August 29, 2003
Updates from Backstage

These just in, adjacent in my inbox.

First one is from my aunt. Her daughter -- my cousin -- married G., a french citizen, three months ago. They went on honeymoon, and when they returned to the states, he got detained. He got busted for pot when he was about 16, and though it was settled, this is a good personal view into what happens from here on out to foreign nationals. The legal charges on this have thus far exceeded $20,000, which will never be recovered.

Second one is from my friend. Her husband -- the executive director of the #### -- was just arrested, and all the details are in the press conference below. The #### is a well respected organization that has made a big difference in simply protecting various species from going extinct.

All I'm saying is, these are people I know personally, and two emails like this in one day is a useful index for something, and a lousy way to wake up.

From my aunt:

Well, no one can ever say I lead a quiet or dull existence. The situation with G. was (and continues to be) a complete and total nightmare. He has a preliminary hearing before the Immigration Board but not until March. The lawyer is confident he will not be deported but this Mandatory Detention Law is something out of a very, very bad B movie. They kept him in jail for 8 ½ days and the stories he reports about other – less connected or informed – immigrants is incredibly frightening for our society. People are being detained for things that occurred years and years ago for which they paid their debt to society. One of the people who was placed in a cell with him was a Human Resources Deputy for some government agency. He is a legal alien from Africa who has been here for more than12 years. He is not even the person they claim he is – a true case of mistaken identity. Case after case of wrongfully held people. The press makes it seem like only Arabs and Muslims are being detained but that is not the case. My instincts are to raise hell – go to the media, etc. But the lawyer says to lay low until G. case is settled. There are several bills before congress to change this law, but in these times of terrorist turmoil the likelihood of having immigration laws changed is nil.

From my friend:

Press Conference
Thursday, August 28th, 2:30 pm,


Developers filed false arrest charges against executive director
of ####

Tucson Police Department arrests first, investigates later- allows
itself to act as a political tool for the powerful Tucson development

#### and ####s, a prominent Tucson law firm, are holding a press conference to today to announce an aggressive legal fight against the unjust arrest of __, the Center’s executive director. Mr. __ was arrested on the basis of a false police report filed by the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association (SAHBA).

On Tuesday, August 19th, environmental activists staged a peaceful protect at SAHBA’s office. The protest objected to SAHBA’s lawsuit to strip environmental protection for the endangered cactus ferruginous pygmy owl and it continuous efforts to undermine the County’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

The protest was conducted without incident. Police were not called to the scene. Numerous television and print media attended the event, but none reported any assault or disorderly behavior. Three days later, however, on February 22nd, the Tucson Police Department arrested __, Executive Director of #### on seven counts of disorderly conduct, two counts of assault, and one count of trespassing. Mr. __ was separated from his pregnant wife, spending 24 hours in jail before being released on his own recognizance.

Though Mr. __ voluntarily met with the police who claimed to have questions for him, he was not interviewed, he was simply arrested. The official police report acknowledges that 20 protesters and numerous members of the media were present during the alleged incident, but none of them were interviewed either. Mr. __ was arrested on nothing more than the unsubstantiated claims of his political opponents at SAHBA, the same organization whose former spokesman has said of the Center: “the more strident and radical viewpoints do have to be pushed to the side.” (See “The Wild Bunch, Why does the #### keep winning?”, Tucson Weekly, 6-21-01).

Mr. ____’s arrest closely parallels the Tucson Police Department’s false arrest of Dr. Robin Silver, Conservation Chairman of the ####, at an environmental protest in 1992. The charges in that incident were dropped for lack of evidence and a lawsuit was filed against the police alleging false arrest. Through an arbitration process, Dr. Silver was awarded $25,000 dollars. Interestingly, that case centered around the charge that Tucson Police arrested Dr. Silver without provocation simply because they were told to do so by Steve Emerine, who then represented telescope builders. Emerine resigned after the incident, but has recently turned up as a spokesperson for developers fighting the protection of the pygmy owl and the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. And environmental activists are again being unjustly arrested for exercising free speech. The Tucson Police Department has again demonstrated its willingness to be used a political attack dog for Tucson’s powerful development lobby.

Posted by kevin slavin at 01:49 PM
madonna and child

as if the gap commercial wasn't a pathetic enough way to try to regain relevance with the 18-34 set, madonna gets a little mouth-to-mouth career resuscitation from britney. 

although i'll admit it is a lot hotter than michael brushing off his moves a few years back.

Posted by elia at 11:21 AM
August 28, 2003
The Birthday Problem

I just found out I was born on the very same day as a friend of mine in the office. I looked up something I was never very sure about, which is the likelihood of that happening in groups. I had heard it was more or less 100% when you get 50 people, and that never made sense to me.

Indeed, I was wrong. In our 62-person office, it's only a little bit higher than 99%.

Posted by kevin slavin at 03:09 PM
Just keeping abreast

Well, looks like the hot topic of the day is Arnold's bad behavior. I'm sure a part of every politician's moment of truth comes right before they dive in, when their political advisors sit them down and ask them, "So, is there anything we should know about?" In Arnold's case, apparently, there was the orgy thing, the misogyny thing, the infidelity thing, the nude photo thing, the drug thing, the tit-popping thing, the Nazi thing, the steroid thing, the Enron thing, the Oui Magazine thing...

Posted by tmonkey at 11:40 AM
August 27, 2003
bathroom humor

maybe it's just me, but i think learning to go to the bathroom in japanese is more fun that learning to go in english. (note: there's audio.)

Posted by elia at 03:57 PM
blackout update

Claim: Photograph shows a satellite view of the August 2003 blackout of northeastern United States and Canada.
Status: False.
Origins: Although the great blackout which struck the northeastern United States and Canada on the afternoon of 14 August 2003 and lasted well into the next day darkened many large North American cities (Cleveland, Detroit, Toronto, Ottawa, New York), it didn't produce nearly as total a zone of blackness as depicted in the image shown above. Artificial light was still quite visible throughout many parts of the northeastern region, as shown in the photograph below…

Posted by dbrown at 10:50 AM
August 26, 2003
360 Degrees of Howard Safir (The Price of Tea in China)


In the movement towards the market-state and the metanational corporation, a lot of companies are developing new limbs and fingers, in order to do things they've never done before. White-collar work is getting outsourced, and things like the intricacies of Chinese currency are beginning to be understood (and hyped) as having something to do with all that unemployment here at home.

But the lost jobs and manufacture, goes the logic, are the price of a globalized marketplace. Dell can sell its computers anywhere, because they are made everywhere (including the invisible juridical-market-state.) Cheap labor makes cheap product, and cheap product can be sold anywhere, including the consumer-confident United States.

As these products and brands grow metanational, however, they are behaving in ways that may not remind us of how they did. Things get complicated; a cough drop is mislabeled “fuck” for the german market or other marketing problems of language or culture. Megacommunication problems have simply spawned megacorporations to solve those problems.

The Omnicom Group is one of those megacorporations. Omnicom is the holding company for three of the top 10 advertising agencies in the world. They also own a bunch of other big agencies, as well as the megaglobal media buying agency OMD. Their Diversified Agency Services (DAS) includes three of the biggest PR agencies in the world: Fleischman Hillard, Ketchum and Porter-Novelli. If you check out the Omnicom DAS website, they're not kidding: there are a lot of Omnicom companies you still don't know.

Because there are complexities. I'm talking about how complex global brands live outside traditional borders, and the protections that those borders provide. Whether that's in ether or on the sea, there are places where brands are in a wild west of the west: there is a different kind of intelligence to gather, a different kind of risk to manage. I am not speaking abstractly.

Think the DeBeers corporation and how it operates in the world, that's an obvious and extreme example. But there are much more subtle and pervasive ones. Which is why there are more guns for more hire, in general. Conflict is increasingly outsourced, from the Slomin shield to, for example, DynCorp. The acquisition of DynCorp by an IT company, one could argue, makes an old nation-state kind of sense. IT has always been an extension of military technology, and it's more a reunion than a blind date.

But ”demand for the corporate security industry's services goes beyond the immediate threat of violence.” We've been talking since the commercial internet that how a brand behaves is what a brand is. Think Enron, or Global Crossing, from whose converted bankrupt offices I write this. Think Martha Stewart, and how the brand affected the magazine -- Unilever's spend in 2002 was around a million, and this year, almost nothing) “Security” is now part of the perception business.

What does all this have to do with the controversial xNYPD Commissioner Howard Safir, and whatever happened to him? For one thing, he started Safir-Rossetti. Safir-Rossetti is in the business of “security, investigation, and intelligence.” Which is fair enough, they brought us the Res-Q-Line, some kind of Acme Corp. assemblage we are to use if, say, a 737 passenger jet comes through our ex-Global Crossing window. That kind of level-headedness under extreme conditions is what Safir is used to.

All of which is a long winded logical proof, I hope, because the point is that of all those Omnicom companies you still don’t know, Safir-Rossetti is one of them. Because it was less than two months after 9/11 that Safir-Rossetti became part of Omnicom, a “global leader in marketing and communications.” Making Omnicom the first communications firm to understand (and model) their business to include “security, investigations and Intelligence.” We are talking in euphemisms here, here are some of them: Travel Intelligence, Physical Security, Asset Recovery. Are these three of the 360 degrees of branding? Looks like it. So, I guess, were Amadou Diallo, Abner Louima, Dante Johnson, Anthony Baez, and Antoine Reid. All of them brought to you by.

(Extensive props to Dan and Jay, who brought chunks of this to my attention.)

Posted by kevin slavin at 05:07 PM
it's always the last place you look

the weapons of mass destruction are in tampa bay.

Posted by elia at 02:50 PM
Whispered Through Fiberoptic Cable

Via MeFi, overheard conversations from the London subways. Simple, admirable, collectible.

Posted by kevin slavin at 03:31 AM
August 25, 2003


If I remember it right, and it would be fitting if I didn't, Stanislaw Lem's Memoirs Found in a Bathtub took place in a future world that had been ravaged by a virus from space. The virus did no damage to humans, but it eliminated paper altogether, throwing the world's collective memory back to the classical age (at best).

That was 1971. It's 2003 now, and that's pretty unlikely to happen. On the other hand, looked at your CD-Rs lately?

Posted by kevin slavin at 06:48 PM
Poisoning the Well

This entry is to introduce a new word, and that word is "clog."

Clog is a noun, and it refers to a fake blog used for marketing purposes. A corporate-blog: clog.

The latest is buried deep in the flash glitter that is T-Mob's "we're so fucking hip and in touch with what teenagers want that we hired the director of Ghost In The Shell" botch: Johnny Chase. Draw your own conclusions; I had been contemplating purchase of the Sidekick until I saw who it's for, which is no one.

And of course, since it's advertising, it's not without precedent.

(that last one is Dr. Pepper, btw)

Posted by kevin slavin at 04:15 PM
Google Poetry part Whatever

If Googlism's found poems do nothing for you and if the random picture generator below doesn't reveal a hidden fabric of pixels, then Google's latest lab tool -- "Google Sets" may work.

YMMV. This worked out nicely, but this took a funny turn. And this one, saturation inspired, took some turns that reinvent the game. I propose new categories for our blog, accordingly.

Posted by kevin slavin at 01:19 PM
Hello Google

This doesn't work, nor do I have any ideas how it might. Clues?

Posted by kevin slavin at 01:07 PM
August 22, 2003
hello america

vice's next cover is the most e-mailed photo on yahoo...

Posted by elia at 04:46 PM
August 20, 2003
filetype: .jpg

Random Personal Picture Finder. Self-evidently great, self-evidently made just for people like me. And what an amazing use of google syntax. I can't figure out how no pr0n shows up. (oh, wait.)

Posted by dbrown at 07:58 PM

the bush 04 official site is up. Which will provide hours of fun. For now: "compassion," for the president, seems to be defined by interacting with minorities. Every picture here is of or related to minorities. Help me out here. How is compassion defined by & limited to race? Really, now. [adapted/stolen from eschaton]

Posted by dbrown at 06:29 PM
August 19, 2003
Tilde Carl

edited; here's the link now: tilde carl

on one level, there's the romance, or the romantic: "2003.08.06 / remembering tonight how your nails dug into my palms / and i couldn't look to see the anger in your eyes"

and there's the sadness: "2000.11.24 / when i was small i didn't have an imaginary friend. i had an imaginary enemy. / his name was oliver. / he usually won."

and there's Galaxie 500: "2001.04.04 / I don't wanna stay at your party / I don't wanna talk with your friends / I don't wanna vote for your president / I just wanna be your tugboat captain"
(and of course Galaxie was both romance and sadness, the way I remember it)

but also there's the fact that this guy's been doing this for a long time -- a really long time for the medium. It is touching, watching the arc or descent of what it was becoming what it is. Remembering what things were then, what they are now. That arc is always touching, but the other things make it more so. (and now I am thinking about the Moviegoer, and repetition, and the constant sounding of the gap between then and now, and wondering.)

whoever this is, he reminds me a little of Kevin. I wonder if it's that Carl. One of you must know him. I think yeah, it's that Carl.

Posted by dbrown at 07:53 PM
In the Absence of Politics, the Market Fills the Void

As in the case of flash mobs, which are mobs without capital-p politics, ("the fun of the flash mob is its absurdist, inexplicable nature").

Nothing remains absurdist or inexplicable for long. The capital-m market is no smart bomb, but rather, a pervasive one, and it seeps. Relentless seep. Your hosts, Mark Redetzke and James Hering.

Posted by kevin slavin at 04:26 PM
Elimination Dance

Those who are allergic to the sea

Those who have resisted depravity


Anyone with pain

Posted by kevin slavin at 04:00 PM
Memory Was Supposed to be Invisible


Cornell's University's geeplog -- "Like ghosts in midair, such remarks surfaced whenever the palmtop, equipped with a small Global Positioning System unit, was carried to any of the spots where they were written a year or two ago."

Like photography and film , context-aware devices are being independently invented all over the place. This is nice, since they are all about context to begin with. Beyond the Cornell experiment and the headmap folk blogged earlier, there is the developing Urban Tapestries project (which may be clearer in its execution than in its explanation) and the Invisible Ideas demo developed by Smart Worlds.

I want specific geeplogs developed for New York City. A context-aware mobile index of first kisses, for example, or alerts for long-lost items of purely sentimental value. An expanding, permanent, universal missing house, except that now the houses don't have to be missing. Digital counter-monuments. I want Shimon Attie but in walkman form, know what I'm saying?

Posted by kevin slavin at 01:39 PM
August 18, 2003
Cuddlin' Streptococcus


Sometimes it amazes me that it has taken the human race so long to come up with simple, extraordinary things. I'm not referring to gun control, but rather to the plush streptococcus, orthomyoxvirus, and porphorymonas gingivalis (pictured above) available at Giant Microbes.

Posted by kevin slavin at 11:50 PM
Kein Werther Mehr (No More Werthers)

I don't know what Goethe would have done with Blogger, but Phillip Lenssen proposes the Sorrows of a Young man blog, "Being a Palimpsest of Goethe's Werther." Remember how you felt when you were 20 and someone ate your whole heart? It's like that, but in German ( though Lenssen's blog is in English).

Since, as Lenssen points out, the original publication of Goethe's "die Leiden des Jungen Werther" started a suicide contagion, it's worthwhile to consider such a blog -- with it's circulation being theoretically far wider than Goethe's -- as its own kind of WMD. Like the lethal Infinite Jest entertainment, but upside down and backwards.

Posted by kevin slavin at 05:38 PM
Big Brother Wears a Bellhop Cap

Google end of privacy insert meta-tag here whatever. It's no frickin news from the news fit to print that those of us in our "20's and 30's are going to feel the brunt of the transition ... because they grew up with more traditional concepts of privacy even as the details of their lives were being captured electronically." Whatever. There are cavity searches between 0 and 1, and okay, okay, I know. I get it.

What's new (and absurdly mis-nomer'd) is the marketing practice of "counter-googling." Don Peppers and Martha Rogers used to talk "1 to 1 marketing" through serious database mining -- but that's nothing compared to the Bel-Air Hotel using Google to profile their guests to, uh, "give them a room with morning sun if they like jogging early in the day." This and more described in "Counter-Googling" at

Posted by kevin slavin at 05:19 PM
7.7 Million Served

7.7 million American adults is our target market for the United States prison population in 2010. That's 16.7% of black men, for example, who have a 1 in 3 chance of being in prison at some point.

Which means we don't have to try very hard, given that it's currently 5.6 million people with "prison experience" at the moment. That's 2.7%, or as the New York Post puts it, 3%!

Among other things, that will be 7.7 million Americans who can't vote, and who by the way serve as a useful counterbalance to the effects of globalization on American labor.

And it makes the United States number one, with the highest incarceration rate in the world. From an advertising perspective, all I'm saying is that this is an unexploited market. Except that they're totally exploited, that is. Except for that part. Looking for drapes in a selection of styles, colors and fabrics to suit any office or dormitory environment? Clearance-sale prices on flight-helmet bags or gloves? Diesel engine remanufacturing is also available (like, oh, for tanks -- "Our goal is to be the number one source for government’s critical products and
services.") You can get all of this and even order toner cartridges online... direct from Unicor.

Posted by kevin slavin at 04:29 PM
old school

So you're wondering what your old skateboard would be worth, if you hadn't lent it to Dean Simmons who claims it was run over? Then you'll want to read these reports on the old-school skate scene on eBay. I predict a spike in the price a Gator board. I miss my Zorlac.

Posted by dbrown at 02:59 PM
Interior Design Nazi

Homes and Gardens, November 1938
"Herr Hitler shows his builder the plans which he himself has prepared for yet another guest-annex to be build on to the house."

Posted by tmonkey at 10:44 AM
August 15, 2003
The Mix CD

The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia
Blackout (Scorpions)
Wait for the Blackout (The Damned)
Boom Boom Out Go the Lights (Pat Travers?)
When the Lights go Down in the City
High Voltage (AC/DC)
New York Blackout (Soul Asylum)
Blackout (David Bowie)
The Sky's Gone Out (Bauhaus)

Posted by dbrown at 10:59 AM
August 14, 2003
In Lieu of Socialized Care

Rountree shuffled out with $2000 and fled in a '96 Buick Regal.

Posted by kevin slavin at 01:10 PM
I Admit It

That about 10 of the 57 things Ashton Kutcher Does With Demi Moore made me laugh. Not out loud, but still. It's like Vice, but not as funny, unless you never thought Vice was funny to begin with. In which case, find some other blog.

Posted by kevin slavin at 11:57 AM
August 13, 2003
i want to rock n' roll all night

and be a midget all day.

Posted by elia at 02:41 PM
When Google Fails

Attention saturation -- and everyone who is not opposed to it -- my apologies to turn to the Saturation Broadcast System (*kio) but I'm desperately trying to remember something and google cannot help me.

You know sodaplay? Shortly before I left for Berlin, there was something posted on some blog somewhere about something that was very similar, sort of taking it one step further. I need to find it. Here's what I'm pretty sure about:

-- It was posted to either memepool or mefi in the first half of April, give or take.
-- It might have come from some european country.
-- It was similar to sodaplay but dimensional, and maybe it had color too.
-- It had something to do with making little creatures and trying them out.

I'm desperate. I've combed mefi and memepool, can't find it again, have gone through my cache -- everything. But one of you (I'm looking at you, hirmes) MUST know what I'm talking about, and I'll buy dinner for whoever knows it. That's how much I need it, I've been looking for weeks.

Posted by kevin slavin at 02:46 AM
August 12, 2003
another story

I just cleared a disused email box of 700 messages, none of which were non-commercial. The only interesting one was this. Can someone help me out here?, being entirely in Japanese, doesn't offer much.

Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2003 19:38:50 GMT
From: Cheryl Burgess
To: dbrown@
Subject: correspond

sanitary matured textured sari blues tardy pleading bows bimini mention
brainchildren horsemen sayer taste hunks meddling botch accredited booms
saturation secedes coverage barth cotangent acquiesced bracket bolting
pollcadot corruption adopter tentacle adrenal bolshevism expanses
exposing armageddon added counterexample ameslan testifying thallium
hound adumbrating humiliations testified acuteness sculpts scoped ethanol
evenness megabit brassiere brazenly huddle exploits humming practically
accountancy measures acquiescent boll hydrogen thanks scale accra midspan
accompanying mendelevium blake bernardo aleck estimation hoping tentacles
countermeasures idyll polariton bobble cowls crouch exempt bator beverly

remove mail

accounts expires secondarily hushing scurvy sawtooth evanescent andover
technologist played bismark actuate terramycin potentially maturate scull
scops theocracy advertising textural merger terrors tailgate scuff
middling scatting corrugate exclusive saner tautologically scurry
crestfallen powderpuff excusably exhumation scoffed maximizer iliac bores
pointers plungers merciful scythe crossing sat illuminates metacircular
megabit alpheratz microseconds tenseness beijing households taxation
mellowed sclerotic potters acquisitiveness thanklessly exploited metes
counterfeited hull augustus hysterectomy testing evaluations countrywide
plummeting covert playwright meanness satellite bowmen terraces menu
pouted accrues th taxiway bernet immerses plywood

Posted by dbrown at 10:14 PM
Not smaller after all

A dude at Columbia named Duncan Watts has repeated Stanley Milgram's 1967 "Six Degrees" experiment with email and determined that nothing's changed.

Bonus points: who can link themselves to Duncan Watts in the fewest hops?

Posted by kio at 05:53 PM
The New Mr. T

Reebok ad runs for Governor of California.

Posted by tmonkey at 04:54 PM
almost as good as the Independence Day Jeff Goldblum doll

Now you can own a piece of American history; the Texas Air National Guard George W Bush Action Figure. via Eschaton

Posted by dbrown at 03:19 PM

If the fucking United States Government really cared about primates, they'd make sure they got a better education, or at least were doing their part to build consumer confidence.

Posted by kevin slavin at 02:56 PM
Insert Palm Reading Pun (life before the PDA)


1. Death on SCP (Soviet Communist Party).
2. I escaped from the Borstal-Work School three times.
3. In dedication of my parents' death! Or Death on the Bigwigs!
4. I've been through the St. Petersburg "Crosses".
5. I've been condemned for murder and grievous bodily harm by the Acts of 102 and 108 of SSSK (Soviet Criminal Law).
6. I've been condemned for burglary by the Acts of 144 and 145 of SSSK.
7. I'm a recidivist.
8. IVAN = given name

From "A Tattooed Stalin: the world and art of bandits in the Soviet Union".

Posted by kevin slavin at 02:40 PM
Schaden 1, Freude 0

There's no point in adding fuel to a fire if there's no oxygen to feed it. But here it is anyway.

The thing is, that in plenty of other countries, scandal is a meaningful word. Let's take Germany, since Americans do that, look at Willy Brandt, look at the recently deceased Ernst Moellemann.

Willy Brandt was the popular and populist Hitler-resisting Nobel-prize-winning Chancellor of West Germany. Was, until it turned out one of his personal assistants was a spy planted by East Germany. Brandt simply resigned, in spite of being a great hero at a time when people needed heroes.

Couple decades later. Ernst Moellemann was no hero, he was about as far right as the Free Democrat Party is going to get, and was about as anti-Semitic as German law allows: rather unsubtle critiques of Michael Friedman -- the jewish-german Jerry Springer -- and of Ariel Sharon, who needs no introduction. But when there was an investigation of his use of office to "promote a product manufactured by a relative," Moellemann was forced to resign as economics minister, simple as that.

Not really that simple. Later, when an unrelated criminal investigation opened up, Moellemann executed one of his trademark paratroop into the press-conference PR stunts. He outdid himself, though, by executing a familiar 5000 foot jump over a barley field, but without releasing his main or emergency chutes. This limits his chances for re-election considerably.

Scandals are scandals, is all I'm saying, and the point is, it's worth looking at Arnold Schwarzenegger's repeated and unambiguous support of a fucking Wehrmacht captain head of state and by the way charter member of the Undesirable Alien club, 40,000 subversives, terrorists, and criminals not welcome in California or any of the other still United States.

That should be reason enough to focus group that Hollywood ending, but predictable and numbing conclusions are really what the studio system is good at. I don't mind that Schwarzenegger is so unqualified and so naive, and I don't even mind that he invited Waldheim to his wedding with a Kennedy; the part that makes me crazy is the part about how none of it matters at all. If I thought the apparatus of democracy provided any chance for a movie star to be carefully considered, I'd wish Herr Schwarzenegger a lot of luck, but sadly, luck has nothing to do with it.

Posted by kevin slavin at 02:14 AM
August 11, 2003
and dream of polygons

just making sure y'all have seen the new Radiohead video for Go to sleep. Sure the constant "we're living in a world filled with corporate drones" carping is getting old, but i've always had a thing for flat shading.

Posted by hirmes at 06:04 PM
Left Behind

Jack van Impe claims that he was "contacted a few weeks ago by the Office of Public Liaison for the White House and by the National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to make an outline" regarding the "final battle between good and evil," which prez. bush is apparently anticipating. True? via Eschaton

Posted by dbrown at 01:38 PM
August 10, 2003
you mean everyone's not beautiful?

I spent 3 hours retouching pixels this afternoon, then, via metafilter, found this brilliant portfolio, showing you the befores and afters of commercial images. Latina in the bikini is the most dramatic. Blonde incubus almost so. Or is that succubus?

Posted by dbrown at 07:36 PM
August 08, 2003
G.I. George

BBI proudly introduces the latest issue in its Elite Force series of authentic military 12- inch figures, President George W. Bush in naval aviator flight uniform.

Unfortunately, the Military Forward Command Post with Two 12" Military Action Figures is sold out. (Via Common Dreams)

Posted by elia at 04:04 PM
August 06, 2003
left coast

earlier today we learned that the singer from TSOL has filed to run for governor. Now, an astute reader alerts us, 99-year-olds are in demand: "The 99 Cent Only stores is offering to pay $3,499 of the $3,500 filing fee for anyone 99 years old who wants to be governor."

Posted by dbrown at 09:01 PM
hoop dreams

North Korea began promoting basketball as part of the ``Grow Tall Movement'' during a deadly famine in the mid-1990s, the South Korean government and Northern defectors say. Malnutrition stunted the growth of many North Korean children, according to aid workers.

North Korean media have claimed students playing basketball were 1.2 inches to 1.9 inches taller than those playing other sports. It said the game ``activates hundreds of millions of brains cells per second'' because players must continuously make quick decisions.

Posted by elia at 08:26 PM
things were so much different then

Today I was thinking about motorcycles, in a professional capacity, which as it often does reminded me of my high school girlfriend's dad, who would rev his Harley (a beautiful XLCR) in the garage under her room, while we tried to listen to the Smiths and make out, beneath her big poster of Morrissey. I shit you not. Anyways, this is what google is for; lo, Jenny's dad's website, Nexial Quest. It's not quite linear. (He sold the Harley when Jenny went to college, but apparently fell in with the CBX crowd. People and their six-cylinder bikes...)

Posted by dbrown at 07:58 PM
you can go your own way

or you can be in a portrait with stevie nicks.

Posted by elia at 03:51 PM
true 'dat

some initial reasons to like Howard Dean, via Larry King, of all places: "He told us that he was buying -- that Iraq was buying uranium from Africa. That wasn't true. He told us -- or the vice president that Iraq was on the verge of obtaining nuclear weapons. That wasn't true. The president told us there was a clear link between al Qaeda and Iraq. That wasn't true. The secretary of defense told us he knew exactly where the weapons were, right around Tikrit and Baghdad. That wasn't true."

Posted by dbrown at 02:35 PM


August 6.

Posted by dbrown at 10:36 AM
Just Find My Fucking Phone

In an unspecified European city, an unspecified friend of mine was courting a young lady. Among the obstacles in the courtship: this young lady lived with her young boyfriend, who knew nothing of the external-mount xo.

Although we were all in the same city, much of the courtship was done through SMS. You only get 150 characters but more has, in love, been said with less. Sometimes. They probably exchanged about 10 messages a day, and the last one he sent went something like "i can't stop thinking about u when do i see u again?"

He didn't hear back for hours, and then she called him, furious, demanding to know what, exactly, he was trying to do. Whether he had no feelings or what. Whether he was such an arrogant motherfucker.

Because he didn't send the SMS to her mobile phone, where it would appear as ASCII text. Instead, he accidentally sent the SMS to her home phone, the phone she shares with her boyfriend. The phone she shares with her boyfriend, the boyfriend who picked it up when it indicated there was an SMS message waiting for him.

But when SMS messages go to non-mobile phones, they can't display, so they speak. He pressed "1" to hear the message. And there, modulated and synthesized, out came my friend's sweet and caring words, like the musings of a lovelorn HAL, like a speech from a tracheotomy patient, like a monologue by Steven Short History of Motherfucking Hawking. His words, direct from his phone's keypad to the boyfriend's ear. There's a sweetness. And there's a kind of magic there, but then I'm not sure what kind.

All of which is to say that the bridge between SMS and human interaction and emotion is getting shorter, wider, and possibly more dangerous. Because now, "actual emotions," says BT Exact, "can be conveyed between family and friends in a physical and tactile way... interactive toys [will] be linked to mobile phones so that SMS communication can be displayed through the toys' actions." To be clear, I'd be happier if I had an interactive toy that could just find my fucking phone. But one step at a time.

Posted by kevin slavin at 01:55 AM
August 05, 2003
Right to Left, Writingwise. Brainwise.

Mr. Brown and anybody curious as he is, please see exhibit A, a collection of uncaptioned and uncaptionable photographs from Japan's free market economy. I don't know anything more about them. If a wallet could take pictures, they might look something like these.

At times, though, certain moments get captured at the side of or within the 128-bit pornography, and those moments are out of certain dreams, the parts you can't remember.

If you had Sans Soleil to do over again, would you do it digital? Would you do it at all?

Posted by kevin slavin at 07:28 PM
friends like these

from The Guardian: British embassy staff in Riyadh have been accused by the Saudi Arabian authorities of coordinating a campaign of anti-western terrorist bombings in the kingdom...

Posted by dbrown at 07:08 PM
August 04, 2003
Computers Give Models Personality

"It's hard for an artist," says Todd Matthews of the Doe Network based in Destin, Florida, a global organisation that works with forensic artists to match unidentified bodies ... with police reports of missing persons. "An artist cannot give the model personality, and a lot of times, that's what people recognise."

Posted by kevin slavin at 11:13 PM
Dept. of Very Partial Responsibility

I'll give you credit for trying something new, which I expect from Wired, but I've been a reader since issue 1.1, so I can say with some basis that 11.06 was the worst issue ever. . . .

Paul Kensler
Gaithersburg, Maryland

Posted by dbrown at 06:21 PM
Jack Tramiel

is that you?

Posted by kevin slavin at 10:38 AM
August 03, 2003
Dares Speak Its Name

For years it was never on a map, but now (some 60 years later) at least it's on the grid. Virtual tour of Bletchley Park. Interesting stuff in there, as it turns out.

Posted by kevin slavin at 08:35 PM
20 vinkkiä hyvän "demon" tai "intron" tekemiseen


Those of you who missed out on the Finnish Weltanschauung of Aki Kaurismäki (at BAM last month) can still get a good chunk of the sensibility from tAAt, a collective (?) from Helsinki.

I've no idea what they do, partly because they are Finnish, and partly because it's in Finnish, but the two games they've built, Rekkaturvat
and Poorasturvat
(for Windows, and via MeFi) are an exercise in a kind of universal communication.

All of it being a compliment, if it's not clear. It reminds of the old Mac 68K game "Despair," which seems to be available here.

Posted by kevin slavin at 11:15 AM
August 02, 2003
Just Don't Tell The Hellfire Missiles

That they can also get a fixed location GPS-lock on any good citizen's Wherify-enabled "cool kid."

Posted by kevin slavin at 11:27 PM
fortunate son

The latest from Greg Palast. "on BBC TV last month, I reported this: following the bombing of our embassies, the Clinton Administration sent two delegations to Saudi Arabia to tell their royal highnesses to stop giving money to the guys who are killing us. But Mr. Bush, once in office, put the kibosh on unfriendly words to the Saudis.

Furthermore, in the summer of 2001, Mr. Bush disbanded the US intelligence unit tracking funding of Al Qaeda. What is it our G-men were uncovering? According to two separate sources speaking to BBC, the funders of Al Qaeda fronts include those who have previously funded Bush family business and political ventures."

The gap between investigative reporting and the network and cable news continues to boggle me. Really. It makes my head hurt.

Posted by dbrown at 03:42 PM

Fully armed and loaded Nazi Luftwaffe bombers are buried beneath the airport in Berlin. I can think of a thousand jokes to make about that, but none of them are actually funny.

Posted by kevin slavin at 05:02 AM
August 01, 2003
New Tricks

OK, so your dog will bring the stick back, but what will bring the dog back? Terrestrial satellite triangulation, of course.

Because if your dog is a hunting dog, the dog finds the moose, and GPS finds the dog.

So why don't we just mount the GPS cell phone directly on the moose? And, stay with me on this, why not then detonate the cell phone to bring that fucker down, in high mossad style? The problem with hunting evidently being one of pragmatism, rather than morality.

Posted by kevin slavin at 08:39 PM
Trafficking in Nothing

Paging Kevin Slavin & dbrown, if not the rest of you too. Weekly index of the aggregate sales value of virtual items.

Posted by kio at 04:36 PM
Clutching the faded pink and beige silk scarf

Only in Boston: "A 42-year-old Braintree woman gave birth to a baby boy while standing on an inbound Red Line train yesterday morning. . . . Suddenly, her water broke. ''At first I thought someone spilled coffee, but it kept dripping" . . . With the JFK-UMass stop still three minutes away, passengers, some of whom vomited in the wake of the bloody birth, inundated State Police with cell phone calls. Dispatchers told passengers to ask Judge if she had passed the placenta. Passengers yelled back that she had not."

Posted by dbrown at 02:03 PM
There's a movie in this

Kidnappers who have held 14 European tourists hostage in the Sahara desert for the past five months are demanding a ransom of $5.1 million for each one, German television reported on Friday.

The hostages -- nine Germans, four Swiss and one Dutch national -- were among 32 European tourists seized by armed rebels in a remote area of southern Algeria, famous for ancient grave sites but also known for arms and drugs smuggling.


Switzerland has sent a police officer to Mali to join around a dozen Dutch and German experts working on the case.

Posted by tmonkey at 01:27 PM