When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

31 December 2006

Duke's recovery from a rush to judgment

Nine months later, the vigilante posters have come down, the candlelight vigils have gone dark and little has been heard from the New Black Panther Party or the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Even among the aspiring activists who banged pots and pans last spring in solidarity with the alleged victim, there is the disquieting sense that maybe she wasn't one after all — that this time the story might not be reducible to the all-purpose epistemology of race, gender and class.

Duke University and historically black North Carolina Central University are once again cross-town neighbors with nothing much to say to one another. The cause celebre who brought them together in the spring — a part-time N.C. Central student who moonlighted as a stripper and alleged that she was sexually assaulted and raped by three Duke lacrosse players — has long since ceased to be a sympathetic figure.

Privately, people who rallied to her defense tell you that they were snookered. As they do, a different posse prowls the airwaves and Internet. This one wants not the Duke lacrosse players brought to heel but Durham County Dist. Atty. Mike Nifong — and along with him, the highest stratum of Duke's administrative hierarchy, including university President Richard Brodhead. It was the university, these critics argue, that failed to stand up for its students and let it be cast as the original "Animal House."

[...]

Few of the candle holders or pot bangers of last spring are taking phone calls. Jennifer Minnelli, who attended a candlelight vigil in March and lambasted the lacrosse team for a "wall of silence," said last week, "I have no comment. Good luck with your research," and hung up. The husband of a woman who organized the candlelight vigil in March said last week, "Your chances of getting a comment from her or from anyone in this house are exactly zero."
I wouldn't hold my breath for an apology, either.

Duke's recovery from a rush to judgment (Michael Skube, Los Angeles Times, December 31, 2006)

The lucid analysis and informed disagreement of civilized minds

It seems like the Euston Manifesto is finally starting to gain some traction in US press/leftist circles.

In a signed op-ed in the New York Times (unfortunately, behind the TimesSelect firewall), Roger Cohen, whose liberal credentials are impeccable, writes of what we in the blogosphere often refer to as Bush Derangement Syndrome:
This has been a bleak year for nuanced thinking. President George W. Bush likes to speak in certainties; contrition and compromise are not his thing. Among hyper-ventilating left-liberals, hatred of Bush is so intense that rational argument usually goes out the window. The result is a mindless cacophony.

Bush, even after the thumping of the Republicans in November, equates criticism of the war in Iraq with defeatist weakness. Much of the left, in both Europe and the United States, is so convinced that the Iraq invasion was no more than an American grab for oil and military bases, it seems to have forgotten the myriad crimes of Saddam Hussein.

There appears to be little hope that Bush will ever abandon his with-us-or-against-us take on the post-9/11 world. Division is the president's adrenalin; he abhors shades of gray. Nor does it seem likely that the America-hating, over-the-top ranting of the left — the kind that equates Guantánamo with the Gulag and holds that the real threat to human rights comes from the White House rather than Al Qaeda — will abate during the Bush presidency.

This state of affairs is grave. The threat posed by Islamic fanaticism, inside and outside Iraq, requires the lucid analysis and informed disagreement of civilized minds. Bush's certainties are dangerous. But so is the moral equivalency of the left, the kind that during the Cold War could not see the crimes of communism, and now seems ready to equate the conservative leadership of a great democracy with dictatorship.

I am grateful to Niall Stanage, a Belfast-born, New-York based journalist, for pointing out to me in an e-mail that the leftist Respect coalition represented in the British Parliament by George Galloway had this to say about Iraq:

"The resistance in Iraq is engaged in a battle to liberate the country. The Iraqi resistance deserves the support of the international antiwar movement."

That's a call for the mass of European pacifists to back the beheading brigade, the child-bombers and other fundamentalist loonies who want to restore the Caliphate. A call made in the name of defeating what Galloway and his ilk see as the greater evil, the United States.

Fortunately, in the face of such hysteria, an expression of moderate sanity has emerged over the past year. Precisely because of its sanity, it has received too little attention.

I refer to the Euston Manifesto (www.eustonmanifesto.org), published last March by a group of mainly left-of-center thinkers, and the supporting statement called "American Liberalism and the Euston Manifesto," published by U.S. intellectuals in September.

These outlines of liberal principle — liberal in its best Enlightenment sense rather than in its debased Fox- News guise of insult — constitute a solid foundation for debate of Iraq and the struggle against terrorism that the White House now calls "The Long War."

Globalist: A manifesto from the left too sensible to ignore (New York Times/International Herald Tribune - behind TimesSelect firewall - December 29, 2006)

I have certainly skated right up to the thin ice of the Fair Use doctrine in quoting this piece at such length, but the damned thing is behind the TimesSelect firewall. Write me privately if you don't have access and would like a copy.

Related:

"Our short national nightmare"

Hitch isn't impressed with the selective-memory eulogies of Jerry Ford:
...[T]here was endless talk about "healing," and of the "courage" that it had taken for Ford to excuse his former boss from the consequences of his law-breaking. You may choose, if you wish, to parrot the line that Watergate was a "long national nightmare," but some of us found it rather exhilarating to see a criminal president successfully investigated and exposed and discredited. And we do not think it in the least bit nightmarish that the Constitution says that such a man is not above the law. Ford's ignominious pardon of this felonious thug meant, first, that only the lesser fry had to go to jail. It meant, second, that we still do not even know why the burglars were originally sent into the offices of the Democratic National Committee. In this respect, the famous pardon is not unlike the Warren Commission: another establishment exercise in damage control and pseudo-reassurance (of which Ford was also a member) that actually raised more questions than it answered. The fact is that serious trials and fearless investigations often are the cause of great division, and rightly so. But by the standards of "healing" celebrated this week, one could argue that O.J. Simpson should have been spared indictment lest the vexing questions of race be unleashed to trouble us again, or that the Tower Commission did us all a favor by trying to bury the implications of the Iran-Contra scandal. Fine, if you don't mind living in a banana republic...

...To have been soft on Republican crime, soft on Baathism, soft on the shah, soft on Indonesian fascism, and soft on Communism, all in one brief and transient presidency, argues for the sort of sportsmanlike Midwestern geniality that we do not ever need to see again.
Our Short National Nightmare: How President Ford managed to go soft on Iraqi Baathists, Indonesian fascists, Soviet Communists, and the shah … in just two years. (Christopher Hitchens, Slate, December 29, 2006)

30 December 2006

Sister Rosetta breaks it down for you

Take one part Chuck Berry, one part Mahalia Jackson, one Gibson solid-body guitar, toss them together and stand back...

It's Sister Rosetta Tharpe.



Hat tip: Chap.

"I moved here for the food"

My new fourth-floor co-op in Queens measures about 800 square feet, pretty good for one person...

There’s a light-flooded room perfect for a work-from-home journalist like myself. And then there is the great storage space in the basement, friendly neighbors, low monthly maintenance, and a five-minute walk to the E and F express trains that reach Midtown Manhattan in 15 minutes.

Whatever. I moved here for the food.

Sure, some people would do anything to have a view of Central Park or to live in a great school district, but I wanted the cheese bread called pandebono and the $6.50 meat-and-rice-and-soup lunch special at my local Colombian diner, Seba Seba. And I wanted Little India and its famous Jackson Diner five blocks away, not to mention the Patel Brothers supermarket, which snarls traffic on weekends as South Asian immigrants from across the metropolitan area shop for imported ingredients (while double-parked).

And Tacos Guicho, a street cart a five-minute walk away on Roosevelt Avenue that in its wildest dreams would never consider posting a menu in English. And the Uruguayan bakery on 37th Street, and the competing empanada shops on Northern Boulevard and the Peruvian ceviche. When your local lingerie store sells homemade passion fruit popsicles for $1, you know you’ve hit a culinary artery...
Moving For The Food - Seth Kugel, New York Times Real Estate section, December 31, 2006

Smoke and mirrors

If you were the chief executive of an oil company hoping to defend your business against environmental campaigners, there are several ways you might go about it. The most direct approach, as adopted by ExxonMobil, would be to fund groups that claim climate change isn't happening and urge the White House to remove the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

But you wouldn't do this if you had any sense: Exxon's tactics, while successful in the short term, have backfired spectacularly, confirming many people's impressions that the oil industry is a threat to life on Earth. If you were smart, you would follow BP and Shell's tactics. Rather than denying that climate change is happening, they have repositioned themselves as friends of the environment. Their new advertisements... seek to persuade us that they have left the bad old days behind...

Smoke and Mirrors: George Monbiot, New Scientist, 30 December 2006

Related: TurnUpTheHeat.org

TNR: Taking Mormonism Seriously

Within days of stepping down as governor of Massachusetts on January 4, Mitt Romney is expected to announce his candidacy for president. Shortly after that, Romney will almost certainly need to deliver a major speech about his Mormon faith--a speech in the mold of John F. Kennedy's 1960 address to the Baptist ministers of Houston, Texas, in which the candidate attempted to reassure voters that they had no reason to fear his Catholicism. Yet Romney's task will be much more complicated. Whereas Kennedy set voters' minds at ease by declaring in unambiguous terms that he considered the separation of church and state to be "absolute," Romney intends to run for president as the candidate of the religious right, which believes in blurring the distinction between politics and religion. Romney thus needs to convince voters that they have nothing to fear from his Mormonism while simultaneously placing that faith at the core of his identity and his quest for the White House.

This is a task that may very well prove impossible. Romney's strategy relies on the assumption that public suspicion of his Mormonism--a recent poll showed that 43 percent of Americans would never vote for a Mormon--is rooted in ignorance and that this suspicion will therefore diminish as voters learn more about his faith. It is far more likely, however, that as citizens educate themselves about the political implications of Mormon theology, concerns about the possibility of a Mormon president will actually increase. And these apprehensions will be extremely difficult to dispel--because they will be thoroughly justified.

Taking Mormonism Seriously: The Big Test (The New Republic, December 21, 2006)

29 December 2006

Working from home

Okay, so I came down with a rotten cold (so I thought) over the Christmas holiday.

I did all the right things: stayed hydrated, slept a lot, ate healthy food, took decongestants and Tylenol for fever.

These things just have to run their course, I thought.

Six days in, it wasn't getting any better. My doctor takes the week between Christmas and New Years' off every year, so I wound up this morning at a doc-in-the-box on Seventh Avenue.

Me: (after being poked, prodded, palpated and auscultated) What is it, Doc?

Doctor: You have acute bronchitis, probably viral in origin, and it could turn into pneumonia. Rest. You must be tired of coughing; here's a 'scrip for benzonatate. When the fever has been gone for 24 hours, you can go back to work. These things have to run their course.

Okay then. For that, my insurance company paid $225.

Until the fever's gone, I'm working from home, I reckon.

Here's a picture of Mister Gato helping me write RFP responses:

working from home
Working from home

Everyone's home now


Mister Gato is glad that everyone's home now, and wants to make sure that none of us can easily leave without him.

Be sure to check out The Modulator's Friday Ark today, and don't miss the final Carnival of the Cats of 2006 this Sunday, at Watermark.

28 December 2006

Memo to John Edwards

Attempting to link up your supporters at your web site via YouTube, flickr, facebook *and* myspace is amusing, but

(1) Every candidate, including the Republicans--including the elderly and/or Mormon Republicans, actually--will be doing that this time around, and

(2) Be careful; YouTube, especially, can potentially hurt as well as help, as the Macacalypse Now affair in Virginia proved.

27 December 2006

Sweet home Manhattan

Back home in NYC, and on the mend; air travel is not recommended or pleasant when heavily congested.

More soon.

25 December 2006

Sorry for the light blogging

The frenetic work and travel schedule of the last few weeks (New York City --> Raleigh, NC --> Kansas City, MO) has finally caught up with me, and I'm down with what feels like the bubonic plague but is probably only a really bad cold.

I am definitely the Red-Nosed Reindeer right now.

"James presented obviously the best grooves..."

"James presented obviously the best grooves," rapper Chuck D of Public Enemy once told The Associated Press. "To this day, there has been no one near as funky. No one's coming even close."
Legendary singer James Brown dead at 73 (Associated Press via Yahoo News)

Because James Brown died in the wee hours of Christmas morning, the A-team will not be on the obituaries today, but the AP did fine work quoting Chuck D in their coverage.

I expect that after the holidays we will read not only obituaries but deep soul and funk hagiographies, and I hope to hell that the hip-hop kids are getting ready with the tribute recordings, and all that's fine with me; I only saw JB play live twice, and both times (due to our respective ages) were towards the end of his career, but when you went to a James Brown show, even if he himself only played for forty-five minutes or so, you left knowing that you had been to a m*****f*****g show.

And there were in the same country shepherds...

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David)

5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Gospel of St. Luke, Chapter 2, verses 1-14 (King James version.)

Happy Christmas, one and all.

22 December 2006

Ex-cop plans video on stash design

A one-time Texas drug agent described by his former boss as perhaps the best narcotics officer in the country plans to market a how-to video on concealing drugs and fooling police.

Barry Cooper, who has worked for small police departments in East Texas, plans to launch a Web site next week where he will sell his video, "Never Get Busted Again," the Tyler Morning Telegraph reported in its online edition Thursday.
Source: AP, via Yahoo! News

Cooper describes himself as a disgruntled veteran of the War Against Drugs, and believes that it's an enormous waste of law enforcement resources:
Cooper, once "the best" drug officer in West Texas, according to his former superiors, told the newspaper during an interview Wednesday night that he believes marijuana should be legalized, and that the imprisonment of those caught with the drug destroys their families and fills up jails and prisons across the country with non-violent offenders.

He added that methamphetamines, cocaine and crack should be eradicated from the earth because they are dangerous drugs. But he says marijuana is not.

"I know I won't be accepted by my peers here in East Texas, but in other areas of the country I will be celebrated," he said in his office in Tyler. "When I was raiding houses and destroying families, my conscience was telling me it was wrong, but my need for power, fame and peer acceptance overshadowed my good conscience."

(Tyler Morning Telegraph: Former cop to sell video showing drug users how to avoid police detection.)

Cityrag: The 50 Greatest Cartoons of All Time

Over at Cityrag, there's a Christmas present waiting for you: Ms. C. herself tracked down YouTube, Google Video and Yahoo Video links for the 50 Greatest Cartoons of All Time.

(enrevanche's suggestion: That web page would go great with one of the increasingly popular tools that allow you to download and save online videos.)

(see also.)

21 December 2006

I guess that makes it okay, then.

"A woman jailed after four of her infant daughter's toes were gnawed off says the family's pet ferret did it, not their pit bull pup as police had said."
(AP, via CNN.)

I'm from the South, so I can say this... and I'm just guessing about where and how this Benton, Louisiana family lives, but in your heart you know I'm right:

A ferret *and* a pit bull in a single-wide? Damn.

20 December 2006

"We're not winning and we're not losing"

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, when asked, "Are we winning the war in Iraq," answered simply, "No."

Well, there's a new accredited soundbite in town, courtesy of General Peter Pace: "We're not winning, and we're not losing." The ubiquitous new talking point, now on the lips of everyone in the Bush administration, including W himself, strikes the ear at first as a polite fiction, a gloss on Gates's answer, a way of saying "OK, yes, we're losing," without coming right out and saying it.

However, I am allowing myself to hope that there might be some actual depth and thought behind this position and the way that it's being articulated.

If Iraq is a zero-sum game, then we are either winning or losing, simple as that; it might be possible that we can't tell which just at the moment, but it is *not* possible that there is not a winner and a loser, ultimately.

If Iraq is *not* zero-sum, however--and this is a subtle and important point that may signal a real shift in thinking in the Bush administration--it is entirely possible to conceive of outcomes that do not involve "winning" or "losing" outright, and thus "not winning, not losing" becomes not only logically possible but possibly desirable. It may signal a readiness to start thinking about and articulating a realistic definition of "victory" in Iraq.

Just thinking out loud on a couple of cups of coffee.

19 December 2006

Middle English in the house, yo

Inspired by a recent news story on "Lit Hop," in which overeducated rappers retell the classics of literature on stage in the hip-hop vernacular, Carrie rolls up her sleeves and kicks it old-school... really old school:
Yo, in April when the fallin' rain
Comes down through the dirt and hits the roots again
The spring, it's the thing that makes 'em sing and have a fling
The breeze, or what they used to call the zephyr,
Blows away the clouds and freshens up the weather...
Just go read the whole thing.

I think she needs to take her act on the road.

WSJ: As Threats to Oil Supply Grow, A General Says U.S. Isn't Ready

Three years into the sharpest spike in oil prices in a generation, policy makers and military leaders across the globe are grappling with the implications of fundamental change in energy geopolitics. One such leader is the new U.S. defense secretary, Robert Gates, who took part last year in a war game simulating disruptions to the oil trade. It concluded the U.S. had few short-term fixes if supplies were jolted.

Supply lines are longer and oil fields more numerous than a generation ago. New threats have emerged, from rebels in West Africa to terrorists targeting Saudi Arabia. With supply and demand tightly balanced, even small disruptions can cause big price swings, endangering economic growth. Nationalistic fossil-fuel powers such as Russia have shown willingness to brandish energy as a weapon. The war in Iraq has hammered the oil industry in the world's third-largest holder of conventional oil reserves.

In this new era, one of the central security assumptions of the 20th century -- that a powerful U.S. military can protect America's energy interests across the globe -- falls short.

As Threats to Oil Supply Grow, A General Says U.S. Isn't Ready (Wall Street Journal [subscription required], December 19, 2006)

New on the blogroll: Obsidian Wings

New on the blogroll this week: Obsidian Wings, a group blog with a certain somethin'-somethin' that I like.

Posters skew libertarian but come from all points on the political spectrum; however, when *consensus* blog links include Lileks, Volokh, Sully and TPM, I sit up and take notice. It's not the usual echo chamber, and while the commenters aren't above throwing elbows, they seem uncommonly civil and intelligent by the standards of most political blogs on either "side" of the current false dichotomy.

Hat tip: deVille.

18 December 2006

TCS Daily: Examining the Libertarian Vote

President Bush and the congressional Republicans left no libertarian button unpushed in the past six years: soaring spending, expansion of entitlements, federalization of education, cracking down on state medical marijuana initiatives, Sarbanes-Oxley, gay marriage bans, stem cell research restrictions, wiretapping, incarcerating U.S. citizens without a lawyer, unprecedented executive powers, and of course an unnecessary and apparently futile war. The striking thing may be that after all that, Democrats still looked worse to a majority of libertarians.

Because libertarians tend to be younger and better educated than the average voter, they're not going away. They're an appealing target for Democrats, but they are essential to future Republican successes. Republicans can win the South without libertarians. But this was the year that New Hampshire and the Mountain West turned purple if not blue, and libertarians played a big role there. New Hampshire may be the most libertarian state in the country; this year both the state's Republican congressmen lost.

Meanwhile, in the Goldwateresque, "leave us alone" Mountain West, Republicans not only lost the Montana Senate seat; they also lost the governorship of Colorado, two House seats in Arizona, and one in Colorado. They had close calls in the Arizona Senate race and House races in Idaho, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Dick Cheney's Wyoming. In libertarian Nevada, the Republican candidate for governor won less than a majority against a Democrat who promised to keep the government out of guns, abortion, and gay marriage. Arizona also became the first state to vote down a state constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

TCS Daily: Examining The Libertarian Vote (Dec 11, 2006)

My life, the sitcom

I am not fully in Raleigh, NC mode yet, and I must admit that ten years of New York life have corrupted me somewhat, linguistically. I swear a lot, among other things. And it takes me a few days to shift gears.

Late this afternoon, there was some commotion on the street outside Mom's house.

The nurse's aide who stays with Mom has a young dog, a boxer-pit bull mix, who is a delightful creature but VERY enthusiastic, and in his enthusiasm to see who was making the noise in the street, he bounded into my room, went straight to the window, knocking over a laptop table (sans laptop, thank God), a small folding table on which I had placed a fan, the aforementioned fan, etc. etc.

In short, there was a lot of loud crashing, following by some bellowed, colorful language (from me.)

To make this safe for the family hour, I will render it thusly: I first took the name of Our Lord in vain, and then inquired of Buster The Dog as to the precise nature of the reproductive act he was evidently performing.

My voice carries, and the window was open. I'm sure the neighbors heard me. They certainly heard me everywhere in the house.

A moment later, I heard hysterical laughter from the den.

Unbeknownst to me, Mom and the nurse's aide were visiting with our family's minister, who had dropped by to check on Mom, as is his wont.

They weren't laughing at me, by the way. They were laughing at him.

After I managed to combine blasphemy and obscenity in the same short interrogative sentence, he said, without missing a beat, "Oh, it must be nice to have Barry home."

I did not know that

Favorite new piece of Raleigh, NC related trivia (yes, I'm in Raleigh for the week):
Q: Among the loose ends of the John F. Kennedy assassination is an unexplained telephone call from Dallas to Raleigh the day after. Who attempted to place it?

A: Lee Harvey Oswald. Police thwarted the call from the jail to one of two Raleigh-area John Hurts, neither of whom had any apparent connection to Oswald. The next day he was shot and killed by Jack Ruby.

(source)
Well, then.

17 December 2006

Revolting Episcopalians

"Virginia has become a central stage, both for those pushing for secession and for those trying to prevent it."

Where have I heard that before? Can't put my finger on it...

Writers and books on war

In today's Sunday Book Review, the New York Times puts together a, you know, topical editorial package: prominent writers offering their opinions about the best books on war ever written.
Theorists, novelists and partisans of all stripes have written on war. The Book Review asked a range of writers to recommend titles they find particularly illuminating.
They've also reviewed a bunch of books about war this week.

Next week, of course, actual Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines will be offering their opinions about the best books on writing ever written.

I'm breathless with anticipation to see where the representative from the Marine Corps comes down on The Elements of Style, and to see what the Air Force guy thinks of Zinsser's On Writing Well.

Yeah, right.

14 December 2006

Capsule review: Aimee Mann at Town Hall

Pre-show dining at DB Bistro Moderne on 44th St was mighty fine; the signature hamburger with foie gras paired nicely with perfectly-cooked french fries and a nice big glass of Bordeaux.

As for the Aimee Mann Christmas Show, Carrie and I left less than an hour into the festivities, in search of entertainment with higher production values and better talent on offer, such as a junior high school Christmas pageant or a wino singing to himself on a subway platform. We're both huge Aimee Mann fans, and perhaps that was part of the problem; the "special guests" seemed to constitute the bulk of the show, with Ms. Mann doing as little actual work as possible.

As Carrie noted, "We're not related to any of these people; why should we suffer?"

Did I mention the hamburger was really good?

I'm liable to teach you something

Some readers have objected to the inclusion of the word "pedant" in the description of "enrevanche," above, but I'm here to tell you that I earn it (almost) every day.

A recent e-mail:
To: comments@zogby.com

Was taking a recent Zogby poll, which asked some basic questions about ethical behavior and then transitioned quickly into some legal hypotheticals, in which I came across this howler:

"On a scale of one to five, with one being not libel and five being libel, how likely are you to find Dr. Smith libel in this case?"

Oof.

"Libel" is a correctly spelled word with a completely different meaning than "liable," which is the word you were looking for.

Here, let me help you out:

"Liable," in a legal sense, means to "to be legally responsible for." It is also an adjective.
(See: http://m-w.com/dictionary/liable)

"Libel" is a form of tort in English and American law involving the written publication of false and defamatory information about an individual that damages the individual's reputation (the verbal, nonwritten equivalent is "slander.") It is either a noun or a verb, depending on whether you are describing the defamatory statement or the act of publishing it.
(See: http://m-w.com/dictionary/libel)

I stopped taking the poll at the point at which this question appeared; if this is the level of care you take in preparing your polls, why should I even bother to answer the questions? This one was clearly slapped together in about five minutes by someone who is obviously borderline illiterate and quite possibly drunk.

Don't you know that there are editors and proofreaders who can't find paying work? They're right there in your hometown, maybe stocking shelves in the supermarket where you shop.

Go find some, and hire them.

Thanks.

13 December 2006

Brown eyes good, blue eyes bad

Retired teacher Jane Elliott recalls a teaching experiment she ran with a third-grade class in an all-white school in rural Iowa, in 1968. The occasion was the assassination of Martin Luther King, and she was trying to answer her students' questions about racism.

Since I'm blue-eyed and most of the kids were blue-eyed, I first put blue-eyed people at the bottom of the hierarchy, giving them armbands and setting them apart from the brown-eyed and green-eyed kids. I told them the brown-eyed are the better people, cleaner and smarter. I wrote "melanin" on the blackboard and said it was what caused intelligence. The more you had, and the dark-eyed people had more, the smarter you were.

I told them blue-eyed people were stupid, that they sat around doing nothing, and if you gave them nice things, they wrecked them. I could feel gaps opening up in the classroom. I even said blue-eyed people had to drink from paper cups if they used the water fountain - and asked the kids why. One answered that the brown-eyed children might catch something from the blue-eyed.

Then one kid asked me: "How come you're the teacher then if you've got blue eyes?" Another piped up: "If she had brown eyes, she'd be principal or superintendent because they've both got brown eyes."...

...Years later, the now grown-up children tell me they never forgot the exercise.

But there's more. The first time I did the exercise there were seven dyslexic boys in the class, and four of them were brown-eyed. On the day the brown-eyed children were on top, they read words I knew they couldn't read and spelled words I knew they couldn't spell. I also watched the Lutheran minister's brilliant daughter fall to pieces because she just could not succeed on the day she had the wrong colour eyes. I watched the kids finding out that teachers lied to them about their abilities - and saw them decide that they were never going to live down to teachers' lies again. What stereotyping does to learning has already been studied elsewhere, but when it comes to race we don't apply it.

An unforgettable lesson, New Scientist, December 9, 2006 (subscription required)

Less America here than almost anywhere else in the world

Cuba famously lies 90 miles from the Florida coast. But it seems farther from America than anywhere else I've been on any of five continents. Some cultural influence crosses the strait: when I introduce myself, young Cubans mention a recent Keanu Reeves film that shares my name―and which was, frankly, rather terrible. But still, there is less America here than almost anywhere else in the world. It is an absence of America so strong that it requires a joint-venture of sorts between the American and Cuban governments to keep it in place. Cuba's otherness stems as much from America's wilful embargo as it does from any policies of the Cuban state; and it is America, not Cuba, which has insisted on Cuba's isolation.

Poverty has gone hand in hand with this isolation. But try to sort out how much of it has been due to the American embargo, and how much to Cuban policies, and you will quickly get lost. Unless, that is, you have embarked on the search with a well-drawn road map of ideological preconceptions.

I would prefer to draw my own map, but this is a frustrating place to go exploring. I've been to see presidents and ministers in other countries equipped with no more than a business card and a polite if sometimes persistent telephone manner. In Cuba my calls are met with equally polite and persistent requests to call again tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, for the duration of my stay. This would be easier to take if I had not first spent six months awaiting a visa to enter the country, on the grounds that this was the time needed to set up meetings for me once I got to Havana.

It will be difficult for me to answer my colleagues' questions about who is up and who is down in the power struggles, and what will happen when Fidel Castro, who is clearly very ill, dies. And perhaps the government might have equal difficulty answering my own questions on those same subjects.

Correspondent's Diary, Havana: The isle is full of noises - Economist.com

P.S. The Economist's elegant, brief backgrounder on the current situation in Cuba takes thirty seconds to read and is more lucid than anything I've read on the subject in an American newspaper this year:

Fifty years on, Fidel Castro's communist revolution has left Cuba with little to celebrate. As long as the ailing Mr Castro, Cuba's unelected leader for the past 47 years, remains in charge, democracy is off the agenda and economic reform is unlikely. The latter is much needed: a combination of tourism, aid from Venezuela and China, and remittances from the 1.2m Cubans living in the United States prop up the failing economy. Cuba struggles to profit from its most valuable natural resource, nickel. A thicket of red tape deters private enterprise.

Although in theory America maintains an embargo against Mr Castro's government, in practice contacts are growing fast. Europe has generally been more keen to engage Cuba, but Mr Castro's penchant for political repression has hurt relations. Foreigners are eager to see if Mr Castro's brother and likely successor, Raúl, is more reform-minded.

If you want to quickly educate yourself about (or bluff your way though) any current issue, these beautifully crafted little executive summaries are the place to start, and the links to in-depth magazine articles will allow you to actually learn something, should you so choose.

12 December 2006

Convergence on Conan

In explaining to the audience the next night what he and his writers had done, Mr. O’Brien marveled, “For $159, NBC, the network that brought you ‘Meet the Press,’ Milton Berle and the nation’s first commercial television station became the proud owner of www.hornymanatee.com.”
So This Manatee Walks Into The Internet (New York Times, Dec 12, 2006)

Collective Intelligence

Why has collective intelligence become such a big deal? With the rise of social media (wikis, social bookmarking sites and socially driven news and content aggregation sites), it seems that everyone wants to get on the bandwagon.

The principle behind collective intelligence is that a conclusion reached in collaboration with and from competition among multiple individuals will be more intelligent than any conclusion reached by an individual, no matter how smart.

Before we can harness the power of collective intelligence, we have to understand a few things.

1. What is collective intelligence?
2. Why do we need collective intelligence?
[3]. How do we harness collective intelligence?
4. How do we make sure we don’t get collective stupidity?
Lessons from the Center of Collective Intelligence (December 10, 2006)

10 December 2006

Carnival of the Cats #142

...now open for business at the House of the (Mostly) Black Cats.

WWJD

In Sunday's Washington Post, Jeffrey Goldberg lets the worst President of the modern era (no, Dubya's not even close to snatching the title) have it with both barrels:

On his first visit to the Jewish state in the early 1970s, Carter, who was then still the governor of Georgia, met with Prime Minister Golda Meir, who asked Carter to share his observations about his visit. Such a mistake she never made.

"With some hesitation," Carter writes, "I said that I had long taught lessons from the Hebrew Scriptures and that a common historical pattern was that Israel was punished whenever the leaders turned away from devout worship of God. I asked if she was concerned about the secular nature of her Labor government."

Jews, in my experience, tend to become peevish when Christians, their traditional persecutors, lecture them on morality, and Carter reports that Meir was taken aback by his "temerity." He is, of course, paying himself a compliment. Temerity is mandatory when you are doing God's work, and Carter makes it clear in this polemical book that, in excoriating Israel for its sins -- and he blames Israel almost entirely for perpetuating the hundred-year war between Arab and Jew -- he is on a mission from God.

"What Would Jimmy Do?" Jeffrey Goldberg, The Washington Post, December 10, 2006

Carter, you see, has another book out... perhaps you've heard... no, I'm not linking to it; I don't need the Amazon gelt that badly, thanks.

(And Jimmy, Golda was actually "taken aback" at what a presumptuous hick you were, as many of us still are.)

Wasn't me, I swear it.

For one thing, wrong neighborhood...
He's a Guide Dog for the Socially Impaired

Friendly old lady: Did you see the way your dog greeted me outside? Stood right up on its hind legs to say hello! Such a sweet animal!

Middle-aged computer geek: Yes, he likes to socialize. I'm working. Enjoy.

--Starbucks, Broadway & 70th St

Overheard by: Susan Volchok

via Overheard in New York, Dec 9, 2006

09 December 2006

Soundtrack to my life, courtesy of iPod

Here's a fun blog-meme I lifted from Ramblings at Midnight, who got it from The Assimilated Negro (and my Lord, how honored I am to be in her blogroll along with TAN):
IF YOUR LIFE WERE A MOVIE, WHAT WOULD THE SOUNDTRACK BE?

So, here's how it works:
1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool...
Here we go. I swear I played by the rules, too.

Opening Credits: "Village Ghetto Land," Stevie Wonder
Waking Up: "Daylight," Drive-By Truckers
First Day at School: "All My Whole Life," Magic Sam
Falling In Love: "Anywhere I Lay My Head," Tom Waits
Fight Song: "My Heart Skips A Beat," Buck Owens
Breaking Up: "24 Carat Black (Theme)," 24 Carat Black
Prom: "Porcelain," Moby
Life: "My Native Home," Nashville Bluegrass Band
Mental Breakdown: "In The Rain," The Dramatics
Driving: "Death," Richard Pryor (okay, so I have some spoken word stuff on the iPod)
Flashback: "Intermission," Big Punisher
Wedding: "Careless Love," Big Joe Turner
Birth of Child: "Trane's Blues," Miles Davis
Final Battle: "Driving," Everything But The Girl
Death Scene: "Poinciana," Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette/Keith Jarrett
Funeral Song: "Won't Nobody Listen," Black Haze Express
End Credit: "The Last of the Arkansas Greyhounds," Leo Kottke

Who else wants to play?

08 December 2006

Simulated US citizenship test

...for naturalization candidates, at MSNBC. Here you go, citizen.

I scored 100%. How'd you do? (Be honest.)

Hat tip: The Modulator.

Okay, this is downright creepy

Is your dream job "professional eavesdropper?"

Meet Snoopstick:
SnoopStick is a USB flash drive type device that allows you to monitor what your kids, employees, or anyone using your computer is doing while on the Internet. And, you can monitor them live, in real time, from anywhere in the world.

Simply plug the SnoopStick into the computer you want to monitor. Then run the setup program to install the SnoopStick monitoring components on the computer. The whole process takes less then 60 seconds.

The SnoopStick monitoring components are completely hidden, and there are no telltale signs that the computer is being monitored.

You can then unplug the SnoopStick and take it with you anywhere you go. No bigger than your thumb and less then 1/4" thick, you can carry it in your pocket, purse, or on your keychain.
I'm tempted to pick up one of these just to see whether the security measures I've set up on our machines would, as designed, lock something like this out. (The product, of course, takes advantage of the shoddy security features of Microsoft Windows; good luck getting anything like this to run on a Macintosh... heh.)

Wouldn't a parrot be more traditional?

Mister Gato, in the years we've known him (amazingly, coming up on three now) has never been a lap-cat. He will walk across laps, stand in your lap briefly for a head-scratch, and happily sit next to you on the couch, but he has absolutely no interest in actually sitting in your lap.

He's a shoulder cat. And if you're willing to hold him, he'll perch on your shoulder all day long, purring away.

And perhaps grooming you a bit (see photo below; tongue actual size):

Mister Tongue Scaled
My ears are, if not quite burning, actually very warm.

(The sanguine appearance of my left ear is due to having just been thoroughly washed by Mister G, which is a bit like getting an affectionate rubdown with wet 00 sandpaper.)

Be sure to check out The Modulator's Friday Ark today, and don't miss the Carnival of the Cats this Sunday, at the House of Mostly Black Cats.

Mister G. and the entire enrevanche household send their sincerest condolences to Laurence Simon at TBIFOC, the Head Wrangler of the Carnival of the Cats. The lovely and talented Piper passed away quite unexpectedly this week.

07 December 2006

Smashing the clock

[Best Buy, the] nation's leading electronics retailer, has embarked on a radical--if risky--experiment to transform a culture once known for killer hours and herd-riding bosses. The endeavor, called ROWE, for "results-only work environment," seeks to demolish decades-old business dogma that equates physical presence with productivity. The goal at Best Buy is to judge performance on output instead of hours.

Hence workers pulling into the company's amenity-packed headquarters at 2 p.m. aren't considered late. Nor are those pulling out at 2 p.m. seen as leaving early. There are no schedules. No mandatory meetings. No impression-management hustles. Work is no longer a place where you go, but something you do. It's O.K. to take conference calls while you hunt, collaborate from your lakeside cabin, or log on after dinner so you can spend the afternoon with your kid.

Best Buy did not invent the post-geographic office. Tech companies have been going bedouin for several years. At IBM, 40% of the workforce has no official office; at AT&T, a third of managers are untethered. Sun Microsystems Inc. calculates that it's saved $400 million over six years in real estate costs by allowing nearly half of all employees to work anywhere they want. And this trend seems to have legs. A recent Boston Consulting Group study found that 85% of executives expect a big rise in the number of unleashed workers over the next five years. In fact, at many companies the most innovative new product may be the structure of the workplace itself.
Smashing The Clock (Business Week Online, December 6, 2006)

06 December 2006

The Case for Fear

Consider a few numbers. Fewer than three thousand people died in the attacks of September 11, but about forty thousand people die each year in automobile accidents. Even in 2001, Americans were fifteen times more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident than as a result of a terrorist attack; and seven times more likely to die of alcohol-related causes; and five times more likely to die of HIV; and five times more likely to die as a result of accidental poisoning or exposure to toxic substances. The terrorist attacks of 2001 increased the chance of dying in an air crash from a probability of 0.00000128 to a probability of 0.0000024. Since the 1960s, the number of Americans killed by international terrorism is about the same as the number killed by lightning or by accidents caused by deer. If an attack of the magnitude of September 11 occurred every three months for the next five years--an unlikely event, to say the least--the probability of being killed in such an attack would remain tiny: 0.02 percent, to be precise.

If people expressed the same level of concern about a similarly small risk in the environmental domain, it would be natural to wonder whether we were witnessing a grotesque overreaction. John Mueller believes that we are, and that the "terrorism industry" is responsible. In his view, that industry, which includes the American government, has essentially been doing the terrorists' business, because it has taken steps to scare people beyond all reason. In 2004, Osama bin Laden proclaimed that it is "easy for us to provoke and bait. ... All that we have to do is to send two mujahideen ... to raise a piece of cloth on which is written Al Qaeda in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses." Mueller thinks that the American overreaction to September 11 supports bin Laden's prediction. Terrorists seek to make people believe that they "cannot be safe," even if their capacity to inflict harm is sharply limited. Mueller believes that it is not terrorism, but the terrorism industry, that has made Americans so fearful, and so willing to believe that they are engaged in fighting not a form of international crime but a never-ending "war."

The Case For Fear (The New Republic Online, Cass R. Sunstein, December, 5 2006)

Okay, we've all read articles like this one before, yes?

I'd like to urge you to click the article link and keep reading.

The author, reviewing two new books (Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them, John Mueller, and What's Wrong With Terrorism, Robert E. Goodin) takes two approaches (one empirical - Mueller, the statistics hound, and one philosophical - Goodin, a political philosopher) and synthesizes them into a powerful argument for fighting terrorism without resorting to--indeed, actively combating--hysterical fearmongering.

Regular readers of this blog will know that in my estimation, the likelihood of WMD use by terrorists is almost inevitable; I think the current pattern of nuclear proliferation in the world makes it a done deal, in fact, and disagree with the two authors on this very important point.

I agree with the authors, however, that it's more important than ever that we consider terrorism, its goals and aims, and our responses to it, and that we do so with clear heads.

The Case For Fear (The New Republic Online, Cass R. Sunstein, December, 5 2006)

05 December 2006

USS Intrepid, on its way for repairs

They got the aircraft carrier (now floating museum) USS Intrepid pulled free from the mud this morning.

I know this because I just saw it go by my office window, on its way into New York Harbor, to Bayonne, New Jersey, where it will spend the next couple of years being repaired and restored.

Crappy cellphone photo of the action here (you can just about make out a huge blurry shape that is an aircraft carrier being pulled by tugboats; you can't, for the most part, see the fleet of small craft, ranging from Circle Line tour boats to private runabouts, giving it an honor-guard escort):

Intrepid Gets Towed - scaled
A big ship with planes on it;
estimated distance from office window, 400 800 1000 meters


Here's coverage from NY1.com:
After failing the first time around, tugboats successfully freed the historic USS Intrepid from its long time home along the West Side Highway to New Jersey for the first wave of its multi-million dollar renovation this morning.

A small fleet of tug boats managed to pry the massive aircraft carrier from its home at Pier 86.

Last month's attempt was cut short after the ship got stuck in the muck and mud that has built up over the past few decades.

04 December 2006

Liberaltarians

The conservative movement--and, with it, the GOP--is in disarray. Specifically, the movement's "fusionist" alliance between traditionalists and libertarians appears, at long last, to be falling apart. To understand what's happening, look at the Democratic gains made in previously Republican strongholds on Election Day. In "Live Free or Die" New Hampshire, both House seats--as well as control of both houses of the state legislature--flipped from the GOP to the Democratic column. Out in the interior West, Jon Tester squeaked past Conrad Burns in the Montana Senate race, while other Democrats picked up a House seat in Colorado (along with the governorship) and two more in Arizona. These parts of the country are all known for their individualism and suspicion of officialdom--in short, for their libertarian sympathies.

Libertarian disaffection should come as no surprise. Despite the GOP's rhetorical commitment to limited government, the actual record of unified Republican rule in Washington has been an unmitigated disaster from a libertarian perspective: runaway federal spending at a clip unmatched since Lyndon Johnson; the creation of a massive new prescription-drug entitlement with hardly any thought as to how to pay for it; expansion of federal control over education through the No Child Left Behind Act; a big run-up in farm subsidies; extremist assertions of executive power under cover of fighting terrorism; and, to top it all off, an atrociously bungled war in Iraq...

...Here, in the first decade of the twenty-first century, the rival ideologies of left and right are both pining for the '50s. The only difference is that liberals want to work there, while conservatives want to go home there.
(from "Liberaltarians," posted at The New Republic Online, December 4, 2006)

The dollar, in free fall

The financial press reported last week that the value of the U.S. dollar plummeted to a 14-year low against the British pound, and weakened against the Euro and Yen. Many financial analysts predict continued rough times for the dollar in 2007, given reduced expectations for economic growth at home and less enthusiasm among foreign central banks for holding U.S. debt.

This decline in the value of the dollar is simple to explain. The dollar loses value as the direct result of the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury increasing the money supply. Inflation, as the late Milton Friedman explained, is always a monetary phenomenon. The federal government consistently wants to spend more than it can tax and borrow, so Congress turns to the Fed for help in covering the difference. The result is more dollars, both real and electronic-- which means the value of every existing dollar goes down.
Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX): Monetary Inflation Is The Problem (December 4, 2006)

03 December 2006

Carnival of the Cats #141

...is up at Catymology.

Bonfire of the Inanities

In the New York Times Sunday Book Review, Chris Buckley reviews the new Spy magazine history/coffee-table book, "Spy: The Funny Years":
One of the great pleasures of Spy was the binary phraseology with which they torpedoed their regular targets: “short-fingered vulgarian” and “churlish dwarf billionaire” among them. This last mauvais mot of a zinger was applied to Laurence Tisch, then the chairman of CBS.

“Graydon got a call from P.R. man John Scanlon, who was then working for Tisch: ‘Look, Graydon, you’ve really gone too far this time. To begin with, Larry is not technically a dwarf.’ Graydon jotted that down, and in the next issue Spy ran a clarification in which a CBS spokesman pointed out that Tisch was not ‘technically’ a dwarf.” Mr. Scanlon, it’s Mr. Tisch on Line 2 and he’s hopping mad.

(snort) Beautiful.

I hope that Carrie will eventually blog about this, as she was on the staff of Spy during "the funny years" and knows all the players; author George Kalogerakis even interviewed her for the book.

I love Chris Buckley, by the way, and I think he's one of the funniest writers working today, but I can't let this snippet go by without comment:
They were also literate lads — Andersen went on to write a superb novel called “Turn of the Century” — who brought to the table antic, well-stocked minds.
Literate lads with fine minds they might have been, but I've read "Turn of the Century," and its only resemblance to a superb novel is that they are both vaguely book-shaped and between covers.

Logrolling in our time, indeed.

Bonfire Of The Inanities (Christopher Buckley, New York Times, December 3, 2006)


Mad as Hell

Dobbs’s actual politics are not easily categorized, and his book, like his nightly program, contains opinions that are both satisfying and infuriating to the right and the left. On Dobbs’s office wall is a framed drawing with a note from Kurt Vonnegut: “You, as the only big-time television personality capable of not only feeling but experiencing sorrow for American working stiffs, are our hero.” The left, to which Vonnegut belongs, can embrace Dobbs for his opposition to big corporations and his support for a higher minimum wage, national health insurance, and abortion rights. The right likes him for his views on immigration, political correctness, gun control, the United Nations, and all efforts to limit American sovereignty. Dobbs believes that the middle class, which he has described as being composed of two hundred and fifty million Americans, is taken for granted, an argument that could be challenged by those who point to the growth of middle-class entitlement programs, including Social Security and Medicare, or to the unwillingness of elected officials to offend this constituency by curbing entitlements.

Although Dobbs opposes gun control and supports a woman’s right to an abortion, he calls these fake “wedge issues” designed “to excite a certain base.” He opposes holidays that celebrate a group rather than a nation, and on his program last spring, when a Hispanic-rights activist defended the displaying of the Mexican flag as an expression of ethnic pride, like that exhibited on St. Patrick’s Day, he told her, “Let’s be clear. I don’t think there should be a St. Patrick’s Day.”

Mad As Hell: Lou Dobbs's Populist Crusade (Ken Auletta, The New Yorker, December 4, 2006)

Dinner at Danny's Place

Last night we had my delayed 40th birthday dinner (moved from its original date because I came down with the Mother Of All Colds the day before) at Eleven Madison Park, the flagship restaurant in the Danny Meyer empire.

We set out with the intention to do the "Gourmand" nine-course tasting menu, but that was just Too. Much. Food. when we actually contemplated the order, and so we went with the four-course prix fixe.

Because we are gluttons for punishment, or perhaps just gluttons, and because I'll only turn 40 once, we each ordered a course that featured shaved Alba truffles, thus incurring a "supplement" charge that essentially doubled the cost of dinner.

And worth every penny for a special occasion.

Carrie had:
  • Marinated Hamachi with Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Seed Oil
  • Lasagne of Butter Poached Nova Scotia Lobster with Satur Farms Spinach (with shaved truffles)
  • Herb Roasted Millbrook Farms Venison with Salsify and Black Trumpet Mushrooms
...and for dessert, a chocolate-peanut torte and Moroccan mint tea.

I ate:
  • Roasted Heirloom Beets with Lynnhaven "Chèvre Frais," Olio Verde and Nasturtium
  • Risotto of Acquerello Carnaroli Rice with Parmigiano Reggiano (and truffles!)
  • Fischer Farm Suckling Pig Confit with Cipollini Onions, Plum Chutney and Five Spice Jus
...and for dessert, black coffee and sheep's-milk yogurt cheesecake.

Every aspect of the food was gorgeous (the risotto with truffles and the cheesecake dessert were particular standouts on my side of the table; Carrie's entree, cooked a New York minute past blood-rare, was maybe the most perfect piece of venison I've ever tasted, but it was all absolutely sublime.)

There's a sixty-page wine list on offer at Eleven Madison Park, but the best option (to me) for small parties of wine drinkers seemed to be pairing wines by the glass with each course, since the menu is varied and the restaurant offers more wines by the glass than most restaurants do by the bottle.

I know a few people in New York who seem to find the "Meyer hospitality" approach (American-style service, relaxed and friendly) off-putting, and for the life of me I can't understand why. One thing I noticed immediately was how beautifully the servers seemed to mirror the moods of the tables they were handling.

Our waiter was friendly and thorough, but found us deeply engaged in conversation and kept a polite distance aside from service necessities. (Carrie and I have an abiding habit of falling into Intense Conversations at restaurants; if you eavesdrop, though, we're likely talking about something like the relative merits of different Tom Waits covers. Thank God we married each other; we're saving two families.) The pace of our meal was relaxed and pleasant.

At the table next to us, two very serious Europeans were tasting about five different champagnes before dinner, and the wine staff, recognizing wine geeks when they saw them, were reeling off information about the vintages like they were doing guest spots on the Food Channel.

Directly across from us, a smiling waitress gently led an enthusiastic but perplexed table of out-of-town businessmen through the "intricacies" of ordering without being a bit condescending (I think you could walk into Eleven Madison Park never having eaten in a fine restaurant in your life and be made to feel right at home--and I really like that, actually) and diagonally across the room, a SWAT team of waiters practiced damage control and noise containment with a huge party of garishly dressed Long Islanders who arrived drunk and might well have genuinely been as stupid as they were loud (there, in one sentence I've supplied enough condescension for a small army.)

The point is, everybody was getting the level and the kind of service that they seemed to need, as unobtrusively as possible. Despite the wonderfulness of the cooking, I notice that I wrote four paragraphs on the food and five on the service.

And I think that's the secret of Mr. Meyer's success.

Music for one apartment and six drummers

Chap sees this as a metaphor for "life on the boat," while I see it through the lens of my own experience as the life of a project manager.

(The project manager is the guy with the digital watch, sitting on the hood of the red station wagon as the clip opens.)


Hat tip: Chapomatic

02 December 2006

Bill in Exile: "Still Here"

Yesterday was World AIDS Day, and I didn't catch this on the day itself, but Scott has written a very moving post about it over at the usually (but not today) incredibly-unsafe-for-work blog, Bill in Exile:
I remember the first time I came into contact with AIDS. It was the summer of 1983 and for most of the year people had been talking about the "Gay Cancer" that had been showing up in ever increasing numbers in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles over the previous two years. We had been calling it GRID - Gay Related Immune Disease - until sometime in 1982/83 when it was determined that it was not simply a gay disease and the name was changed to AIDS.

That summer of 1983, I was at a dinner party in Park Slope, Brooklyn one night with a guy I was dating and one of the hosts was obviously sick. At that point in time the way the disease worked was you got sick and then you died. Usually very quickly after the onset of symptoms and in as awful and painful a fashion as could be imagined.

At the dinner party the hosts illness was the elephant in the room that nobody was talking openly about but I do recall at one point while we were all having cocktails before sitting down I overheard two of the other guests, queeny boyfriends whispering between them and wondering whether it would be bad form to ask that their food be served on paper plates with plastic cutlery. At that point in time that was pretty much the level of ignorance of not just the public at large but also of the medical community that was tasked with treating those with the disease...

Bill In Exile: Still Here

Cracking the BlackBerry

...or "Hacking the CrackBerry," etc.

The security model of that BlackBerry on your hip isn't holding up very well to third-party scrutiny.

According to a white paper by John O'Connor, a researcher on Symantec's security response team, hackers can pay $100 for an API developer key that can open doors to the theft of data from Research in Motion's BlackBerry devices.

O'Connor's paper was briefly posted -- and quickly yanked -- from a blog entry discussing the future of the BlackBerry device. It is not yet clear why Symantec pulled the paper (the rumor mill says it's being saved for a conference presentation) but a quick peek at the findings suggests there might have been some external pressure involved.

eWeek Security Watch: Cracking the Blackberry with a $100 Key

Related: Symantec Weblog: Hacking the BlackBerry

Sucka VCs

A friend forwards me, strictly as an inside joke (I know a couple of you from work read this blog, and relax, I'm not looking) a job description for a lucrative contract Information Architect opportunity in NYC, which opens with the following priceless prose:
This is a high level [sic] project involving edutainment and social networking.
Um, no.

No no no no no.

It's way too early on a Saturday morning to read "edutainment" and "social networking" in the same sentence, especially when the use is apparently nonironic.

Talk about your Web 2.0 buzzword-compliant business plan, and a sucka VC (see: 1, 2) to boot.