March 31, 2004
Not Every Country

Ben, my oldest friend in the world, runs iGavel, which is an excellent fine art auction site. I bring it up because they're running an auction of Vintage Propaganda of Chairman Mao and the Cultural Revolution. It's pretty great all around, but I keep eyeing the Pro-Vietcong Plaques made from Wreckage of US Aircraft.

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It turns out that not every country appreciates the presence of the U.S. military.

Posted by kevin slavin at 08:05 PM
and hung them from the bridge spanning the Euphrates River

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Russert: It's now nearly a year, and we are in a very difficult situation.  Did we miscalculate how we would be treated and received in Iraq?

President Bush:  Well, I think we are welcomed in Iraq.  I'm not exactly sure, because the tone of your question is, we're not.  We are welcomed in Iraq.

Posted by dbrown at 02:54 PM
March 30, 2004
Ghetto Fabulous

FunHi has been making the geek headlines (Wired, Kottke, Slashdot) for the past couple of days, and causing some stir. Well, derision mostly, from people who scoff at the fools who have nothing better to do than sit in front of a computer and buy stuff for other people in the hopes of scoring some semi-anonymous booty.

But for those who are interested in emergent virtual economies, especially one not dependent on a 3D engine, this is a quirky little breed -- one that cultivates "community" by manifesting the air of a Videobox music video, complete with props, shoutouts, blingbling, gangstas, and bootylicious mamas ready for a beach party.

Posted by tmonkey at 06:38 PM
March 28, 2004
Virtual Geographic NTSC

We are probably already familiar or overfamiliar with Mark Bennett's blueprints from a flatscreen childhood. I had to think of them today when I stumbled across TV Acres, which serves as an atlas for Bennett's imagined worlds.

TV acres breaks it down any number of ways, but most meaningful is by geography, since that maps most directly against the world we're walking on. By state, island, and even "general locale" like Metropolis, or the Simpsons' Springfield. And envy Nancy Drew and MacGyver, who get a category all their own.

Posted by kevin slavin at 12:26 PM
March 27, 2004
Furries Beware

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There would never have been any Itchy and Scratchy were it not for Mattioli's Squeak the Mouse, found via Spiegleman's RAW back in the mid '80s. I'm not sure if I remember it right, but I think it was illegal in Reagan's America, I recall stashing a copy in newspaper inside a suitcase from London.

Squeak begets Itchy, and somewhere later on comes Gloomy (or, as dbrown would say: groomy.) And maybe Gloomy begat Princess, but I can't even link to Princess in good faith.

But Zhan just turned me on to the non plus ultra of the good toon gone bad: Happy Tree Friends. I warn you that this is NSFW or anywhere else in particular. I'm real squeamish about eyes, so I find "Eye Candy" unbearable, but collect 'em all, kids.

Posted by kevin slavin at 01:07 PM
Way of the World

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Via MeFi, guidebook, a website dedicated to preserving and showcasing Graphical User Interfaces. The old ads are interesting enough, but what I got stuck on was the GUI Gallery. It has a chart showing the development of icons across different systems, across different decades, like how Protoindoeuropean broke down, but by pixels instead of phonemes.

Like anything really small that persists over time, the shifts and differences tell lots of little stories. I'm not quite sure how to tell the story of the little worlds to show "International," for example, but it's a story that starts in 1990's 4-bit America and ends with a globe. If we're lucky. If we're lucky, it ends with a globe.

Posted by kevin slavin at 12:18 PM
Chernobyl

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A woman named Elena in eastern europe has taken a second (?) motorcycle tour of the dead zone around Chernobyl. It is stunning and thrilling and, as clear and clear can be, our future. Not to be melodramatic. Don't miss it. But it's via slashdot, so don't be surprised if the server is slammed. After the first tour was posted, Elena wrote "who are those slashdot people? they swept over like Mongol-Tartars."

Her pictures capture both the moment things stopped, and the chaos in the days and years after, some chaos from people, some from time & nature. She writes, "it is last day of Pompei sort of place." Which doesn't even begin.

Posted by dbrown at 09:27 AM
March 26, 2004
small miracle

so tmonkey refined the design of saturation and... no one complained to me! thank you, mr. t.

Posted by dbrown at 06:20 PM
small lies

there's a tendency among bloggers to write "drip, drip, drip" about the bush white house.

from today's washington post:

"some of Rice's rebuttals of Clarke's broadside against Bush, which she delivered in a flurry of media interviews and statements rather than in testimony, contradicted other administration officials and her own previous statements.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage contradicted Rice's claim that the White House had a strategy before 9/11 for military operations against al Qaeda and the Taliban; the CIA contradicted Rice's earlier assertion that Bush had requested a CIA briefing in the summer of 2001 because of elevated terrorist threats; and Rice's assertion this week that Bush told her on Sept. 16, 2001, that "Iraq is to the side" appeared to be contradicted by an order signed by Bush on Sept. 17 directing the Pentagon to begin planning military options for an invasion of Iraq.

Rice, in turn, has contradicted Vice President Cheney's assertion that Clarke was "out of the loop" and his intimation that Clarke had been demoted. Rice has also given various conflicting accounts. She criticized Clarke for being the architect of failed Clinton administration policies, but also said she retained Clarke so the Bush administration could continue to pursue Clinton's terrorism policies.

National Security Council spokesman Sean McCormack defended many of Rice's assertions, saying that she has been more consistent than Clarke."

That's an interesting test, that last one.

Posted by dbrown at 12:49 PM
That's My Team

The Goebbels post is about the persuasive power of saying something outrageous and insane, the power or total exaggeration and deceit.

But there is another, different type of coercive power at work, there's evidence of it on my desk from two different directions this morning. One from the New York Post, and one from Triathlete magazine, don't ask. Both concern fundamentalist suicide bombers:

NYPost: Abdu's uncle, Halil Abdu, said militants exploited the 16 year old...'If someone gives a boy something like this, I don't believe he has any sense at all,' he said. 'He is a crazy person. How can you give a boy that age an explosive belt?'

Triathlete: I remembered a news interview with a suicide bomber who had been unsuccessful in his attempt. When the interviewer asked him if he would head into a cafe and destroy everyone for the cause, he said 'Yes.' Then, when asked if he could go into a soccer stadium where his team was playing and detonate the bomb, he broke down in tears and said 'No. I could not do it. That's my team.'

Which is only to say that sometimes one boggles the mind by fabricating imagery of something so exceptional that could never be believed. But other times, times of suicide belts for example, it's by integrating the unimaginable into the fabric of everyday life.

Posted by kevin slavin at 12:36 PM
Was Will Eigentlich Amerika?

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In reference to Kio's Q about Tom Rove Strategy Number 2 vis a vis Goebbels:

Goebbels' theory (among others) was that a small lie can be dismissed, that the long term effects of them are small or even negative. He proposed instead that one has to lie boldly and directly in the face of demonstrable facts, such that the mind boggles and shuts down for a moment. In that moment, you can say just about anything you want, and it enters consciousness without room for judgement or doubt. With 500 dead since "peace was declared" in Iraq, I consider W making stupid jokes about not finding WMDs to be a good example of this. You can't believe what you're seeing, but you see it nonetheless. From there, anything goes.

Since we're on the topic, Goebbels had some interesting things to say about the United States of America. His 1939 speech Was Will Eigentlich Amerika? ("What Does America Really Want?") has a noteworthy line or two:

The enormous North American armaments industry is also calling up images of a coming war against the totalitarian governments for business reasons.

Also, I like to think about Goebbels' joke, apropos of the upcoming election:

It reminds one of the familiar joke. Two workers are halfheartedly trying to remove a paving stone. A passerby watches for a while, then grabs a pickax and yanks the stone out. One worker says to the other: "Well, sure, if you use force..."

Posted by kevin slavin at 12:19 PM
Best Use Of Flash In A Political Ad

And the winner is...Topple Bush. And yes, it's running on the NYTimes.

Feels like something from StrongBad.

Posted by elia at 11:10 AM
March 25, 2004
Public Eyes

I don't think I've ever seen a glog, but at least now I would recognize one if I saw it. Following up on an earlier posts on sousveillance, glogs are one of the topics on deck at the International Workshop on Inverse Surveillance.

I was trying to figure out what threshold was crossed yesterday with danah boyd's post about the thieves who stole her phone, and I think it has something to do with asymmetric peacefare.

Posted by kevin slavin at 07:02 PM
Love Me Tender

Members of a Staten Island firehouse lied to cover up a New Year’s Eve brawl between two firefighters that left one of them in a coma, according to a report released Wednesday...

...The report reveals that Walsh and Silvestri started arguing when the two men couldn't agree on the date of Elvis Presley's birthday. The report says the argument escalated with Silvestri threatening to hit Walsh with a metal chair. The report says Walsh said "he would pay to see him do it" and then was blindsided in the head with the chair. The report says there was "blood and plastic cups everywhere."

You know, Google was invented to prevent arguments like this.

Posted by elia at 09:25 AM
March 24, 2004
Spring Forward

It's today. On the subway, there's a stray yellowjacket, he's far from the hive, and unlike the A train pigeons, this little fellow is not going to make it home.

Only half the people on the car have noticed the bee, which has landed on the shoe of an oblivious romance-novel reader. Equally oblivious, the bee starts to crawl up her leg. A man leans over and says, ma'am, there's a bee in your pants. She ignores him until I say, lady, no shit, you've got bees, and then she shakes her leg violently. It's the wrong leg she's shaking, but the bee flies out anyway.

The train pulls into the Wall Street stop, and an expensive suit flattens the bee with his New York Post. The Post's cover is a mugshot of Bin Laden, and now there's a snotty trail across Bin Laden's face, a smear of that stuff that's inside bees. The guy drops the newspaper right there on the subway seat and gets off the train.

Only then do I realize, hey, it's spring!

Posted by kevin slavin at 11:53 AM
March 23, 2004
Like Tears in the Rain

Here I am, always talking about the difference betwen storage and memory, about how the storage is binary, on or off. About how memory is blur and smudge, and that's what makes us human. That the difference between a well-recorded life and a well-lived one is the binary nature of the recording, that everything is either there or not there. Whereas we live, as a rule, between these two poles.

As it turns out, so does data. At least the data on the eBay'd hard drives that Simson Garfinkel extracts data from.

Posted by kevin slavin at 07:15 PM
Dog Wags Man

So Richard Clarke's accusing the Bush Administration of being not just weak on terrorism, but willfully ignorant (Condi was like "Al who?") and criminally negligent (Rummy was like "But Iraq has better targets!"). OK, what are the Bush attack dogs going to do?

First, make Clarke look like a bitter ex-employee, that everything he is saying is politically motivated, it's all lies. Fine. (Ignoring the fact that he was hired by Reagan and served as Counterterrorism czar for 30 years.) Clarke doesn't know what he's doing? But, hm, what did the National Review publish on Sept.11, 2003? An interview with Richard Miniter who wrote a totally fair and balanced book called Losing bin Laden: How Bill Clinton's Failures Unleashed Global Terror in which he said this:

At a meeting with Secretary of Defense William Cohen, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Attorney General Janet Reno, and other staffers, Clarke was the only one in favor of retaliation against bin Laden. Reno thought retaliation might violate international law and was therefore against it. Tenet wanted to more definitive proof that bin Laden was behind the attack, although he personally thought he was. Albright was concerned about the reaction of world opinion to a retaliation against Muslims, and the impact it would have in the final days of the Clinton Middle East peace process. Cohen, according to Clarke, did not consider the Cole attack "sufficient provocation" for a military retaliation. Michael Sheehan was particularly surprised that the Pentagon did not want to act. He told Clarke: "What's it going to take to get them to hit al Qaeda in Afghanistan? Does al Qaeda have to attack the Pentagon?"

Hm. This looks to be their second line of attack: blame Clinton. But Clarke makes it clear as he did on Charlie Rose last night, that Clinton did want to pursue strikes in Afghanistan, but ran up against a little controversy about getting a blowjob somewhere with some woman. Remember Wag the Dog?

Posted by tmonkey at 11:53 AM
You do the math

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Yes, he was an ultraradical involved in the plottings of many suicide bombings targeted against civilians. But, when does it become necessary to actually drop a bomb on someone from a helicopter, to blow him up with fancy high-tech missiles, when the ultimate effect will pretty likely spawn a whole generation of youths who will glorify his position (the dissolution of the state of Israel) and gleefully take part in acts of martyrdom and terror from which many more innocents will die?

Posted by tmonkey at 12:45 AM
March 22, 2004
Fuggedaboudit

I was doing the Chelsea art crawl last weekend, and I saw a piece where this guy had drawn the covers of various magazines over the course of a year -- but the thing was, the year was 1986. And Time and Newsweek had cover stories about "Terror Fronts" and they could've had today's date on them and you wouldn't have looked twice. And I couldn't help think about how media makes us forget about the past -- and selectively remembers it for us when they have to begrudgingly roll back the tapes -- The Gulf War was like this, the 80s were like that. And the only things we're allowed to remember are TV shows and toys and bad videos thanks to VH1 and her templated, time-capsule programming.

Posted by elia at 03:09 PM
Think of the Children

from the WSJournal, of all places. What happens when the opinon page finds out they've been lied to?

"In a CNBC television interview almost a year later, Mr. Card said that after he alerted Mr. Bush, "I pulled away from the president, and not that many seconds later, the president excused himself from the classroom, and we gathered in the holding room and talked about the situation."

But uncut videotape of the classroom visit obtained from the local cable-TV station director who shot it, and interviews with the teacher and principal, show that Mr. Bush remained in the classroom not for mere seconds, but for at least seven additional minutes. He followed along for five minutes as children read aloud a story about a pet goat. Then he stayed for at least another two minutes, asking the children questions and explaining to Ms. Rigell that he would have to leave more quickly than planned.

Mr. Bartlett confirmed in an interview that the president stayed in the classroom for at least seven minutes. The spokesman said that as the president's staff was trying to learn more about the plane crashes, there was no need to talk to Mr. Bush or pull him away. The president didn't leave immediately after receiving the news of the second crash from Mr. Card because Mr. Bush's "instinct was not to frighten the children by rushing out of the room," the spokesman added."

Posted by dbrown at 10:59 AM
Church and State and act now, it's also a Production Company and a Pentagon!

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The job posting for Department of Homeland Security Entertainment Liaison may not make sense unless you've been following DHS: The Series (check out the trailer). Under the weight of the collapsing boundaries between entertainment and the defense industries (America's dominant exports) comes DHS: The Series --

"... a one hour drama about an Executive Action Group or EAG within the Department of Homeland Security. Behind the politics, the press and the debate over how homeland security should be handled are the men and women who risk their lives every day to keep us safe."

Behind the politics and press and debate, like white is behind rice. Because front and center is the fact that it's Steeple Distributions behind it, led by Joseph Medawar, an evangelical Christian. It's true, he produced Hardbodies 2 in 1986, but more recently went on the record with this comment on Bush, dismissing any political agenda for the show: "I think he's a great man, and he's done an unbelievable job for our country. He's a man of faith. He believes in God."

Bush evidently gives it full sign-off, since evidently executive branch sign-off is now available for mass media. I'm not sure if it has the Pope's endorsement yet, since it overtly engages a Christian agenda, but perhaps Mel Gibson can provide advice, or cash, or leftover props.

As proof of concept, regarding the together-ness of Steeple Distributions (Steeple, get it?), here's the PDF on their site watermarked "CONFIDENTIAL," outlining investment and business strategies. Want more information? Enter your name in the mailing list on the "contact Steeple" page -- it puts you right in touch with you and the American Fire Retardant Company. From that same Steeple page, you can use Steeple's American Fire Retardant Company's gift reminder service.

These are the times you wish that Mark Lombardi was around, to provide the punchlines, if not the laughter. And these are the times I'm grateful to the googlish Zhan Li (mentioned here) for the dhs.tv tip.

Posted by kevin slavin at 12:50 AM
March 21, 2004
Utopian Landscape, Part VII

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I had forgotten about Komar and Melamid until I started reading this essay on Hit Song Science in today's Week in Review.

Posted by tmonkey at 11:26 AM
March 20, 2004
punk'd

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"Punk has been hijacked by an extreme left-wing element," Mr. Rizzuto (not pictured) said. "It's blame America first. Everything is America's fault, and everything is Bush's fault." Mr. Rizzuto said his goal "is rallying conservative punks and getting people to vote."

Posted by elia at 06:42 PM
But the Girl Ain't One

One thousand reasons.

Posted by kevin slavin at 02:36 AM
March 19, 2004
I'm half crazy, Over the love of you

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I haven't seen that bush ad with the girl fleeing Saddam, but just having a little girl in an ad can't but echo Daisy, the LBJ ad that aired just once. Piece of fucking work, that one.

Which led me to Morning in America, which I don't yet have anything to say about, except that I totally don't remember it from 1984.

Posted by dbrown at 07:23 PM
utopian landscape V + VI

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top: Rockwell Kent
bottom: author unknown

but while we're talking about Teletubbies, for the unchilded among us, let me introduce you to the new Teletubbies: Boohbah! Possibly the best use of flash on the web, especially the Dance. Infernal is not the word.

Posted by dbrown at 07:08 PM
Plenty of Girls Who Would

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That, from this month's DOs, says Vice. A neck tattoo that reads "Never Trust a Woman."

I have no such tattoo. But I was thinking of teenage heartbreak recently, which I thought about more frequently when I was a heartbroken teenager. I was thinking, you know, I'm older if not wiser, and there's plenty of women I can trust, plenty of girls. Then I was reading this entry in Belle Du Jour, and remembered that there are also plenty of girls, plenty of girls who would.

Posted by kevin slavin at 06:27 PM
How We Would

In Philip K. Dick's "A Scanner Darkly," a futureworld narcotics agent is able to communicate with HQ by use of a "throat mike." His throat mike could pick up his speech before it reached his mouth, which was helpful when he was, for example, hanging out with drug dealers.

As in many other cases, Philip Dick was trying to tell us how we would live, not how we might.

Posted by kevin slavin at 04:04 PM
Claritin Week Here on Saturation

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continues with Caspar David Friedrich, for whom landscapes functioned as allegory, much as they do with pharmaceutical giants.

Posted by kevin slavin at 03:32 PM
March 18, 2004
Even better than Claritin

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On Slate, a side-by-side of a new Bush 2004 ad and the Windows XP default background.

Posted by dbrown at 11:21 PM
The American Taliban

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For the record, God hates:

Fags. Episcopalians. Daniel Pearl. America and the United Nations. George and Laura Bush. Al Gore, nuns and dykes. HBO. The clergy, the church. Matthew Shepard. The FDNY, the NYPD, the Coast Guard, the Navy, and the Marines. The American Legion. Hawaii. Fags. Topeka. Topeka, Topeka, Topeka.

But God still has his good days, evidently.

We're not in Kansas anymore. Or fucking ever. My opinion only, but I think that what the First Amendment enables is much scarier than what it prevents.

Posted by princess at 09:17 PM
Will He Find What He's Looking For?

All those spammers, and all those domain thief pornographers, and it's easy to forget that the techniques of internet domain hijacking can also be put to good use.

(Perhaps more alarming: this is official.)

Posted by kevin slavin at 05:28 PM
The Sound of One Hand Clapping

The United Nations.

Spain.
Poland.
Britain.

Posted by kevin slavin at 05:24 PM
Bloody stupid Eighties flop

"A handful of records released in the late 70's and early 80's contained computer programs as part of the audio. . . In the case of these programs on vinyl, the user would have to play back the proper portion of the record, record the resultant chatter to tape, and load the tape into the Spectrum." (That's the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, for those of you who didn't know.)

"If all of the above was executed properly, the program displayed rudimentary graphics and printed lyrics in time with the music for the duration of the album. A gigantic step up from encoded text files were actual games included in the grooves of records. In 1984, The Thompson Twins released 'The Thompson Twins Adventure Game' in both regular vinyl and flexi disc formats."

(Kempa.com via TMN)

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Posted by tmonkey at 04:24 PM
March 17, 2004
lost in translation

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So, I was reading this article in the Times about Japan and how they have a different alphabet for just about everything, and I started thinking how could a country be so advanced with such a language obstacle. And then I found this ad from Japan with Arnold Schwarzenegger and decided to stop asking questions.

Posted by elia at 06:34 PM
March 16, 2004
Like a Computer

And also, in addition to Dean Sitton, there was polyglot ubermensch Steve Bolinger, leader of the band Jinx, longhair later turned neo-prog frontman. Then I left, and I'm not sure what he did later. But I know what he did in about 1989: He recorded "Make Love to Me Like a Computer."

Posted by dbrown at 10:56 PM
P-Funk:G-2k3

I was still thinking about Spalding today, which made me thing about 1986 and 1987. And in the googling that such ruminations always lead to, I found more than a few traces of friends from those years, and even before. Indeed, the first friends I made after the fallow years of Abbott Junior High. Such as Dean Sitton, ne'erdowell pothead skater who the last time I heard was going to join the Army. Now he seems to make computer games. Some of them are real. This one, P-Funk Game-2003, seems to be still in its conceptual stage:

"It is the year 2222, and though George Clinton did make it to the White House and (yes) did paint it black, the world slowly returned to normal… The members of the various forms of Parliament Funkadelic have scattered to the four corners of the globe (seems like) and it is up to whoever you decide to regroup, saddle up, form like a transforming robot, and posse up.

Though the main goal of the game is to rock the planet under one groove, there is a expert goal for advanced players. Only when all of the required musical items and team members have been located is it possible to hold the global concert. If all game items (including computers, antennas, dishes, gear, secret alien technology) are collected the Mother ship is hailed. Letting you know that the Funk is galactic, expanding ever outward into the cosmos, and this is your road ahead.

The end of the game? There is no end to infinity. The Funk is everlasting.

Posted by dbrown at 10:52 PM
Social Theory for Legos

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Michel Foucault. Also available: Judith Butler, Anthony Giddens, Angela McRobbie.

via pandagon

Posted by dbrown at 09:30 PM
sry but u were on the web

>In June 2003, I wrote something about instant messaging that included the words "question" and "answerer". In November of that year, a young girl trying to finish her homework searched for "instant message question answerer", found the piece I had written, and IM'd me, looking for some answers.

>Foolishly, I titled that post "Instant Message Question Answerer" which became "sylloge: Instant Message Question Answerer" as the title of the page ("sylloge" is both my AIM screen name and the name of my personal site). People linked to it, and now that is the first result on Google for "question answerer".

Posted by kevin slavin at 08:55 AM
NanoBell

VOIP is finally taking off. Vonage is getting pretty good buzz, and I've been considering it myself. But I'd have to route Vonage through my cable modem, and I'll never trust my local cable co. enough to depend on them absolutely for phone service. If you've ever waited for cable service repair, you know why you wouldn't want to run 911 calls over that dirty pipe.

So I'd get Vonage if I could keep my landline just in case, but that negates the value of getting Vonage, since minimal service on Verizon is still >$20/month.

Which is why, in a few years, a lot of Americans will need some kind of "lifeline" copper-wire telephony. Something for 911, something for Tivo, for alarm systems, that kind of thing. I'd pay $5/month for a service I don't intend to use, but might need to. If the line is never used, that's more or less pure profit, and if it is used, anyone could just charge premium rates for that use.

So somewhere there's room for a NanoBell. A phone company for the long shadow that twisted copper will still cast, long after it has any day-to-day use.

Posted by kevin slavin at 01:04 AM
Spirit of Service

I won't go into too many details in a public forum, but over the years a lot of different people have moved through my mother's house, where I am right now, northern Bronx. To make a big story short, a musician once experienced something in this very room that could only be attributable to my father's ghost. I don't believe in such things, but I also cannot deny her firsthand experience and what only I could have identified it as.

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Now, in the very same spot she experienced this, there is a mysterious 5.5 Mbps "very good" WiFi signal. I've scanned the entire house and cannot determine its source, nor can I find the signal except within the 10 foot radius of where my father died. This story offers no metaphor or tight resolution, but it's true, and that's already asking a lot. Ether comes in all forms, all I'm saying, and a lot of the world was wireless before the internet was.

Posted by kevin slavin at 12:21 AM
March 15, 2004
timmy the vampire slayer

Timothy White was arrested after he allegedly shot his Domino's Pizza co-worker in the face because he thought he was a vampire.

Posted by elia at 06:04 PM
Beast Government

The Rapture Index has ticked up 3 points in the past week, to 140. Nowhere near historic highs, but 140 is at the upper reaches of the "Heavy Prophetic Activity" range. Next up: "Fasten Your Seatbelts." Don't miss the explanation of categories.

Kevin gets the art if I am called to Heaven.

Posted by dbrown at 12:18 PM
beat the press

Federal investigators are scrutinizing television segments in which the Bush administration paid people to pose as journalists praising the benefits of the new Medicare law, which would be offered to help elderly Americans with the costs of their prescription medicines.

Posted by elia at 09:24 AM
Parallax

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krebs

I met Angie Waller three or so years ago through a friend and quickly hired her to do some freelance webwork after I realized she was sharp as a tack. One of the projects she was working on at the time was this monograph called "Data-Mining the Amazon", in which she used Amazon's recommendation engine to chart the reading patterns of conservatives and liberals. Yesterday I opened up the Arts & Ideas section in the Times and saw this, a study using the exact same methodology attributed to a Valdis Krebs (whose name sounds like the protagonist of a Philip Dick novel). Should Angie be outraged? Or should Amazon? Should we chalk it up to bad reporting by Emily Eakin, the Times writer who wrote the story? Can you "own" the idea of a map made with someone else's technology?

Posted by tmonkey at 08:28 AM
(Patrice Lumumba) Moore's Law

Somehow, with all the small print that collects around me like plankton, I missed the really important story of Patrice Lumumba Moore (guess what year he was born in.) Moore is the modern day Collyer brother, the packrat recuperating "from dehydration and paper cuts he suffered while pinned for two days under hundreds of pounds of books, magazines and debris."

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The New Yorker points out that the Collyer brothers outdid Mr. Moore, but they had more time and twice as many hands. When Collyer was discovered dead, there were 184 tons of "car parts, musical instruments, newspapers, and orange peels." I seem to recall reading that they had three pianos stacked atop one another.

Those of you who know me will know why Mr. Moore provoked a shudder and a rubberneck curiosity. I feel like I talk about object constancy and object permanence all the time, at least as often as I talk about the qualities of human memory. It's so easy for me to understand how Moore could associate each of those books with experiences, or days, or people. Book technology is good like that, books are dense in a way that floppy disks aren't, which is to say you don't have to open them to know what's inside. Or within, which is to say, the memories, and not just the text.

Because really, I trust things to remember the world much more than I trust myself to recall anything at all. Perhaps all this will shift when genuine memory augmentation comes into effect, but I think to some degree it's shifted already.

Staying up here in the Bronx and reflecting on my own paper empire, I realize it has steadily lost velocity over the years. Where I used to keep everything, now I just keep more than I should. But that's only if you go by cubic feet. Because I'm filling up hard drives, digital music players, I'm filling up credenzas with miles of videotape. Like large intestines, I got videotape. CDs. PDA memory cards. Servers filled with blur.

The point being that Moore's law has an analogue related to the compression of what I'll call object-experience indices. Where I used to have to save the newspapers, because the newspapers remembered the day, now I need only save a few digital photos, or AP shots off the web. The objects I'm collecting have multiplied, but they've flattened.

To put it in Moore's general terms, it's that every year I'm collecting twice as much stuff in half as much space, although really, the space is microns thick no matter how you cut it. I have a hard drive with every CD I've ever listened to, every photo I've taken from the last two years, every news story that's important to me, compressed into local .mht files. I got a TiVo filled with movies and an XBox filled with saved games. And I've got saturation.

Maybe my collection of answering machine messages from 1993-1999 are a good example of the transitional period, in which the experiences of the world could be compressed, though still requiring a breadbox worth of space in their 1/4" audiotape format. Now, the hard drive containing all my email from 1999-2004 is about 1/10th the size of one of those tapes.

What I am wondering is if the disorders of object permanence will become cultural rather than individual. Whether the world at large will edge toward Collyer and Moore, if their object-world is flat and cheap. Whether, like ADD, a once-rare disorder will acheive mass density not because of new diagnostic tools but because of new cultural conditions.

The new flat object-memory world has already spawned entirely new malfunctions: interpassivity is Zizek's term (broadly) for when having the thing supplants experiencing it. This simply wasn't possible when compression technology was still thick with newspaper, book, grand piano and auto parts. But now we can TiVo the thing not in order to watch it, but to replace watching it. This is the inversion of traditional object disorders, which are about collecting the thing to not lose the experience of having watched it.

So I think it's possible that these kinds of relationships to objects will become more pervasive, as those objects become easier to collect. But at least no one's ever been killed by a hard drive, or trapped under their collection of digital photos. It's only one metric, but I'll have to call this progress.

Posted by kevin slavin at 03:15 AM
(Patrice Lumumba) Moore's Law II: Question

Just this. Is everybody blogging the world in order to broadcast it outward, or to preserve it for themselves?

Posted by kevin slavin at 03:10 AM
March 12, 2004
AT-AT logic

One of the reasons I liked Star Wars was because it showed a future built in the mind-set of the past. Because once you get over the spaceships and the lasers, a lot of the things in the Star Wars universe weren’t very modern at all – they were old things (a sword) built with new technology (a laser) to make something that was, when you compare it to Han’s pistol, pretty impractical (the light saber).

I bring this up, because probably the most impractical thing in any Star Wars movie (as Kevin duly pointed out once) was the AT-AT. It was built on a kind of medieval logic – most animals walk on all fours, we ride large animals that walk on all fours, we need to transport large amounts of people, let’s just build a really big transport device that walks on all fours. And it worked great, until it didn’t, and you wonder how things on Hoth would’ve turned out if the AT-ATs were giant tanks instead of clumsy camel-legged things.

With that said, I’d like to give out this week’s AT-AT Logic Awards – for devices that make sense, but then really don’t.

atat.jpg

Thank you, Lower Extremity Exoskeleton and the trumpet playing robot.

Posted by elia at 11:02 AM
March 11, 2004
potterania

Stay Free! is cosponsoring a screening at the
New York Underground Film Festival this week:

Saturday, March 13, 10:30 pm.
Anthology Film Archives, 2nd Ave. at 2nd Street.

$8 gets you two movies: the first is a short in Jeff
Krulick's "Parking Lot" series -- Harry Potter Parking Lot
(featuring conversations with diehard fans waiting in
line for a JK Rowling reading)

The second, Wizard People, is essentially the entire
first Harry Potter movie minus the soundtrack and with
some fucked-up Texan doing all voices in the story. I [Carrie]
haven't seen it but I hear it's very entertaining.

Posted by dbrown at 04:20 PM
Transgendered Post-Op Computing

se3000.jpg

"I wanted to build a compact gaming PC using an old Mac SE case.

For my case window mod I took the old built-in black and white monitor & cut it near the end using sand-blasting technology.

Since I wanted to play the latest games on my PC I decided to use an Intel, 800 MHZ frontside bus dual channel DDR, micro ATX  motherboard, the best choice for that was the Gigabyte GA-8IG1000MK.

In order for the motherboard to fit in my SE case I had to use a skill-saw & cut a big hole in the back of the case. I also used a Dremel & cut a hole in the front for the DVD/CD combo drive. I cut holes for my fans also. I used an older PC case to design the back of my computer &  my Motherboard tray. I also used the power/reset buttons of that case and attached it to the back of the SE.

I got a 400W power supply that I spray-painted black and attached it to a custom-cut aluminum diamond-plate. I attached my 120GB Hard-Drive to the power supply.

I designed my own clear acrylic glowing feet.

At the end I sanded the whole case down, used white Krylon primer & metallic-silver spray paint. I wanted to keep the original Apple logo, so I masked it off with Play-Doh.

I designed all my logos in Illustrator & I had vinyl stencils cut out. I used those stencils to spray-paint the logos on my case & PSU, after it dried I used clear-coat to finish the case off."

Posted by tmonkey at 10:01 AM
March 10, 2004
black and white and dead all over

copter.jpg

The world through the eyes of an Apache helicopter.

Posted by elia at 06:29 PM
Too bad I'm not sick today

from Spike TV's schedule for today

On the cruise, Neely is attacked by a rampaging bear. Mitch and Cody rescue her, and then she and Mitch share a very intense moment. Meanwhile, Leslie, the jewel thief, is trying to elude the other members of her smuggling team and get away with all the emeralds. Inside Sports completes its photo shoot.  

A head injury resulting from a confrontation with hit men who fear MacGyver knows too much about their assassination plot against the leaders of Omega Force anti-terrorist brigade, causes MacGyver to lose his memory. 

MacGyver travels to Czechoslovakia to rescue a dissident from the top-security psychiatric ward of a Czech hospital. 

Two chutes tangle during skydive, high-speed street races, "wing-walker," weiner dog race.

Loyalty and ethics clash when a paralyzed Worf asks for help to commit suicide. 

A rescue mission leads to a dangerous romance between Riker and a rebellious member of an androgynous race. 

Hunt For Red October, The (1990)

Posted by dbrown at 10:19 AM
March 09, 2004
Who Gets the Blue Glow?

Posted by tmonkey at 07:22 PM
On Bush's Side

PEACEPST_lg.jpg

Clearly, it's going to be okay for g.w. Painting by Ron DiCianni, from the presidentialprayerteam site, via the Believer. Sorry this wasn't ready for president's day.

Posted by dbrown at 02:25 PM
Ari Fleischer is loving life right now

"If the president of the United States can find the time to go to a rodeo, he can find the time to do more than one hour in front of a commission that is investigating what happened to America's intelligence and why we are not stronger today." Kerry 1. McClellan 0. <-- Watch the Press Corps squeeze more time from Bush's spokes-whippingboy and the news story that results.

Posted by tmonkey at 12:21 PM
secret buddy

Princess. Not safe for work. In fact, pretty fucked up. Registration required.

"Watch the world premiere of the only two existing "webisodes" of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's infamous animated series "Princess" created for Shockwave.com in 1999. Originally commissioned to create 39 webisodes, given full creative control, and millions of dollars, the pair developed a series, drawn in the style of a pre-school children's cartoon, about a lap dog who observes the very adult world around her. The sexual content was so extreme that production on the "webisodes" was halted early on and have never been seen in any medium. Until now."

Posted by dbrown at 10:54 AM
March 08, 2004
Something in the Water

NEW YORK - The body of actor-writer Spalding Gray was pulled from the East River over the weekend, two months after he walked out of his Manhattan apartment and disappeared. He was 62.

we will miss him. I remember being a wannabe intellectual in high school, which consisted, in part, of joining the Quality Paperback Book Club. One of my early choices was Spalding's Sex and Death to the Age 14. And then I and Jenny, my fellow torchbearer and first love, saw Swimming, and Spalding was kind of my second love. Be Here Now, I still hear him say.

Posted by dbrown at 04:21 PM
March 07, 2004
something in the water?

The Times had this tiny editorial on the importance of healthy presidential candidates, which makes total sense. But my question has always been, how come presidents don't get sick? There couldn't be a more stressful job on the body and mind, and yet, besides Bush 1.0 vomiting in Japan, I can't remember any president getting ill - from the common cold to an emergency root canal. My conspiracy sense says they have super meds the common man will never get his hands on, but I'm sure someone in the saturation crew has the answer.

Posted by elia at 01:07 PM
A Bell is a Cup Until it is Struck

I've been on six airplanes in as many days, and on half of these, I got tagged for everything shy of a cavity search. At one point they asked me to turn my cell phone on, I said I can't, they said, you have to, I said I'd like to. They said why don't you charge it before you leave the house, and I asked, do you have any idea what kind of a person you're questioning here? I'm an idiot, I explain, and they let me go.

So I've found the FBI guide to concealed weapons useful, in terms of knowing what to avoid bringing on a flight. Turns out there's nothing you can't put a blade inside. Knives don't kill people; belts, shoes, necklaces, wristwatches and keychains kill people. My favorite is on page 64 of the PDF, from Italy's "United Cutlery." It's a knife, but it's disguised to look like a .44 bullet. One bad apple man, and now it's going to be hard to get any bullets on board.

An interesting counterpart and converse, then, is prison weaponry. If 297 million of us Americans are trying to turn knives into things like shoes and bullets, then the other 3 million are doing everything they can to turn ballpoints and toothbrushes into knives. A sharp blade being in the end, a really low common denominator.

Posted by kevin slavin at 07:53 AM
March 06, 2004
Bussiness

>>Hey, Netsky...don't ruine our bussiness, wanna start a war?
>Skynet AntiVirus -- Bagle - you are a looser ! ! !

It's always the least visible elements of the world that reveal the deepest insights into human behavior.

Posted by kevin slavin at 06:34 AM
March 05, 2004
3-Headed Frog Found

frog.jpg

Frog Also Has 6 Legs.

Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.

Posted by elia at 03:39 PM
Plame

highlights from Newsday's near-bombshell story about the Plame investigation:

The federal grand jury probing the leak of a covert CIA officer's identity has subpoenaed records of Air Force One telephone calls in the week before the officer's name was published in a column in July ... The subpoenas underscore indications that the initial stages of the investigation have focused largely on the White House staff members most involved in shaping the administration's message on Iraq, and appear to be based in part on specific information already gathered by investigators ... t subpoena also sought a complete transcript of a July 12 press "gaggle," or informal briefing, by then-White House press secretary Ari Fleischer while at the National Hospital in Abuja, Nigeria. That transcript is missing from the White House Web site containing transcripts of other press briefings. ... ally, the subpoena requested a list of those in attendance at the White House reception on July 16 for former President Gerald Ford's 90th birthday.

I think it was Ford.

Posted by dbrown at 12:40 AM
March 04, 2004
Oh boy

Ted "Jesus Christ" God. What do I do when I realize I am the Son of David and the Son of man and Christ and THE MESSIAH and THE LION of Judah and THE LION and much less the lamb and THE ONE  and THE ONE LIVING GOD and THE ONE GOD and THE CREATOR and Ted Christ and Jesus Christ and god and God and GOD and Ted Jesus Christ GOD and King of Kings and Lord of Lords and Jehovah and Yahweh and the I AM and the many Current I AM's of The Great I AM? Why, I register my domain and set up my website.

Posted by tmonkey at 07:15 PM
I Married a Terrorist Mastermind

OBL's been making headlines lately, first for being "caught" and supposedly held by the Bush administration for a November "surprise", and now, as the subject of a Canadian "Behind the Terror" style documentary.

Single Arab Male, loves volleyball, hates ice, American infidels, likes horses, camels, enjoys long walks underground.

Posted by tmonkey at 04:30 PM
March 03, 2004
the quiet poetry of electronic arts

a better head was already taken by the publisher: "all poems are belong to us." Not sure what to say, other than to point to "Blue Wizard is About to Die," a collection of poems about video games.

from Mario
…hero of the mushroom kingdom,
commander of the psychotic and useless power of Yoshi,
a creature so dumb and useless that,
only you, my mustachioed Italian freak,
would dare punch it in the back of the head,
as if to say
“ready the tongue!
prepare to fire!”

Posted by dbrown at 06:34 PM
A New Coalition

first, in early February, this quote ran in the Times:

"I think he's run the country into the ground economically, and he comes out with these crazy ideas like going to Mars and going to the moon," said Richard Bidlack, a 78-year-old retiree from Boonton, N.J., who says he voted for Bush in 2000. "I'm so upset at Bush, I'll vote for a chimpanzee before I vote for him."

Today, another animal got its due:

Of note: Robert Madden, 40, of Los Angeles, who voted for Kerry, said, "I'd vote for my cat if he could beat Bush. The guy's just destroying our country.

Posted by dbrown at 11:48 AM