June 28, 2005
Over There

from reporter Christopher Allbritton's blog, in response to Rummy's good cheer: "News flash: Iraq is a disaster. I've been back one day, and the airport road was the worst I've ever seen it. We had to go around a fire-fight between mujahideen and Americans while Iraqi forces sat in the shade of date palms on the side of the road, their rifles resting across their laps. My driver pointed to a group of men in a white pickup next to me. “They are mujahideen,” he said. “They are watching the Americans.” Indeed, they were, and so intently that they paid no attention to me in the car next to them. We detoured around two possible car bombs that had been cordoned off while Iraqis cautiously approached." (via attaturk)

Posted by dbrown at 06:43 PM
June 27, 2005
can a URL be funny?

The History of Suck.

Suck changed the world as much as Spy did, and more than McSweeney's has. And it let me email once, with a straight face and unwittingly, "good suck today."

Really, though, Suck showed the comedy potential in a mere rollover. At a party last week I ran into a guy I freelanced for in 1995 at a CD-ROM company (remember them? the fucking future), and I told him about how vividly I remember the day he showed off this new application on his Mac LC III -- Mosaic. It was just a a few months later that Suck got under way.

We are all still catching up; no one has done it the same way since. Gilliard is so personal that he gets halfway there somedays. Robotwisdom (profiled in the July 05 Wired) gets the brevity. And there's Wolcott, but he's a pro and was belly-achin' before Ana was born.

Posted by dbrown at 09:52 PM
Happy Ending

I know we're all watching the creep of porn into daily life; that latest installment is in the July Wired (just out, no link yet). In a gesture that I like -- this is how Wired should do it! epaté la bourgeoisie! -- the photo-illustration that opens a story on "Big Pharma" working on the female orgasm is 24 screenshots from Beautiful Agony, site full of amateur (maybe not all) videos of le petite mort. The illustration is basically the same as BA's opening page. It is brilliant. (And remind me to tell you all that story about the guy on the plane to Paris in 1992 who showed me his portfolio of the faces of men at the moment, and asked to include me. I was flattered. What do you say?)

Posted by dbrown at 09:32 PM
June 25, 2005
Research

The Morning News has developed a Bohemian Index to NYC and laid it on a zip code map of the city. Shallow and interesting (11231!), but then there's this quote: "Major airports create centers of very low bohemian levels." Indeed.

Posted by dbrown at 09:02 AM
Robots vs. Romanians

There's a wire story about a cute little Renault for 5000 Euros (well, a bit more than that, but still). Interesting just in seeing the differences between and growth of car cultures, but also for a note toward the bottom: "The simple design means assembly at the Romanian plant is done almost entirely without robots. That lets Renault capitalize on the country's low labor costs."

The first time humans have been so matter-of-factly cheaper than robots?

Posted by dbrown at 08:40 AM
June 24, 2005
the quiet poetry of the mainstream media

Turns out that USA Today has a daily haiku contest. Who knew?

June 22: Hotel Room
Pay TV movies
Tiny soaps in the bathroom
Lamps attached to desks
—Audrey Jordan, Hope, Ind.

June 21: VCR
Video workhorse
Years of faithful service done
Attic resident
—John Hock, Round Rock, Texas

and a haiku from their front page:

NBA Finals
New-home sales up, prices fall
Tom Cruise, Matt Lauer spar

Posted by dbrown at 02:22 PM
June 23, 2005
258 million people

87 percent of Americans polled by ABC News and the Washington Post said that if they were in the same state as Terri Schiavo, they too would want their feeding tube removed.
87 percent of Americans claimed there was no celebrity who could cause them to change their position on the Iraq war
87 percent of Americans say nativity scenes should be allowed on public property
87 percent of Americans believe Iraq is deceiving inspectors by hiding chemical and biological or other weapons of mass destruction
87 percent of Americans favor including sexuality education in the public high schools
87 percent of Americans believe that most children are capable of learning demanding subject matter
87 percent of all Americans consider themselves Christians
87 percent of Americans are familiar with, and have used, an ESPN product
87 percent of Americans will have property stolen three or more times
87 percent of Americans say the federal tax system is complex
87 percent of Americans believed that God was responsible for the creation of man.
87 percent of Americans will consume leftovers in the week following the big feast
87 percent of Americans believe fishing and boating have a positive effect on family relationships.

Posted by dbrown at 06:25 PM
June 20, 2005
The Long Emergency goes West

James Kunstler was in California on a book tour, and he has some nice turns of phrase about my home (sorta) state:

"[W]hat you see in California is a society with a tragic destiny.... life here is all about cars and it will never not be about cars -- until the reality of our oil predicament falls on the hapless public like a hammer of God and the people of California die for their fucking cars in their fucking cars and over their fucking cars... [At Google,] The employees dressed like children. There were two motifs: "skateboard rat" and "10th grade nerd." I suppose quite a few of them were millionaires. Many of the work cubicles were literally modular children's playhouses. I gave my spiel about the global oil problem and the unlikelihood that "alternative energy" would even fractionally replace it, and quite a few of the Googlers became incensed. "Yo, Dude, you're so, like, wrong! We've got, like, technology!""

Posted by dbrown at 10:02 PM
June 19, 2005
Father's Day

There was three-card monte going on in front of the Old Navy on Broadway near Spring, and I stopped to watch. There was a bigger crowd than the usual three or four skells, but still, it felt like I was the only one not a shill. A father-daughter team was "playing," and was suddenly $200 down. The 20-something daughter is shouting in a Jersey or Long Island voice, "We can win it back, we can win it back!" Just like the shills do. Dad wins it back, and she says, "Let's just go." But no, of course not. And surprise, they weren't shills, they were suckers. A moment later the lookout reports cops coming, the Monte impresario is running up Broadway, Dad runs out into the street and flags down a passing cop car and the cops jump out and sprint in pursuit, I shit you not. I walk slowly up Broadway next to one of the real shills, he's on his cell narrating what's happening to another interested party, and word filters back that the dude is caught. "He is so slooow!" the guy says into the phone.

Posted by dbrown at 07:50 PM
June 17, 2005
New York's Finest

In the past 24 hours I have spent a good deal of time with New York City police officers, all of whom were kind, helpful, and respectful. (Car stolen, recovered, odd story, goodbye mr. stereo, I will miss you, Hello Bronx!) Almost all the cops I dealt with had no stripes or ribbons or nothing on their uniforms -- straight up police officers, no sargeants or detectives. They were all stand up, and none of them seemed... extraordinary.

So I loved this story in the Times today, about Jersey City officer Michael Gullace, who earned his first promotion in his 37-year career, for shielding a woman and her children with his ample body during a shootout. "Officer Gullace jumped out of his chair and pulled out his 9-millimeter Glock, then grabbed the man's girlfriend and children, dragged them behind a desk and laid on top of them as other officers returned fire. When one of them, Detective Jack Bennett, ran out of ammunition, Officer Gullace tossed him his weapon."

Posted by dbrown at 02:29 PM
June 13, 2005
Forever

travelers.jpg

Elizabeth Heyert's new show at Houk, "The Travelers," contains 30 photographs made at a Harlem mortuary, made with permission of the mortuary (obviously) and the families. Last portraits, the dearly departed, dressed up and ready to go.

The backdrops remind me of Serrano's just as (more?) powerful morgue series, but these are less contrived, and much happier, if you can say such a thing about pictures of dead people. Maybe it's just the smiles. Moral: remember to smile when you die.

Posted by dbrown at 11:50 PM
June 10, 2005
How to Sell a Book

1939b.1-ad.jpg

Amidst the slight kerfuffle about advertising in textbooks (not a new idea), I dug this print ad for the book that eventually won Linus Pauling his Nobel for chemistry. It is so sweet, the swoop of the "new!," and to think that that was all it took back then.

Posted by dbrown at 01:15 PM
June 08, 2005
The Web is Reseda, which is part of California, and Jesus died from a blood clot (see also Trow)

I read this post, via mefi, predicting the Web will change (stop the presses) and that "The Web is San Francisco."

Sometimes I accidentally click on Explorer in the dock, instead of Mail, and it kicks up the default msn.com home page. Where we find what the Web is right now:

TODAY ON MSN
Expert: Jesus died from a blood clot
Top 15 national parks
Dad gifts: $25 & under
Tips for dressing sexy (but not too sexy)

Top 5 Search Movers
1. Natalee Holloway
2. Jennifer Aniston
3. Danica Patrick
4. Anne Bancroft
5. George Clooney

Suggested Searches
News: Global warming
Colima volcano
Mars rover
Night commuters
Belmont Stakes

Posted by dbrown at 06:53 PM
June 06, 2005
Monsters

blok.jpg

This was on boingboing so maybe everyone's already seen it -- Dave Devries's Monster Engine, "real" illustrations based on kids' drawings of monsters, superheroes, etc. A single idea realized perfectly (though it looks like the book could use some help). And it reminds me of Junk Warrior, one my all-time favorite posts.

Posted by dbrown at 12:15 PM
June 01, 2005
In this essay I will prove three things

George Bush hasn't made an appearance here for a long time; he is long overdue. From yesterday's presser:

"And so China is a fascinating country that is significant in its size."

Posted by dbrown at 08:46 PM