still failed. First, Bush didn't actually answer the question. He talked about what went wrong, but not what he learned. Second, Bush seemed to suggest that the sectarian violence in Iraq was unforeseen—not so much something that went wrong, but a surprise they didn't anticipate. But war planners did know the sectarian violence was coming. The State Department, Army War College, and CIA analysts all predicted that the Shia and Sunnis would go after each other (apparently they've been at it for a while). The president and his team ignored or discounted these assessments.
It's hardly surprising that the president didn't answer a question at a press conference. Bush regularly answers the wrong question at length to give the appearance of answering without actually doing so. He gives a response when what we want is an answer. (Even his dodge Wednesday was familiar.) What's so curious is why Bush is keeping up this avoidance act while at the same time trying to rebuild his trust with the country. By not answering this specific question, he trades away perhaps his only chance to get people to listen to him again.
Foreign Policy: The Top Ten Stories You Missed in 2006:
You saw the stories that dominated the headlines in 2006: the war in Iraq, North Korea’s nuclear tests, and the U.S. midterm elections. But what about the news that remained under the radar? From the Bush administration’s post-Katrina power grab to a growing arms race in Latin America to the new hackable passports, FP delivers the Top Ten Stories You Missed in 2006.
How to Change the World: Ten Questions With Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell:
YouTube won because of a vitally important theme: It democratized data. YouTube made user data transparent while Google Video did not. YouTube exposed data like numbers of views, comments, referrers, as well as most popular referrers, most popular videos, most popular channels, etc. That data helps YouTubers gauge their own popularity and allows the larger community to measure relative popularity, too. Google did none of that out the gate. It democratized data using a piecemeal approach, and it didn’t set any standards along the way. YouTube set all of the standards.
I read mostly the same passages I usually do but the crowd, quite enormous (I mean in numbers, they weren't obese), was vocal and happy and energizing. Best of all, for me anyway, was the appearance of my family. Jill and the kids sat in the back row and except for occasional bouts of wiggliness, listened. When I opened the floor to questions, Charlie had the first one. It was funny because readers of my work know that he's kind of my muse and a hush went over the room when he spoke. Afterwards, with no real provocation to do so, he walked to the front of the room and took a bow. Later, he signed some books. I would do my studied, rehearsed author signature with a black Sharpie (fine point) and he would follow with a huge CHARLIE in purple marker. I felt like I was doing a joint appearance with a Star Wars obsessed 6-year-old J.D. Salinger.
Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn: I LOVE STORIES LIKE THESE:
I will always remember the transit strike from last year. I was still living in San Francisco and I got a call from my mom saying that my dad was in the hospital getting prepped for triple bypass surgery. They were in "the city" and because of the transit strike, they had to walk from Penn Station to their evening activities - the theater, the restaurant. My dad was quietly not feeling well but went along with the evening. He stopped for some tums along the way. After the play, he told my mom that he'd like to take a cab back to Penn Station. My mom, ever-thrifty, said, "You know it's $10 a person because of the strike?" He said, "I don't care." Knowing something was completely out of whack, she then asked him if he'd rather go to the emergency room and he said yes. The doctors said if he went home that night, there's no telling whether he would have survived the night.
Brooklyn Record: Worst Meal in Brooklyn?:
As 2006 winds down, everybody seems to be making "Best Of" lists, but here at the Brooklyn Record, it's hard to narrow down the list of our favorite local spots. So, how about helping our readers avoid the worst food our borough has to offer instead? Since we'll eat almost anything set in front of us, we're going to need your help with this one. What's the most disappointing meal (or morsel) you've eaten this year? If you've experienced a chewy steak, a stinky fish, a sad excuse for a sandwich, or a wildly overhyped restaurant, leave us a comment — and don't spare us the dirty details.
Gothamist: The Gothamist Best in Music 2006 Awards:
Worst Club Closing: CBGB
What a mess. The club was a shell of the shell of it's former self. It had been screwing over their bands for years, hadn't booked a relevant developing band that wasn't trying to get their "CBGB experience" in over a decade, while making it seem like the corporatization of the Lower East Side was really to blame for the club closing. That certainly didn't stop the dozens of relevant rock clubs that have popped up in that time to give the scene a much needed boost. For chrissakes, by the time it was over, the Hard Rock Cafe was more punk than the disgraced venue. While many sites and news outlets, ourselves included, covered the final days like the pope's death, with a few months now between us, we can finally say, good riddance.
Dance, Ramtha, Dance! | Film | The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:
If you are dragged to see the interminable What the BLEEP!? Down the Rabbit Hole by some supremely gullible friend, there are odd moments of hilarity to savor. The hokey “experiment” conducted by a Japanese “researcher” named Masaru Emoto, for example, made the new version, despite ridicule from scientists and journalists. In his study (which, needless to say, was neither double-blind nor published in a peer-reviewed journal), bottles of water were affixed with labels like “Chi of Love” and “You make me sick I hate you.” Then the bottles were frozen and the resulting ice crystals examined under a microscope. According to some lady in the movie, who is inexplicably delivering a lecture in a windy subway tunnel, the crystals from the "love" bottle were beautiful, and the “hate-sick” crystals were not. The only difference I could discern was that the love crystal was dyed blue, and the hate-sick crystal was dyed puke green. But what the bleep do I know?
Pogue’s Posts - Technology - New York Times Blog:
“[When I worked at Microsoft,] I was given a badge that allowed me entry to all but a few of the Microsoft buildings. One of the things that caught my eye was a large grid on the wall of a hallway in the building that housed the engineers that worked on Windows Media Player—building 50, on the 2nd or 3rd floor.
“The grid was labeled across the top with A, B, C, etc., and down the left with 1,2,3, like a game of Battleship. The grid was made of 8.5×11-inch pages, landscape orientation, showing color screenshots from Apple’s iTunes software. Each sheet was a different screen of the application: each tab of a preference panel, each info window, everything.
“Around the corner was another grid, showing the RealPlayer application. This grid was the same: grid A1 was the front user view of the application, mirroring what was on the iTunes wall/grid.
“Around the next corner was *another* grid, this one showing Windows Media Player version 9 !! This one was missing a few tiles in the grid, but you could actually see the progress as each feature [of iTunes and RealPlayer] was copied, square for square.
“Amazing. New software is put out, a manager sees it and decides that the creative part of their day is making color screen captures of the software and presenting it to the copying—er, engineering team.”
In This Town, Even a Mall Rat Can Get Rattled - New York Times:
PARAMUS, N.J., Dec. 15 — It is fitting that the first store drivers heading south on Route 17 see as they enter town is a Stop & Shop. After all, Paramus is one of the nation’s strongest shopping magnets, generating roughly $5 billion a year in retail sales, an amount about equal to the gross domestic product of Cambodia, Nicaragua or the sultanate of Brunei.
There are larger malls and there are fancier malls elsewhere, but few places rival the sheer concentration of stores in this otherwise unremarkable suburb 18 miles northwest of Times Square. In an already densely populated state, Paramus has more parking spots than people.
My friend John's book, THE AREAS OF MY EXPERTISE, is FREE on iTunes for a limited time. Link
I walked over to 11 Spring Street today, to get some last pictures of the exterior walls. No one was around, and I stood on the street undisturbed for about ten minutes, looking at the building. By now, of course, the walls are a visual riot; most pieces have been crossed out, some multiple times. This is not the collaboration that usually marks streetart-- this is hardcore crossing-out, which is graffiti's version of rape. There's back story to it: that the local graffiti artists felt disrespected by the visiting street artists (which, to some extent they were; Jace, for instance, went over some large pieces on the corner of Houston and Bowery, and later, that crew came back to 11 Spring for revenge. Same goes for the Irak crew in the photo above-- they were the previous kings of 11 Spring, and saw their work gone over by everyone. They also came back to show how they felt about it.) There was also plenty of beef between the streetartists, and plenty more from people who hadn't been invited to participate in the project.
That stuff might explain how this happened, but it doesn't really explain why it all happened-- why did the wall end up like this?
To understand that, you've got to know about the tragedy of the commons. That's economic shorthand for what happens to communal, public goods when there is no cost assigned to using them. Let me be more specific: the beautiful walls of 11 Spring Street were, for a little while at least, a public good. They were available to all of us to be enjoyed. But because there was no cost to using them, there were no funds to protect them. Even more tellingly, because there were no costs assigned to painting on the walls, everyone who wanted to did. Observes one graf-expert that I know: "an event of this magnitude really brings out the lowliest of street artists. the hours i was waiting on line, the only shit i saw go up were by world class toys." And of course, once the cycle gets started, the better artists don't want to put stuff up, because they know it's just going to get destroyed. A vicious cycle ensues, and total chaos is the result.
Sara Barron’s Blog » Blog Archive » Naked Airline:
For those who don’t know – though an oddly large number do – when I was 12-years-old I wrote a 50 page long dirty story and titled it “Rosewood Beach.” These days, based on its content and (underground) notoriety I call it The Porn. I cast Christie Brinkley and Tom Cruise in the roles of my two lead characters, teenagers I named Jenny Wilkinson and Mark Brolin. The jist of the story was that Jenny spends the 50 odd pages trapsing around her suburban town and having the kind of sex that only a 12-year-old could conceive of, e.g.: I use phrases like “wildly, violently humping,” and “violent frenching.” Words like ‘weiner’ and ‘boobs’ appear over and over again, as does the song “Ice, Ice Baby” – the consistent soundtrack for sexual encounters in my pre-pubescent mind
Regan Attorney and News Corp. Trade Accusations in Firing Spat - WSJ.com:
Andrew Butcher, the News Corp. spokesman, denied that the company has libeled Ms. Regan. He added that Ms. Regan said the following in the phone conversation: "Of all people, Jews should know about ganging up, finding common enemies, and telling the big lie." He said Mr. Jackson had taken notes during the conversation.
In the next breath, Mr. Butcher said, Ms. Regan said that literary agent Esther Newberg and HarperCollins employees David Hirshey, Jane Friedman, and Mr. Jackson constitute "a Jewish cabal. All of you people are conspiring against me."
Breaking: Jailing People for Speaking Out May Be Illegal - New York Magazine's Daily Intelligencer:
A Manhattan federal jury has confirmed something you probably knew all along: It seems throwing political protesters in the slammer, instead of writing them a ticket, kinda sorta interferes with the First Amendment. The NYPD's lock-'em-up policy, born amid the paranoia of 2001, was short-lived (it's already off the books) and resulted in about 30 arrests, which now may mean 30 settlements for NYPD to cough up.
My Battle with MGM Over Wargames.Com | Workbench:
For the past three months I've been privately engaged in a time-consuming dispute with Nathan J. Hole, a lawyer representing MGM Studios who claims that Wargames.Com, a domain that I've owned since April 16, 1998, is the rightful property of the film company because it produced the 1983 movie WarGames and registered it as a trademark.
I received an e-mail this morning indicating that MGM has filed a legal complaint with the National Arbitration Forum to take the domain name away from me.
I registered the domain to sell military wargames like Axis & Allies and Battle of Britain and was able to realize these plans earlier this year. I've never run my own business, so figuring out sales taxes and licensing, finding suppliers, running a secure web server and setting up ecommerce software took around two years.
My store has nothing to do with the film WarGames or any other movie, but attempting to convince MGM there's no infringement has been utterly fruitless. I suspect this is because the film studio is filming a WarGames sequel for 2007 release.
Perhaps there's a reason why I'm not involved in New Play Development programs after all. Making the rounds of the 'sphere today (I found it in this post of Jason Grote's) is a series of critical response guidelines for artists' "workshops." If there's any way that an artist can feel condescended to by her peers, it's through these guidelines; "neutral questions," "it is very important not to be judgmental," "the opinions should be positive criticism"--well, that's all very nice, but there's an air of the playground monitor about it all, as if the playwright were the sensitive, weak-kneed kid being surrounded by a bunch of bullies. Play nice, all. If this is what people believe a good workshop looks like, we may be worse off than we thought. And I'm not sure if I want to listen to responses from people who have to be told what words and tone they're allowed and not allowed to use.
Jason Grote is Not a Crime: Thoughts on New Play Development:
So, yeah, I concede that the ratio of development to production is out of whack, and that many theaters use development as a substitute for the far riskier endeavor of producing new plays. I also think that some (but not all) new-play dramaturgy is too close for comfort to the Hollywood practice of producers and studio execs giving "notes" to screenwriters. But I think that the debate on almost all sides is hamstrung by a compulsion toward categorical absolutes - that is, that all play development is evil (or maybe just misguided), or (the far less popular position, but probably the guiding principle of most mainstream theaters) that all dramaturgy is good, and playwrights need guidance. As Isaac points out, I co-chair a theater lab at Soho Rep, so obviously I'm not anti-play development. The fact is that play development labs can be great and they can be awful, and it's some really complex algebra that decides which is which - the lab guidelines, the people involved, the plays themselves, the length and even things like the location and time of day.
THE GIFT RIGHT OUT:
Christmas shopping in the U.S. has been a reliable source of anxiety and stress for well over a century. “As soon as the Thanksgiving turkey is eaten, the great question of buying Christmas presents begins to take the terrifying shape it has come to assume in recent years,” the New York Tribune wrote in 1894. But recently millions of Americans, instead of trudging through malls in a desperate quest for the perfect sweater, have switched to buying gift cards. The National Retail Federation expects that Americans will buy close to twenty-five billion dollars’ worth of gift cards this season, up thirty-four per cent from last year, with two-thirds of shoppers intending to buy at least one card; gift cards now rival apparel as the most popular category of present. This is, in part, because of clever corporate marketing: stores like gift cards because they amount to an interest-free loan from customers, and because recipients usually spend more than the amount on the card—a phenomenon that retailers tenderly refer to as “uplifting” spending. But the boom in gift cards is also a rational response to the most important economic fact about Christmas gift giving: most of us just aren’t that good at it.
The Stranger | Seattle | Slog: The Stranger's Blog | American Comedy, Korean Trouble:
I just got this email from Chris Tharp, who once lived in Seattle and was part of the Piece of Meat Theater1 and has been working as an English teacher in Busan, South Korea for the past two and a half years. Now Tharp and some other teachers are in trouble with the law over a sketch comedy show:
Since I’ve been over here, I’ve done a little performing in the expat community in this city. Two weeks ago, I produced a comedy show called Babo-Palooza! (babo means “idiot” or “fool” in Korean). We sold out two nights in a small theater where we took the piss out of ourselves and Korea as well, complete with fake puke and on onstage pissing (I tried infuse it with a bit of the old Piece of Meat aesthetic.)
The show was a big hit. People laughed hard and loud.
This week, all of us involved with the show were detained by the local police. They had sent a couple of undercover detectives to watch the show. We were questioned for two hours, drug tested, and fingerprinted. They are accusing of breaking the law by violating our visas and not getting permission to perform the show. They are using this as a pretext to go after us because they were offended by some of the content.
Several of us are now facing large fines and deportation.
Charlie Rose, Chicken Thief - Grub Street - New York Magazine:
This is where things get ethically fuzzy: Not more than three minutes later, our chicken — and there is no doubt that it was our bird, ordered at least 45 minutes earlier and eagerly anticipated — was whisked by our cramped two-top and ceremoniously presented to Rose, who proceeded to carve it up as we sat, jaws agape and mouths watering. It was a lovely burnished creature, all crackling skin and juicy flesh, and we had the distinct pleasure of watching him gobble it down like a lumberjack who has recently renounced the Calorie Restriction diet. Finally, because there was really no way of disguising such blatant preferential treatment, the buxom blonde hostess who was personally tending to Mr. TV’s needs swooped over and crouched down in a position that conspicuously blocked our view of the pilfered bird and its wrongful owner, and in a chirpy voice delivered this quasi-apology: “There’s bad news. Your chicken accidentally went to another table, but since it takes twenty minutes to fire up a new one, we’ve decided to give you a mid-course of pasta on the house.” The good news? “If you’re full, you’ll be able to take home some chicken!”
Pot is called biggest cash crop - Los Angeles Times:
SACRAMENTO — For years, activists in the marijuana legalization movement have claimed that cannabis is America's biggest cash crop. Now they're citing government statistics to prove it.
A report released today by a marijuana public policy analyst contends that the market value of pot produced in the U.S. exceeds $35 billion — far more than the crop value of such heartland staples as corn, soybeans and hay, which are the top three legal cash crops.
Theater of the Absurd at the T.S.A. - New York Times:
FOR theater on a grand scale, you can’t do better than the audience-participation dramas performed at airports, under the direction of the Transportation Security Administration.
As passengers, we tender our boarding passes and IDs when asked. We stand in lines. We empty pockets. We take off shoes. We do whatever is asked of us in these mass rites of purification. We play our assigned parts, comforted in the belief that only those whose motives are good and true will be permitted to pass through.
Of course, we never see the actual heart of the security system: the government’s computerized no-fly list, to which our names are compared when we check in for departure. The T.S.A. is much more talented, however, in the theater arts than in the design of secure systems. This becomes all too clear when we see that the agency’s security procedures are unable to withstand the playful testing of a bored computer-science student.
reviewjournal.com -- News - Democrats leave Bono disappointed:
Meetings in Washington last Thursday between rock star Bono and Democrats, including Senate leader Harry Reid of Nevada, yielded a nice photo-op but not much else, according to Bono.
Bono, the U2 frontman and anti-poverty activist, was on Capitol Hill to seek assurances that $1 billion in planned U.S. spending to fight AIDS and malaria in Africa would not be lost if Congress freezes agency budgets in the coming year.
Bono said he also was seeking to close a "commitment gap" between what President Bush has requested for anti-poverty efforts and what Congress has agreed to spend in the past.
After meetings with incoming Senate Majority Leader Reid, House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee, Bono said he came away empty-handed.
"I'm alarmed we could not get a commitment from the Democratic leadership to prevent the loss of $1 billion in the continuing resolution," Bono said Thursday in a statement.
"I don't know who to blame. Democrats are blaming Republicans. Republicans are blaming Democrats. But the million people who were expecting (mosquito) bed nets don't know who to blame. They just know that a promise made by the United States to keep their families safe is in danger of being broken next year."
'Time' Person of the Year: You Can't Be Serious - Gawker:
As if anything could preclude our right to mock. Time's annual hype machine finally reached its crescendo this weekend, announcing the choice for the 2006 "Person of the Year": You. That's right -- You, over there, with the face. Even if you're a fan of the abstract POTY selections (as opposed to a single person or group of people), this has to rank as the most squishy, opportunistic pick ever. See, this way they get to roll in YouTube, MySpace, Wikipedia, even Web 2.0 -- anything with a hint of buzz, warranted or not.
Former U.S. Detainee in Iraq Recalls Torment - New York Times:
The fluorescent lights in his cell were never turned off, he said. At most hours, heavy metal or country music blared in the corridor. He said he was rousted at random times without explanation and made to stand in his cell. Even lying down, he said, he was kept from covering his face to block out the light, noise and cold. And when he was released after 97 days he was exhausted, depressed and scared.
Detainee 200343 was among thousands of people who have been held and released by the American military in Iraq, and his account of his ordeal has provided one of the few detailed views of the Pentagon’s detention operations since the abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib. Yet in many respects his case is unusual.
The detainee was Donald Vance, a 29-year-old Navy veteran from Chicago who went to Iraq as a security contractor. He wound up as a whistle-blower, passing information to the F.B.I. about suspicious activities at the Iraqi security firm where he worked, including what he said was possible illegal weapons trading.
But when American soldiers raided the company at his urging, Mr. Vance and another American who worked there were detained as suspects by the military, which was unaware that Mr. Vance was an informer, according to officials and military documents.
I passed the Morse exam years ago while getting my ham license, but I never used -- or even considered using-- Morse on the air. Then back in July, with full knowledge of Morse’s obsolescence, I decided to learn it well enough to be able to actually carry on a radio conversation. To celebrate my modest progress, I ordered a top-line GHD telegraph key (the Rolls-Royce of keys) as an early Christmas present to myself. With exquisite irony, UPS delivered it yesterday afternoon, only hours before the FCC announcement was released.
It is tempting to conclude that the FCC’s action spells the end of Morse, but I am certain we will see a very different outcome. Freed from all pretense of practical relevance in an age of digital communications, Morse will now become the object of loving passion by radioheads, much as another “dead” Language, Latin is kept alive today by Latin-speaking enthusiasts around the world. Latin fans eagerly tick off the practical benefits of speaking a dead language, but of course they pursue their study because it is fun and challenging, gives them a sense of accomplishment and links them to a community of other passionate speakers.
Faust - Punchdrunk - Theater - Review - New York Times:
WHAT if you went to the theater and there were no seats? What if you could meander with no guide or direction — from one room to another, and one plot to another? And after sampling a few scenes, you could then repair to the bar, order a drink and listen to a twanging honky-tonk band?
That’s what it’s like to watch “Faust” in an old warehouse down by the docks in the formerly derelict London neighborhood Wapping, when it’s put on by a theater company called Punchdrunk. There’s a Faust and a Mephistopheles, but very little narrative of the usual sort. Call it a performance piece, call it an installation, call it promenade theater as the British do, but whatever the label, it’s likely to leave a profound impression. It’s theater for the interactive age. But instead of moving a cursor, you simply move yourself, choosing whatever character you want to follow, whatever sound intrigues you, whichever enticing corridor you are drawn to explore.
Once some people were visiting Chekhov.
While they made remarks about his genius
the Master fidgeted. Finally
he said, "Do you like chocolates?"
They were astonished, and silent.
He repeated the question,
whereupon one lady plucked up her courage
and murmured shyly, "Yes."
"Tell me," he said, leaning forward,
light glinting from his spectacles,
"what kind? The light, sweet chocolate
or the dark, bitter kind?"
The conversation became general
They spoke of cherry centers,
of almonds and Brazil nuts.
Losing their inhibitions
they interrupted one another.
For people may not know what they think
about politics in the Balkans,
or the vexed question of men and women,
but everyone has a definite opinion
about the flavor of shredded coconut.
Finally someone spoke of chocolates filled with liqueur,
and everyone, even the author of Uncle Vanya,
was at a loss for words.
As they were leaving he stood by the door
and took their hands.
In the coach returning to Petersburg
they agreed that it had been a most
Anti-Gay Slurs: The Latest in Hilarity - New York Times:
The play raises a question that has been brought to the forefront of the cultural chatter recently in another context: Who is and is not allowed to use — and to laugh at or milk laughs from — derisive names for minorities? On a Broadway stage, Ms. White is warmly applauded for tossing out those nasty words. At a multiplex near you, Sacha Baron Cohen, playing a fictional anti-Semite, has ’em rolling in the aisles. But Michael Richards, also an entertainer, repeatedly uses a derogatory term for African-Americans in a stand-up act that queasily devolves into a fit of pique, and his offense makes headlines and cripples his career, possibly for good.
Is it all about context? Certainly Mr. Richards’s ghastly rant was not a scripted piece of entertainment, nor was it designed to provoke a discussion of slang and semantics. In savaging a heckler, he used the word the only way it was once used: as a weapon meant to demean and hurt. (Likewise, Mel Gibson got into trouble for his anti-Semitic rant because it appeared to be an expression of personal animus.) But at some point in his tirade Mr. Richards also tried to frame his attack as a political challenge. Muttering grimly in response to the audience’s obvious displeasure, he said, “You see, there’s still those words, those words.”
A Thousand Tiny Pleasures:
And the boys are routinely smarter than their superiors. In one scene, a gym teacher shouts at a boy who brings in a sick note: "I don't do sick notes! Get your clothes off! Did Jesus Christ say, 'Please may I be excused from the crucifixion?'" A boy offers: "Uh, I think he actually did, Sir." (The correction is all the more delicious because the gym teacher is an evangelical who does more Bible thumping than Bible reading.)
tremble.com: did you mean *maccaca?*:
Today, someone sent me a link to this article about the contents of large shipping container filled with Doritos® washing ashore on the Outer Banks. In the article, people are pictured gathering the Doritos along the beach, and collecting them in large plastic bags. At first I thought these people were from the Parks & Wildlife Commission, which is the name of a commission I possibly just fabricated but believe in my heart is very real. I assumed they were cleaning the beach. However, the article seems to indicate they were actually a group of soccer moms who saw this as an excellent opportunity to stock up on Cool Ranch Doritos for their worthless husbands and ungrateful children.
I wish I could be there right now, on Dorito Beach. I would love to spend the afternoon attempting to roll those little guys back into the sea. They must be so frightened.
The 10 most dangerous play things of all time:
Last month, Target recalled 10 of its Kool Toyz-brand play sets, citing hazards like "lead paint," "sharp points," and "puncture wound potential." The toys, which included plastic aircraft carriers, dinosaurs, and tanks, all appeared harmless enough. But according to the killjoys at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, children—at least those prone to eating plastic objects as big as their head—were at serious risk. A week later, Mattel recalled 4.4 million Polly Pocket dolls and accessories because kids were swallowing the toy's magnets. The Associated Press reported, "If more than one magnet is swallowed, they can attach to each other and cause intestinal perforation, infection or blockage." Three children required surgery.
In the last year alone, some eight million units of toys were recalled in the U.S., according to W.A.T.C.H., a toy-safety advocacy group. But Kool Toys and Polly Pockets are kids' stuff compared to the hazardous baubles of yesteryear. In the spirit of the holidays, Radar presents the 10 most dangerous toys of all time, those treasured playthings that drew blood, chewed digits, took out eyes, and, in one case, actually irradiated. To keep things interesting, we excluded BB guns, slingshots, throwing stars, and anything else actually intended to inflict harm. Below, our toy box from hell.
la Ketch: after the office party:
I guess that’s it. Wasn’t so hard. Seems kind of boring but my therapist recently told me, “La Ketch, people don’t give us enough credit for having nothing going on. Having a general lack of drama in our lives takes quite a bit of effort.” It’s true I think. I love my boring life. It’s pretty fun.
PS. I won’t even get into the dog run. I think I’m going to quit it soon though. Those people are thankless fuckers and I hate them.
It took the wife and I a little while to adapt to the unique rhythms of Arezzo, a lovely Tuscan hill town. Not that this was trying or anything; on the contrary, it was actually pretty charming.
Take, for instance, the widespread custom of what basically amounts to a siesta, where businesses close up for a few hours so people can take naps, veg out, watch TV, or just go home for a quick knob session, whatever. During these times, which are frequently from 1 to 3, or 3 to 6, or 2 to 4, or 25 or 6 to 4, good luck doing anything, unless you find someplace open, which you might! The whole thing is typically puzzling, as the Italians are, wonderfully, a sort of society that seems to value not really giving a shit about any sort of consistency at all, particularly in temporal matters. A clearly posted sign that says "Closed 3-6" may mean that they are actually closed from 3 to 6, but it just as easily could mean that they will not open until 8, and it might also mean that they aren't closed at all. The best you can do is rattle the lock, and if it's open, see if someone charges at you brandishing a knife or something.
I think this is why Mussolini got shot like a dog. I think he was drafting legislation about people actually having to read and follow their own signage, and the Italians were all like, "I don't mind the oppressive authoritarian statism so much, but now there's talk that we'll have to pay attention to our own shop signs."
Daring Fireball Linked List: December 2006:
Third MS Word Code Execution Exploit Posted ★
Thank goodness there’s such robust competition in the word processing market. My favorite line:
Microsoft suggests that users “do not open or save Word files,” even those that arrive unexpectedly from trusted sources.
Go ahead and use it, just don’t open or save anything.
How long in the freezer to chill a Coke from 89F to 35F? | Ask MetaFilter:
Q: So I just bought a can of Coke from a machine, and it came out hot so how long will it take to chill it in the freezer?
A: That would be about 20-25 minutes in a freezer. If you put it in a bucket of ice, that would halve that time. If you put water in that ice, it'd be cold (+- 5c) enough to drink in about 4-6 minutes, if you put salt in that water, you'd reduce the chill time to just over 2 minutes. Agitating the can in the water, rolling it around, reduces the chill time even more.
The fastest possible way is to grab a CO2 fire extinguisher and unload that sucker on the can.
Whatever you do, do NOT bury the can in sand, pour gasoline on the sand and set the sand on fire. That won't do anything.
This is all empirically gained evidence, not third party.
Newcomb's paradox, named after its creator, physicist William Newcomb, is one of the most widely debated paradoxes of recent times. It was first made popular by Harvard philosopher Robert Nozick. The following is based on Martin Gardner's and Robert Nozick's Scientific American papers on the subject, both of which can be found in Gardner's book Knotted Doughnuts. The paradox goes like this:
A highly superior being from another part of the galaxy presents you with two boxes, one open and one closed. In the open box there is a thousand-dollar bill. In the closed box there is either one million dollars or there is nothing. You are to choose between taking both boxes or taking the closed box only. But there's a catch.
The being claims that he is able to predict what any human being will decide to do. If he predicted you would take only the closed box, then he placed a million dollars in it. But if he predicted you would take both boxes, he left the closed box empty. Furthermore, he has run this experiment with 999 people before, and has been right every time.
What do you do?
On the one hand, the evidence is fairly obvious that if you choose to take only the closed box you will get one million dollars, whereas if you take both boxes you get only a measly thousand. You'd be stupid to take both boxes.
On the other hand, at the time you make your decision, the closed box already is empty or else contains a million dollars. Either way, if you take both boxes you get a thousand dollars more than if you take the closed box only.
The year in errors (kottke.org):
Every year, Reget the Error publishes a roundup of the year's media errors and corrections. I didn't think anything could beat these corrections from the 2005 list:
Norma Adams-Wade's June 15 column incorrectly called Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk a socialist. She is a socialite.
The Denver Daily News would like to offer a sincere apology for a typo in Wednesday's Town Talk regarding New Jersey's proposal to ban smoking in automobiles. It was not the author's intention to call New Jersey 'Jew Jersey.'
but the 2006 collection is a strong one. Here are some of my favorites:
Update: Bob and Harvey want you to be their snitch bitch | Radosh.net:
Last month, I wrote about the Weinstein Company's deal to give Blockbuster exclusive rental rights to its DVDs. Now Jason alerts me that non-Blockbuster rental outfits are suing.
Here's what I didn't realize the last time around. Apparently there's no legal way TWC can prevent Netflix, or anyone else, "from walking into Costco and buying the DVD and renting it," one of the Weinstein's partners acknowledges. "What we can do as a distributor is brand all Blockbuster DVDs with the Blockbuster logo, and all the DVDs that are out for sale will be clear to consumers as being for sale only. We’ll encourage people to call us if they did rent [a DVD that is labeled for sale]."
The lawsuit says such labeling is itself a violation of the law. But what gets me is the idea that we as consumers, having made the choice to rent from somewhere more convenient/less expensive/less generally odious than Blockbuster, would then turn ourselves in for failing to assist Bob and Harvey in their God-given mission to maximize their profits at our expense.
Digital Web Magazine - The Rise of Flash Video, Part 1:
Here’s the clincher: I am willing to bet that most if not all of you have the latest version of Windows Media Player installed on your machine. The average person will look at that and think, “Whoa, I need to upgrade.” They will do that, but get promptly returned to the page above anyway. Sometimes you get lucky and don’t see that page, instead seeing the word “Loading.” The thing is, the video isn’t actually loading. The browser isn’t seeing a darn thing and I have encountered users who will sit, looking at that word, for over 10 minutes before they just give up in disgust. Those of you who use Internet Explorer probably haven’t encountered this frustration.
Another favorite of mine is hitting a site and being told I don’t have the codec. The browser is really nice and asks me if I would like to locate it. I click OK and am told, essentially, “Your codec is here. You are a smart fellow, go find it.” Safari will tell me a plugin is not supported. Windows Media will tell me that the “specified octet stream is not recognized” and, more often than not, when there is a video I really want to watch, I can, as long as I am prepared, as shown below, to sit through a bazillion ads.
Gothamist: Peter Boyle, 1935-2006:
Peter Boyle, who you may know as the father ("Frank") on "Everybody Loves Raymond", died last night at the age of 71, in Manhattan.
Boyle wasn't always an actor, he pursued acting only after he left the life of a monk.
tiny nibbles - violet blue:
sex.com -- a url worth dying for? (13/12/06)
In a twist worthy of a James Ellroy novel, con man Stephen Cohen -- who forged a letter convincing Network Solutions to give him possession of the URL sex.com (via VeriSign) and whose whereabouts are still unknown -- can now add "gangland murder attempt" to the new chapter in his real-life, sex.com neo-noir crime drama. When the URL's owner, Gary Kremen, had the courts order Cohen to return Sex.com and pay him $65 million in damages, Cohen fled to Mexico -- after he'd had the URL for three years, allegedly making $500,000 a month selling banner ads to other online porn sites. Come to think of it, the whole story (now 11 years in the making) could only be written by Carl Hiassen to have a fitting and sensible end -- especially when you throw in a history that includes a convicted felon, a private investigator with a Stanford MBA, a Match.com startup dot-commer (now former) tweaker, a daughter caught smuggling 202 pounds of marijuana, a bizarre bid to buy Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and the operator of a Mexican shrimp farm. Don't forget the Tijuana assassination attempt.
Christian video game stokes controversy - Yahoo! News:
"After you kill somebody you need to recharge your soul points and to do that you need to bend down in prayer. ... I think the message is extremely clear," said Clark Stevens, co-director of Campaign to Defend the Constitution.
A Wal-Mart spokeswoman said the company was selling it in stores where it expected demand.
The game's maker dismissed criticism.
"The reality is that our game perpetuates prayer and worship and that there is no killing in the name of God.
"There is killing of course, it is a video game. But the basis of the game is spiritual welfare," said Troy Lyndon, CEO of Left Behind Games Inc.
No, I am the lord of overwritten, pretentious, pointless twaddle. I insist--the lord of overwritten, pretentious, pointless twaddle.
High-Kicking High-Rises - New York Times:
IN a city driven mad by real estate, it was probably just a matter of time until a musical came along starring a 28-story high-rise.
The musical in question, a sardonic poke at New York’s recent building boom called “Little Building,” recently ended a run of sold-out performances at the Galapagos Art Space in Williamsburg, and its creator is hoping that before long it will have a new life on stages elsewhere in the city.
The show’s lead role is its title character, an “intimate 28-story Eden” in Midtown complete with gym, day care center and eight coffee shops. The character, who makes her first appearance in the show-stopping opening number, is brought to life by the actress Tamar Schoenberg, a wide-eyed mezzo-soprano whose face sticks out of a hole in her silvery cardboard costume right around the 26th floor.
My friend Karney Hatch is creating a documentary about the banking industry and overdraft charges, and just came to NYC this week to interview Ralph Nader. I went to school with Kareny ages ago, and it's a delight to see him working on such a fascinating and important topic--I recorded some short pieces with him on Monday which may find their way into the film as well.
Even if they're off, cellphones allow FBI to listen in:
It should come as no surprise that cellphone calls may be tapped by law enforcement.
But authorities also can use cellphones to eavesdrop on suspects, even when the devices are off.
The FBI converted the Nextel cellphones of two alleged New York mobsters into "roving bugs," microphones that relayed conversations when the phones seemed to be inactive, according to recent court documents.
Authorities won't reveal how they did this. But a countersurveillance expert said Nextel, Motorola Razr and Samsung 900 series cellphones can be reprogrammed over the air, using methods meant for delivering upgrades and maintenance. It's called "flashing the firmware," said James Atkinson, a consultant for the Granite Island Group in Massachusetts.
"These are very powerful phones, but all that power comes with a price. By allowing ring tones and stock quotes and all this other stuff, you also give someone a way to get into your phones," Atkinson said.
The Long Tail: What would radical transparency mean for Wired? (Part 2):
In the previous post, I described how the media landscape is changing, starting with reader expectations. In this post I'll describe what that might imply for a media organization like ours. If the key word is "participation", how could we encourage that to the fullest? If trust comes come from transparency, how might we open the entire process? What does open source media really mean?
Although I'm not promising we'll do all or even most of these things, here are some first thoughts on what a truly transparent media organization would do. (Some of these are based on my experience in open-sourcing my book research on this site, which worked great. Why not apply the same lessons to a magazine?)
At 6:00 p.m. MagicSnow®flakes (actually small clumps of tiny bubbles) drift from the high ceiling onto the heads below. "White Christmas" oozes out of hidden speakers. Children go bonkers, dancing, laughing, sticking out their tongues. According to the curators at Pacific Place, MagicSnow® is "biodegradable, nontoxic, nonstaining, eco-friendly," but one woman, looking panicked, brushes the fast-dissolving bubbles off her black leather jacket. Diners in the first-floor cafe cover their soups and salads. One couple holds hands across their table. Children continue to go bonkers.
On the third floor, a small, dark Cuban comes down the escalator. It is Pedro, the diminutive icon of eccentricity who stands on Sixth and Pine with his colorful baton; his hoarse, heavily accented rant; and his hand-lettered signs: "Seattle Police and Frye Apartments devil communist you are damn liar! Catholic you are Satan Father of Liar!"
He has been downtown, yelling nonstop, for decades. But, for the moment, he is reduced to a theatrical quietude. He stops at the balcony (his baton tucked under his arm, his sign wrapped in translucent plastic), watches the MagicSnow®, then turns and smiles.
Dairy Industry Crushed Innovator Who Bested Price-Control System - washingtonpost.com:
A maverick dairyman named Hein Hettinga started bottling his own milk and selling it for as much as 20 cents a gallon less than the competition, exercising his right to work outside the rigid system that has controlled U.S. milk production for almost 70 years. Soon the effects were rippling through the state, helping to hold down retail prices at supermarkets and warehouse stores.
That was when a coalition of giant milk companies and dairies, along with their congressional allies, decided to crush Hettinga's initiative. For three years, the milk lobby spent millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions and made deals with lawmakers, including incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.).
Last March, Congress passed a law reshaping the Western milk market and essentially ending Hettinga's experiment -- all without a single congressional hearing.
LA Weekly - A Theater Lover's Lament:
Watching theater across L.A. is like spending the Fourth of July behind the Hollywood sign — you gaze out over the city and see sporadic bursts of light that have grown less frequent over the years. I once thought the problem with local theater was L.A.’s soaring real estate costs and the consequent pressure the market places on experimental storefront companies to be less edgy and more profitable. Or that it was the famously tawdry motive of doing theater to promote more lucrative careers in Hollywood. However, friends in New York say the same about theater there. A New York Times editor tells me that after a year of seeing three to four plays a week in the world’s center of professional theater, she’s moved by a mere three or four productions per season. Maybe all critics are jaded curmudgeons. But if so, why are theater audiences aging and attendance shrinking?
RAW Data: I Don't Know:
Wavy Gravy once asked a Zen Roshi, "What happens after death?"
The Roshi replied, "I don't know."
Wavy protested, "But you're a Zen Master!"
"Yes," the Roshi admitted, "but I'm not a dead Zen Master."
Hey man, is that Freedom Rock?
Well, turn it up man!
Julie Klausner writes:
I am delighted to announce that I will be performing at this weekend's
Loser's Lounge, in which I will be singing "Honky Cat."
The big deal is this: in a feat of childhood dream-actualization, I
will be flanked with back-up dancers dressed in the original Broadway
costumes and executing the identical dance moves from CATS The
I really don't know what else to say, besides that I am very much
looking forward to this experience. Please join me, Mr. Mistoffelees
(Jeremy Laverdure) and Rumpleteaser (Renata Espinosa) in addition to
the whole Loser's Lounge crew for an evening whose entertainment value
is trumped only by its grandiose homosexual overtones.
ridiculous_fish » Blog Archive » Logos:
HAIR CARE OR DIGITAL AUDIO?
Random Brooklyn: Boerum Hill: the urban(e) Utopia of Brooklyn:
Many of you out there are all to aware of Park Slope - mecca for smug parenting, lactation, bloggers, wanna-be writers, nannies, SUV strollers, shrinks and organic everything. But are you aware of the urban utopia known as Boerum Hill? Or "Boring Hill", as some of us prefer to call it.
Like Park Slope, Boerum Hill possesses the same "I lived here when it was all crack and hookers" attitude, but they are fighting back. If you need a little entertainment one day, log onto the Boerum Hill Yahoo group. Over 800 strong, these urban toughies fight to turn their enclave into nothing short of a suburban subdivision, complete with rules about where to park, how to bag your trash properly, and cute little windshield cards that residents MUST place on their dashboards on alternate side day. A handwritten note won't do. You need an official card or you're seriously fucked.
Lactose Tolerance in East Africa Points to Recent Evolution - New York Times:
Throughout most of human history, the ability to digest lactose, the principal sugar of milk, has been switched off after weaning because the lactase enzyme that breaks the sugar apart is no longer needed. But when cattle were first domesticated 9,000 years ago and people later started to consume their milk as well as their meat, natural selection would have favored anyone with a mutation that kept the lactase gene switched on.
Such a mutation is known to have arisen among an early cattle-raising people, the Funnel Beaker culture, which flourished 5,000 to 6,000 years ago in north-central Europe. People with a persistently active lactase gene have no problem digesting milk and are said to be lactose tolerant.
I vomited in the bakery and you asked me if I was ok - m4w:
I answered that it must have been the tacos I had eaten the previous day. You smile, I left in shame, feeling rather rancid. But maybe from this sorta awkward beginning, friendship or more can bloom?
I am familiar with all Apple products, and own a Wii. Let's talk about it.
Team Party Crash: Patchwork Planet Launch Party @ BookCourt - Gawker:
I took a moment to consider why I was here, how the hell I was going to write this up as a party crash because dude, there are kids and dogs running a frigging book store in Cobble Hill. Why am I in a book store on a Thursday night? What happened to the raging parties I was at last week, the ones that were full of douchebaggery and drunk people, the pieces that basically wrote themselves? Why am I not drunk? Why haven't I read Motherless Brooklyn? What the HELL is wrong with me?
Retro Thing: The Tinkertoy Computer:
This brilliant Tinkertoy digital computer was built by a team of students at MIT in the 1980s. It's a marvel of mechanical design that apparently plays a "mean game of tic-tac-toe." The idea was born in 1975, when two Sophomores worked on a class project to build something digital from Tinkertoys. It took another few years before they collaborated over the phone to design a working machine for the Mid-America Science Museum:
"A Tinkertoy framework called the read head clicks and clacks its way down the front of the monolith At some point the clicking mysteriously stops; a "core piece" within the framework spins and then with a satisfying "'kathunk' indirectly kicks an 'output duck,' a bird-shaped construction. The output duck swings down from its perch so that its beak points at a number- which identifies the computer's next move in a game of tic-tac-toe."
What's Wrong with This Picture?:
His photos, although profoundly moving to some viewers, come as a shock to many, particularly when viewed out of context. Nude depictions of children and seniors are by nature taboo in a culture rooted in Puritanism. And most, although not all, of his subjects bear physical or mental scars, or struggle with their body image. Some are obese, anorexic, or bulimic. Some have been raped or abused. Some are afflicted with disease, while others have inflicted pain upon themselves. Desiree, nineteen, poses against a white cinderblock wall, a massive T-shaped scar dominating her chest. A year earlier, her uncle slashed her with a knife after she refused to let him have sex with her any longer. Kerry, 41, sits in profile, laughing, her unattached prosthetic legs resting beside her on the couch. Durga, 66, was given a hysterectomy in a Harlem hospital at age 31 without her consent. "Once, when the exhibit was at a college, several students approached me and said, 'We don't see anyone like us represented here. You need to have cutters,'" Cordelle recalls. He photographed one of the women the very next day.
The New York Observer Media Mob: Gender? I Don't Even Know Her!Sklar Charges Sexism, Carter Bristles:
At today's luncheon for the American Society of Magazine Editors, on the second floor of The Princeton Club and starring the former editors of Spy magazine, a Q&A session got complicated.
Susan Morrison--a former Spy editor, and so friendly with former co-worker Graydon Carter, and now an editor at the New Yorker--made a wee gibe about a new piece by Christopher Hitchens, which was just published in Mr. Carter's magazine, Vanity Fair. That piece explains why women aren't funny.
Salad and chicken and a roll were served, as well as a fluffy cheesecake.
The truth about John Lennon's murder. By Steve Lightfoot:
Stephen King shot John Lennon
Find out the Truth about John Lennon's assassination with this 24 page booklet
Reveals government codes in major magazines, Including the killers face, and true identity. Mark Chapman's name attached to a letter to the editor printed weeks before the murder and more that proves a Nixon, Reagan, and yes, Stephen King conspiracy.
As John would say; "DON'T LET ME DOWN." Please support me. I can't do it alone. Let's confront the media or they won't tell.
Andrew Sullivan | The Daily Dish: Quote for the Day:
"Some reports are issued and just gather dust. And truth of the matter is, a lot of reports in Washington are never read by anybody. To show you how important this one is, I read it," - George W. Bush today.
Does he have to make Jon Stewart's job that easy?
Ms McKinney was a brilliantly intelligent, erstwhile Miss Wyoming who came out of the Appalachians to join the Church of the Latter Day Saints (better known as the Mormons) and who, after failing to get off with Wayne Osmond, began a relationship with a certain Kirk Anderson. When he decided he'd had enough, she became seriously infatuated, following him around the country and harrassing him to such an extent that eventually he requested a posting overseas. Which is how he came to be in London in 1977.
But her determination to find him was greater than his ability to escape - she hired a private detective, tracked him down and came to Britain. With her was a friend, Keith May, whose position was always ambiguous, or at least unenviable: he seems to have been besotted with Ms McKinney, but to have accepted that he stood no chance of getting anywhere because of her own obsession with Anderson.
McKinney and May then proceeded to kidnap Anderson, threatening him with replica guns, bundling him into a car and taking him to a rented cottage, where he was held captive for three days. Whilst there ... well, look, this is how the London Evening News of 23 November 1977 reported the committal proceedings at Epsom magistrates court:
A young Mormon missionary told today how an ex-beauty queen kidnapped him and then made love to him while he was chained to a bed in a lonely cottage.
Kirk Anderson, 21, said the girl, Joy McKinney, and her friend, Keith May, tied down his arms and legs with leather straps, padlocks, chains and rope, so that he was spreadeagled.
May then left the room while Miss McKinney tore off his blue silk pyjamas.
'She grabbed my pyjamas from just around my neck and tore them from my body.
'The chains were tight and I could not move. She proceeded to have intercourse.
'I did not want it to happen. I was very upset.'
Magical Moments, Tantrums or a $250 Lullaby:
Four hundred and fifty bucks. That’s what it cost the Agnew family for a Saturday night performance of “The Lion King.” Whether that considerable chunk was spent for two hours and 45 minutes of delight or for one flustered and fuss-filled act followed by a hasty escape at intermission came down to one person: Harris Agnew, age 3.
“We’re questioning the thought process at this moment,” said Jim Agnew of Williamsburg, Va., who was standing in line before the show with his wife, Julie, and their children, Clark, 6, and Harris.
“If it goes well,” Ms. Agnew said, “this will be a magical experience.” She looked at Harris uncertainly. “We’re hoping.”
Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society » The World’s Longest Diary:
For twenty years, Robert Shields of Dayton, Washington, has kept a written record of absolutely everything that has happened to him, day and night. For no less than four hours each day, Shields holes himself up in the small office in his home, turns on his stereo, and types. His diary, at 35 million words, is believed to be the world’s longest.
This is a page from the diary:
Will Self - Walk - Kennedy Airport - Manhattan - Report - New York Times:
When Mr. Self recently traveled to New York, however, he did not take a taxi from his house in South London to Heathrow. He walked the whole 26 miles. Upon arriving in New York, he walked from Kennedy Airport to the nearby Crowne Plaza Hotel — a journey more perilous than he expected, because it involved a nighttime traverse of expressways with no curbs.
The next morning Mr. Self, who is unusually tall and very thin and has a long, melancholy face that he once described as looking “like a bag full of genitals,” packed his knapsack, rolled a cigarette and, puffing from a Hunter Thompson-style cigarette holder, set off on foot for Manhattan.
Waiting for Valet
A tragicomedy in one act starring Britney Spears and Paris Hilton:
Outside Hyde. A valet station.
Paris, sitting on a low curb, is trying to take off her Jimmy Choo. She pulls at it with both hands, panting. She gives up, exhausted, tries again.
PARIS: (giving up, checking her Blackberry). So can't be done.
BRITNEY: Ain't that life? Blaming your pedi when your foot's the problem(advancing with half-drunken strides, sea legs unstable.) Totally. I've realized that too, you know? All my life, I swear, I've said to myself, Britney, be reasonable, you haven't tried everything. And I kept on struggling when the worst, most randomest shit kept happening. (She broods, musing on the struggle. Turning to Paris.) So, like, you're stuck?
PARIS: Am I?
BRITNEY: I'm glad y'all hung around. I totally thought you were gone forever.
PARIS: Me too.
BRITNEY: Together again at last! Woo-hoo! We'll have to bust a jam on this shit! But how? (She reflects.) Get up so I can hug you.
PARIS: (irritably.) Not now, not now. There aren't any cameras around.
Boing Boing: AT&T's You Will ads - campaign for Internet normalcy:
Andrew Sullivan has posted a youtube of the old AT&T "You Will" ads about all the things AT&T would make possible through the Internet. I think these are the most emblematic advertisements of the era, defining the way that big companies totally missed the point of the Internet. They were like Thomas Edison declaring that the phone would bring opera to America's living rooms -- AT&T posited that the Internet would just amplify our normal, everyday lives, so you could "tuck your kid in from a phonebooth."
What they missed was that for all the normalcy that the Internet could enable, it would be much, much better at enabling deviance -- all the behaviors that were suppressed by society, or impossible to engage in given social constraints. Instead of "Have you checked a book out from thousands of miles away?" they might have asked, "Have you ever ripped an 18th-century book and sent it to a Gutenberg pal in another country to be OCRed?" or "Have you ever used a global mapping service to track down mercenary armies in distant lands" or "Have you ever discovered that your secret kink has an actual name, a newsgroup, an IRC channel and a monthly convention?"
BBC NEWS | Business | Richest 2% own 'half the wealth':
The richest 2% of adults in the world own more than half of all household wealth, according to a new study by a United Nations research institute.
The report, from the World Institute for Development Economics Research at the UN University, says that the poorer half of the world's population own barely 1% of global wealth.
Gothamist: Elder Heckler and the Ghost of Larry Summers Live from the 92nd Street Y:
Glaser, designer of the iconic “I Love New York” design, had an unfortunate Larry Summers moment when he said that the reason there are so few female rock star graphic designers is that “women get pregnant, have children, go home and take care of their children. And those essential years that men are building their careers and becoming visible are basically denied to women who choose to be at home.” He continued: "Unless something very dramatic happens to the nature of the human experience then it’s never going to change." About day care and nannies, he said, "None of them are good solutions."
The crowd was silent except for a hiss or two and then Eggers piped up that he and his wife both work from home and share child care responsibilities - but added that maybe New York was different (although we don't think Eggers really believes this). Then it was clear to everyone in the room that it was time to move on.
Fresh Intelligence : Radar Online:
As a political columist for a right-wing tabloid, it's tough to know just which Democrat to hate on. The confusion revealed itself yesterday in the ramblings of New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser, who completely reversed her views on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton from one edition of the paper to the next. That's right: Two different versions of the same column appeared in the paper on the same day—one supporting Obama, and the other slamming him.
Depending on which version of her rantings readers encountered, Peyser either praised the Illinois Senator and probable 2008 Democratic presidential candidate as a "rock star" who has admitted to coke and pot use ("About time," she said), or chided him as "The Rev. Al Obama."
Andrew Sullivan | The Daily Dish: James Dobson's Nightmare:
Mary Cheney is pregnant and will have a child with her wife of almost twenty years, Heather Poe. Except they live in Virginia which, with the enthusiastic backing of the Republicans, has declared itself homorein, and so no legal protections for Cheney's and Poe's marriage or custody of their child will be available. There is surely coming a point at which the sheer dissonance between what the GOP base believes and the way even the most conservative vice-president in modern times deals with the reality of his own family must surely prompt some kind of Republican adjustment.
You cannot be a party that sees gay love, marriage and parenthood as the work of Satan and have a vice-presidential family that is busy building a lesbian family as an integral part of it. For my part, congratulations to the two moms and best wishes for a healthy, safe pregnancy and birth. And congrats to the lucky grandparents on both sides. Commiserations to James Dobson, Hugh Hewitt, George Allen, Rick Santorum, Sam Brownback, Mitt Romney, and, of course, George W. Bush, who backed a federal constitutional amendment to strip the daughter of his vice-president of dignity, family and civil rights.
Bush Intentionally Needled Webb About His Son:
The right wing haters have been screaming about how awfully, terribly, monumentally rude James Webb was to George W. Bush. Love or hate him—and most Americans hate him—Bush is the only president we’ve got, and what about respect for the office of the presidency?! And Webb was at a White House reception! And he was rude to his host! In the host’s own house! Tsk-tsk. (Wait—didn’t the wingers run around during the Clinton impeachment screaming about how the White House was our house, the American people’s house, and not Clinton’s house?)
Well, guess what? Today we learn that Bush was warned to be “extra sensitive” about asking Webb anything his son. While Bush’s partying daughters were causing a diplomatic row in Argentina, Webb’s son had a close call with a car bomb and almost died the day before in Iraq. But Bush being Bush—and being Bush means being an asshole—couldn’t resist the opportunity to piss on Webb.
'Scissors' author accused as a fraud - The Boston Globe:
Sure, "A Million Little Pieces" author James Frey is a fraud, but Augusten Burroughs is an even bigger phony. So says Buzz Bissinger, who blasts the best-selling author of "Running With Scissors" as a complete impostor in the new issue of Vanity Fair. "I don't know how [Burroughs] lives with himself," Bissinger told us yesterday. " ' Running With Scissors' contains little strands of fact that were wildly embellished, and if you take those away, you don't have much of a book." Bissinger's story, on newsstands next week, includes interviews with the Turcottes, the real-life western Massachusetts clan with whom Burroughs lived as a teen and who are characterized as more than kooky in the book. The family, which is suing Burroughs for defamation, claims he fabricated much of the memoir. (Burroughs has denied that, but wouldn't talk to Bissinger about the suit.)
Breakdown at the New York Times. - By Timothy Noah - Slate Magazine:
The Dec. 4 New York Times contains the single stupidest sentence to appear in that newspaper since I began reading it more than three decades ago. It's in a news story by Holli Chmela about the Kennedy Center Honors, an annual ceremony recognizing lifetime achievement in the performing arts. One of this year's winners was Andrew Lloyd Webber. Here is the sentence:
Mr. Lloyd Webber is often referred to as the Shakespeare of his time with musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, and The Phantom of the Opera.
Setting aside any aesthetic judgments (which I'll admit is difficult), this sentence has an apples-and-oranges problem. William Shakespeare was a playwright and a poet. Andrew Lloyd Webber is a composer. Yes, they're both popular and British and men of the theater, but to compare the two makes as much sense as comparing Nathan Lane's acting with the set designs of Ming Cho Lee. Moreover, a quick search of the LexisNexis database indicates that it simply isn't true that Lloyd Webber, however idiotically, is "often" compared to Shakespeare.
Andrew Sullivan | The Daily Dish: Padilla:
Jose Padilla is a U.S. citizen. He was detained without formal charges for almost four years and turned into a mental patient. The original charges against him appear nowhere in his current criminal prosecution. They were fabrications or delusions or fantasies. Money quote:
The strong public accusations made during his military detention — about the dirty bomb, Al Qaeda connections and supposed plans to set off natural gas explosions in apartment buildings — appear nowhere in the indictment against him. The indictment does not allege any specific violent plot against America. Mr. Padilla is portrayed in the indictment as the recruit of a 'North American terror support cell' that sent money, goods and recruits abroad to assist 'global jihad' in general, with a special interest in Bosnia and Chechnya. Mr. Padilla, the indictment asserts, traveled overseas 'to participate in violent jihad' and filled out an application for a mujahedin training camp in Afghanistan.
Michael Caruso, a public defender for Mr. Padilla, pleaded 'absolutely not guilty' for him to charges of conspiracy and of providing material support to terrorists.
Neither you nor I know what Padilla was up to, and it will now be up to a court to decide. But the effect of the brutal incarceration of Padilla may now make it impossible to convict him on any grounds. Like al-Qahtani, the torture and abuse to which he has been subject seem to have broken his mind:
"During questioning, he often exhibits facial tics, unusual eye movements and contortions of his body," Mr. Patel said. "The contortions are particularly poignant since he is usually manacled and bound by a belly chain when he has meetings with counsel."
Padilla, by all accounts, was a completely non-violent and docile prisoner every day of his incarceration. And yet they put him in body-manacles for four years, complete isolation and darkness, and even fitted him with night-goggles for a dental operation. They dehumanized him into a piece of furniture. The level of pure sadism and paranoia in his treatment is worthy of a military dictatorship, not a democracy.
Those were some of the highlights of the final episode of Sundance's Iconoclasts: Flight-prone comedian Dave Chappelle and poet Maya Angelou. Chappelle said it was "pretty odd pairing, even by my standards," and admitted he was nervous to meet her.
Chappelle told Angelou he was moved by her words following his exit from Chappelle's Show (and five-year, $50 million-dollar contract with Comedy Central). "It was right after I walked away from my show, and you were saying things I needed to hear."
"I wasn't walking away from the money, I was walking away from the perfect storm of bullshit," said Chappelle, adding that corporate America treats people "like they're products or investments."
Hmmmm. Starting yesterday, traffic here has tripled all of a sudden--if anyone thinks they know why, let me know. I know I should have my referer logs turned on and such, but I'm lame, so I have to post and ask.
'Broken Angel' has its wings clipped - Los Angeles Times:
Turn down a side street in the Clinton Hill neighborhood and a strange structure rises above the skyline. It is wooden, and handmade, and — depending on your angle of approach — it can resemble a 15th century flying machine, or a warped Gothic cathedral, or a pile of sharecroppers' shacks poised deliriously over Brooklyn.
The building is the work of Arthur Wood, a slight man of 75. For 27 years, Wood's neighbors have watched him climb to the top of his building to begin work on its next level. Wood builds without exterior scaffolding or a harness, and often with no assistance except for his wife, Cynthia. The structure has risen to 108 feet. Wood says it is about one-third finished.
MTA to UES: Excuse Us While We Lay Track Through Your Business, Too - New York Magazine's Daily Intelligencer:
Seems like the first passengers on the Second Avenue subway line will be hundreds of Upper East Siders shuttled right out of the area. As we noted before, the MTA is planning to raze some buildings where the new station entrances are slated to go, eliminating around 60 residential units. What wasn't previously mentioned is that the move will also wipe out about 35 local businesses. There's a concern that the relocation aid offered won't be nearly sufficient. That concern goes double for small businesses. Somehow, we're less worried about "freelance writer Jane Everhart," who shows up in every story on the subject (she now pays $829 a month for a rent-stabilized apartment at 69th and Second), than for cobbler Peter Psirakis, 55, who rents a small shoe-repair store there at $3,850 a month. In their respective amNewYork sound bites, the former is incensed that she may not be able to stay in the neighborhood. The latter matter-of-factly admits he'll be forced out of business altogether. But, hey, at least he'll be able to ride a shiny new train!
Putin wanted Blair to gag poisoned spy - Sunday Times - Times Online:
THE Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has expressed his anger at Britain’s failure to gag Alexander Litvinenko in the final hours of his life, the cabinet has been told.
Margaret Beckett, the foreign secretary, told ministers that the Russian government had “taken exception” to the poisoned former spy’s deathbed letter accusing the Putin regime of murdering him.
Beckett, who spoke to her Russian counterpart before Thursday’s cabinet meeting, said the Russians had “seemingly failed to understand” that Litvinenko was under police supervision rather than in custody.
Cheating Scandal at Columbia: No Problem! - New York Magazine's Daily Intelligencer:
The Columbia Journalism School has a cheating scandal afoot in — of all places — its ethics class, "Critical Issues in Journalism." Mighty Jeff Bercovici broke the news on Radar online yesterday afternoon, and the Times rereported it this morning. All members of the Friday section of the class were required to attend a special meeting today, at which the cheating allegation was discussed and a new essay question was distributed. The e-mail calling the meeting, posted today on the Observer's Media Mob blog, warned students that administrators "will not register a passing grade in the course for anyone who does not attend." Which prompted some j-school alumni friends of ours to point out an interesting quirk. The j-school requires 30 credits for graduation, but most students, according to the school's own propaganda, complete 34 credits or more. Which means it's entirely possible to fail the class — that is, to be an ethical failure — and to still become a Columbia-certified journalist.
It's fitting that Ginsberg's juvenilia should serve as a beacon in the night of bad poetry—after all, his influence is responsible for roughly 60 percent of bad American poetry written today. The poems collected here anticipate the million adolescent wails that followed Howl—they consist of fruitless imitations of other poets, strident cliché, and forehead-slapping sentimentality. Ginsberg remained a bad poet until the end, and his later work isn't nearly as fun to read. It falls in the New Yorker category of bad poetry (albeit with more drugs and pederasty, fewer barns and grandfathers): well-wrought garbage for people with different taste than mine.
Nobody will accuse Ginsberg's early poems of being well wrought, and to say that they're "wrought" at all would be a stretch. The word I'm looking for is "wrung." Ginsberg advocated the use of improvisation in poetry, but he improvised with the benefit of a comprehensive poetic education. (The journals included in the present volume contain enviable reading lists.) His most vital work comes from before he trained his subconscious to spew passable writing. The early work is labored and ill-conceived, but it's also an example of self-expression at its most hilarious.
Golem - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
The most famous golem narrative involves Rabbi Judah Loew the Maharal of Prague, a 16th century rabbi. He is reported to have created a golem to defend the Prague ghetto of Josefov from Anti-Semitic attacks. The story of the Golem first appeared in print in 1847 in a collection of Jewish tales entitled Galerie der Sippurim, published by Wolf Pascheles of Prague. About sixty years later, a fictional account was published by Yudl Rosenberg (1909). According to the legend, Golem could be made of clay from the banks of the Vltava river in Prague. Following the prescribed rituals, the Rabbi built the Golem and made him come to life by reciting special incantations in Hebrew. As Rabbi Loew's Golem grew bigger, he also became more violent and started killing people and spreading fear. Rabbi Loew was promised that the violence against the Jews would stop if the Golem was destroyed. The Rabbi agreed. To destroy the Golem, he rubbed out the first letter of the word "emet" (truth) from the golem's forehead to make the Hebrew word "met", meaning death. (According to legend, the Golem of Prague's remains are stored in a coffin in the attic of the Altneuschul in Prague, and it can be summoned again if needed.) The existence of a golem is sometimes a mixed blessing. Golems are not intelligent - if commanded to perform a task, they will take the instructions perfectly literally.
Last month I performed at a live taping of THE SOUND OF YOUNG AMERICA here in NYC with David Wain (of Stella, The State and Wet Hot American Summer), Heather Lawless and a cast of thousands. Check it out at the link below:
The Sound of Young America: Live in New York City
Breaking Character for the First Time in His Life:
“There’s a song in the show, ‘Sorry/Grateful’: ‘You holding her thinking you’re not alone/And you’re still alone.’ I remember with Michele one day holding her in bed and being very, very sad because we were talking about things that were so difficult for us to deal with. I remember feeling like this was a chasm between us. That the person I most loved in my life was as far away as another country, and there was nothing I could do or say to change.”
Mr. Esparza is now involved with an actor — nothing he can talk about, it’s still too tenuous, he says — but his wife is still in his life and, he says, he still adores her.
“We’re still trying to figure a new way to figure it out,” he says. “Boy, are we.”
Better Late Than Never - New York Times:
Vaclav Havel will finally collect his Obie Awards.
In 1968 he won an Obie, the Off Broadway theater prize, for his play “The Memorandum,” but since he was under house arrest in Czechoslovakia, he could not receive it in person. In 1984 Joseph Papp, the founder of the New York Shakespeare Festival, smuggled the award into Czechoslovakia and presented it to him in secret. Mr. Havel won two more Obies that he could not accept, for “The Increased Difficulty of Concentration” in 1970 and “A Private View” in 1984.
God's Pottery: Jack Bauer is ALIVE:
We were in the "meatpacking" district of New York City (Manhattan) dropping off some helpful literature at the local taverns, when we saw JACK BAUER.
The good news: he is OK. We didn't want to pry as we're sure the last 6 months have been very trying for him, but he apparently found some way to escape from the Chinese. We're not sure if he's in NY doing counter-terrorism work (hope NOT), but he looked ok given all the he has been through in the last 5 years.
The bad news: it appears Jack uses alcohol as a "crutch" (aid) to help him cope with all the difficulties in his life (dead wife, dead co-workers, being clinically dead once, etc.). We tried to gently counsel him, but he was in "that place" so we didn't push the issue. We just wish he'd tap into the Keg of Christ: it's always full, no foam, and no hangover.
And Now He's Dead: George W.S. Trow - Gawker:
George W.S. Trow, the media critic and essayist, has died at the age of 63. Trow is best known for In the Context of No Context, an article he wrote for the New Yorker (they've made part of it available here) and later expanded into a book. Trow's thirty year association with the New Yorker ended in 1994, when then-editor Tina Brown brought on Roseanne Barr to guest edit an issue. The Times obit quotes the lacerating back-and-forth between Trow and Brown:
In his note of resignation, Mr. Trow likened Ms. Brown to someone selling her soul "to get close to the Hapsburgs -- 1913." Ms. Brown shot back, in a note of her own: "I am distraught at your defection, but since you never actually write anything, I should say I am notionally distraught."