Sunday, November 30, 2008


1:33 PM

Playbill News: Daisey's If You See Something Say Something Ends Joe's Pub Engagement Nov. 30:

The Public Theater presentation of Mike Daisey's latest monologue, If You See Something Say Something, concludes its limited engagement at Joe's Pub Nov. 30.

Daisey's collaborator, Jean-Michele Gregory, directed the work. Performances began Oct. 15 and officially opened Oct. 27.

In his latest monologue, Daisey, known for his politically and socially charged works, "investigates the secret history of the Department of Homeland Security through the untold story of the father of the neutron bomb and a personal pilgrimage to the Trinity blast site," according to press notes. "If You See Something Say Something takes us on a journey in search of what it means to be secure and the price we are willing to pay for it."

Those who missed the Joe's Pub run will have the opportunity to catch If You See Something: The production was filmed by Peabody award-winning filmmaker Steve Anderson and is aiming for a future movie release.

10:55 AM

this big cloud...

10:54 AM

Laika - graphic novel tells the sweet and sad story of the first space-dog - Boing Boing:

The book walks a fine line between fancy and faithfulness to the historical facts of Laika's life, populated with exhaustively researched, fleshed-out characters who are charming, complex and frustrating. There's Sergei Pavlovich, the head of the program, whom we meet as he is walking out of one of Stalin's gulags, whence he had been banished in the great purges, and who becomes a driven monster, forever scarred by Siberia. There's Yelena Dubrovksy, the space medicine program's animal handler, who has a preternatural ability to connect with the space-dogs, but who is also a scientist and Party member who is clear-eyed in confronting their eventual fate. There's Oleg Gerogivitch, who runs space medicine, and who understands the realpolitik of working for a driven semi-madman like Pavlovich.

In addition, there's a host of fictionalized and fictional characters -- the families who interact with Laika as a puppy, the cruel dog-catchers, the spear-carriers and hangers on who conjure up a world of space madness, cruelty, noblesse and vision.

10:51 AM

Saturday, November 29, 2008


8:16 PM


3:37 PM

Wal-Mart Employee Trampled to Death -

Tension grew as the 5 a.m. opening neared. Someone taped up a crude poster: “Blitz Line Starts Here.”

By 4:55, with no police officers in sight, the crowd of more than 2,000 had become a rabble, and could be held back no longer. Fists banged and shoulders pressed on the sliding-glass double doors, which bowed in with the weight of the assault. Six to 10 workers inside tried to push back, but it was hopeless.

Suddenly, witnesses and the police said, the doors shattered, and the shrieking mob surged through in a blind rush for holiday bargains. One worker, Jdimytai Damour, 34, was thrown back onto the black linoleum tiles and trampled in the stampede that streamed over and around him. Others who had stood alongside Mr. Damour trying to hold the doors were also hurled back and run over, witnesses said.

1:50 PM


1:42 PM

Friday, November 28, 2008

Regional Theater Discussion | DENNIS BAKER LLC:

While I do agree with Daisey when he states this particular conversation seems like a side note conversation of a much bigger discussion that needs to happen. I am also curious in what the conversation would have been like if they were not interviewing artists/administrators at top theaters. Intiman, DTC and Long Warf are probably more exceptions to the rules than what the norm would be for new works in regional theaters. Daisey states, “DTC does develop a lot of new work, which makes their presence on this show clear, but it does unfortunately make all of American regional theater sound like it does a hell of a lot more new play development than it actually does, because DTC is an outlier, not the rule.” It is also interesting that the discussion of new works is done without input from an emerging playwright.

Vogel mentions that she changed jobs because she was offerred Artistic Associate at Long Warf, while teaching at Yale, and like Lucas at Intiman, it gives a playwright a space to be heard and incentive to write their plays. It is disappointing that the only emerging playwright that is mentioned is Jason Grote, who had his new play produced at DTC, yet as Daisy points out Grote lives in New York. I see this as a crux of the bigger discussion. The more we can establish artists within communities and part of the bigger picture within the theater, the more it is going to benefit both the artist, the community and the theater as a whole.

5:01 PM

Thursday, November 27, 2008

5:04 PM

2:57 PM

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1:42 PM


12:05 AM

The Stranger | Slog | Wallace Money:

I realize that the Wallace Foundation is not an impresario. But this is a lot of money we're talking about, and interpreted strictly, all of this money could go into the hands of arts administrators and not a cent into the hands of artists. There's no talk of new commissions at the museum, at the opera, at the cinema, or at the ballet. There's talk of "develop[ing] and market[ing] eight new three-play Social Subscription pilot programs" (to the tune of $750,000 at the Rep); of "technology infrastructure to increase accessibility to opera" ($750,000); of "develop[ing] a community outreach campaign" ($750,000 at SIFF Cinema); of "expand[ing] and enhanc[ing] youth-driven programming" ($585,000 at EMP/SciFiMuHaFa). That's all good stuff, but will these organizations really make it matter?

12:05 AM


12:05 AM

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Notes on Leonard Lopate's WNYC Discussion on Regional Theater

On WNYC Leonard Lopate discusses regional theater today--you can listen to it here, and this is the extract about the conversation from the WNYC website:

"We look into the role of regional theater in America today, and its contribution to the development of new American plays and playwrights. Director Bartlett Sher is Artistic Director at the The Intiman Theatre Company in Seattle; Kent Thompson is Artistic Director of the Denver Center Theatre Company; and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel is a professor at Yale School of Drama."

At the opener, Lopate read some boilerplate about why regional theater matters:

"Most people, and certainly most New Yorkers think of our city as being the theatrical center of the universe. But in 2007 it was estimated that not for profit theaters across America presented the work of 61,000 professional artists to 31 million audience members."

It's disappointing that out of 61,000 professional artists in the regional theater (a number I would love to see the homework for) we couldn't speak to a single working actor...or, if the emphasis has to be expressly on new work, one wishes we could have had ONE "EMERGING" PLAYWRIGHT who is not Paula Vogel to talk about what the system is like from their perspective.

There's also, as usual, no one from the money side speaking--so at one point, for example, all the panelists lament that new plays don't get five to seven productions across the country, but there's no reckoning or connection between this kind of massive undertaking and the fact that the existing infrastructure is unable to support itself even now.

Granted, that's not the emphasis of this conversation...but it should have been.

Bart Sher talks about his relationship with Craig Lucas--apparently Bart believes that he is discharging any duty that Intiman might have to playwright development by supporting the NYC-based-and-produced Lucas, for over ten productions, over the years. The collaboration is laudable if it creates great work, but counting this as "regional" theater development is quite a stretch.

Sher also talks about the fact of the "one-slot-a-year-new-play-rule", where an institution only does one new play a year--any more is always "too risky". This is presented as laudable, though if you connect the dots it is clear that that slot will be always taken by Craig Lucas, at least at Intiman, and it gives a window into how little new play development there can actually be--all 61,000 of those theoretical artists aren't working at places that do boatloads of new work.

No mention is made of regional playwrights of any kind--the only emerging playwright mentioned is Jason Grote, due to his skill and the connection to Denver Theater Center with 1001. Grote is an excellent playwright, and I really enjoyed 1001, but he lives in NYC.

DTC does develop a lot of new work, which makes their presence on this show clear, but it does unfortunately make all of American regional theater sound like it does a hell of a lot more new play development than it actually does, because DTC is an outlier, not the rule.

We also learn that Denver Theater Center takes 5% of playwrights royalties. This is excused because everyone else does it, and a lot of people do it with much higher percentages. The issue of DTC being a nonprofit is not raised by anyone, nor is the fact that some prominent nonprofits take no percentage in future productions.

After the first commercial break, the hub and spoke system is on full display--Sher is grateful that the regional theater system exists so that plays can be performed outside of NYC and "get them ready for New York". A lot of time is spent discussing the real complexities of sharpening and preparing plays, but the model is clearly that the regional theaters are the minor leagues that make the plays ready for NYC. Lopate puts it this way, and everyone says it is not this way, and then in their answers it becomes clear they agree with him that it is fundamentally this way.

A chunk of time is spent talking about critics, which feels to me like a pointless misdirection--you would never know that it's very clear that critics have less and less power to bring in audiences every year. They are talked about as though the entire system should be about winning over critics and reaching consensus with them, but the truth is that theater needs to reach way beyond the hermetic world of theater and critic. It's a telegram from an alternate universe where if the right audiences and the right critics love the right work, you can be a STAR! Sigh.

Paula Vogel has a few great moments, when Lopate quotes from her comments in the past about all of our theater being a theater of the ruling class and the rich. It's a sad moment however that when she responds today she feels the need to verbally state that she is speaking not for Yale or for Long Wharf when she expresses her opinion, and that the opinion is simply that Obama has an arts plank and might do something, perhaps, in the future. We've fallen pretty far, that we feel this much beneath our organizations and corporations that our artists reflexively clear their language.

Bless her for trying--she does have a nice moment when she talks about the changes in the NEA, and I also like this moment when she talked about the need for artists to be in theaters, speaking with marketing--that felt real.

It's a disappointing conversation--not terrible, or intentionally deceitful. It's just misguided about the nature of the journey we're on in the American theater. It's like listening to the activity director on the aft deck of the Titanic discuss what we'll be working on during this first exciting translatlantic journey. We'll be polishing the brass, working on the fittings and getting everything is, after all, going to be a long voyage.

3:57 PM

6:05 AM


5:50 AM


3:18 AM

Why CNN Struggles to Cover The Economic Panic - Boing Boing:

Where are the winning and losing teams? We have learned more about Al Queda cells and Saddam Hussein's Elite Guards than about the people in power behind CITI, Goldman Sachs, Lehmann Brothers, AIG, etc. We know more about the New York Jets than we do about CITI Bank. Are the slow-moving Detroit Manufacturers competing head-to-head against the fast-talking Wall Street Financiers? Please tell us more about these teams as we're entrusting them with such large amounts of public money. Maybe we need to start thinking that, as with football, we care because we're betting on teams to win. We have our money at stake.

3:17 AM


3:14 AM

Exceptional news: John Brennan won't be CIA Director or DNI - Glenn Greenwald -

I think Obama is entitled to a lot of leeway on appointments and is entitled not to be condemned -- or praised -- other than for things he actually does.  And while I have found some of his appointments questionable, Brennan was the only prospective appointment that, speaking only for myself, was completely unacceptable.  Advocacy of Bush's interrogation and rendition programs should exclude anyone from consideration for any important position, let alone CIA Director or Director of National Intelligence.

Reports had repeatedly indicated that Brennan -- who served all year as Obama's top adviser for intelligence matters -- was the leading candidate for either of those positions, especially CIA Director.  It's unclear if it was Obama or Brennan who was the catalyst for this decision, but either way, it's to be celebrated.  And as Big Tent Democrat wrote today:  "In case people were wondering, THIS is why you do not wait to express your 'concern' about issues and personnel."

This is an important victory.  It's absolutely vital that these bright lines be re-established.  Brennan's being denied a top intelligence positions due to his past advocacy of these abuses is a big step towards achieving that, particularly since it was due to pressure from those who insist that these political values not be de-prioritized or ignored.

3:14 AM


2:24 AM


2:05 AM

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

4:07 PM


12:21 PM

Bailout costs more than Marshall Plan, Louisiana Purchase, moonshot, S&L bailout, Korean War, New Deal, Iraq war, Vietnam war, and NASA's lifetime budget -- *combined*! - Boing Boing:

In doing the research for the "Bailout Nation" book, I needed a way to put the dollar amounts into proper historical perspective.

If we add in the Citi bailout, the total cost now exceeds $4.6165 trillion dollars.

People have a hard time conceptualizing very large numbers, so let’s give this some context. The current Credit Crisis bailout is now the largest outlay In American history.

Crunching the inflation adjusted numbers, we find the bailout has cost more than all of these big budget government expenditures – combined:

• Marshall Plan: Cost: $12.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $115.3 billion
• Louisiana Purchase: Cost: $15 million, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $217 billion
• Race to the Moon: Cost: $36.4 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $237 billion
• S&L Crisis: Cost: $153 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $256 billion
• Korean War: Cost: $54 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $454 billion
• The New Deal: Cost: $32 billion (Est), Inflation Adjusted Cost: $500 billion (Est)
• Invasion of Iraq: Cost: $551b, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $597 billion
• Vietnam War: Cost: $111 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $698 billion
• NASA: Cost: $416.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $851.2 billion

TOTAL: $3.92 trillion

12:19 PM


11:40 AM

More Lemon ; )

10:57 AM

10:38 AM

Monday, November 24, 2008

All of your toxic assets are belong to us - Megan McArdle:

I don't want to be a self-panicker; these things take time.  But I'm becoming increasingly convinced that the original theory of the bailout--that it would step in and provide a firewall to prevent future failures--has been proven wrong.  I still think it was worth trying, prospectively; there seemed to be at the time, a reasonable prospect that it would save money in the long run by forestalling the need for future bailouts.  But in hindsight, it hasn't worked.

5:18 PM

5:13 PM

The blue door

3:53 PM

Let's solve the subprime mess by going after lawbreaking lenders.:

The problem with this wasn't the mortgage brokers per se. It was that many prospective borrowers wrongly assumed that the brokers were working in the borrower's best interest. But in most states, mortgage brokers do not owe any duty to the borrower to find the best possible deal. Many brokers relied on borrowers' ignorance of the mortgage market to pursue higher commissions and other financial perks for themselves. In much of the country, there's no legal remedy for this. But a few states require that brokers avoid conflicts of interest and pursue the best deal for the borrower. These states include California, home to about one-quarter of the mortgages in the United States that are in some stage of foreclosure. The Department of Justice, the state attorney general, legal-services attorneys, volunteer lawyers, and law students should all be poring over California loan documents to smoke out the brokers who violated their legally mandated duties to their clients. If a significant number of loans in California alone could be altered, consistent with the borrowers' abilities to pay, either through litigation or its threat, the federal government wouldn't have to pay as much for a national bailout.

To date, none of the proposed homeowner-rescue plans acknowledges that a significant number of the homeowners who are in distress were the victims of predatory and illegal practices. Opponents of the plans currently on the table raise three serious objections: First, any massive loan rescue would be costly; second, borrowers in good standing might intentionally default on their mortgages to benefit from a bailout; and third, investors holding securities backed by subprime loans will balk at loan modifications that diminish their already depreciated investments and will sue to stop such efforts.

Going after the lawbreakers helps to address these concerns. It would not only lower the cost of the rescue plan by reducing the number of borrowers needing help, it would also direct assistance only to those people who were victims of illegal conduct and insulate the loan modifications from litigation by investors looking to preserve their investments. Investors won't challenge loan restructuring when the underlying loans were made on illegal terms. You don't lend your horse to Jesse James and then sue the stagecoach he robbed to get it back. Investors will have to redirect their fire from the borrowers to the brokers and lenders who did the fancy loan footwork—and perhaps the ratings agencies that blessed it.

3:52 PM


3:38 PM


1:40 PM


10:20 AM

Fed Pledges Top $7.4 Trillion to Ease Frozen Credit:

The U.S. government is prepared to lend more than $7.4 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers, or half the value of everything produced in the nation last year, to rescue the financial system since the credit markets seized up 15 months ago.

10:13 AM


9:49 AM

Janet Napolitano's embarrassing history with Sheriff Joe Arpaio:

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, President-elect Barack Obama's apparent pick for Secretary of Homeland Security, has been praised as "smart, tough and funny" and "exceptionally talented." She has a record as a pragmatist on immigration and solid legal credentials as a former U.S. attorney and state attorney general. But Napolitano has also looked the other way on police excess when political calculation demanded it, as well as tolerated the questionable use of local sheriff's deputies to serve as a roving immigration patrol.

All of this can be traced to her friendship with the media-obsessed Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., who would consider it his own personal failing if you haven't yet heard of him. He is "America's toughest sheriff," a man who rose to prominence in the 1990s with such newsmaking stunts as feeding his inmates green bologna, clothing them in pink underwear, housing them in surplus Army tents behind barbed wire in the desert, and putting them to work on chain gangs. This punishment is inflicted equally on convicted criminals and those who have been convicted of no crime at all but are awaiting trial and unable to afford bail. Inmates who assault guards are put on rations of water and fortified bread.

The public devours it, and Arpaio has consistently enjoyed some of the highest approval ratings of any elected official in Arizona (Maricopa County includes Phoenix). That inmates have a way of getting killed in Sheriff Joe's jails, costing Maricopa County millions of dollars in lawsuits, has not dimmed his star. Nor has a federal judge's order that he provide a constitutionally mandated minimum level of food and health care, an order that said Arpaio had inflicted "needless suffering and deterioration" on the mentally ill.

More than a decade ago, Napolitano was in a position to help curb Arpaio's excesses. As a U.S. attorney in 1995, she was put in charge of a Justice Department investigation into atrocious conditions in Arpaio's "tent city." Napolitano carried out her task with what can best be described as reluctance, going out of her way to protect Arpaio from flak almost before the probe had started. "We're doing this with the complete cooperation of the sheriff," she told the Associated Press. "We run a strict jail but a safe jail, and I haven't heard from anyone who thinks that this is a bad thing."

"Anyone"? Maybe Napolitano needed to get out of her office a little more.

The Justice Department's final report, issued about two years later, confirmed a list of disgraces, including excessive use of force, gratuitous use of pepper spray and "restraint chairs" (since blamed for at least three inmate deaths), and hog-tying and beating of inmates. It also said Arpaio's staffing was "below levels needed for safety and humane operations."

The Justice Department filed suit and settled with the sheriff the same day after Arpaio agreed to administrative changes, including limiting the use of pepper spray and improving inmate grievance procedures. Napolitano stood with Arpaio at a press conference in which she, according to the Arizona Republic, "pooh-poohed her own lawsuit as 'lawyerly paperwork.' " Arpaio called the result a vindication.

9:41 AM

9:04 AM

Letters - The Defense We Need, and Can Afford -

In “A Military for a Dangerous New World” (editorial, Nov. 16), you call attention to the fact that the Pentagon’s total budget in 2008, including spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is “nearly equal to all of the rest of the world’s defense budgets combined.”

Excessive defense budgets have been the case for many years, predating our entry into those two wars. Nearly five decades ago President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of the danger of an unchecked military-industrial complex, a warning that has been more honored in the breach than the observance.

During our current financial emergency, when the federal deficit is certain to reach unprecedented levels, we can no longer afford to spend many billions of dollars on new generations of weapons systems whose only real-world military match is our own currently deployed weapons systems.

3:37 AM


3:36 AM

Jobs: It’s MY house… - MAC.BLORGE:

This is the latest slap in the face for Jobs over the property. He lost a series of legal proceedings that ultimately barred him from tearing down the 17,250-square-foot mansion, a residence he occupied for nearly 10 years and rented to others for a shorter time. The home—Jackling House (Wikipedia)—was originally built and ultimately named for copper magnate Daniel C Jackling in 1925 on six acres.

The home has been vacant since 2000 and Jobs has argued, “Eventually the house would be beyond repair and rehabilitation and would lose its value as an historic resource.”

Further, according to the above linked Wikipedia page dedicated to the property, there have been at least three offers from private individuals who are willing accept the Jackling House and move it to another local site.

So, Jobs has been seeking to demolish the house and build a home of his own on the property since 2004. In 2006 a court blocked him from doing so and now he’s being forced to pay the do gooder’s legal fees.

It would seem pretty clear that Jobs isn’t interested in letting Jackling House go under any circumstances. It would seem that he wants the house wiped from the face of the earth, destroyed.

And, that says quite a bit Apple’s beloved dear leader—he won’t even let the do gooder, preservationist bastards cart the eyesore away. They can’t make him preserve Jackling House nor can they force him to sell it—Jobs would rather let it rot in place than let them have it.

2:45 AM

Sunday, November 23, 2008

6:49 PM

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12:54 PM

Friday, November 21, 2008

3045860076 72A7C7Fa3B B

5:38 PM

Is It Checkout Time at Bellevue Hospital? -- New York Magazine:

There are countless ways to go crazy in New York City—permanently or briefly, bloodily or peacefully, comically or horribly—but those among us who have ever wondered if our own names might one day be called in that unlucky lottery are generally aware of a key distinction: You can lose it privately or you can lose it publicly. Losing it privately can be resolved by a call to your shrink, or the intervention of family, friends, and colleagues, or medication, or a stay in a private mental-health facility. But if you’re in Manhattan and you happen to be unfortunate enough to decompensate in a manner that involves an imminent threat to yourself or those around you, your day is probably going to end the way it ended for all three of the aforementioned gentlemen: You are going to Bellevue. Bellevue will almost certainly not be the last stop on your personal journey, but it is the single word that, for more than a century, has told the rest of New York City that there is now one less person on the streets about whom it has to worry.

“It takes a lot to get into Bellevue,” says Frederick Covan, who arrived at the hospital in 1980 and served as its chief psychologist until 1994. More accurate, it takes the absence of any alternatives. Bellevue is not for “some Upper East Side suicidal neurotic or whatever—they’d go to NYU Medical Center next door. Our patients were the ones with no money, no resources, and multiple stressors.”

That, or their behavior is so extreme—criminal or otherwise—that no other option presents itself. Merely wandering into the middle of Broadway while muttering incoherently? Probably not enough. “You know, the brilliance of the schizophrenics when they’re directing traffic,” says Covan, “is that they always direct it in the direction it’s already going, so their grandiosity is reinforced. But if they start to direct it in the opposite direction, or if they’re assaulting other people, or if you came in and said you really wanted to kill yourself, not just that you were thinking about it … You know, Bellevue is not the place for you if you’re just not feeling good today and you’re really worried about the stock market.”

5:36 PM

Disco Bokeh

5:36 PM

The list of the governments that have persecuted journalists - Glenn Greenwald -

But John Brennan is a different matter.  To appoint someone as CIA Director or Director of National Intelligence who was one of George Tenet's closest aides when The Dark Side of the last eight years was conceived and implemented, and who, to this day, continues to defend and support policies such as "enhanced interrogation techniques" and rendition (to say nothing of telecom immunity and warrantless eavesdropping), is to cross multiple lines that no Obama supporter should sanction.  Truly turning a page on the grotesque abuses of the last eight years requires both symbolism (closing Guantanamo) and substantive policy changes (compelling adherence to the Army Field Manual, ensuring due process rights for all detainees, ending rendition, restoring safeguards on surveillance powers).  Appointing John Brennan to a position of high authority would be to affirm and embrace, not repudiate, the darkest aspects of the last eight years.

4:18 PM

Drip Drop Bokeh

3:15 AM

How Detroit Drove Into a Ditch -

In all this lies a tale of hubris, missed opportunities, disastrous decisions and flawed leadership of almost biblical proportions. In fact, for the last 30 years Detroit has gone astray, repented, gone astray and repented again in a cycle not unlike the Israelites in the Book of Exodus.

It wasn't that American auto executives were always malicious and stupid while the Japanese were always enlightened and smart. Japanese car companies have made plenty of mistakes, most recently Toyota's ill-timed move into full-sized pickup trucks and SUVs. But just as America didn't understand the depth of ethnic and religious divisions in Iraq, Detroit failed to grasp -- or at least to address -- the fundamental nature of its Japanese competition. Japan's car companies, and more recently the Germans and Koreans, gained a competitive advantage largely by forging an alliance with American workers.

3:09 AM

Hut in sandy wind

1:21 AM


1:20 AM

Five detainees ordered released "forthwith" after seven years at Guantanamo - Glenn Greenwald -

A federal district judge, Richard Leon, today ordered the Bush administration "forthwith" to release five Algerian detainees who have been held in Guantanamo without charges since January, 2002 -- almost seven full years.  The decision was based on the court's finding that there was no credible evidence that the 5 detainees intended to take up arms against the U.S.  The court found sufficient evidence to justify the ongoing detention of a sixth Algerian detainee.

When they were detained in 2001 in Bosnia, the Bush administration claimed that they were plotting to bomb the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo.  But once they were shipped to Guantanamo, the U.S. backed off that accusation and instead claimed they intended to travel to Afghanistan to fight against the U.S.

1:20 AM

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Say Anything « countercritic:

Daisey also has a gift for connecting history to our present experience of the world. Through shear slight of word, he is able to posit that the American experience of terror predates 9/11 by about sixty years, and is of a more self-inflicted source: a single atomic detonation in the sands of the Trinity blast area, a place where, today, things like praying, or talking about Hiroshima and Nagasaki are prohibited by privately contracted security masking as military personnel; where everything is outsourced, leaving the center empty.

And it’s this emptiness that Daisey seems set against. Whether it is the hushing of personal expression at Trinity, or the lack of music during the part of a Bradbury documentary that shows the footage of the first mushroom cloud (a cliche that is also used, I believe, in John Adam’s Dr. Atomic), Daisey, through his performance, gives voice to the many experiences of life that we so often have no words to express. One monologue after another, Daisey fills those terrifying nodes with feelings, thought and reason, even for the most unreasonable realities.

11:35 PM


5:08 PM


4:59 PM

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The case for immunizing everyone against the flu:

There are several advantages to broadening the range of people to be given flu shots. Because influenza carries substantial risk of requiring hospitalization, giving more people shots will certainly decrease the annual U.S. hospitalization rate and death rate, even though the vaccine isn't perfect—about 25 percent of the time, it fails partly or completely. There is also a secondary benefit: People who have been immunized are much less likely to pass the disease on to others who are unprotected or incompletely protected, a phenomenon called "herd immunity." That's the main reason for the push to immunize all children through age 18—those hacking and spewing youngsters are influenza's version of Typhoid Mary.

2:55 PM

The Pumpkin Patch

2:55 PM

ABC News: Big Three CEOs Flew Private Jets to Plead for Public Funds:

The CEOs of the big three automakers flew to the nation's capital yesterday in private luxurious jets to make their case to Washington that the auto industry is running out of cash and needs $25 billion in taxpayer money to avoid bankruptcy.

2:46 PM


10:19 AM

I'll be on the radio with WNYC's Leonard Lopate today, with Malcolm Gladwell and Sharon Waxman. Details here.

8:34 AM


8:30 AM


12:34 AM

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

3:24 PM


3:17 PM

Thomas Kinkade's 16 Guidelines for Making Stuff Suck: Culture and Celebrity:

Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light™, extends his purview to motion pictures with this week’s release of Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage, an inspirational holiday pastiche based on one of his paintings. Produced by Lionsgate, the film stars Peter O’Toole and Marcia Gay Harden. But not even a name cast could stop it from being unceremoniously dumped to home video a year after its planned release.

One reason might be that Kinkade, a postmodern Norman Rockwell for the evangelist set, instructed the crew to adhere to an aesthetic code that wouldn’t have flown in a first-year film class. The list of 16 “guidelines” on how to create “The Thomas Kinkade Look” on film, which was circulated to crew members in memo form, has been obtained exclusively by VF Daily. (The whole memo can be found at the end of this post.)

2:52 PM

Double Splash

2:52 PM

Julia Cheiffetz: What the Hell, Malcolm Gladwell:

The omission of women in Outliers says more about the nature of "big think" books than it does about Mr.Gladwell. Since the publication of The Tipping Point, we've seen a proliferation of books that present a single, shrink-wrapped idea as a means of understanding the world at large: books like The World is Flat, The Black Swan, The Wisdom of Crowds, The Long Tail. Now some of these books (the ones written by behavioral economists) tend toward the gee-whiz-isn't-that-interesting set like Predictably Irrational, Freakonomics, and The Undercover Economist. But the point is, all of them promise access to a club whose sole activity is the exchange of ideas; all of them promise, however covertly, to make us feel smarter. And all of them are written by men.

2:41 PM


1:16 PM

'kül: If You See Something, Say Something:

You go to see this sort of perfomer, a sit-down comic with considerably more gravitas (and sure enough, they're making a movie), because he has an ability to say what's on your mind, often in a way that is far cleverer and certainly funnier than you yourself would put it. But that's only half the picture, the cultural magnet part that describes a junk shop in New Mexico as Mad Max meets Brazil. The far more engaging half is the indignant Daisey, offended on your behalf, at the museum that announces, to a soundtrack that is Shaft meets electronica, that "Native Americans were happy to give us their land." The Daisey who is horrified by the way we unabashedly claim that saving one million hypothetical American lives in the Pacific was worth more than 200,000 Japanese women and children, and then go about erasing the actual deaths, turning our nation's nuclear history into a bloodless affair. As he puts it, smiling ever so slightly and then going back to a straightface that belies his depth, "We like to think of ourselves as the good guys."

1:04 PM

Twilight dance

1:04 PM

Show Showdown: If You See Something Say Something:

If You See Something Say Something is a political play in the first-person, a unique trait that allows it to be socially responsible on a collective scale. It is first-rate theater, too--a direct story, with no mixed messages, that reminds us all of the very power we have to say something. It's a power that Mike Daisey seems to grow more and more comfortable wielding with each new monologue, too: whereas How Theater Failed America stemmed from personal experience, this play was generated first by Daisey's research into the morality of the atomic bomb (Cohen and Kahn), with his own anecdotes created later, by his trip to the Trinity site. Despite the means of production, the tone of this piece--which is very heavy on Homeland Security--is much needed. We need someone to be angry about the things we see and don't say anything about, those deaths we sweep under the table in the quest to be "the good guys."

12:56 PM

....against .......

12:55 PM

Blog Defibrillator — “Blasted” and why theatre makes me cranky:

The atmosphere of playwrights offering frank commentary feels like 2003, during the Bush Administration — there is a whole lot wrong, but we’re too afraid to offer our version of the truth. I wish I could publish half the conversations I had last week with playwrights and actors and directors — frustration and confusion and disillusion as toothless irrelevant small-minded productions pass quietly in front of audiences, much better television shows flickering in the back of their minds.

Not every play should be as aggressive as “Blasted”, that amazing play with an amazing production currently playing at Soho Rep. But we can do better. “Blasted” is perhaps the best example of why we go to theatre — and it is not to *enjoy* ourselves. This is a tradition that started with thousands of Greeks watching Oedipus gouge his eyes out. And the Greeks were like, “Now I’ve learned something about my attraction to my mother.” They were surely shocked, and they may have been outraged, but they were definitely stirred, definitely unable to go back to they way they thought previously, and that’s what theatre is for.

For me, “Blasted” felt like the end of theatre, the end of the conversation that started with The Greeks. It unfolds like a regional theatre play gone to hell, a Fuck You to anyone who would ever want to sit through another Ayckbourn comedy or measured play about Iraq (take your pick; there are at least a dozen playing right now to snoozing audiences comparing the the on-stage drama to the New York Times headlines or that conversation they had with an ACTUAL veteran, i.e. a frustrating maddening 2 hours of wasted time.) I’m used to walking out of a theatre and having that annoying 15 minute “checklist” conversation with my date, then immediately forgetting what I saw. I walked out of “Blasted” nearly a month ago with a violent cloud above my head, unable to speak to anyone, and am still visited by its imagery — Marin Ireland’s terrifying seizures, the loving blowjob ending in a beating, the wild human eyes of Louis Cancelmi’s soldier, Reed Birney violently cradling the soldier like it was the last physical thing on earth, the last line (”Thank you”).

That the play has been sold out for nearly its whole run and been extended twice is a big Middle Finger to everyone who shies away from producing aggressive work that provokes an audience. The old adage of “our subscribers won’t like it” has been rendered false. We always knew it wasn’t true. From here on out I’m lumping people who profess this opinion with the people who said Obama couldn’t be president — the fear of success overwhelming the possibility of change. You know you’re wrong. Have courage. Do the plays you want. The audience will love you for it.

12:53 PM

Monday, November 17, 2008

Snow Goose

11:22 PM

How Pakistan learned to stop worrying and love the killing machines:

If you're a regular Human Nature reader, you know the story line we've been following here and on the blog: Pakistan has become the world's first mechanical proxy war, with unmanned aerial vehicles hunting and killing bad guys so U.S. troops don't have to. It's a strategic showdown between the ruthless and the bloodless. The drones have taken away the usual insurgent advantage of luring, bogging down, and picking off an invading army. The insurgents have responded by killing Pakistani civilians, hoping to bully Pakistan into pressuring the United States to call off the drones.

2:11 PM

Things Bigger Than Us

2:03 PM

Don't Fall

12:26 PM

Gothamist: Woman Fights Serial Rapist with iPod Charger:

The police arrested a serial rapist suspected of raping a woman on Staten Island over the weekend. The Advance reports NYPD received a tip on their CrimeStoppers hotline and picked up 23-year-old Thomas Fields, who was picked out of a line-up. Also: "Sources told the Advance the woman fought back during the rape by jabbing her iPod charger into Fields' neck. He still bore two prong marks on the neck from the charger."

12:25 PM


2:40 AM

down in the tube station at midnight

1:38 AM


1:08 AM


12:45 AM

12:39 AM

Design Observer:

One rainy night eight years ago, in Watertown, Massachusetts, a man was taking his dog for a walk. On the curb, in front of a neighbor’s house, he spotted a pile of trash: old mattresses, cardboard boxes, a few broken lamps. Amidst the garbage he caught sight of a battered suitcase. He bent down, turned the case on its side and popped the clasps.

He was surprised to discover that the suitcase was full of black-and-white photographs. He was even more astonished by their subject matter: devastated buildings, twisted girders, broken bridges — snapshots from an annihilated city. He quickly closed the case and made his way back home.

At the kitchen table, he looked through the photographs again and confirmed what he had suspected. He was looking at something he had never seen before: the effects of the first use of the Atomic bomb. The man was looking at Hiroshima.

In a dispassionate and scientific style, the seven hundred and one photographs inside the suitcase catalogued a city seared by a new form of warfare. The origin and purpose of the photographs were a mystery to the man who found them that night. Now, over sixty years after the bombing of Hiroshima, their story can be told.

12:35 AM

Sunday, November 16, 2008


1:36 PM

Slashdot | Canadian Fined For Videoing Movie In Theatre:

"A Calgary man was fined $1,495 and banned from theaters for a year in the first conviction under a new Canadian law making recording a movie in a theater a crime. Until the new law took effect in 2007, prosecutors had to show evidence of distribution to get a conviction; now, recording without permission is sufficient. The Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association was disappointed that jail time was not given." The man was also banned for a year from possessing any video recording equipment, even a video-capable cellphone, outside of his home.

4:00 AM

Sunrise Reflection (4+4 in 6x6)

4:00 AM

W A R P   I reloaded

3:20 AM

10 Fascinating Last Pictures Taken - The List Universe:

On January 13, 2005 the bodies of Canadian couple John and Jackie Knill were discovered on a Thailand beach resort. They were two of the many victims killed from the December 26 2004 tsunami. Weeks later a Seattle man doing relief work found a damaged camera and discarded it but kept the memory card in the camera. After downloading the images he discovered pictures of the Knill’s enjoying their vacation, as well as shots of a huge wave approaching the shore. With each picture it shows the wave getting closer and closer to shore. The last picture taken of them before the wave hit (shown above) was shot just after 8.30 am on December 26.

3:20 AM


2:56 AM

Saturday, November 15, 2008 IF YOU DON'T HAVE A RAT, YOU CAN'T BE ONE OF US.:

I've suddenly come to the realization that I no longer have much privacy. I've forfeited it, bit by bit. Some was intentional--this website, my decision to talk about my personal life in stand-up comedy, my compulsive need to show my penis on the bus--and other things were beyond my conscious control, although I suppose they would have been in my control if I exercised slightly more control. Most things I didn't notice, but now I'm struck by the cumulative effect. Struck and stuck.

Honestly, it makes me more wary about willful sharing, because lately I'm much more conscious of who might be reading my words, commenting on my Facebook status, clicking my links, watching my videos, subscribing to my Flickr stream, following my Twitter feed, etc. I've consciously chosen to engage in all of these aspects social networking tools, but separately. To see the picture of my personal life they create, all together, is a little intimidating. I could unsubscribe to all of them, in one sweeping gesture, but in this age doesn't that just make people think you're suicidal/dramatic? I used to be really amused when people would discontinue posting to their websites because they'd never just neglect them into obsolescence. Instead, it would usually end with One Final Post. A long goodbye, filled with all of the many reasons This Must Happen. Or worse, a pithy and obviously labored sentence meant to convey, in as few words as possible, the weight this website has burdened the author with all these many years, and their regrettable--but necessary!--acquiescence. Something like this:


3:31 PM

Tradewinds - Isla Mujeres, Mexico

2:28 PM

The Subprime Good Guys:

The ethical subprime-lending industry helps people buy houses they can affordIn recent months, conservative economists and editorialists have tried to pin the blame for the international financial mess on subprime lending and subprime borrowers. If bureaucrats and social activists hadn't pressured firms to lend to the working poor, the story goes, we'd still be partying like it was 2005 and Bear Stearns would be a going concern. The Wall Street Journal's editorial page has repeatedly heaped blame on the Community Reinvestment Act, the 1977 law aimed at preventing redlining in minority neighborhoods. Fox Business Network anchor Neil Cavuto in September proclaimed that "loaning to minorities and risky folks is a disaster."

This line of reasoning is absurd for several reasons. Many of the biggest subprime lenders weren't banks and thus weren't covered by the CRA. Nobody forced Bear Stearns to borrow $33 for every $1 of assets it had, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac didn't coerce highly compensated CEOs into rolling out no-money-down, exploding adjustable-rate mortgages. Banks will lose just as much money lending to really rich white guys like former Lehman Bros. CEO Richard Fuld as they will lending to poor people of color in the South Bronx.

But the best refutation may come from Douglas Bystry, president and CEO of Clearinghouse CDFI (community-development financial institution). Since 2003, this for-profit firm based in Orange County—home to busted subprime behemoths such as Ameriquest—has issued $220 million worth of mortgages in the Golden State's subprime killing fields. More than 90 percent of its home loans have gone to first-time buyers, about half of whom are minorities. Out of 770 single-family loans it has made, how many foreclosures have there been? "As far as we know," says Bystry, "seven." Last year Clearinghouse reported a $1.4 million pretax profit.

2:25 PM

Inside of my thoughts. 131/365

2:44 AM

Sarah Palin, a commercial fisherman from Wasilla, told her husband on Tuesday she was driving to Anchorage to shop at Costco. Instead, she headed straight for Ivana. And there, at J.C. Penney's cosmetic department, was Ivana, the former Mrs. Donald Trump, sitting at a table next to a photograph of herself. She wore a light-colored pantsuit and pink fingernail polish. Her blonde hair was coiffed in a bouffant French twist.

    ''We want to see Ivana,'' said Palin, who admittedly smells like salmon for a large part of the summer, ''because we are so desperate in Alaska for any semblance of glamour and culture.''

Anchorage Daily News, April 3, 1996

2:44 AM

Friday, November 14, 2008


4:07 PM

The Playgoer: Not So Well-Endowed:

Funny story, by the way, about the unique nature of this loss. The recent American Theatre/TCG "Theatre Facts" report (on the "health" of the nonprofit theatre industry from '06-'07) notes how dependent the bigger theatres have become on their endowments for their overall income. For better AND, now, for worse.

So, in the "good times" of '06-'07, we're told that even while subscription income grew only 4% and "single ticket earnings slumped nearly 7 percent" that's not where the money was:

Theatres welcomes a 19-percent rise in interest and dividends between 2003 and 2007, while endowment income increased by 360 percent, and capital gains hurtled upward by 3,728 percent (yes, you read that right).

Who woulda thunk it, that nonprofit theatres would be among the prime beneficiaries of Republican capital gains tax cuts.

2:27 PM


2:27 PM

Timeline twins, music and movies:

When I was a kid, "oldies" music and movies seemed ancient. Even though I'm now in my 30s, the entertainment that I watched and listened to in my youth still feels pretty recent to me. Raiders of the Lost Ark wasn't all that long ago, right? But comparing my distorted recall of childhood favorites to the oldies of the time jogs my memory in unpleasant ways. For example:

Listening to Michael Jackson's Thriller today is equivalent to listening to Elvis Presley's first album (1956) at the time of Thriller's release in 1982. Elvis singles in 1956 included Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog, and Love Me Tender.

If you're around my age, how old do you feel right now? Here are some other examples of timeline twins:

12:28 PM

roger hiorns: seizure. « shape + colour:

The scale and production of “Seizure” is ambitious. After reinforcing the walls and ceiling and covering them in plastic sheeting, 80,000 litres of a copper sulphate solution was poured in from a hole in the ceiling. After a few weeks the temperature of the solution fell and the crystals began to grow. The remaining liquid was pumped back out and sent for special chemical recycling.

12:21 PM

12:19 PM

George W. Bush: Bush to Smirk His Way Through the Rest of His Term:

And Bush is just sleepwalking through his last few months. He's not just a lame duck, he's a lame duck who everyone despises. He couldn't get anything accomplished even if he wanted to. Which he doesn't. He wants to play with Barney and keep quiet enough to maybe land that Commissioner of Baseball gig a few years down the line.

Neither of those things would be all that bad if we weren't mired in a financial crisis of epic proportions. Because when a crisis happens somebody has to be in charge. And if Bush isn't, and Barack isn't, you know who is? Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson! John Crudele has already taken to referring to him as "de facto president of the US." Which is not too far off the mark!

And hey, maybe it's not such a bad thing to have a guy like Paulson in charge of all the most important decisions, considering they're in his field of expertise? Psht! This is the same guy whose original idea for solving this mess was to give all power to the Treasury to do whatever it wanted, with no challenges permitted. Paulson changed the focus of the bailout package for the third time yesterday. Third time! It doesn't inspire confidence, nor should it.

11:52 AM


11:18 AM

Review: If You See Something Say Something:

Nobody communicates scorn like Daisey; he's the ideal performer for anyone who thinks Jackie Hoffman is too warm and fuzzy. As in his previous pieces, he sits at a desk, handing down his hanging-judge opinions in a voice that moves from a menacing, low-throated rumble to a high-pitched whine that must have all the dogs in the neighborhood on red alert. He's not for everyone -- this is someone whose bedtime reading as a ten-year-old was On Thermonuclear War -- but the sheer eloquence of his rage, his ability to wield words like daggers, the ease with which he pinpoints the fundamental absurdity in each official pronouncement, all prove irresistible. And he can be bleakly, blackly hilarious.

11:16 AM


11:06 AM

Why Palin Still Matters:

Actually, what was most infuriating about the election was watching people on TV pretend to not know what they knew.  You could tell that numerous analysts and pundits knew that Sarah Palin was unqualified to be President, that McCain was not running a serious campaign, and that he was headed for a serious loss, yet none of that could be said aloud. It was like living in house where Daddy passed out every night, but everyone pretended that he liked to turn in early.

2:41 AM

autumn bokeh

2:40 AM

The Democrats of 2002 and 2007 haven't gone anywhere - Glenn Greenwald -

It is worth remembering that the Democrats who are going to exert dominant political control are the same ones who have provoked so much scorn -- rightfully so -- over the last several years, and particularly since 2006.  This is the same Democratic Party leadership which funded the Iraq War without conditions (and voted to authorize it in the first place); massively expanded the President's warrantless eavesdropping powers; immunized lawbreaking telecoms; enacted the Patriot Act and then renewed it with virtually no changes; didn't even bother to mount a filibuster to stop the Military Commissions Act; refrained from pursuing any meaningful investigations of Bush lawbreaking; confirmed every last extremist Bush nominee, from Michael McConnell to Michael Mukasey; acquiesced to even the worst and most lawless Bush policies when they were briefed on them; and on and on and on.  None of that has changed.  That is still who they are.

It's just a fact that there are all sorts of people close to Obama who have enabled those Bush policies and who are mobilizing now and attempting to ensure that nothing meaningful occurs in these areas.  It simply is noteworthy of comment and cause for concern -- though far from conclusive about what Obama will do -- that Obama's transition chief for intelligence policy, John Brennan, was an ardent supporter of torture and one of the most emphatic advocates of FISA expansions and telecom immunity.  It would be foolish in the extreme to ignore that and to just adopt the attitude that we should all wait quietly with our hands politely folded for the new President to unveil his decisions before deciding that we should speak up or do anything.

Politicians respond to constituencies and pressure.  Constituencies which announce their intention to maintain respectful silence all but ensure that their political principles will be ignored.

2:38 AM

Thursday, November 13, 2008

9:50 PM


4:15 PM

Playbill News: Daisey's If You See Something Say Something Filmed at Joe's Pub:

Filmmaker Steve Anderson will release a film of Mike Daisey's latest monologue If You See Something Say Something, which is currently playing Joe's Pub.

Peabody award-winning filmmaker Anderson, who wrote and directed the feature film "The Big Empty" as well as the documentary film "Fuck," is currently filming If You See Something Say Something at Joe's Pub and aiming for a future movie release.

Daisey's collaborator, Jean-Michele Gregory, directs the work, which began performances Oct. 15 and will continue through Nov. 30 at the Public Theater's intimate cabaret space.

Known for his politically and socially charged works, Daisey "investigates the secret history of the Department of Homeland Security through the untold story of the father of the neutron bomb and a personal pilgrimage to the Trinity blast site," according to press notes. "If You See Something Say Something takes us on a journey in search of what it means to be secure and the price we are willing to pay for it."

4:01 PM


3:59 PM

GayCityNews - Careful, They're Radioactive:

In the post-9/11 world, our culture has implicitly been engaged in "security theater." Mike Daisey's engaging and thought-provoking monologue, "If You See Something Say Something," now at Joe's Pub, does something wonderful by stripping away illusion and calling this cultural moment by its proper name.

Daisey's well-crafted piece interweaves stories of his visit to Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the first atomic bomb was detonated, with the story of Sam Cohen, one of that bomb's creators. We see our government's response to security challenges for exactly the sham it is; no one really knows what they're doing. Daisey ends his piece with a graphic and slightly harrowing demonstration of exactly that point, but I won't reveal that.

Still, this is not all doom and gloom. He accurately points out that ordinary people, if not the Department of Homeland Security, can be counted on to keep plane hijackings impossible. Truth, even uncomfortable truth, in the face of hype is always a welcome tonic.

Daisey is an extraordinary performer, and under the direction of Jean-Michele Gregory, the simplicity and artistry of his presentation supports one of my long-held beliefs: a well-told story almost always makes exciting theater.

3:50 PM


3:49 PM

The End of Wall Street's Boom - National Business News -

And short Eisman did—then he tried to get his mind around what he’d just done so he could do it better. He’d call over to a big firm and ask for a list of mortgage bonds from all over the country. The juiciest shorts—the bonds ultimately backed by the mortgages most likely to default—had several characteristics. They’d be in what Wall Street people were now calling the sand states: Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada. The loans would have been made by one of the more dubious mortgage lenders; Long Beach Financial, wholly owned by Washington Mutual, was a great example. Long Beach Financial was moving money out the door as fast as it could, few questions asked, in loans built to self-destruct. It specialized in asking home­owners with bad credit and no proof of income to put no money down and defer interest payments for as long as possible. In Bakersfield, California, a Mexican strawberry picker with an income of $14,000 and no English was lent every penny he needed to buy a house for $720,000.

More generally, the subprime market tapped a tranche of the American public that did not typically have anything to do with Wall Street. Lenders were making loans to people who, based on their credit ratings, were less creditworthy than 71 percent of the population. Eisman knew some of these people. One day, his housekeeper, a South American woman, told him that she was planning to buy a townhouse in Queens. “The price was absurd, and they were giving her a low-down-payment option-ARM,” says Eisman, who talked her into taking out a conventional fixed-rate mortgage. Next, the baby nurse he’d hired back in 1997 to take care of his newborn twin daughters phoned him. “She was this lovely woman from Jamaica,” he says. “One day she calls me and says she and her sister own five townhouses in Queens. I said, ‘How did that happen?’
” It happened because after they bought the first one and its value rose, the lenders came and suggested they refinance and take out $250,000, which they used to buy another one. Then the price of that one rose too, and they repeated the experiment. “By the time they were done,” Eisman says, “they owned five of them, the market was falling, and they couldn’t make any of the payments.”

2:16 AM


2:16 AM

Hard Times, But Big Wall Street Bonuses, The Early Show: Mystery Shrouding How Much Of The Money Will Come From The $700B Gov't. Bailout - CBS News:

For Wall Street workers still employed, there could be a hefty bonus in their checks next month.

According to a report from financial news agency Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs, for example, has set aside $6.8 billion for bonuses, and Morgan Stanley, $6.4 billion.

And the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank, isn't happy. "These are people who lost enormous amounts of money," Frank observes. "How do you give a bonus to someone for having failed so badly as many of these people did?"

What's got many on Main Street and Capitol Hill angry, David says, is the possibility that some of the $700 billion government bailout package could go into the pockets of Wall Streeters to pay their bonuses.

12:53 AM

autumn went to a party this weekend and scored some acid

12:49 AM

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Worst Idea Ever: Ridley Scott is Directing Monopoly | /Film:

I've decided to make “Worst Idea Ever” a regular feature since it appears that the Hollywood movie studios are in a never-ending race to see who can greenlight the worst of the worst ideas.

Ridley Scott is now OFFICIALLY attached to direct a big screen movie based on Hasbro’s popular board game Monopoly. Corpse Bride/Monster House scribe Pamela Pettler has been hired to write the script. Scott had been developing the project with plans to produce since June 2007.

10:22 PM

all true !

3:25 PM

Slashdot | Microsoft's "Dead Cow" Patch Was 7 Years In the Making:

"Back in March 2001, a hacker named Josh Buchbinder (a.k.a Sir Dystic) published code showing how an attack on a flaw in Microsoft's SMB (Server Message Block) service worked. Or maybe the flaw was first disclosed at Defcon 2000, by Veracode Chief Scientist Christien Rioux (a.k.a. Dildog). It was so long ago, memory is dim. Either way, it has taken Microsoft an unusually long time to fix. Now, a mere seven and a half years later, Microsoft has released a patch.

3:24 PM

the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands

3:24 PM

Why Palin Still Matters:

Some readers think my continuing attempt to expose all the lies and flim-flam and bizarre behavior of Sarah Palin is now moot. She's history - they argue. Move on. I think she probably is history. Even Bill Kristol and his minions in the McCain-Palin campaign may not be able to resuscitate her political viability now. But even if she is history, she is history that matters.

Let's be real in a way the national media seems incapable of: this person should never have been placed on a national ticket in a mature democracy. She was incapable of running a town in Alaska competently. The impulsive, unvetted selection of a total unknown, with no knowledge of or interest in the wider world, as a replacement president remains one of the most disturbing events in modern American history. That the press felt required to maintain a facade of normalcy for two months - and not to declare the whole thing a farce from start to finish - is a sign of their total loss of nerve. That the Palin absurdity should follow the two-term presidency of another individual utterly out of his depth in national government is particularly troubling. 46 percent of Americans voted for the possibility of this blank slate as president because she somehow echoed their own sense of religious or cultural "identity". Until we figure out how this happened, we will not be able to prevent it from happening again. And we have to find a way to prevent this from recurring.

3:01 PM


3:01 PM

Gothamist: Pencil This In:

THEATER: Mike Daisey's solo show, If You See Something Say Something, is a funny and fascinating exploration of the American nuclear arms industry and our current Homeland Security misadventures, made personal by his truly weird first-hand account of visiting Los Alamos and the Trinity test site in New Mexico. The monologue is over ninety minutes long, but Daisey is such a deft storyteller that it feels like half that. Our enthusiastic review is here, and Michael Criscuolo at loved it too: "I don't think I'm being too hyperbolic by calling it one of the most important shows of the year, if not the most important." – John Del Signore

2:11 PM

Frosty Sunrise

2:11 PM

Don't Do It, Obama. Don't Save Ford (F) And General Motors (GM):

Ford, GM, and Chrysler are done for regardless, Obama. Bailing them out yet again won't fix them. It will just prolong the agony.

The companies' problems result from:

* Their inability to build cars (cars, not trucks) Americans love
* Their inability to restructure their way out of their pension and union obligations
* Their inability to compete on their own merits.

Throwing another $25 billion of taxpayer money down the rat hole won't do anything other than postpone the crisis. Just let the companies go bankrupt, Obama. That's what bankruptcy is for. Let the shareholders and debt holders take the hit. Not the American taxpayers.

Ford, GM, and Chrysler will continue to make cars. They will continue to employ Americans. (When airlines go bankrupt, they keep flying). Most importantly, they will finally be able to do the major restructuring that they have been postponing for decades.

2:55 AM


2:55 AM

New Obama Voters And Prop 8:

The massive black turnout was the critical factor. And Obama's refusal to take a firm stand in the last few weeks of the campaign was instrumental to its passage:

Historically, black Californians have voted in about the same proportion as their population, in the 6 percent to 7 percent range, while Latinos, although more than a third of the state's population, have been about 13 percent of voters.

Last week, however, 10 percent of voters were African American while 18 percent were Latino, and applying exit poll data to that extra turnout reveals that the pro-Obama surge among those two groups gave Proposition 8 an extra 500,000-plus votes, slightly more than the measure's margin of victory.

Black liberals were the critical voting bloc. Jewish liberals voted overwhelmingly against Prop 8, to offer a simple contrast. Obama has always opposed marriage equality, even splitting with his own church on the issue. In California, he got his way.

2:50 AM

Remembrance of Summer

2:49 AM

New York City Theater: If You See Something Say Something to be Made into Film:

IF YOU SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING, Mike Daisey's incendiary monologue on the history of the Department of Homeland Security now playing Joe's Pub, will be filmed for a future movie release. His performances at the Public this week will be filmed.

According to Daisey, "It's being directed by Steve Anderson, who did a film a few years ago about the word fuck, conducted the last interviews with Hunter S. Thompson, is a trained Hollywood stunt driver, has lounged in the grotto at the Playboy Mansion, and posesses a great eye and understanding of the piece—between all these skill sets he will be outstanding at translating this monologue to film."

12:40 AM


12:13 AM

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

6:51 PM


Sometimes it hits you... - Ta-Nehisi Coates:

I saw this picture over at TPM. I don't think a lot of folks understand how hard black people take their portrayal in mainstream media. We probably spend more time bemoaning the latest R. Kelley affair, than bemoaning racism. America is like the NFL--without the salary cap. And some days to be black, is to be a Detroit Lion. Before they fired Matt Millen. And then something like this happens, and after years of feeling ashamed you look up and you see what you represent on your best days, what you hope your fam represents--vision, courage, competition, confidence--is represented at the highest levels of this country. You wake up and realize that your best face, is the face of the country, is the face of the world.

I'm broadcasting live from Harlem at five in the morning. The boy has to go to school. I've got to go run my miles. I haven't done a lick of work (as my mother would say) and yet. already, I feel the need to have a drink. Damn. Black people, are ya'll ready for this?

2:49 AM


2:48 AM

Monday, November 10, 2008

Slow Blog Manifesto:

Slow Blogging is a reversal of the disintegration into the one-liners and cutting turns of phrase that are often the early lives of our best ideas. Its a process in which flashes of thought shine and then fade to take their place in the background as part of something larger. Slow Blogging does not write thoughts onto the ethereal and eternal parchment before they provide an enduring worth in the shape of our ideas over time.

Slow Blogging is a willingness to remain silent amid the daily outrages and ecstasies that fill nothing more than single moments in time, switching between banality, crushing heartbreak and end-of-the-world psychotic glee in the mere space between headlines. The thing you wished you said in the moment last week can be said next month, or next year, and you'll only look all the smarter.

Slow Blogging is a response to and a rejection of Pagerank. Pagerank, the ugly-beautiful monster that sits behind the many folded curtains of Google, deciding the question of authority and relevance to your searches. Blog early, blog often, and Google will reward you. Condition your creative self to the secret frequency, and find yourself adored by Google; you will appear where everybody looks - in the first few pages of results. Follow your own pace and find your works never found; refuse Pagerank its favours and your work is pulled as if by riptide into the deep waters of undifferentiated results. Its twisted idea of the common good has made Pagerank a terrifying enemy of the commons, setting a pace that forbids the reflection that is necessary to move past the day to day and into legacy.

7:21 PM


4:51 PM


12:03 PM

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Gothamist: Opinionist: If You See Something Say Something:

In Los Alamos New Mexico, there's a man named Ed Grothus, who for many years worked at the nuclear research laboratory until being dismissed in the '60s after participating in a peace march. But instead of leaving the nuclear company town that is Los Alamos, Grothus stayed put and began amassing all sorts of surplus junk discarded by the labs. His collection, called The Black Hole, is now incalculably vast, and has become a pilgrimage destination for technology geeks, pacifists, and atomic tourists. Mike Daisey, the monologist, went there too, and after seeing his new solo show, If You See Something Say Something, I feel like I was there with him.

11:13 PM


10:56 AM


12:29 AM

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Guest Critic Sam Thielman: Theater Criticism in America:

A print critic is part of a larger institution, too – one that reaches people who don’t necessarily read the paper for the theater section. An investment banker who wants to watch a good show will read Terry Teachout before he reads, so the quality – high as it frequently is – of a lot of the online theater writing is immaterial. New audience members, the kind the theater needs so desperately, are looking for a publication that they trust, and for now, they’re looking to print, or at least to general-interest websites.

Believe it or not, even in its currently reduced state criticism offers distinct pleasures for the critic (and no, a fat paycheck is no longer one of them). If you’re a warped, frustrated shell of a human being like myself, you find no greater joy than cackling over a beautiful little orphaned  theater piece at a tiny off-Broadway house that no one can find, despite the best efforts of the show’s beleaguered, underpaid publicist. And, as soon as the performance is over, you shamble off to your cave to hunch over your computer for hours in an effort to tell someone about it.

2:50 PM

Something I Should Have Said Long Ago

2:49 PM

Philip Greenspun’s Weblog » Let G.M. go bankrupt:

G.M. is in trouble, according to the latest news.  The company has some contracts and other obligations that it can’t afford.  What can the government do to help?

Answer: The government has already done everything that it needs to in order to help G.M.  The government established bankruptcy courts so that a company like G.M. can go through a Chapter 11 reorganization.  During the Chapter 11 process, a judge has the power to adjust the company’s obligations so that they can be paid from the company’s likely future revenue.  Chapter 11 was designed specifically so that employees can keep their jobs, albeit possibly at lower salaries, while shareholders and creditors suffer and/or are wiped out.

The stockholders, creditors, and employees of G.M. do not deserve to be spared the pain of the recession.  The rest of America will be taking pay cuts, losing jobs, giving discounts to customers, etc.  What is special about G.M. that they should be able to live as though 2008 never happened?

1:01 PM

Defying Gravity #2

1:00 PM

No news at Obama's first press conference but a little sparkle:

But then the president-elect showed up, and he was smiling. He nodded approvingly to a few members of the press. Obama was grave during his opening statement about the dismal economic situation, but during the interaction with reporters, he let a few jokes flash through. When asked which presidents he'd consulted since winning, Obama said he'd talked to the living ones. He immediately realized the unnecessary distinction but said he "didn't want to get into any Nancy Reagan thing with the séances." When asked about the puppy he'd promised his daughters, he said the decision was complex. "With respect to the dog, there are two issues that have to be reconciled," he said, almost mocking his penchant for nuanced answers. The dog had to be hypoallergenic and therefore specially bred, but the family also wanted to get a shelter dog, and "a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me."

Maybe Barack Obama enjoyed winning the presidency after all. As he approached Election Day, Obama had grown more constricted. Perhaps, despite the challenges that face him, he's bouncing back into his earlier, looser shape.

1:17 AM


12:31 AM

Friday, November 07, 2008

5:57 PM

A small group listening to Obama's acceptance on a transistor radio at the Lincoln Memorial.


4:20 PM

Stage and Cinema-If You See Something Say Something - Mike Daisey, Monologuist - Off Broadway Theater Review:

Mike Daisey is a kindred spirit, gentle and slightly impish, wide-eyed and direct in his gaze, conspiratorial in his relationship with us. And then, without notice, he becomes, like so many us in these troubled and troubling times, seriously unhinged. His eyes narrow, his voice cracks and screeches up an octave or two, and our common angst comes bubbling out of his mouth. And, whether he is being matter-of-fact or doubling over with rage, he is one of the funniest men you are apt to encounter in a theater space these days.

In his neatly structured, beautifully calibrated new monologue, If You See Something Say Something, under the intelligent guidance of his director Jean-Michele Gregory (the space he’s using these days, after a tour that has clearly worked out most of the kinks, is Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater), Daisey weaves a tapestry about the absurdity of national security – both pre- and post-9/11 – that includes, in its long, strange journey, a road trip to Trinity (the home of the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos); the sad and frightening story of Sam Cohen, the man who invented the neutron bomb; the fear-mongering progress of Homeland Security; and how it feels to be robbed in Rome minutes after arriving in The Eternal City. If the last mentioned event seems out of place, you’ve got to see – and hear – the artful way he incorporates it into the story he tells so brilliantly. And, of course, the telling of it is uproarious.

1:47 PM


12:06 PM


11:06 AM

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Mormons for Traditional Marriage!:

The narrow margin of victory for California's Proposition 8, an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage, may be attributable to millions of dollars in donations from members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The Mormons' support for the ballot measure is no small irony given the Church's onetime support of polygamy. The Church disavowed that doctrine in 1890 so that Utah could become a state, but renegade Mormon sects continue to practice polygamy today.

LDS leaders expressed support for Proposition 8 in letters to congregations, Web videos, and outreach efforts with the Protect Marriage Coalition. Church elders pressed followers to "support in every way possible the sacred institution of marriage as we know it to be." That translated into at least $14 million in donations from individual Mormons and Mormon-owned businesses, according to a 25-page spreadsheet posted on the Web site (excerpts below and on the following two pages). Mormon contributors are identified by first name and last initial, while non-Mormons are listed with full names. At least one donor, Alan A. from Lindon, Utah gave $1,000,000 to prevent same-sex couples two states away from enjoying legally-wedded bliss (Page 3).

4:43 PM


3:54 PM

Rahm Emanuel: Obama's Knife-Wielding Political Killer:

The Illinois Congresssman still hasn't accepted Barack Obama's offer to be his Chief of Staff, but it seems like he probably will. Would you like to learn more about Rahm Emanuel? You could start with this classic story:

The best Rahm Emanuel story is not the one about the decomposing two-and-a-half-foot fish he sent to a pollster who displeased him. It is not about the time - the many times - that he hung up on political contributors in a Chicago mayor's race, saying he was embarrassed to accept their $5,000 checks because they were $25,000 kind of guys. No, the definitive Rahm Emanuel story takes place in Little Rock, Ark., in the heady days after Bill Clinton was first elected President.

It was there that Emanuel, then Clinton's chief fund-raiser, repaired with George Stephanopoulos, Mandy Grunwald and other aides to Doe's, the campaign hangout. Revenge was heavy in the air as the group discussed the enemies - Democrats, Republicans, members of the press - who wronged them during the 1992 campaign. Clifford Jackson, the ex-friend of the President and peddler of the Clinton draft-dodging stories, was high on the list. So was William Donald Schaefer, then the Governor of Maryland and a Democrat who endorsed George Bush. Nathan Landow, the fund-raiser who backed the candidacy of Paul Tsongas, made it, too.

Suddenly Emanuel grabbed his steak knife and, as those who were there remember it, shouted out the name of another enemy, lifted the knife, then brought it down with full force into the table.

''Dead!'' he screamed.

The group immediately joined in the cathartic release: ''Nat Landow! Dead! Cliff Jackson! Dead! Bill Schaefer! Dead!''

2:06 PM


1:19 AM

1:00 AM

One Night of Romance:

The government of the state is profoundly important. And I think American voters picked a competent, decent, and sober executive officer. But this is not, headline writers, Barack Obama’s America. He is not your leader, any more than the mayor of your town is your leader. We are free people. We lead ourselves. He is set to be a high-ranking public administrator. Sure, there is romance in fame. But romance in politics is dangerous, misplaced, and beneath intelligent people. Were we more fully civilized, we would tolerate the yearnings projected on our leaders. Our tribal nature is not so easily escaped, after all. But we would try to escape it. We would discourage and condemn as irresponsible a romantic politics that tells us that if we all come together and want it hard enough, we’ll get it. We would spot the dangerous fallacy in condemning as “cynicism” all serious attempts to critically evaluate the content of political hopes.

12:55 AM

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


11:47 PM

Having 'Something' to Say:

The articulate 35-year-old, who has done 13 previous monologues, maintains that his aesthetic is more in sync with rap performers, street artists, and standup comics than with traditional theatre practices. He identifies most notably with comic Lewis Black, "who has the remarkable ability to communicate the intricate shadings of rage," says Daisey. "In all these non-fine art forms, there's athleticism and an emotional palette. But within the theatrical realm — the heart of American theatre — there's a restrained quality that I find difficult to deal with. The worst thing we can be charged with over the last couple of generations is hammy acting, to be too large. People rarely talk about the sin of being too small. There is a tendency to make small choices. I am a large person, and I believe there is a great value in large ideas and large emotions communicated on the stage. I believe there is value in tackling 60 years of American security in one monologue."

5:13 PM

red balloons

5:13 PM

Forwarded account from a friend:

A friend of mine attended the rally in downtown Chicago last night. He had an extra ticket to get rid of. Here's how he did it. BTW, he's a half Jewish married father of two, just to give perspective:

There were forgettable parts of the night. Leaving the office - more traumatically, the computer - with Virginia not going the way it was supposed to be going, wondering "if that could go wrong, how many other states could go wrong as well?" Walking past a line 6 blocks long, wondering if I was really going to make it in. Getting separated from my +1, spending an hour trying to sync up with her, losing 95% of my cell phone connection, and spending 90 minutes trying to find my family.

But there were a few things that stand out.

It was getting on to 10 o'clock, the line for ticketed entries thinned out, and it was just an empty gap. I figured my +1 had found a way in. A few desperate people had been "looking for a miracle" from the crowd, and plenty had offered money, but I wanted to find someone who would just use it up for all it was worth. My new mission was to find that person.

There was a guy standing next to me for close to an hour, he didn't seem to be waiting for anyone; he wasn't obsessively checking his phone, just watching. Cool and quiet, he looked like the kind of guy that might make a suburbanite clutch their purse and cross the street. Truth be told, if you live in the city, you might do the same and nobody would blame you. Dark and towering, baggy jeans, goosedown vest, baseball hat cocked to one side, diamond earrings. Maybe harmless with urban style, maybe a little thuggy, but you couldn't be sure.

There were a couple touches that cut against it all: his Obama cap looked like a last minute street vendor pickup, and he wore a sticker on his cheek that said "I voted." This was the guy. He looked to be fidgeting around, ready to join the masses in the unticketed area, and was a little incredulous that I'd really had a ticket, that he'd really get in, a little unsure that this was really happening...on a lot of levels.

We made it in, and I wished I'd asked his name, so I didn't have to call him +1. But he was starting to celebrate. Arms raised, animated, and the crowd kept moving, picking up the pace. Made it through the next checkpoint, approaching the fringes of the crowd. The loudspeaker came on..."your next President will be Barack Obama." The crowd erupted, and I really wanted to find my family, but here I was, spending that moment high fiving +1. Jubilant, joyous, he just started running and jumping and shouting, and he disappeared into the crowd.

I kept looking for my family, my only clue a text message that took 20 minutes to reach me. The Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem, the crowd grooving on Stevie Wonder, the crowd seizing up in a collective WTF when it's followed by a country song. Uh, this isn't a Red State rally, you can put Joe Biden's playlist away.

Most anyone that's interested saw the speech and has their own take on it, but my impression was, he doesn't have to use the gentle and unobtrusive voice anymore, it's ON motherfucker - oh it's ON. We got some shit to take care of, so are you in or what?

On the way out, I overheard a conversation between a couple guys, black, well dressed, around 20. If you heard this dialog in a play, it would sound forced and trite, but at the time, hemmed in the by the crowd, it seemed so natural. One guy says "Man, I feel I could do anything right now." His friend replies "like you got 'I believe I can fly' music playing." It continued like this (and I can't do justice to the real thing), and I thought, these guys are having a sincerely existentialist conversation about this experience. This is not a normal night in America.

We were shunted back to Michigan avenue, and the happy crowd of high fiving strangers was itching for something. Somewhere in the crowd, somebody had a drum, and they were laying down a beat. The surrounding crowd joined in, and after a couple of blocks, hundreds of us were dancing, chanting, smiling, high fiving, taking pictures, and marching down six lanes of Michigan avenue.

O-ba-ma! We did it!
O-ba-ma! We did it!
O-ba-ma! We did it!

Black, white, young and old, urban hipsters, suburbanites trying to figure where to get on their buses, north and southsiders, divas in heels, families covered in Obama flair, everybody doing a march they weren't allowed to do back in '68. One couple even asked a cop to take a picture of them, and he obliged, "I hope it's not blurry."

Unlike the unruly antics of a Seattle protest crowd (or a Bulls Championship for that matter), no pandemonium. In fact, to the contrary, a single bike cop was parked in the middle lane of Michigan avenue at the Tribune tower, pointing to the sidewalk...and the crowd split and seeped into the night.

My favorite sign of the night was hand written in red and blue letters, held by a guy in a USA hockey shirt, standing on the median as the crowd danced by: "America, I am loving the SHIT out of you right now."

5:03 PM


3:31 PM

Senate Update: Two Venal Morons Hang On to Slim Leads:

And hey, let's check in on Alaska, the retarded child state America forgot it adopted until this year, when it nearly crashed the democratic car into a tree.

Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, who is a convicted felon, won his reelection campaign! Stevens, convicted just last week of seven counts of corruption, has a 4,000 vote lead over his opponent, some boring non-corrupt Democrat. There are still 50,0000 absentee ballots left to count, so you know, this could still go either way. But honestly, Stevens is probably a lock. Good work, Alaska.

3:30 PM


3:30 PM


3:09 PM

Daily Kos: Proposition 8:

But for now, the flashpoint in the culture wars is gay rights, and I have to say, as wonderful as yesterday might've been, losing Prop 8 hit me hard. That California would vote for a black president with a margin of 61-37 and then shit on gays was horrifically disappointing. We have a long way to go. The anti-Prop 8 campaign wasn't helped by a shoddy operation that most observers who interacted with it admit was incompetent and ill-suited to wage a statewide campaign. While the Mormon Church flooded the state with ground troops for the fight, our side had no ground game. Inexcusable, but borne out of a complacency that I myself shared. No longer.

3:09 PM

Oh, No, You Don't:

Heart-breaking news this morning: a terribly close vote has stripped gay couples in California of their right to marry. The geographic balance shows that the inland parts of California voted for the Proposition and the coast and urban areas voted against it.

Yes, it is heart-breaking: it is always hard to be in a tiny minority whose rights and dignity are removed by a majority. It's a brutal rebuke to the state supreme court, and enshrinement in California's constitution that gay couples are now second-class citizens and second class human beings. Massively funded by the Mormon church, a religious majority finally managed to put gay people in the back of the bus in the biggest state of the union. The refusal of Schwarzenegger to really oppose the measure and Obama's luke-warm opposition didn't help. And cruelly, a very hefty black turnout, as feared, was one of the factors that defeated us, according to the exit poll. Today this is one of the solaces to a hard right and a Republican party that sees gay people as the least real of Americans.

3:04 PM

bubble bath

3:03 PM

Highlights: Newsweek's Special Election Project | Newsweek Politics: Campaign 2008 |

NEWSWEEK has also learned that Palin's shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported. While publicly supporting Palin, McCain's top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family—clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill. Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards. The McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent "tens of thousands" more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost. An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast," and said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books.

3:01 PM

Lauren Elizabeth

3:00 PM


1:54 PM

Remember Ralph Nader? Yeah, that guy.

Here's a clip where he calls Barack Obama an Uncle Tom.

I could never support Nader in any election as a protest vote, or a third-party vote, because I've always thought he's a poor communicator and would be a terrible leader, but I have often defended his integrity. That becomes increasingly difficult when he uses racially charged remarks to make bland accusations--this is extremely disappointing.

He's giving third-party candidates a bad name at this point.

1:52 PM

Obama's Victory Speech Reaction at DCTV

1:42 PM

Editorial - So Little Time, So Much Damage -

President Bush’s aides have been scrambling to change rules and regulations on the environment, civil liberties and abortion rights, among others — few for the good. Most presidents put on a last-minute policy stamp, but in Mr. Bush’s case it is more like a wrecking ball. We fear it could take months, or years, for the next president to identify and then undo all of the damage.

Here is a look — by no means comprehensive — at some of Mr. Bush’s recent parting gifts and those we fear are yet to come.

1:39 PM

Screaming Blue

1:36 PM

Nation Finally Shitty Enough To Make Social Progress | The Onion - America's Finest News Source:

Carrying a majority of the popular vote, Obama did especially well among women and young voters, who polls showed were particularly sensitive to the current climate of everything being fucked.

1:34 PM

Little spheres

1:34 PM

Hunter S. Thompson, September 1972:

    The pools also indicate that Nixon will get a comfortable majority of the Youth Vote. And that he might carry all fifty states.

    Well… maybe so. This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves: finally just lay back and say it — that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.

    The tragedy of all this is that George McGovern, for all his mistakes and all his imprecise talk about “new politics” and “honesty in government”, is one of the few men who’ve run for President of the United States in this century who really understands what a fantastic monument to all the best instincts of the human race this country might have been, if we could have kept it out of the hands of greedy little hustlers like Richard Nixon.

    McGovern made some stupid mistakes, but in context they seem almost frivolous compared to the things Richard Nixon does every day of his life, on purpose, as a matter of policy and a perfect expression of everything he stands for.

    Jesus! Where will it end?


HT: Daring Fireball

3:54 AM


Mr. Ayers’s Neighborhood:

Early this morning, the Obama family voted at the Beulah Shoesmith Elementary School, in Hyde Park. Long after they had gone, the lawn in front of the school was filled with reporters, mostly Europeans, filming voters. While I was talking to an eight-year-old kid dressed as George Washington, my colleague Peter Slevin, of the Washington Post was across the street, knocking on the door of someone else who had voted at the Shoesmith School this morning: William Ayers.

Ayers has avoided reporters ever since he became an election talking point, scratch pole, and general sensation. But now he answered the door of his three-story row house, and I joined the discussion. Ayers is sixty-four and has earrings in both ears. He wore jeans and a Riley T-shirt—Riley the kid from “Boondocks.” The day was fall-bright and 50th Street was filled with fallen gold leaves. Ayers waved to neighbors and kids as they went by on the sidewalk. He was, for the first time in a long while, in an expansive mood, making clear that, in all the months his name has been at the forefront of the campaign, he and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn—ex-leaders of the Weather Underground and longtime educators and activists in the community—have been watching a lot of cable television, not least Fox.

One night, Ayers recalled, he and Dohrn were watching Bill O’Reilly, who was going on about “discovering” Ayers’s 1974 manifesto, “Prairie Fire.” “I had to laugh,” Ayers said. “No one read it when it was first issued!” He said that he laughed, too, when he listened to Sarah Palin’s descriptions of Obama “palling around with terrorists.” In fact, Ayers said that he knew Obama only slightly: “I think my relationship with Obama was probably like that of thousands of others in Chicago and, like millions and millions of others, I wished I knew him better.”

2:50 AM

12:07 AM

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Marginal Revolution: My simple thought on voting:

Most of what you do is for expressive value anyway, so you shouldn't feel guilty about voting, if indeed you vote.  The people who think they are being instrumentally rational by not voting are probably deceiving themselves more.  They are actually engaged in an even less transparent form of expressive behavior (protest against the voting system) and yet cloaking that behavior under the guise of instrumental rationality.  The best arguments against voting are simply if you either don't like voting or if you don't know which candidate is better.  High-status people hardly ever offer the latter justification, even though the split of opinions among high-status people suggests that not all high-status people can in fact know which candidate is better.

In other words, both voting and not voting are motivated by the thought that you are better than other people.  I am glad that we have an entire day devoted to this very important concept.

3:45 PM


3:22 PM

Bloomberg Gets His Bill, and a Public Earful -

“To hell with your agenda,” thundered David Tieu, a 21-year-old deliveryman from Brooklyn, as the mayor sat about 15 feet away, staring at him.

Patrice Senior, a nurse from Brooklyn, accused Mr. Bloomberg of “plantation politics.” And Patti Hagan, a writer, assailed his “strong-armed knuckle-busting” tactics.

Custom at City Hall has long allowed anyone to appear at a bill signing and offer an opinion on the legislation being enacted. Most such ceremonies are sleepy affairs that attract a handful of political gadflies.

But on Monday, this tidy ritual was turned on its head. For four uninterrupted hours, scores of New Yorkers walked up to a microphone, looked at Mr. Bloomberg and rendered a blunt verdict on the legislation that would allow him to seek a third term.

It was a singular moment in the Bloomberg era of government. For much of his tenure, the mayor has been showered with accolades and surrounded by friendly crowds that have treated him like a head of state.

But during the bill signing, a man unaccustomed to direct, public criticism endured a heavy — and very harsh — dose of it from those he governs.

Dozens of speakers accused the mayor of arrogantly disregarding the will of New York voters, who overwhelmingly endorsed the current eight-year term limits in two referendums in the 1990s.

2:13 PM


11:17 AM


11:15 AM


11:13 AM

Monday, November 03, 2008

Iyss Newyorker

5:28 PM

If You See Something Say Something |

IF YOU SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING, the title of Mike Daisey’s new monologue which he performs at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater, is all about a bomb. The one he describes so vividly that he actually makes you see it.

Of course, that bomb is no less than the atomic bomb fired on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. It’s the bomb that was invented at Los Alamos. And Daisey takes us along on his tour of the research base and lab where the neutron bomb was invented, to the crater where it was first exploded, to the gift shop where tourists purchase key chains with replicas of the bomb. “Some people will use it” he says “for keys to their security” – their homes, cars, “and they will carry it through all the hours of the day.”

Daisey is a formidable writer whose radical political speak reveals an amazing depth and breadth of knowledge about his subject. He is also a fierce presenter, weaving in and out of autobiography, numerous different biographies and current events all of which chronicle the development of the military industrial complex and the American arms industry which has, according to Daisey, continually escalated since the end of World War II.

But if we are to take away one essential refrain, it is simply about the way Americans equate fear with security. There’s nothing new about that insight, but what Daisey finds in this oxymoron is a theme that carries through our history from the invention of the atom bomb to the post 9/11 world of Homeland Security.

5:27 PM


5:26 PM

Daring Fireball Linked List: Porsche Breaks the Hedge Funds:

Speaking of The Economist, they have a great summary of how Porsche more or less pantsed a bunch of hedge funds and stealthily took a controlling share of Volkswagen.

The story itself is interesting, but there’s a larger lesson. Common sense would suggest that it would be Volkswagen taking over Porsche, not the other way around. I see Volkswagens on the street everywhere; I sometimes go a week without seeing a single Porsche. But unit sales are not the goal of business, profit is — and Porsche’s is a more profitable business. (Insert your own analogy between Porsche and Apple here.)

5:04 PM

Ed Grothus and his Anthrax Cooker:


4:11 PM

Criss Angel, in a word: unbelievable - Los Angeles Times:

Angel then materializes in torn jeans and a dark pullover, and warms up the audience with a bit of banter ("I feel your love!") before he and co-writer/director Serge Denoncourt lay out the show's central conceit. "Believe's" framing device is that Angel accidentally receives a 6-million-volt jolt of electricity that fries off most of his face (a spectacle captured by an ever-present video camera). This propels him into deep hallucinatory space where our Siegfriedian hero must confront demons and angels that stalk his imagination.

These include a sinister troupe of dancing rabbits who, in one early sequence, tear Angel's parboiled "corpse" apart and dance, exultantly hoisting his severed limbs and torso. In a later scenario Angel gets sliced in half with an electric blade, his oozing intestines visible through the smoky atmospherics.

3:00 PM

Facing endless space ...

2:59 PM

Palin Just Says No to the Media Elite! | Slog | The Stranger | Seattle's Only Newspaper:

With just 24 hours left in this campaign, it’s probably a little late for the media to grow a fucking set, but… grow a fucking set already.

FOX News, CNN, MSNCB, NYT, WSJ, AP, Washington Post, et al: Refusing to cover campaign events—refusing to provide airtime and print—is the only leverage you have over national politicians who attempt to evade necessary media scrutiny and duck tough questions. She’s not obligated—obviously—to answer questions.

But you are not obligated to “bring [us] the Plain event live” either. The McCain/Palin campaign, like all other national political campaigns, desperately wants you to cover their campaign events—it’s the reason they have campaign event and rallies at all. When you cover campaign rallies featuring politicians who won’t make themselves available to you, when you cover campaign events featuring politicians who don’t answer questions or hold press conferences, you’re not covering the campaign. You’re airing campaign commercials.

2:57 PM

I dream of gardens in the desert sand...

2:29 PM

Slouching Towards Santa Teresa:

According to Proust, one proof that we are reading a major new writer is that his writing immediately strikes us as ugly. Only minor writers write beautifully, since they simply reflect back to us our preconceived notion of what beauty is; we have no problem understanding what they are up to, since we have seen it many times before. When a writer is truly original, his failure to be conventionally beautiful makes us see him, initially, as shapeless, awkward, or perverse. Only once we have learned how to read him do we realize that this ugliness is really a new, totally unexpected kind of beauty and that what seemed wrong in his writing is exactly what makes him great.

By this standard, there is no doubt that Roberto Bolaño is a great writer. 2666, the enormous novel he had almost completed when he died at 50 in 2003, has the confident strangeness of a masterpiece: In almost every particular, it fails, or refuses, to conform to our expectations of what a novel should be. For one thing, though it is being published as a single work (in a Bible-sized single-volume edition and as a three-paperback set), 2666 is made up of five sections that are so independent Bolaño originally planned to release them as separate books. These parts relate to one another, not as installments or sequels but, rather, as five planets orbiting the same sun. With their very different stories and settings, they seem to describe a single plummeting arc—the trajectory of a universe on the verge of apocalypse.

2:27 PM

So much for McCain's bounce:


1:41 PM

Andrew Sullivan (November 03, 2008) - Barack Obama For President:

These mistakes were compounded - and in large part created - by what I believe will one day be seen as the core event of the last eight years: the collapse of constitutional order and the rule of law fomented in a mixture of hubris and laziness by the president himself. It is now indisputable that the president and vice-president of the United States engineered a de facto coup against the constitution after 9/11, declaring themselves above any law, any treaty, and any basic moral norm in their misguided mission to rid the world of evil. This blog has watched this process with increasing dismay - and watched several attempts to bring the US back to sanity foiled by a relentless and unhinged vice-president's office.

Cheney and Bush, unlike any presidency in American history, have dangerously pushed constitutional government to the brink of collapse. They did not merely assert a unified executive in which actions and regulations reserved to the executive branch were kept free from Congressional and judicial tampering. That is a perfectly defensible position, especially in wartime. They did not merely act in the immediate Agabuse wake of an emergency to protect American citizens swiftly - again a perfectly legitimate use of executive power, unhampered by Congress or courts. They declared such power to be unlimited; they asserted also that it was as permanent as the emergency they declared; they claimed their dictatorial powers were inherent in the presidency itself, and above any legal constraints; they ordered their own lawyers to provide retroactive and laughable legal immunity for their crimes; they by-passed all the usual and necessary checks within the executive branch to ensure prudence and legality and self-doubt in the conduct of a war; they asserted that emergency war powers applied to the territory of the United States itself; they claimed the right to seize anyone - anyone, citizen or not - they deemed an "enemy combatant," to hold them indefinitely with no due process and to torture them until they became incoherent, broken, brutalized shells of human beings, if they survived at all. They did this to the guilty and they did this to the innocent. But they also had no way of reliably knowing which was which and who was who. Never before in wartime has the precious, sacred inheritance of free people been treated with such contempt by the leaders of the democratic West.

12:50 PM

Standing together

4:25 AM

Bob Sutton: Wisdom From Steve Jobs: The Importance of Killing Good Ideas:

The thing I remember best was that Jobs advised them that killing bad ideas isn’t that hard -- lots of companies, even bad companies, are good at that.  Jobs' argument went something like this:  What is really hard – and a hallmark of great companies – is that they kill at lot of good ideas.  Sure, this is tough on people who have come-up with the good ideas as they love them and don’t want to see them die.  But that for any single good idea to succeed, it needs a lot of resources, time, and attention, and so only a few ideas can be developed fully.  Successful companies are tough enough to kill a lot of good ideas so those few that survive have a chance of reaching their full potential and being implemented properly.  I would also add that this approach also applies to good product and experience design.  If every good idea is thrown into a product, then the result is a terrible and confusing experience. (This seems to be the problem with the latest version of Microsoft word, it does everything, so therefore is very annoying and confusing to use.)

4:25 AM


3:08 AM


3:02 AM

Parabasis: Shakespeare the Pragmatist:

Shakespeare wrote his plays for specific actors. Having recently directed a play written for the actors who were in it, I can testify that there is no way to do this without it fundamentally shaping the eventual script. I was at a talk that Simon McBurney gave about his Measure for Measure where he discussed researching the original production to the best of his ability, which included finding out who played various roles and how they were known in the theater community at the time.  According to him, the Duke was played by an actor known for funny voices and impressions.  This lead him to notice that the Duke speaks differently depending on who he's talking to, and the contrasts are so sharp as to render the character almost incoherent.  Now what does that say about the character, about the attitudes towards power in the play?  McBurney's production would eventually contain multimedia elements, abstract choreography and all the other trappings he's known for, but it started with originalist research.

Part of what makes Shakespeare great is that he addressed himself to the specifics of the needs of his troupe and his audience while simultaneously creating lasting art.  Sometimes I think we focus on the latter and not the former, when it's the integration of the two that makes him so special.

2:16 AM

Canada Geese going south

2:13 AM

Sunday, November 02, 2008

SECURITY BARD - New York Post:

Monologist Mike Daisey has done lots of research about our country's security apparatus, and his opinions are not just strong, but potentially combative.

"The act of bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki is obviously a terrorist act," says Daisey, "in the sense that you're using a weapon of mass destruction to inflict a huge amount of terror in order to end a war. Whether it's justifiable or not is a separate matter that we all need to grapple with."

That topic is the basis for Daisey's new show, "If You See Something Say Something," which runs at Joe's Pub until Nov. 30. It deals with the formation of the Department of Homeland Security, the creation of the atomic bomb and Daisey's own pilgrimage to the Los Alamos site where the first atomic tests took place.

12:17 PM


12:17 PM

Palin's Medical Records:

Still AWOL. No explanation. Not even a gesture, which suggests to me that some in the McCain camp realize they'd rather release nothing than be implicated in anything that might hurt them after the election. Only ABC News' Kate Snow seems to care. Only this blog has really pursued this story for two long months. For the record, I find the idea that a vice-presidential candidate refuses to either give a press conference or release full medial records as a dreadful precedent for transparency. Obama and Biden and McCain have been pathetic as well. But no one has been as secretive as Palin and no one else has similar strangeness in her medical history. Presumably the records are there and could have been released easily two months ago. Unless there really was no vetting at all and the McCain camp is now covering up its own incompetence as well as preparing to throw her under the bus in a few days' time.

1:42 AM

The munch bunch

1:34 AM

U.S. wants more information on Canadians:

In exchange for continued visa-free access to the United States, American officials are pressuring the federal government to supply them with more information on Canadians, says an influential analyst on Canada-U.S. relations.

"Not only about (routine) individuals but also about people that you may be looking at for reasons, but there's no indictment and there's no charge," Christopher Sands of the Hudson Institute told a security intelligence conference in Ottawa Friday.

"This raises privacy flags everywhere, but we'd like to know who your suspicious people are before they enter the United States."

He recounted a recent conversation in which Stewart Baker, assistant secretary of policy at the Department of Homeland Security, told him Canadians have "had a better deal than anybody else in terms of access to the United States and for that they've paid nothing."

The Bush administration, Mr. Baker continued, is now telling Canada "we want to give you less access, but we want you to pay more and, by the way, we're standardizing this (with other visa-free countries) so you're not special anymore."

1:34 AM

Life's a bitch

1:34 AM

A suitcase full of trouble in Washington, D.C.:

Somewhere below me, making its way upward from the bowels of a small Embraer 175, was the source of my anxiety -- a suitcase full of files and books dealing explicitly and in great detail with the likelihood and the possible shape of a nuclear terrorist attack on the United States of America.

The suitcase also contained my second passport (Eastern European in origin, complete with a number of Middle Eastern stamps), and a pouch with my travelling SIM cards, small computer chips that I swap into my mobile phone allowing me to have a Polish phone number when in Poland, British when in Britain, Israeli when in Israel, and so on, and so on.

Owing to a strange moment in life which saw me juggling graduate studies, consulting and journalism, all this seemed perfectly natural when I packed my bag.

Yet as I listened to the ubiquitous recorded announcements informing passengers to mind their suitcases, I couldn't help but give in to the anxiety of the post-9/11 airport, and to concede just how strange all this must have looked.

Once I picked up my suitcase, I started to give in to the sensation that my life would not be easy to explain away.

1:29 AM

Saturday, November 01, 2008


5:35 PM


4:16 PM


1:56 PM

Daily Kos: Reason #234,555 why we fight:

Due to the recent discovery of having an aggressive form of cancer, I'll never vote again.  But thankfully I cast my last vote for whom I sincerely believe to the best and most consequential presidential candidate to ever appear on the ballot in all of my 53 years, Barack Obama.

Like many of members of this community, I've got decades worth of political experience in terms of volunteer work and more formal elective roles within the county and state Democratic parties - along with consulting and managing campaigns and even an eleven year stint in promoting our side on talk radio.

But this election year and the candidate we are championing simply seems to dwarf anything I've been involved with in the past.  Obviously a large part of that is due to the extraordinary abuse that the current regime has inflicted upon our country in the last eight years - but it's also much larger than that.

1:54 PM

Save Polaroid

1:54 PM

Studs Terkel, Listener to Americans, Dies at 96 -

Studs Terkel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose searching interviews with ordinary Americans helped establish oral history as a serious genre, and who for decades was the voluble host of a popular radio show in Chicago, died Friday at his home there. He was 96.

In his oral histories, which he called guerrilla journalism, Mr. Terkel relied on his enthusiastic but gentle interviewing style to elicit, in rich detail, the experiences and thoughts of his fellow citizens. Over the decades, he developed a continuous narrative of great historic moments sounded by an American chorus in the native vernacular.

12:28 PM

Like lightning, but different...

12:25 PM