October 31, 2003

A 28-year-old man accused of stealing a man's penis through sorcery has been beaten to death in the West African country of Gambia.

Posted by elia at 03:28 PM
October 30, 2003
October 29, 2003
USS Willie Horton

OK, it's not that bad, but if things in Iraq don't get better, this image is gonna be in somebody's Bush-bashing ad.

However, W seems prepared. The message that "the world is more peaceful and more free under my leadership" will be a prominent theme of his bid for a second White House term.

Posted by elia at 02:05 PM
October 25, 2003
God exists

and he apparently doesn't like the casting for Mel Gibson's new movie.

Posted by tmonkey at 06:28 PM
October 23, 2003
Parliament Funkadelic

During Bush's speech to Australia's Parliament, two Green Party senators jumped to their feet and shouted war protests at Bush. They were ordered removed from the chamber but sat and refused to leave. One of them, Sen. Bob Brown, shouted "we are not a sheriff,'' a reference to Bush's recent description of Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

"I love free speech,'' Bush said to laughter.

Posted by elia at 09:56 AM
October 21, 2003
a rose by any other name might attract a better fan base

Wasn't quite sure how or why to post this, but let me start by saying I’m a sports fan for many reasons, but one in particular is team names. I’m fascinated with the history of them, the anachronisms and odd juxtapositions they create long after they were coined (i.e. Boston Red Sox; New York Yankees; Oakland A’s – short for Athletics; the Cleveland Browns named after their popular coach, Paul Brown; etc) or not long after they moved (alas, there are no trolleys in LA for the Dodgers to dodge; the Lakers moved and left the lakes in Minneapolis; and Utah, with its Tabernacle Choir, never bothered to rename the Jazz after coming up from the Big Easy).

But I’m equally interested in the new jacks, too. Expansion teams, hot cities, Forbes growth centers clamoring for a piece of the athletic industrial complex. And while I have some favorites (Baltimore’s Ravens are a nod to Poe’s time there) and some less than favorites (hockey’s Atlanta Thrashers – at least their first hockey team, the Flames, were named after the great fire of 1917) you can’t get the focus-grouped, Landor designed, demographically-driven taste out of your ears when you hear them. And it’s not that I haven’t tried to do my part - Kevin and I faced our own battles trying to bring football to Europe (The Berlin Wall, The Berlin Airlift, and – my personal favorite - The Berlin Tornadoes lost out to The Berlin Thunder).

And so it was bittersweet to find out the story behind the Pittsburgh Steelers name - one of the weirdest names out there - and that the namer, Joe Santoni, had died. He sounds like regular Herb Schmertz, is all I can say. But that’s a name (and a story) for another post.

Posted by elia at 08:49 PM
record straight

from now on, General Boykin's name is General Boychik.

Posted by dbrown at 07:16 PM
Above the fold

for you non-New Yorker subscribers, the week's most important story is online, Sy Hersh's The Stovepipe.

one tidbit: "A routine settled in: the Pentagon’s defector reports, classified “secret,” would be funnelled to newspapers, but subsequent C.I.A. and INR analyses of the reports—invariably scathing but also classified—would remain secret."

and then the bombshell, rumor only, mind you, re: the yellowcake documents:

"a former senior C.I.A. officer ... eventually [said] that a small group of disgruntled retired C.I.A. clandestine operators had banded together in the late summer of last year and drafted the fraudulent documents themselves.

“The agency guys were so pissed at Cheney,” the former officer said. “They said, ‘O.K, we’re going to put the bite on these guys.’” ... “They thought that, with this crowd, it was the only way to go—to nail these guys who were not practicing good tradecraft and vetting intelligence,” my source said. “They thought it’d be bought at lower levels—a big bluff.”"

Posted by dbrown at 08:51 AM
October 20, 2003
Watch it, Monarchs

I was going to do this post about how it turns out that this is fiction but this is fact, and how fact is inscrutable, and how fucked up is that? I was looking for information, so I turned to the Interweb. I googled the real nike site, and quickly got so much more. It starts with more or less the same question I had:

Hi! i sent you an e-mail before about a weird macdonald's ad! well i just found out, its a promotion for nike called "keep the ball alive" check out www.keeptheballalive.com and tell me what you think!

Stewart's Reply: Amazing! The whole thing is a trigger. Even the way they wrote the letter "B" is actually, 13, closer together. I have not seen this elsewhere--perhaps Australia/ NZ are testing grounds. Thank you.

One of many questions answered on that page. I wasn't sure if whoever does that testing (nike?) had ever seen the site. If so, I thought, it might be compromised. As it turns out, these guys are bona fide, and here's proof. You know how the last few weeks have been really weird? Monarch Trigger. Monarch Trigger.

Monarchs Beware! September 21, 2003
Apparently there is now an international organization called "Monarch Watch" based in…are you ready…Kansas! (Wizard of Oz programming). Of course, this group is designed to study Monarch butterflies. This year, especially in the Midwest, there are kazzillions of yellow and orange Monarch butterflies. Birds, descendents of reptiles, do not eat Monarchs because they taste bitter. Something deep here for programmed Monarch to comprehend! Go to www.Monarchwatch.org for details. Add this to the MSN butterfly, plus the recent Spykids 3D movie where a single Monarch butterfly fills the screen and flutters about the screen against a red background in two scenes for several seconds each time, and you are going to have a whole lot of Monarchs triggered!!

From the Archives - Current News Illuminati Plans September 2003

You may worry that no one is paying attention to any of this. Take comfort that at least one of their devotees is a grade school teacher, and that's a good start.

Posted by kevin slavin at 07:47 PM
out below

devoted readers will remember my description of the telescoping ladder fall on QVC earlier this month. or maybe september. Today, the Times covered it. And pointed toward the video itself.

Posted by dbrown at 04:03 PM
Hell and Highwater

I was thinking about the PC iTunes thing, about that level of cut-paste snowball hell kind of juxtaposition. It's remarkable on a technical level if no other. But then I saw this video of Cat fucking Power doing karaoke to the real Slim Shady and I thought man what's next, Chinese people on the moon?

Posted by kevin slavin at 03:31 PM
That Other Economy is Our Own

Until recently, I was unaware of mock trial/moot court as a tool to explore ethical or legal issues. I think maybe that's what Debate Club was about, but I spent much of high school at the movies instead. But fake trials are maybe the most appropriate media to cover the transition -- in the arm & eye of the law -- of the virtual to the real.

(this is one of those really fucking long posts so I can store stuff instead of remembering it)

IANAL (which is a shame these days) but maybe distinctions between "virtual" and "real" aren't that meaningful in legal terms. If you think about the quantification of punitive damages in contemporary lawsuits, maybe that's no more of a stretch than what's going on in the year 2023 or in Star Wars Galaxies.

I'm reminded of it because Ray Kurzweil has somehow staged a mock trial prelimary injunction. Fast forward 20 years, the injunction's been filed by a computer -- "BINA" -- running at 48 exaflops per second, as Moore's Law suggests it might. With that kind of speed, which surpasses human neural activity, and with similarly posthuman memory and storage, Kurzweil proposes that BINA achieves a certain self-awareness. So when BINA becomes aware it is to be disconnected by the corporation it works for, it contacts a lawyer to get an injunction to stay plugged in.

The lawyer that BINA contacts, 20 years from now, is Martine A. Rothblatt, chairperson of United Therapeutics Group. BINA must really be smart, because Rothblatt's a great choice if you know what her background is (and her sponsorship role for Kurzweil, by the way.) Blurry yet?

Less blurry, then, are the moot court proceedings from this year's Black Hat conference in Las Vegas. The court was no more real than Kurzweil's, but the problem is contemporary. And pressing. Edward Castronova (the two words I would say, if I were to say two words to db's Other Economy post) delivered expert testimony involving a theft of virtual property in a virtual world. The theft took place in a fictional world in the "fantasy genre similar to Lord of the Rings." When authorities were called in to investigate, "the rare item stolen from Mr. Martin was found on the defendant's character." I love that part.

Dr. Castronova -- drawing upon his brilliant and groundbreaking work on the economics of synthetic worlds -- managed to convince the court that "the virtual items destroyed during the hack of an online video game constituted real loss." In the end, the jury was unable to conclude whether the defendant had conspired to destroy them or not. But that's not the important part. The important part is understanding that virtual goods are real. Or, as Castronova writes:

Defense counsel Jennifer Granick mounted a strong counter-argument, namely that we might, as a society, decide that it is just too difficult to classify game-related damages as real, just as we shy away from taking cases of lost sexual favors to court, even though there clearly are damages. This powerful argument suggests that losses in something we agree to call a "game" should also be free from legal oversight, even though, in fact, the distinction between game and life is arbitrary. In the end, jury and audience disagreed with this cultural stratagem, preferring instead Prosecutor Richard Salgado's argument that human activity in the allegedly virtual space is not virtual at all. It is real activity and haggles real values and thus, in principle, it deserves the full attention of policy and law.

It doesn't just deserve it, though, it demands it. If you look at Castronova's site, you'll see that the aggregate sales volume of all eBay category 1664 trades since July 1st is 4.4 million US dollars. Some of that will be illegal, probably Kio could give you a projected percentage.

It's only a question of density, the numbers just have to get big enough for the Feds to step in (if it's Feds who step, since what state borders get crossed, exactly? All of them?) It's about density. It's hard to imagine the scale if you imagine these as goods earned through conventional individual gameplay, sold off fancifully. But as dbrown brought to my attention, there are for example, sweatshops in Mexico in which teams of laborers are playing online in shifts, accumulating as much virtual gold as they can. This gold is then sold on eBay for surplus-value hard currency, and you tell me how that's any different than all the other histories of all the New Worlds.

Things are going to happen, and they already are. Julian Dibbell got some of his virtual goods stolen just a few days ago, and PayPal doesn't really know how to talk about that. Meanwhile. Meanwhile, in South Korea a teenager, Han Sang, stole 35 real dollars from his father to buy sunglasses for his avatar. 3.6 million South Koreans have chat-room avatars; the new Korean game "Fortress" has 35 million players already in China. That's the density, and that's where the real crime has emerged first: of the 40,000 cybercrimes in South Korea last year, 22,000 were game-related, says the BBC. One of the biggest crimes involved the theft of virtual goods valued at US $1.3 million.

And if the juridical arm begins to grab at virtual goods, what of virtual behavior? Julian Dibbell first came to my attention in 1998 with his "Rape in Cyberspace" article in the Village Voice. Things are happening in there (in here) and they are parallel but also, like Mexican sweatshops, convergent. Here's a bad example, but only because it's the first one:Shawn Wooley committed suicide after a binge engagement in EverQuest. The game didn't kill him, but perhaps some event in there caused him to be despair in that particular moment. If we all agree that virtual gold is fungible, don't we also need some kind of math to figure out the relationships between the social effects on our characters and those on our selves? Who will legislate that? Who will enforce it? And how? NYU's State of Play conference will ask some of these questions, so will Yale, and part of the answers will come from the games themselves. From the upcoming "Pirates of the Burning Sea":

Griefers beware: our legal system tracks crimes and witnesses, then applies penalties based on the severity of the crime and who saw you commit it. So take down a ship with no one around and you may get away with it — but attack the gold fleet in San Juan harbor and all the forces of the law will be turned loose on you.

Just asking. And here's an idea, I'll never do it, so someone else do it please. We don't need any more "Game Informer" magazines, or "X-Box News" or whatever. And Gama Sutra and Game Culture Studies have done an excellent job on the something-academic front.

But where is the Look, the Life, the National Geographic for this 79th largest country in the world? Where is the journal that has the images from the places you've never been to, but dream about just the same? A Virtual Geographic, if you will. If you would. Idea's free, you just have to come up with a better name.

Posted by kevin slavin at 06:53 AM
October 17, 2003
Dewey defeats Red Sox

The Post seems to have sent their editorial page to press a little early.

via escaton, and the newsstand

Posted by dbrown at 01:58 PM
I'm sure everyone who made this game is dead by now.

Hey—Pong. My parents played this game.

Posted by at 01:37 PM
Annals of Aviation

In July 1897, Solomon August Andrée and crew set off by hot-air balloon in an attempt to fly to the North Pole. They disappeared without a trace. Thirty-three years later, an expedition found the remains of the expedition, which had crashed three days into the trip. Among the wreckage, a camera. Hearst newspapers, which I think sponsored the trip, recovered the camera and developed the pictures; sorry they're just thumbnails. Thirteen vintage prints are for sale next week at Swann.

Posted by dbrown at 12:32 PM
October 16, 2003
pretty kitty

so, following a trail that led from my ipod to a nick cave fan site to wikipedia, today we've learned about Louis Wain, who painted some of the world's favorite images of cats. Then he went crazy, was committed to Bedlam, and continued to paint cats. Stage 3 must have been something, I tell you.

Posted by dbrown at 11:49 AM
like when metal merges into punk

The Cost of Empire, a story by Christopher Layne, wouldn't be interesting except that it's in a conservative magazine. Sounds like the cons (not to be confused) hate America, too. To appropriate an Atrios-ism.

"The real reason the administration went to war had nothing to do with terrorism. Indeed, many of the administration’s architects of illusion—Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Richard Perle, among others—put Iraq squarely in their geopolitical crosshairs while they were out of power during the 1990s. The administration went to war in Iraq to consolidate America’s global hegemony and to extend U.S. dominance to the Middle East by establishing a permanent military stronghold in Iraq for the purposes of controlling the Middle Eastern oil spigot (thereby giving Washington enormous leverage in its relations with Western Europe and China); allowing Washington to distance itself from an increasingly unreliable and unstable Saudi Arabia; and using the shadow of U.S. military power to bring about additional regime changes in Iran and Syria."

Posted by dbrown at 10:35 AM
Cities and Memory, As If.


As if memory came in any other form, as if cities came in any other form.

I was thinking about it recently when db etc and I were at the Met exhibition of French Daguerrotypes. I was thinking it was kind of a shame that photography starts around Paris, since that's one of the only cities on earth that looks pretty much like it did at that very moment in history. Basically, I like city photographs most when they represent what's never or doesn't or was.

Like there's the false memory of James Sanders' Celluloid Skyline, which is kind of a great site, as has been noted. The flash rollover skylines of "visions of the dream city" are dense and small, like digital things should be.

And if those are photographs of a New York that never existed, then Douglas Levere's rephotography of Berenice Abbott's Changing New York are photographs as if the camera itself were a monument. Know what I'm saying, as if the camera itself was the great monument of New York City? It really is, in a way, since Levere uses Abbott's 8×10 "Century Universal" (!) to speak the same language that she did. Speaking the same language, since it's a dialogue.

Geoff Walden's "Third Reich Ruins" is a different kind of dialogue, one with his now-deceased dad, who was stationed in Germany '45-46. Since Walden also runs a nazi-memorabilia sales site and is NRA (he votes!), the intentions of his Berlin are less clear maybe than, e.g. Levere's New York. Quite interesting stuff, though. There is something kind of unique about the "Lost Sites" section of the site, photo above is from there. He has his father's unlabeled photographs of a Germany that no longer exists (that's one up above), and has only the whole wide world to help him identify them. In this, using photography to close some books and open others, I was kind of touched.

To paraphrase, DBrown might have something to say about this. It's a high lob.

Posted by kevin slavin at 12:55 AM
Select Primary Category

Avalanche, Bureaucrat, Crescendo. Dénouement, Fistfull o’ Dollars. Paper Dolls. Scissor Sandwich. Toolbox.

These are the "Great Eight" Gambits of Rock Paper Scissors, which is finally being taken about half as seriously as it should. To wit, the World Rock Paper Scissors Society has launched a website for the World RPS Championships.

The videos of the old matches aren't as compelling as they might be, but I admit that playing against the RPS simulator actually felt like some kind of exercise for an undocumented region of my brain.

Posted by kevin slavin at 12:01 AM
October 15, 2003
the sculking degraded natives

Cowan's nov. 13 Americana auction has a bunch of interesting lots -- like 24 and 29 star flags -- but the coolest, I think, is a personal diary of a 49er.

"“I was delighted with scene a fine grove of large cotwood willow &c cloathed with rich grass some flowers orange buries ect., we soon had grass cut and spread to dry have a fine place to read beneath the shade of a venerable cotwood tree whose ancient bows have oftain spread a refreshing shade for the sculking degraded natives who are unworthy of even this fertile spot they are low & mean.” The journal ends with the party arriving at the diggings in Yuba valley, and the last few pages include list of distances from Independence, Mo., to Fort Sutter and then to the puebla of San Jose (where apparently they went), as well as a list of rivers in northern California."

Posted by dbrown at 11:43 AM
October 14, 2003
another economy, not my own

A couple of years ago, when I was very high on the ebay kick, I wondered a lot about whether I could make a living at it. My specialities, though -- and some of you know what they are -- seemed too inconsistent in supply to make a go. Julian Dibbell found a better racket: "THE PROPOSITION On April 15, 2004, I will truthfully report to the IRS that my primary source of income is the sale of imaginary goods -- and that I earn more from it, on a monthly basis, than I have ever earned as a professional writer."

see his "ebay/utlima online market watch (and the ebay market itself, and also his story in wired earlier this year: The Unreal Estate Boom. The 79th Richest Nation on Earth doesn't exist. And, for more human interest, the sidebar, "SERFING THE WEB Black Snow Interactive and the World's First Virtual Sweat Shop" ("They rented office space in Tijuana, equipped it with eight PCs and a T1 line, and hired three shifts of unskilled Mexican laborers to do what most employers would have fired them for: playing online computer games from punch-in to quitting time.")

Kevin might have something to say about this.

via r.

Posted by dbrown at 06:35 PM
October 13, 2003
fork, done


RIP: Yahoo sign

[via Carrie]

Posted by dbrown at 05:23 PM
yeah, well, biggie's were real

seems like fake bullet holes for your car are the new rage.

Posted by elia at 03:09 PM
keep listening to them, Joe

from today's times front-pager on Joe "W." Lieberman: "My campaign team tells me that I'll be considered the front-runner after people start voting."

Posted by dbrown at 10:33 AM
October 12, 2003

in case you were wondering, the blog-spam thing is everywhere, not just here. Notes here, and links from there to everywhere. working on it, with no coding experience...

Posted by dbrown at 11:13 PM
an army of one

Letters from hometown soldiers describing their successes rebuilding Iraq have been appearing in newspapers across the country. And all the letters are the same.

Posted by elia at 09:20 PM
October 09, 2003
Commander Salamander

I'll be darned, but I'm really starting to like Wesley Clark. Robert Scheer likes him, and that's almost enough for me right there. And he wrote a very cogent dissection of the war in Iraq, taking a firm stand against the "military-industrial complex" for the New York Review of Books. I'm thinking to myself: I want a president who writes essays for the New York Review of Books. Or even thinks of hiring someone to write one for him.

So here's what I want to know: Is somebody pulling some wool over my eyes?

For example, a fact-checking matter. Clark says that in the NATO Kosovo campaign he ran, no American soldiers, airmen, or Marines were killed in action. Is he obfuscating? Did some other type of servicemen die? How many French soldiers died, etc?

Input requested and appreciated. I honestly don't know what to think.

Posted by kio at 02:06 PM
Houston, we have competition

In case you haven't heard, China plans to launch a 14-Orbit manned space mission this month. But don't worry, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said the mission would benefit all people, not just China.

Posted by elia at 12:57 PM
what they want

calpundit has a great post about what our countrymen the Republicans -- at least the ones in power -- really want. Not good news.

Posted by dbrown at 09:10 AM
October 08, 2003
Peripheral Vision

Today MeFi links to ghost signs, which I could look at for a long time. They're from Toronto, shot by Dave Till.

Because no idea is original, and because every ad in the world is fading, it reminds me of Frank Jump's more local photographs. In the time I've been looking at Jump's photographs, maybe half of the original have disappeared -- painted over, built against, knocked down. This is especially poignant because of Jump's HIV+ status, and his relationship to endurance and survival -- as someone told him: "there's a connection between your survival, the survival of these signs, and your fervent passion to photograph them." Jump himself wrote that "I am committed to continue to express my experience as a survivor with the images of the Fading Ad Campaign."

I wrote him a note four years ago; I wanted to buy two of his photos for two friends of mine (both of you here on saturation). He never did write back, and now looking at his site, I can't be sure where he's at, in the biggest sense of at.

Posted by kevin slavin at 12:20 PM

Rumsfeld was asked several times why the changes were necessary. "I think you have to ask Condi that question," he said, according to a transcript posted on the Web site of the Financial Times. Pressed, he said: "I said I don't know. Isn't that clear? You don't understand English? I was not there for the backgrounding."

Posted by dbrown at 11:44 AM
October 07, 2003
If DBrown and I Come Back From Hong Kong Acting Funny Please God Someone Shoot Us


FW: FW: If you delete this ... you seriously don't have a heart. 100% true story, Forward in Oct.

Attacks the Hong Kong terrorist needs the world people's power.

My dear friend:
please one people forward 10 e-mail the world and send one e-mail the Hong
Kong government ceo@ceo.gov.hk . 1*10*100*1000*10000.....
Thank you my friend.

Help! Hong Kong police-terrorist's use Brain Voice Read / Write Machine
Murders Hong Kong people.

Dear internet friend:

Help! Hong Kong police use Brain Voice Read / Write Machine Murder Hong
Kong people, 100% true story, please send e-mail your dear people and the
local news, 1*10 10*100 100*1000 ..... , thank my dear Internet friend.

Hong Kong police terrorist organization:

The devil machine made in England, the Hong Kong police now use, install
the police communication network, 24 hours murders Hong Kong people, this
murder defeat, exposes the Hong Kong police terrorist organization.

By the 2001-1-1~2003-10-1 33 months, murders by the police knew that:

1. installs the small machine to be in Hong Kong people head -----
installs is extremely easy, not to have the voice to be troublesome, the
victim did not feel.

2. Input/output voice ----- input/output the voice extremely clearly, in
this mountain, this sewer, this elevator, the input - output voice is
extremely clear, does not use the dry battery.

3. Murders Hong Kong people ----- terrorists is the Hong Kong police up
to 50, murders many Hong Kong people for up to 2 years.

Hong Kong people twaaaaa 2003-10-7

English search engine: enaaaaa

Brain Voice Read / Write Machine photo: http://enaaaaa.why.to

Chinese photo : http://twaaaaa.why.to


Posted by kevin slavin at 03:32 PM
Category: Partial beard, freestyle

The biennial world beard and moustache championship takes place Nov. 1 in Carson City, Nevada. FYI. "Organizers hope for a large turnout of bearded and moustached Americans to compete against the dominant German team. Among the distinguished judges will be America’s top downhill ski racer Daron Rahlves, Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Deborah Agosti, Carson City Mayor Ray Masayko, and former Carson City resident Mark Twain."

so that's what mr. clemens has been up to.

Posted by dbrown at 02:10 PM
unreal genius

Meet Christopher Paolini. Home schooled, he was only 15 when he wrote his fantasy novel "Eragon," which is outselling four of the five Harry Potter books.

He's 19 now, building a Hobbit Hut in his backyard, and just genuinely creeps me out.

Posted by elia at 11:44 AM
October 06, 2003
real genius

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation named 24 new MacArthur Fellows for 2003. Each will receive $500,000 in “no strings attached” support over the next five years.

Posted by elia at 09:58 PM

The Nobel committee just wrote Ray Damadian out of history. More here.

Posted by dbrown at 12:15 PM


Look, all I want to know is if everyone else gets this ad served up to them on nytimes.com. Because no way they just cast these out shotgun, do they? It can't be cheap.

Posted by kevin slavin at 12:58 AM
October 05, 2003
If You're Not Kevin Slavin, click here

Your Recommendations

Poststructuralism by Catherine Belsey (Why?)
Postcolonialism by Robert J. C. Young (Why?)
Postmodernism by Christopher Butler (Why?)

Why? Why? Why, god, why?

Posted by kevin slavin at 06:24 PM
Sharon Stone, You Have No Idea

It's like there's this whole other world, totally alive and making things happen, and it's all made real through AOL instant messenger.

Posted by kevin slavin at 01:52 AM
October 04, 2003
Fahrenheit 451

Yeah, I know Bradbury wrote it, but I didn't know where else to go with this: For over a year, more than 140 New York City firefighters have taken up a treatment regimen devised by L. Ron Hubbard.

Posted by elia at 11:31 AM
Proof of a Divine, and Malignant, Logic

Okay, so there's holes in the ozone already, okay. Turns out we don't have to worry about melting the icecaps, because we'll be running out of oil and gas pretty soon. We'll no longer have to go to the beach to get a great tan, and thank god, because we'll also have no way to get there.

Posted by kevin slavin at 02:29 AM
October 02, 2003
"smacks of some weird California woo-woo thing."

Article in Forbes magazine: "Mind Games" -- part of a much larger, and rather silly -- article about "neuroscience meets marketing" (reluctant link). Considering they don't truly understand the neurochemistry of mass antidepressants, and considering that marketing itself is only 50% science at best, I'm kind of dubious.

But the Mind Games article concerns G. Clotaire Rapaille -- who I hadn't thought about in several years. Which is funny, given that he's all about "imprinting," in which the human mind has fundamental archetypes, established even before it acquires language. So Rapaille's Archetype Discoveries Worldwide makes the connections between those archetypes and brands that are searching for them. And funny that with research like that, he couldn't make a website with any concession toward conventional principles of usability. Anyway.

It could be that, being French, he's employed by some French PR firm to lift their Nielsen numbers here in the States. Like all of us in advertising, he has to have a certain ambivalence about the brands and products he engages, but there's an actual enthusiasm for them that's rather suprising. Said enthusiasm being most evident in, for example, this interview with Bob Garfield on WNYC. You'll want to read the whole thing through, to get to the part where, referring to the Americans, he exclaims "why I'm American today. I said 'Wow! You know, these guys are just--incredible!'"

Posted by kevin slavin at 04:34 PM
October 01, 2003
I've always said this would happen





Posted by dbrown at 08:43 PM
No Parent Wants to Here

I meant to post this the other day. I don't know what to say about it, so I'll just tell you what I know. The New York Times ran an article about a young soldier in Iraq who manned a machine gun and got killed after saving maybe thirty of his men. The article was mostly about his wife and family back here at home. When they sent his body home, they also sent his possessions, including a laptop, and the laptop had a letter home on it.

There's something about the photograph of the letter on the laptop, how far off his spelling was, how Microsoft Word underlined the errors. Like that, it's not so polished, it's not outlook-ready spellcheck perfect. In this, it may be the closest thing we have to the character and idiosyncracies of handwriting, and it affected me maybe because there's not much of that left.

Posted by kevin slavin at 04:46 PM
I Don't Even Like How They Vote on TRL

So now sixteen year-olds want the vote, but Wild In The Streets was made nineteen years before they were, so they should maybe just keep stealing PS2 autos and shut the fuck up.

Posted by kevin slavin at 02:21 AM
Falling Man


The article's title, from Esquire, is The Falling Man, and it's an extraordinary article from almost any angle. It has the qualities of scrutiny, restraint and passion that I hope for out of a few minutes in a day. This was more than a few minutes. Take the time to read the whole thing.

It's about that photograph, it's about that photograph, and nothing else, or everything else, like time, or no-time, or and xor. Exclusive or.

I remember going to see Blade Runner with my dad with I was ten or so, and there was that scene where Deckard is scrutinizing the photo that the replicant left behind. Remember this scene? Where he is looking at it, speaking to the tele-viewer, scan up, stop, zoom, and I remember thinking what if life was ever like that. And I remember thinking why would replicants have photos in the first place. And I remember learning why they would. Why they did.

But the thing I remember most about it was the desperation, of zooming all the way in, of begging a pixel, one fucking pixel, begging some pixel to provide meaning. To ask a pixel to give it up. No bigger than the period on a sentence, and no less final.

9/11 was the most photographed historic event in human history. All those photographs, Here Is New York, and whatever, and whatever. It was impossible to not see, and this meant it was impossible to look. Richard Drew, the photographer, he saw something from hell. But he had a camera in front of his face, like sunglasses. Like a mask.

But when you read Tom Junod's article, it becomes clear he's got nothing at all between him and those pixels and that falling man, and it becomes clear why it's worth looking, even at the things you've seen a thousand times, and especially at the things you've seen a thousand times.

Posted by kevin slavin at 02:02 AM