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December 31, 2003

score 5, interesting

The Voynich Manuscript mystery has been solved by a UK computer scientist. via /.

originally posted by xowie

livin' like a bad lieutenant

Danceteria flyers and Zoë Tamerlis shrine at lundissimo.info.

originally posted by xowie

unsafe at any read

The following links (from today's NYT) are dangerously unstable and might EXPIRE AT ANY MINUTE! Read them NOW!!! To my friends: As usual, I will be spending this New Year's Eve in the Peter Luger's parking lot with a tank of nitrous and a case of Maximus Super. Egészségedre! Drive safely.

originally posted by daiichi

December 30, 2003

The Milky Way of Doing Business

At issue is a letter dated November 3rd that Dr. Johnston sent to Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Tommy G. Thompson, officially expressing the AAP’s concern over the ‘negative approach’ of the federal agency’s soon-to-be-released, pro-breastfeeding advertising campaign. What Dr. Johnston didn’t mention in his letter, however, was that he had developed this sudden and seemingly urgent interest in this issue not via a last minute clinical review of the scientific literature, or even after consulting with the AAP’s own recognized lactation science experts.

In fact, his concern came immediately after aggressive, personal lobbying by representatives of one of the AAP’s biggest financial contributors, the $3 billion U.S. infant formula industry. Within days of a New Orleans meeting with worried formula industry reps, Johnston hurled the considerable credibility and persuasive impact of the esteemed American Academy of Pediatrics into an explicit effort to stifle the most ambitious initiative ever undertaken to promote breastfeeding in the United States.

‘Some of us within the AAP have long suspected that the infant formula companies had this sort of direct access to AAP leadership,’ explains Dr. Lawrence Gartner, a founding member of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine and chairman of the AAP’s Professional Section on Breastfeeding. ‘Dr. Johnston’s actions have revealed the extent of this influence more clearly than anything else I’ve seen. Many doctors within the AAP are very disturbed by this.’

[...]

‘As far as a negative tone goes, most successful public health campaigns rely heavily on making the public aware of negative consequences of certain behaviors. While it may be a new way to approach breastfeeding promotion, it’s a common advertising device.’ says Dr. Gartner. ‘We don’t tell parents about the ‘benefits’ of carseats. We tell them that studies indicate that if they do not use a carseat, their baby has a greater risk for being injured or killed in an accident. And telling them this has worked. Thousands of lives are saved every year because this message works.’

This is enough to make me want to barf, and then hit someone. Really hard.

kesey yogurt

Two things I learned from this article: Nancy's Yogurt is run by Ken Kesey's brother and sister-in-law, and Stonyfield Farm is 40% owned by Dannon Yogurt's parent company.

The Seattle Times: Business & Technology: Nancy's Yogurt, organic Oregon dairy hits it big.

their dream has been destroyed

Interesting, sad story about the demise of long-time publisher Creative Arts Books, and the screwing of their authors/co-publishers on the way down.

originally posted by xowie

the unctuous moral superiority of the current American president

It was Rumsfeld and Shultz who told Hussein and his emissaries that U.S. statements generally condemning the use of chemical weapons would not interfere with relations between secular Iraq and the Reagan administration, which took Iraq off the terrorist-nations list and embraced Hussein as a bulwark against fundamentalist Iran. Ironically, the U.S supported Iraq when it possessed and used weapons of mass destruction and invaded it when it didn't.

Robert Scheer, The U.S. winked at Hussein's evil.

originally posted by xowie

December 29, 2003

Play the Middle East Map Game.

Rethinking Schools - Just For Fun Map Game

December 28, 2003

the type of girl that finds don knotts very sexy

VixenLove's logs by score. via Blort.

originally posted by xowie

December 26, 2003

take my wife, please

Nice guide to polyamory, not that I would know.

originally posted by daiichi

nothing but love

If you have any appreciation of the psychedelic G-Force software — also known as the iTunes Visualizer — check out G-Force Gold Upgrade. I post this as an excuse to reinforce my meme-child: Andy O'Meara has more than earned a MacArthur ("genius") Fellowship. Make his Christmas merry with a purchase, if the spirit moves you.

December 25, 2003

about squirrels

seven o'clock, roof
eleven o'clock, back yard
three o'clock, pine tree

From '3 Haikus About Squirrels' by Bill Smith in LA Weekly: Supplement: The List 2003: More Lists

i would cancel nafta and the wto

Dennis Kucinich: the Kuro5hin interview.

originally posted by xowie

o.k. to be a wuss

This writing gig, this is my Neighborhood of Make-Believe, where it is easy to be bold and honest and confrontational. But in my real life, I have always been shy and wussy, and Mr. Rogers' gentle-Americana Buddhism made me feel as if that was good. He knew that the only reassurance in the face of the Sendakian horrors of childhood—the uncertainty, the lack of control—is acceptance. His neighborhood wasn't a utopia—he lived alone in a small apartment with a fish tank—but a community where every type of person was nice to him because he accepted them. I'd assuage my loneliness by jamming to my Mr. Rogers album all the time, but it wasn't until high school that I learned how politically radical Fred Rogers was. One of the toughest kids in the school, drunk, his gold chain hanging halfway down his already hairy chest, told me his dad would lock him and his brother in the closet every time he caught them watching Mr. Rogers, fearful the show would turn them into homosexuals. But even years later, at 18 years old and miles from a sweater vest, this kid still loved Mr. Rogers. And I realized how much worse my high school, and my world, would have been without him.

Joel Stein, TIME.

originally posted by xowie

December 24, 2003

sunny day

Terror Alert Level Terror Alert Level

December 22, 2003

hmm

Acid Mothers Temple?

fuck flux

WFMU DJs pick their Top 10s. Whoo.

xfn

"XFN (XHTML Friends Network) is a simple way to represent human relationships using hyperlinks."

December 21, 2003

for biracial children

For Biracial Children, a Look at Attitudes (washingtonpost.com)

"You have to be very careful to explain this on a level that they understand," said Francis Wardle, director of the Center for the Study of Biracial Children in Denver. "Kids don't understand race. They don't understand who is codified by race, and how it differs from country to country."

Wardle said Williams's decision to proclaim her heritage "is a wonderful opportunity to look at the history of race in this country."

He said he does not see that happening yet, because news coverage has focused solely on Williams, rather than on the vast population of other mixed-race Americans from her era who were abandoned by white parents.

December 19, 2003

ufcw strike at 2 months

Grocery workers strike summary.

Safeway CEO cashes in on stock options.

originally posted by LionIndex

court rejects music industry subpoenas

From the Washington Post: "A federal appeals court on Friday rejected efforts by the recording industry to compel the nation's Internet providers to turn over names of subscribers suspected of illegally swapping music online."

December 17, 2003

liberty, equality, fraternity

Freedom - oops! -
French president Jacques Chirac, is to ask parliament to pass a law banning Islamic headscarves and other religious insignia in French state schools. If the law is passed, from next year students will not be allowed to wear headscarves, Jewish skull caps or large(*) Christian crosses.
via the Guardian and the Beeb. This reminds me of, amongst other things, an article by former Liberal MP Jackie Ballard, who spent time in Iran and came to embrace wearing the chador as liberating:
I wonder how the media might have treated Ann Widdecombe [NB: one of her nicknames is Doris Karloff] or Blair's so-called 'babes' if all women MPs here wore the uniform of the chador. Perhaps then the women in Parliament would be taken more seriously as professional politicians doing a job, not as fat or thin women in grey or pink suits. Maybe then I would not have been described by some witty journalist as having 'a good face for radio' or be told by the late Auberon Waugh that I was 'too fat to be an MP'.
A number of women I know have expressed an interest in anonymity and freedom obtained through wearing a hijab, though none have tried it.

(*) And on an entirely puerile note, how big is a large cross anyway?

I don't feel thirty

To filibuster is to babble on and on. (It's actually a legislative term; Senators will filibuster, sometimes deep into the night , in order to kill a bill.) Thus, our blue canary is squawking endlessly (but tunefully) to the inanimate objects in the room. And filibuster sings well.*
Several They Might Be Giants fans have been analyzing that song that "always makes me happy" for about a year now. I'm sure they are not the first. And, certainly, not the last.

*Come to think of it, from a distance, the Capitol dome does look like a birdcage.

Emit Time: 2012...A Change in How We Experience Time

MP3 recordings of Daniel Pinchbeck at Palenque Norte 2003, a Burning Man theme camp. Author of Breaking Open the Head: a psychedelic journey into the heart of contemporary shamanism, Pinchbeck said of this talk, "I was very proud of this event ... in a quite intense headspace at the time... think I put a lot of information together, and presented the core of what I am hoping to do in the next book."

December 16, 2003

more david rees (ho hum)

Powells.com From the Author - David Rees
Clip art is a good way to introduce the art of comic narrative to people who might otherwise be intimidated by a perceived lack of "artist talent." Clip art usually serves a strictly utilitarian purpose, and its anonymous, often un-copyrighted, perfectly reproducible public nature is an intriguing contrast to other types of art. It can serve as the impersonal structural units through which more creative personal art is produced. The amount of free clip art available online is virtually unlimited. People like myself, who do not own a computer, can make entire comics quickly and cheaply using computers on the job or at the public library.

dems financial disclosure

Clark's net worth (between $3 million and $3.5 million, according to his campaign spokesman) is far less than the assets of Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who, with his wife, is worth an estimated $500 million. According to news accounts, the net worth of other Democratic candidates ranges from $13 million to $60 million for Sen. John Edwards (N.C.); $2.2 million to $5 million for former Vermont governor Howard Dean; and $2,000 to $32,000 for Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (Ohio).

Clark's Earnings Are Way Up (washingtonpost.com). (Thanks, linus.)

December 15, 2003

the failures of journalism

Today's top-drawer Washington newspeople are part of a highly educated, upper-middle-class elite; they belong to the culture for which the American political system works exceedingly well. Which is to say, they are, in the pure sense of the word, extremely conservative.

Most probably passed childhood in economically sheltered times, came to adulthood in the years of plenty, went to good colleges where they developed conventionally progressive social consciences, and have now inherited the comforting benefits that sixty years of liberal government have created for the middle class.

This is not a background likely to produce angry reporters and aggressive editors. If few made much fuss about President Bush's granting boons to those already rolling in money, their silence may not have been because they feared the vengeance of bosses, but only because the capacity for outrage had been bred out of them. Belonging to the upper-middle-class elite may do that.

Russell Baker, in a letter to the New York Review of Books. Via Romenesko.

December 14, 2003

XP

Via Textism: "I always knew Windows was homely, in a worn-down industrial carpeting kind of way, but had no clue just how fucking ugly XP is. It’s like living inside a perpetual Powerpoint presentation, with sham friendliness pelting down everywhere. Someone really ought to repeatedly sky-write the word RESTRAINT over Redmond."

green in '04?

From Grist magazine: "Green Thumbs-Up: Don't let the Democrats frighten you away from voting your conscience" by Robert Franklin...

[I]t's tough not to see the current Democratic pleas as part of a pattern. It's not just, "Greens, don't run for president in 2004." It's, "Greens don't run. Not any time, not any race." Why not? Because, according to the Democrats' logic, the Republican candidate is always worse than their own. They're usually right about that, but that's an argument that can be made (and has been made) about almost any race in any year. It's an argument against progressive electoral politics in America. Period.

...and "Green Thumbs-Down: Don't gamble with your vote in 2004" by Norman Solomon:

It's impossible to know whether the vote margin between Bush and his Democratic challenger will be narrow or wide in November 2004. I've never heard a credible argument that a Nader campaign might help to defeat Bush next year. A Nader campaign might have no significant effect on Bush's chances -- or it could help Bush win. With so much at stake, do we really want to roll the dice this way?

we got that war on

lia: omfg they got saddam
lia: which is nice
lia: but really where the fuck are all the WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION they invaded for?
adam: they weren't in the spider hole with him?

...

adam: the caption used to say "Saddam Hussein was shown in video filmed just after his arrest"
adam: now it says "later his beard was shaved off"
adam: bizarre
lia: also they gave him different clothes
lia: a t-shirt and is that blue thing a hoodie?
lia: saddam is stylin'
adam: maybe they got Neighborhoodies to make him a TIKRIT sweatshirt

...

lia: i hope we get a new get your war on out of this!
adam: oh yeah definitely
adam: i think we just wrote one

[ x-posted to cheesedip.com ]

kucinich v. dean

Why I'm voting for Kucinich over Dean

hussein captured

WP: Saddam Hussein Captured by U.S. Troops.

bangs

No. I was still freelancing for Rolling Stone, but I started getting things rejected in like the summer of 1970 when Wenner was going through one of his freakouts. Before that I was so stupid that I thought you should be loyal to Rolling Stone, and only freelance for them. And they were paying like $12 a review! So then I started getting reviews rejected, and I started sending each one to a different magazine. I sent them to Fusion or Creem or whatever, and things with Creem started going really good. I got this letter from Dave Marsh at Creem that said, "Yeah, kid, I've been looking at your stuff for a while. It looks really good" and something to the effect that "you take way too much acid and don't drink half enough whiskey." And I was like, "Alright, man!" And so then the assigned me to review Funhouse by the Stooges and I wrote this endless article that ran in two parts as a record review, and they printed it. And I said, "Alright, I guess this is where I'd better go. This is where I belong."

Jim DeRogatis interviews Lester Bangs.

December 13, 2003

Closing the TRUE Digital Divide.

[...]dropping technology costs and expanded access to the Internet for millions of Americans have led many to believe that the divide is soon to be a thing of the past in the United States. Last February, Nancy Victory, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, reported that the divide was disappearing. The study, A Nation Online: How Americans Are Expanding Their Use of The Internet, shows that from 1998 to 2001 Internet use among African-Americans grew at an annual rate of 31 percent, while use among whites grew by 19 percent. Soon after the release of the study, the N.T.I.A. announced plans to kill the Technology Opportunities Program, which was designed to provide matching grant money for technology projects at schools, libraries, health agencies, police departments and nonprofits.

This kind of thinking makes people like Servon nervous. "Because the technology gap has been defined so narrowly, policies and programs have also been narrowly focused," she writes. Servon believes that two major, and usually overlooked, components of the divide are training in IT literacy and the creation of content relevant to underserved communities--and that these issues are actually much more difficult to resolve then the more direct problem of access. "Policy makers' narrow focus on access is insufficient to the problem. There is a disconnect between policy and need," she writes.

According to Servon, "A troubling cycle has begun to take shape, in which the lack of access to information technology and its requisite skills contributes both to an inability to compete in the mainstream economy and an inability to participate in civil society." These inequities, she fears, will only increase as broadband, which enables users to access a higher volume of information, becomes more widespread among those with high incomes.

Technology, however, can be used to promote positive social change, to expand democracy and to alleviate poverty. In one chapter of her book Servon, with Marla K. Nelson, offers an instructive history of community technology centers (C.T.C.s) and the community technology movement, showing their development from the 1960's to the present. C.T.C.s aim to provide computer access to the general public and to underserved populations, especially low-income people. She also discusses some of the successful approaches now being practiced.

Servon believes that in addition to promoting computer literacy, community technology centers could become a potent force for economic advancement in poor neighborhoods as they bring residents together to set goals and achieve results.

Ford Foundation Report

Betty Does Life On Welfare

Some Welfare and Poverty Myths, because this is my last day of regular internet access and I've got a bug up my ass.

People who are on Welfare have always been on welfare and will always be on welfare

Most families are on Welfare for less than two years. Most of them are middle class women who are going through a divorce.

People who are on welfare or get foodstamps should get off their fucking ass and get a job

In my state, and I think in every other state because of the Welfare reform bills that were passed, welfare recipients must be employed no less than twenty hours a week OR full time students, though increasingly states are cutting even this option and mandating that welfare recipients take dead end (and "poverty loop") jobs instead of getting an education which will enable them to fully support themselves and ultimately pay enough taxes to be fully enfranchised citizens.

and that's not all...

romiphoto

My friend Romi Chiorean has a new photo blog, where he posts his views of California, New York, square heads, huge beards, and much more. Go check it out!

December 12, 2003

But I'll still be disappointed

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is on its way to becoming the most acclaimed film of all time.

d.c. biking

Northern Virginia would have more than 800 miles of bicycle trails -- more than four times what it has now -- under a proposal released by state transportation officials.

The suggested regional network of bicycle routes would connect Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties as well as the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park. No price tag was attached to the proposal; officials described it as a guide for local governments.

WP: Vast Bike Trail System Proposed.

John Peel

Here are some MP3 downloads of songs played by John Peel:
Here are some free and legal mp3 downloads of songs that John Peel has featured on his Radio 1 show recently. All these tracks have been made made available by the bands or record labels themselves, they don't involve Kazaa or anonymous postings toalt.binaries.sounds or anything like that. The idea is that if you like the track, you'll buy some of their records, which seems pretty sound to me.
(Via Alaina)

Game Over

Welovethescoinformationminister.org is your source for SCO quotes and links on the case. It would be funny if these people weren't out to destroy Linux.

December 11, 2003

Judefilter

hello, portland: Where are we going to eat? Is there anywhere left? That's Becca on the left, Jude on the right.

burmese music

Mr. Naing said that like jazz musicians, Burmese players "look at one another and listen to the tune and play accordingly."

"And even though they might play the same piece of music, the next time they play it differently," he said.

But does it sound anything like jazz?

"No," Mr. Naing said with a laugh, "it's totally different."

A Burmese orchestra will play in New York tomorrow and Saturday for the first time in almost 30 years. (login: rwalks, pwd: walks) I first heard some of this incredible music in a Burmese restaurant in Northern Virginia and bought this fine disc not long after. It's a good place to start.

ken vandermark

What I'm trying to do and I think the people that I work with are trying to do is do the same exact thing that Ellington did in a way, but with our own set of systems of information. We're living in a different time. I think that if Duke Ellington was born now, where he was, let's say, from my generation, the music that he would be writing would be radically different. Charlie Parker would not be playing bebop now. He'd be doing a different kind of music because he would have come out of a different time period and a different social situation and all those other things that effect what you play. In a longwinded way, Fred, it's pretty difficult to describe exactly what I'm trying to do because I'm not sure. I don't think that it's just one thing. I think that it's a diversity of things.

Reedman Ken Vandermark's Free Music Ensemble played last night at the Black Cat in Washington, D.C., with the stamina of marathon runners and enough ferocity for five punk shows. His website features a few cuts.

Atom .9

The AtomAPI version .9 has been released. Authentication is still TBD.

December 10, 2003

soft money

"The idea that large contributions to a national party can corrupt or create the appearance of corruption of federal candidates and officeholders is neither novel nor implausible," the majority said. "There is substantial evidence in these cases to support Congress' determination that contributions of soft money give rise to corruption and the appearance of corruption."

The court said Congress also has power to act against all or any "circumventions" of campaign laws, whether in the form of "soft money" or sham "issue ads."

The justices rejected as "unpersuasive" arguments that the new provisions intrude on constitutionally protected rights of free speech and free political association.

Washington Post: Supreme Court Upholds Political Money Law.

Let's Get Together

MyAntiwar.org : Latest Headlines and Blogs Against War should get together.

remembering Ken Kesey

By the second bottle of wine, Kesey said, "America is hard on writers. I call it the Hemingway complex. Who I am, my persona, stands behind my characters. It's as though I'm holding a mask out in front of me and writing through the mask. Who you get is me behind the mask. You don't get that from Shakespeare, or Mark Twain. I have no idea who Melville was, but Ahab will stalk around in my attic for the rest of my life, and that's how it ought to be." Kesey the messenger had become the message. When Hemingway the hunter became Hemingway the hunted, he slipped a shotgun into his mouth and tripped the trigger with his toe. Kerouac's "Road" ended in his mother's Florida ranch house, Kerouac's magnificent youth bloated, unshaven, angry and sodden.

Sparks fly upwards: Remembering Ken Kesey

being pecked to death by a phoenix

It's Emily Dickinson's birthday.

There's a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons--
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes--

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us--
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are--

None may teach it--Any--
'Tis the Seal Despair--
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air--

When it comes, the Landscape listens--
Shadows--hold their breath--
When it goes, 'tis like the Distance
On the look of Death--

Quotes cribbed from today's Writer's Almanac:

You ask of my companions. Hills, sir, and the sundown, and a dog large as myself, that my father bought me. They are better than beings because they know, but do not tell; and the noise in the pool and noon excels my piano. . . . I have a brother and sister; my mother does not care for thought, and my father, too busy with his briefs to notice what we do.

I . . . am small, like the wren; and my hair is bold, like the chestnut burr; and my eyes, like the sherry in the glass that the guest leaves.

Excerpts from Susan Howe's "My Emily Dickinson."

The Metaphysics of Humor

creak, creak, we're down south: The Metaphysics of Humor

because I wanted to know about modulation

"The Tonal Centre is an interactive site for music composers and theorists which explains and demonstrates some of the key concepts of tonality; including chords, scales, cadences, and modulation."

use or abuse?

To message, to send a message, to bring our message to. To reach out to. Context. Straightlaced. A factor, a decisive factor. Myriads of decisive factors. "It is a federal requirement to comply with all safety regulations on this flight." In this context, of this context. On a —ly basis. From the standpoint of. Contextualization. Within the parameters of this context. Decontextualization. Defamiliarize. Orientated...I don't feel well and hope I recoup.
David Foster Wallace's introduction to his 2001 Harper's article on dictionary usage spares no one, expecially the federal government and literary theorists. (via a current rW flux discussion).

rees and lydon

Christopher Lydon: What's Funny on the Internet? David Rees Knows. With link to audio interview. Lydon used to host public radio's The Connection, where he attracted devoted fans, and now has plunged full-bore into weblogging, with The Blogging Of the President.

bags and boards

Bags and Boards Variety comics weblog

flux

Full-Circle 360° at once panoramic camera lens w/'aha!' diagram

December 9, 2003

i am the music man and you're a thief

The poet rode waves that peaked on accusation and explanation:

you weren't there when whips cracked the backs
I was there I didn't see you

The crowd was shouting back to Roger as he voiced its feeling, gave air to black peoples' grievance at the commercial success of white bands imitating black bands. "The Music Man" continued. Locating himself as the heir to a culture formed from the experiences of Afrikans in enslavement. Black music is his birthright and we white people who play this music and sell it out by selling it off in watered down forms were being called to task. He said that he was there on the slave ships, that he had sung the songs of slaves, that he was those people and they were him, in him now, calling his poem, inflecting his voice with its Trinian accent, fuelling that fire that gave birth to his passion. The last verse fell off of a crescendo and he slowed down easing us to the close:

i am the music man/ i am the music man/i am the music man
and you're a t'ief.

He left the stage to acclaim from his peers. The MC came on and all he said was "Yo Red," which was my poetry call sign. Speaking to me in poetry. The whole poem was addressed to white people working with black forms. People like me. In fact, the poem was addressed directly to me. I stood there dealing with my feelings of disorientation. I was being called out, again. Twice in one night. Something was happening. Something I couldn't deny. A challenge to what I was doing surrounding myself with the signs of black cultural forms.

Wiggers and Wannabes: White Ethnicity in Contemporary Youth Culture.

The Miami Model

The M I A M I M O D E L !

originally posted by zagg

I will be your Psychic TV if you'll be mine.

[...] Chalk it up to early mid-life crisis if you like, but whenever I played piano as a kid I imagined myself actually *in* one of the bands I was pretending to play along with. Although playing alone gave me pleasure, it was at least in part the pleasure of anticipating the day when I'd do this for other people. Chalk it up to the principle of social currency, but it's the connections that matter. Playing a particularly intense organ section last night, I felt the reality of what I've been talking about all these years: the music itself is just a medium for interaction. It's an excuse for a kind of intimacy between the members of the band, and between the band and the audience.

In a sense, it doesn't matter what the music sounds like or what the lyrics say. These are just the agreements we make in order to enter the state of consciousness and connection, together. (That's why we want our rock or hiphop stars to have some sort of integrity or hipness - so we feel safe letting go. We don't want to find out they're sold out or molesting babies.) For some, I'm sure the music we were playing was, no doubt, too dark or loud or perhaps even too gentle for them to take the leap into sharing that space with us. Not every invitation is right for everyone. [...]

I <3 Douglas Rushkoff's "Music as Medium."

December 8, 2003

Ned? Ned Ryerson?

Harold Ramis, the director of the film and one of its writers, said last week that since it came out he has heard from Jesuit priests, rabbis and Buddhists, and that the letters keep coming. "At first I would get mail saying, 'Oh, you must be a Christian, because the movie so beautifully expresses Christian belief,' " Mr. Ramis said during a conversation on his mobile phone as he was walking the streets of Los Angeles. "Then rabbis started calling from all over, saying they were preaching the film as their next sermon. And the Buddhists! Well, I knew they loved it, because my mother-in-law has lived in a Buddhist meditation center for 30 years and my wife lived there for 5 years."

New York Times story on the manifold spiritual resonances of the Bill Murray comedy Groundhog Day.

teacher, john said a bad word!

From "White House criticizes Kerry's use of the F-word":

When asked in the interview about the success of rival candidate Howard Dean, whose anti-war message has resounded with supporters, [John] Kerry responded: "When I voted for the war, I voted for what I thought was best for the country. Did I expect Howard Dean to go off to the left and say, 'I'm against everything?' Sure. Did I expect George Bush to f--- it up as badly as he did? I don't think anybody did."

The expletive drew a rebuke from White House, which suggested an apology might be in order.

...

The Kerry campaign said the Massachusetts senator had no regrets.

"John Kerry saw combat up close, and he doesn't mince words when it comes to politicians who put ideological recklessness ahead of American troops," said spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter. "I think the American people would rather Card and the rest of the White House staff spend more time on fixing Bush's flawed policy in Iraq than on Sen. Kerry's language."

I still like Dean (and Kucinich) better than Kerry, but this story pleased me very much.

(Also: please, Democrats, get a clue and stop squabbling stupidly amongst yourselves and doing the far right's work for them, like you did during the last presidential election. This is a step in the right direction.)

December 6, 2003

SendakFilter

Maurice, among the best of the best, shocks deeply, touching on the mortal, the insupportably sad or unjust, even on the carnal, on the primal rather than the merely primitive. He pitches children, including aged children, out of the familiar and into mystery, and then into understanding, wisdom even. He pitches children through fantasy into human adulthood, that rare, hard-won and, let's face it, tragic condition.
Tony Kushner's wonderful article on his friend Maurice Sendak in today's Guardian.

not looking is an unreasonable choice

Photographs, it has often been said, both objectify and subjectify what they depict. They atomize time, disconnecting past from present. A picture may tell a thousand words, but words have ultimate power over photographs because each photograph is just a fragment: it needs words to assign it a context, and this context may change along with the message of the image.

NYTM: Photographs That Cry Out for Meaning

originally posted by xowie

December 5, 2003

strips

I've been watching the Scripting News redesign. Now that I see where he's going, it's deja vu all over again. Dave has introduced a featured in which he rotates the banners at the top of his web page. He's where randomWalks has been for over four years. I bet Dave wishes he had adopted the randomWalks engine four years ago.

Johnny, my love, get out of the business

Baltimore City Paper: Funny Paper, November 24-30, 2003

The cavemen have a strange and halting conversation about how thankful they are for freedom of speech. The last B.C. was this clunky was on Nov. 10, when Johnny Hart ran a gag about a crescent-moon-adorned outhouse that some observers took to be a veiled slur against Islam. At the time, Funny Paper wasn't sure if Hart was guilty or not, but the very awkwardness of the strip made us suspicious. Plus it wasn't funny. Not that that proves anything about B.C. But we're going to have to add this Thanksgiving strip to the court file. If Hart wasn't insulting Islam, why's he taking the First Amendment now? His defense two weeks ago was that he hadn't said anything offensive in the strip. Now he appears to be saying that he had the right to say what he didn't say. Which is it, Johnny? Victim or martyr?

December 4, 2003

netflix neuralgia

We have managed to get our fix of lighter cinematic fare in theaters, where we have seen "Finding Nemo," "Intolerable Cruelty" and even "Down With Love" (that one was Jen's idea). But this means that we will not have those movies to vary our Netflix viewing in the future. Now we are debating whether to skip movies while they are in theaters so that we can mix them into our Netflix queue. (We could also simply update the queue, one friend pointed out, but so far we have not done that because we fear that we might never order the must-see movies.)

Friends who have subscribed to Netflix say they have encountered a similar problem, with the result that they cycle through the lighter movies quickly while the serious ones sit gathering dust for weeks or months. Indeed, I have a theory that Netflix's records would show that all of us tend to keep serious movies for much longer than we keep the lighter ones.

NYT: Catching Up on the Classics? Bring Tissues.

December 3, 2003

god, sex, cars, really good scotch and...

It is not about getting back in touch with my masculine side. It is not about getting in touch with my feminine side or my social side or my college side or my macho grunting drunken hangover side. I am not in a frat. It's about, very simply, the human side.

Real Men Need Poker Night by Mark Morford.

originally posted by xowie

ombudsman ombudsman

How the White House Fooled NPR by NPR ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin.

inside the ipod

The iPod's history is comparatively free of lightning-bolt moments. Apple was not ahead of the curve in recognizing the power of music in digital form. It was practically the last computer maker to equip its machines with CD burners. It trailed others in creating jukebox software for storing and organizing music collections on computers. And various portable digital music players were already on the market before the iPod was even an idea. Back when Napster was inspiring a million self-styled visionaries to predict the end of music as we know it, Apple was focused on the relationship between computers and video. The company had, back in the 1990's, invented a technology called FireWire, which is basically a tool for moving data between digital devices -- in large quantities, very quickly. Apple licensed this technology to various Japanese consumer electronics companies (which used it in digital camcorders and players) and eventually started adding FireWire ports to iMacs and creating video editing software. This led to programs called iMovie, then iPhoto and then a conceptual view of the home computer as a ''digital hub'' that would complement a range of devices. Finally, in January 2001, iTunes was added to the mix.

And although the next step sounds prosaic -- we make software that lets you organize the music on your computer, so maybe we should make one of those things that lets you take it with you -- it was also something new. There were companies that made jukebox software, and companies that made portable players, but nobody made both. What this meant is not that the iPod could do more, but that it would do less. This is what led to what Jonathan Ive, Apple's vice president of industrial design, calls the iPod's ''overt simplicity.'' And this, perversely, is the most exciting thing about it.

New York Times Magazine: The Guts of a New Machine. (So much porn for iPod lovers.)

don't ask don't tell

On its 10th anniversary, "don't ask, don't tell" exists in a vastly changed nation. In 1993, there was no "Will & Grace," no gay Jack on "Dawson's Creek," no gay-themed Miller Lite commercials. In 1993, fewer than a dozen U.S. high schools had Gay-Straight Alliance organizations. Today, there are almost 2,000. In 1993, fewer than a dozen Fortune 500 companies offered health benefits to domestic partners. Today, nearly 200 do.

This newer version of America is the one young enlistees leave behind when they join the military. On average, three or four service members are discharged each day because they are gay. Most are discharged for making statements about their sexuality, and most are younger than 25.

Anne Hull in The Washington Post: How "Don't Tell" Translates.

December 2, 2003

fharper's

The redesigned Harpers.org looks like Ftrain (and therefore looks much better than before). Paul Ford explains.

A confirmed "shroomer"

They had four different varieties. I asked them what the mildest one was and they recommended the Mexicans. Within 15 minutes I started to get this warm, tingly feeling. Within half an hour the market had become this vibrant and colourful place.

The Guardian: High times in magic mushroom business - and it's perfectly legal. Mycology in the U.K.

"a whole new image to promote their new pizza"

Please watch the Where'd The Cheese Go fan video.

public service announcement

Sakai, an award-winning tattoo artist, was tired of seeing sacred Japanese words, symbols of his heritage, inked on random white people. So he used their blissful ignorance to make an everlasting statement. Any time a customer came to Sakai’s home studio wanting Japanese tattooed on them, he modified it into a profane word or phrase. [...] "I think I’m helping my fellow man by labeling all the stupid people in the world," he explained. "It’s not a crime, it’s a public service."
A story from December 2002, via Burnt Toast.

December 1, 2003

The Monster

YMDi (Youth Media Distribution) is also participating in Link and Think.

We're spotlighting a youth-produced film called The Monster, which was the result of a collaboration between 5 young filmmakers and Scenarios USA. The Monster tells the story of James, an HIV positive teenager who is scared to tell his friends about his status because he is worried that they won't hang out with him anymore.

In addition to schools and community based organizations, Scenarios USA reaches out to youth in jails and prisons, where the rate of AIDS is six-times higher than in the community outside bars. Five incarcerated boys from Rikers Island’s Detention Center won Scenarios 2000 NY contest.

In general, the winners of the Scenarios contest are involved in every step of the production process so that the final film is true to the writers’ vision. Since the writers of The Monster were in jail, the director, Adam Davidson, and writer, John Hamburg, traveled to Rikers Island on a bi-monthly basis to meet with the youth. Adam and John worked with the writers to adapt the script and also brought in tapes of casting sessions and location scouts for the writers input. In fact, the kids kept demanding another casting session because they couldn’t agree on a lead actress!


You can read a Case Study about the production and outreach efforts surrounding The Monster, and watch a quicktime stream of the film on-line.

safety begins at home

Am I Infected? A Complete Guide to Testing for HIV.

originally posted by xowie

Link and Think 2003

World AIDS Day: Link and Think 2003