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

28 June 2009

Thought for the day

Have the courage to be ignorant of a great number of things, in order to avoid the calamity of being ignorant of everything.  - Sydney Smith

Strange and beautiful clouds over the Lower East Side at sunset

Carrie and I were walking up The Bowery on Friday night, after a tremendous Vietnamese dinner at Nha Trang meal at Grand Sichuan on Canal Street - and were stopped dead in our tracks by this sunset/cloud cover combination.

We weren't the only ones. Everybody, tourists and locals alike, had their cellphone cameras out trying to capture this scene:


I hope one of our Air Force vets (there are at least three actively reading enrevanche) can help me out with cloud identification. Right now I am thinking exceptionally rounded altocumulus...

Update: over on Facebook, Heidi sez these look like mammatus clouds. I think she's right.

I'll have what she's having

Barry and Carrie @ Katz's Delicatessen, Houston and Ludlow Streets, New York City:

Barry and Carrie @ Katz's Deli June 2009

(You can see this much more clearly if you click on the picture and view it in a larger format, but the sign over the cash register in the back exhorts, "Send a salami to your boy in the Army!" Good advice, and they've been dispensing it since the Spanish-American War at least...)

Catering for all occasions (a view of the front counter... and that's our buddy and dining companion Bill in the right of the frame):

The counter at Katz's Delicatessen

27 June 2009

The High Line

Spent the morning in New York City hanging out on The High Line:
The High Line was originally constructed in the 1930s, to lift dangerous freight trains off Manhattan's streets. Section 1 of the High Line [is now] open as a public park, owned by the City of New York and operated under the jurisdiction of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Friends of the High Line is the conservancy charged with raising private funds for the park and overseeing its maintenance and operations, pursuant to an agreement with the Parks Department.

When all sections are complete, the High Line will be a mile-and-a-half-long elevated park, running through the West Side neighborhoods of the Meatpacking District, West Chelsea and Clinton/Hell's Kitchen. It features an integrated landscape, designed by landscape architects James Corner Field Operations, with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, combining meandering concrete pathways with naturalistic plantings. Fixed and movable seating, lighting, and special features are also included in the park.

Access points from street level will be located every two to three blocks. Many of these access points will include elevators, and all will include stairs.
High Line, NYC

26 June 2009

Why Philip Morris loves the new tobacco regulations

When Senator John McCain introduced FDA regulatory legislation in 1998, the company spent a reported $100 million successfully fighting it. But since then, Philip Morris has had a crucial realization. With 50% of the U.S. tobacco market already safely in the company's pocket — and more than 50% of 18- to 25-year-old smokers loyal to its top brand, Marlboro — restrictive legislation will effectively lock in its market dominance, preventing any competitors from taking a bite out of Philip Morris' very lucrative business.

The company's main rival, R.J. Reynolds, manufacturer of Camel cigarettes, is still in dismay over Philip Morris' reversal from regulation opponent to champion, and the third largest cigarette manufacturer, Lorillard, has labeled the legislation the Marlboro Monopoly Act. Both argue that as the new restrictions cut off most remaining avenues available for advertising and ban marketing stunts like free-sample cigarette giveaways, the companies' ability to "communicate" (i.e., gain market share) with potential and existing smokers about their products will be blocked. In addition, the administrative costs of complying with FDA regulations favor large manufacturers over smaller ones.

Smoke Signals: Why a Tobacco Giant Is Backing a New Anti-Smoking Bill (Time.com)

Related: See vintage cigarette propaganda

Oh, by the way - I quit smoking exactly one week ago today. ;-)

The Michael Jackson performance I'll always remember

It's the thought that counts

Popbitch reports on Michael Jackson:
Supercrass writes from LA:
   "On the corner of Hollywood and Vine sits a star
   along the "Hollywood Walk of Fame," with loads
   of flowers, candles and pictures, surrounded by
   fans of Michael Jackson. (Pictured in almost
   every newspaper this morning). The star they have
   been surrounding all day is marked with the
   name, Michael Jackson. But the star does not
   belong to The King of Pop, it belongs to British
   born radio host Michael Jackson, who has been
   an L.A. radio personality for over 30 years.
   Seems the other Michael Jackson’s star has
   been covered since early Thursday morning.
   Covered by a red carpet. A red carpet
   leading to The Chinese Theatre Hollywood
   premiere of Bruno."

25 June 2009

Mi dulce pequeña empanada

The State (Columbia, SC) is publishing the e-mails between Governor Mark Sanford and his Argentine playmate.
Since our first meeting there in a wind swept somewhat open air dance spot in Punta del Este, I felt that you had that same rare attribute. Above all else I love that inner beauty about you. That gift of yours is going to make a tremendous difference in (The State deleted sons’ names) life — and in anyone’s life who is blest to be touched by yours — you need to rest very comfortably in that fact. As I mentioned in our last visit, while I did not need love fifteen years ago — as the battle scars of life and aging and politics have worn on this has become a real need of mine. You have a particular grace and calm that I adore. You have a level of sophistication that is so fitting with your beauty. I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificently gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curves of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of night’s light — but hey, that would be going into the sexual details we spoke of at the steakhouse at dinner — and unlike you I would never do that!
What's really embarrassing about this isn't the infidelity, but the quality of the writing - it's just awful.

23 June 2009

NedaNet: Hackers to the rescue?

A post reproduced in its entirety from Eric Raymond's "Armed and Dangerous" blog (hat tip: Chap):

I’ve spent the last seventeen hours living inside a cyberpunk novel. A libertarian cyberpunk novel. It’s been a weird and awesome experience.

Within an hour after I received a plea for help from Iran, a regular commenter on this blog recruited me into a hacker network that has been forming to support the democratic Iranian revolutionaries by providing them with proxy servers, Tor anonymizers, and any other technologies needed for them to communicate over channels the Iranian regime cannot censor or control.

I know this network has contacts on the ground among the revolutionaries. I don’t know who they are, and don’t want to know. Most of the other network members are just names on an IRC channel. But we’re putting together a stealth network at amazing speed. Nothing matters as much as the courage and determination of the Iranians on the ground, but we aim to make a difference in our own way and we have the tools to do it.

This disorganization has only been forming for a very short time. It doesn’t really have leaders. It didn’t have even a name when I joined it, though I’ve given it one that looks like it might stick. Until and unless somebody else steps up to the job, I’m our public contact.

This role carries a non-zero risk that I will be targeted for assassination, or interrogation followed by execution, by agents of the Iranian regime - we’ve had more than one death threat against core members already. I take this risk with eyes open because we need somebody to be public, and I know I’ve already been a jihadi target since 2006; at least I can keep some other poor bastard out of the line of fire. I now expect to remain continuously armed for the duration of the Iranian crisis.

Rostam, this is how I’m answering your plea. We’ll do what we can for your people. For freedom.

To learn more about NedaNet and how you can help, go here.

Related: NedaNet resource page

"Green shoots" may be weeds

Growing pessimism about the prospects for a global economic recovery sent stock and commodity prices tumbling on Monday while new data showed that leading US corporate executives were cashing out of their share holdings at a rapid pace.

US government bond yields followed equity prices lower, confounding analysts who had expected that Treasury rates would rise this week as the federal government auctioned off a record $104bn of debt.

Analysts said the market mood was captured by a
World Bank report that said the global economy would contract 2.9 per cent this year, compared with a previous estimate of a 1.7 per cent fall. A White House spokesman said later in the day that the US unemployment rate was likely to rise to 10 per cent in the next couple of months.


“The smartest players in the US stock market – the top insiders who run public companies – are not betting their own money on an economic recovery,” said Charles Biderman, chief executive of TrimTabs. [emphasis added - bc]
Financial Times: Pessimistic executives cash out of shares (23 June 2009)

Netflix races against time

Here's a fascinating look at how a company that's red-hot - but whose business model is running out of time - tries to create internal change:
Netflix Inc. is a standout in the recession. The DVD-rental company added more subscribers than ever during the first three months of the year. Its stock has more than doubled since October.

But Netflix's chief executive officer, Reed Hastings, thinks his core business is doomed. As soon as four years from now, he predicts, the business that generates most of Netflix's revenue today will begin to decline, as DVDs delivered by mail steadily lose ground to movies sent straight over the Internet. So Mr. Hastings, who co-founded the company, is quickly trying to shift Netflix's business -- seeking to make more videos available online and cutting deals with electronics makers so consumers can play those movies on television sets.

His position offers a rare look at how a CEO manages a still-hot business as its time runs out. "Almost no companies succeed at what we're doing," he says.

Companies across the entertainment and technology landscape are struggling with how to profit from Internet video. There's still significant risk that Netflix could falter or lose out to another company that figures out how to do it first. And having picked his battle, the intense former engineer may risk missing other growth opportunities: Mr. Hastings hasn't yet expanded internationally or mounted a direct challenge to kiosks, such as Coinstar Inc.'s Redbox, that let customers pick up $1-a-night DVD rentals.

Netflix Boss Plots Life After The DVD (Wall Street Journal, 23 June 2009)

Shortwave: still a vital technology in the Internet era

In his Friday sermon, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reserved special wrath for "Zionist radio" that he said tried to drive a wedge between the Iranian people and the Islamic Republic. Such attention from Iran's supreme leader was music to the ears of Menashe Amir, a bespectacled Iranian-born Israeli who has been broadcasting in Persian from Jerusalem for the past five decades.

"We're listened to in Iran and considered very credible and effective," Mr. Amir says with pride. "We're close to the Iranian people, we know what they want, and we have
our sources that give us detailed news about everything that's going on in Iran."

The spread of the Internet and satellite television in Iran over the past decade seemed to eclipse the prominence of Mr. Amir's old-fashioned shortwave broadcasts on Kol Israel, Israel's public radio. But now, as the Web in Iran is either blocked or dramatically slowed and satellite-TV channels are jammed by the government amid spreading unrest, Mr. Amir has suddenly become relevant again.

"Today we have many more listeners inside the country because Iranians are thirsty for any information" about the unrest, the 69-year-old Mr. Amir says. He estimates the Iranian audience for Kol Israel's 85-minute daily show in Persian is between two million and six million people. Independent audience numbers, for obvious reasons, are impossible to come by.
Israeli radio show captivates Iranians (Wall Street Journal, 23 June 2009)

21 June 2009

Working on kites at Holden Beach, circa 1973

In this photo: Bob Campbell (seated), Barry Campbell

bob barry flying kites

Miss you, Dad. Thanks for everything.

Previously on enrevanche: See also:
My Old Man
Steve Goodman

I miss my old man tonite
and I wish he was here with me
With his corny jokes and his cheap cigars
He could look you in the eye and sell you a car.
That's not an easy thing to do,
but no one ever knew a more charming creature
on this earth than my old man.

He was a pilot in the big war in the U.S. Army Air Corps
in a C - 47 with a heavy load
full of combat cargo for the Burma Road.
And after they dropped the bomb
he came home and married Mom
and not long after that
he was my old man.

And oh the fights we had
when my brother and I got him mad;
He'd get all boiled up and he'd start to shout
and I knew what was coming so I tuned him out.
And now the old man's gone, and I'd give all I own
to hear what he said when I wasn't listening
to my old man

I miss my old man tonite
and I can almost see his face
He was always trying to watch his weight
and his heart only made it to fifty-eight.
For the first time since he died
late last night I cried.
I wondered when I was gonna do that
for my old man.

18 June 2009

Why I blog

I wonder sometimes.

And then something like this happens:

A total stranger found this post - in which I mention, in passing, a jazz concert I attended in 1985.

Dude recorded the concert... would I like a copy of the recording?

Too, too cool. Hell yes, I want a copy of the recording!

11 June 2009

The vendor-client relationship in real-world situations

The Vendor-Client Relationship In Real-World Situations (I Am Not Myself)

Element 112, coming soon to a periodic table near you

A new, superheavy chemical element numbered 112 will soon be officially included in the periodic table, German researchers said.

A team in the southwest German city of Darmstadt first produced 112 in 1996 by firing charged zinc atoms through a 120-meter-long particle accelerator to hit a lead target.

"The new element is approximately 277 times heavier than hydrogen, making it the heaviest element in the periodic table," the scientists at the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research said in a statement late on Wednesday.

The zinc and lead nuclei were fused to form the nucleus of the new element, also known as Ununbium, Latin for 112.
New, superheavy element to enter periodic table (Reuters)

Bullying, understood as a problem in pediatric medicine

Back in the 1990s, I did a physical on a boy in fifth or sixth grade at a Boston public school. I asked him his favorite subject: definitely science; he had won a prize in a science fair, and was to go on and compete in a multischool fair.

The problem was, there were some kids at school who were picking on him every day about winning the science fair; he was getting teased and jostled and even, occasionally, beaten up. His mother shook her head and wondered aloud whether life would be easier if he just let the science fair thing drop.

Bullying elicits strong and highly personal reactions; I remember my own sense of outrage and identification. Here was a highly intelligent child, a lover of science, possibly a future (fill in your favorite genius), tormented by brutes. Here’s what I did for my patient: I advised his mother to call the teacher and complain, and I encouraged him to pursue his love of science.

And here are three things I now know I should have done: I didn’t tell the mother that bullying can be prevented, and that it’s up to the school. I didn’t call the principal or suggest that the mother do so. And I didn’t give even a moment’s thought to the bullies, and what their lifetime prognosis might be.

In recent years, pediatricians and researchers in this country have been giving bullies and their victims the attention they have long deserved — and have long received in Europe. We’ve gotten past the “kids will be kids” notion that bullying is a normal part of childhood or the prelude to a successful life strategy. Research has described long-term risks — not just to victims, who may be more likely than their peers to experience depression and suicidal thoughts, but to the bullies themselves, who are less likely to finish school or hold down a job.
Perri Klass, MD: At Last, Facing Down Bullies (And Their Enablers) - New York Times

I was bullied mercilessly as a child, and the people who *should* have done something about it--the teachers and administrators at school--despite repeated complaints by my parents, did jack-shit-nothing.

I think the good doctor's advice is well-intentioned but wrong.

One thing, and only one thing, stops bullying in its tracks: a sufficiently violent response by the victim.

10 June 2009

Digital Collaborators and Roving Nodes

The role of mobile internet access in evolving digital lifestyles is the cornerstone of the second typology of information and communication technology (ICT) users developed by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.1 The typology places ICT users into 10 groups and, notwithstanding variation among them, the groups fit into two baskets, with the groups' collective judgments on mobility being the pivot point.


Digital Collaborators
: 8% of adults use information gadgets to collaborate with others and share their creativity with the world.

For many Digital Collaborators, digital information is input into a creative process that often involves others and whose output they share with the world using the web. Members of this group can almost always get access to the internet, whether that is with an "always on" broadband connection or with an "always present" mobile device. With such robust connectivity, Digital Collaborators share their thoughts or creative content with others. Using blogs and other content-creation applications, they collaborate with others online to express themselves creatively. For Digital Collaborators, the internet can be a camp, a lab or a theater group -- places to gather with others to develop something new.

This pattern of active and continuous information exchange puts ICTs at the center of how Digital Collaborators learn, work, socialize and have fun. Most play games on electronic devices, with half playing games on the internet. At least occasionally, most of them watch TV on a device other than a traditional television set. And one-quarter have avatars that let them participate in virtual worlds. The typical Digital Collaborator is in his late 30s and has had years of online experience to hone his skills to get the most out of ICTs.

Roving Nodes
: 9% of adults use their mobile devices to connect with others and share information with them.

Picture a Roving Node as a woman in her late 30s who is rarely without her smart phone, often using it to chat, but also checking email or fielding a text message. When she gets home or back to the office, she is frequently online, keeping up with email or surfing the net to get news or shop. This group is highly dependent on ICTs, and this dependence comes about from using ICTs to manage busy lives and stay in touch with others. Unlike the groups above, Roving Nodes are more hubs of information flows than sources of digital content. They are heavily reliant on all their ICTs for communicating and gathering information, but Roving Nodes are much less likely than preceding groups to blog or manage their own web pages.

Roving Nodes are happy when the cell phone rings, which sets them apart from Ambivalent Networkers. Although they like how gadgets help them share their ideas with others, it is not likely that a blog or an update to their webpage will be the means to do this. Give Roving Nodes email access, a browser and a cell phone, and they are off connecting to others and passing information along the network.
Internet typology: The mobile difference (Pew Research Center)

Related: Quiz - what kind of tech user are you?

(Unsurprisingly, I was assessed as a "digital collaborator" - I think most enrevanche readers would be.)

Manhattan morning

A foggy day in New York City - and the Staten Island Ferry pulls close to its Manhattan terminal just after daybreak.

Manhattan morning: the Staten Island Ferry arrives in fog

09 June 2009

It's only okay if some people talk about this, but not others, apparently.

He’s done it while talking about abortion and the Middle East, even the economy. The references serve at once as an affirmation of his faith and a rebuke against a rumor that persists for some to this day.

As president, Barack Obama has mentioned Jesus Christ in a number of high-profile public speeches — something his predecessor George W. Bush rarely did in such settings, even though Bush’s Christian faith was at the core of his political identity.

In his speech Thursday in Cairo, Obama told the crowd that he is a Christian and mentioned the Islamic story of Isra, in which Moses, Jesus and Mohammed joined in prayer.

At the University of Notre Dame on May 17, Obama talked about the good works he’d seen done by Christian community groups in Chicago. “I found myself drawn — not just to work with the church but to be in the church,” Obama said. “It was through this service that I was brought to Christ.”

And a month before that, Obama mentioned Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount at Georgetown University to make the case for his economic policies. Obama retold the story of two men, one who built his house on a pile of sand and the other who built his on a rock: “We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand,” Obama said. “We must build our house upon a rock.”

More than four months into the Obama presidency, a picture is emerging of a chief executive who is comfortable with public displays of his religion — although he has also paid tribute to other faiths and those he called “nonbelievers” during his inaugural address.

Politico: Obama invokes Jesus more than Bush

It's like looking at the sun - get a sense of it, then look away

A man carries cash. A man looks out for those around him — woman, friend, stranger. A man can cook eggs. A man can always find something good to watch on television. A man makes things — a rock wall, a table, the tuition money. Or he rebuilds — engines, watches, fortunes. He passes along expertise, one man to the next. Know-how survives him. This is immortality. A man can speak to dogs. A man fantasizes that kung fu lives deep inside him somewhere. A man knows how to sneak a look at cleavage and doesn't care if he gets busted once in a while. A man is good at his job. Not his work, not his avocation, not his hobby. Not his career. His job. It doesn't matter what his job is, because if a man doesn't like his job, he gets a new one.
What is a man? (Tom Chiarella, Esquire, 6 April 2009) 

Hat tip: Alex 

"What they did" vs "who they are"

Jay Smooth of illdoctrine.com explains how to tell someone that they said something racist and offensive:

02 June 2009

Must-have iPhone apps for New Yorkers

Utilizes dynamic GPS to route you past annoying sidewalk representatives for Greenpeace, Children International, ACLU, Human Rights Watch, Save The Children, Save The Animals, DNC and Amnesty International. To name a few.
Whew. I sure coulda used that one.

Banterist: Three Must-Have iPhone Apps For New Yorkers

Hat tip: Tarus Balog


I did not know this:
In antiquity, [exanthem - "eruptive" or rash-involving] illnesses were all lumped together. Eventually, a distinction was made between measles and pox (with growing clarity over about a millennium). However, what people called the “pox” and what was then called the “measles” are now known to each include a variety of distinct diseases.

Six separate childhood exanthems were defined from what was once called the “measles.” In the early part of the 20th century, these were often referred to by number. Measles and scarlet fever were the first two to be separated. Rubella (German measles) was called “third disease”; atypical scarlet fever was “fourth disease”; erythema infectiosum was (and is) “fifth disease,” and roseola was “sixth disease.”

Chickenpox and smallpox, the other two classic childhood exanthems, were recognized as separate from each other in the 18th century. These both had blisters, or pox, that set them apart from the red rashes of the other group.Today, dozens of exanthems are recognized, including adenovirus, anthrax, mononucleosis, Colorado tick fever, mumps, cat-scratch fever, rat-bite fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, relapsing fever, meningococcemia, typhus, hand-foot-mouth disease, and many others.
Exanthems (DrGreene.com)