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.: 2001 --> september
Does anyone have an extra cuecat hanging around that you'd be willing to give me? If so, please let me know. (Update: geoff has kindly--and quickly--offered to send me his. thanks!) After a used bookstore binge this weekend, I've decided I need one. Alternately, are they still available at my local Radio Shack as their website claims? (Surely not!)
:: The State of the Music Industry: a clear synopsis of what's wrong with commercial music today, and the ways in which the music industry itself has unwittingly engineered its own demise. And you just have to love any article that refers to Peter Edge as 'no relation to U2's The'. (via metafilter)
'You hear it all the time coming out of the mouths of record executives,' says Mos Def, the rapper whose solo debut small-label album went gold last year, no thanks to radio and MTV. '"People are stupid, people are stupid." And people are not. In fact, they’re smarter than they’ve ever been because they have more access to information, more places to get music. They’re making up their own minds about what they like, as opposed to what they’re told to like. And now the labels are paying for that disrespect. They’re finding people are not as tolerant of their bulls—t.'
[ 03/04/02 ]
:: Examine at the influences: media, workplace perceptions, consumerism, and the psychology of baby boomers. Who would put their healthy body under the knife? What is fueling the $30 billion business of cosmetic surgery?
Experts on aging, beauty, and popular culture caution against judging individuals for the choices they make to feel better about themselves. But they argue that the huge growth in the anti-aging business is a dramatic reflection of American society's increasing obsession with youth, particularly as it relates to women, and its negative feelings about growing old. Those attitudes, they say, have deep cultural implications that deserve broader attention.
'We ought to have prevalent public conversations about who this appeals to, and why,' says Timothy Burke, a professor and expert in popular culture at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. 'We're close to normalizing things which, when you step back from them a little bit, at the very least require you to go, "Whoa."'
[ 03/04/02 ]
CEOs are always scrambling for answers; but I've never worked anyplace where ordinary workers didn't have a raft of good, concrete answers as to what the problems are, what works, and what does not. What happens when CEOs go Back to the Floor? The BBC TV series that resulted from the experiment looks to be fascinating.
[ 03/06/02 ]
...we must challenge the rationale of the Patriot Act. We must ask why should America put aside guarantees of constitutional justice?
How can we justify in effect canceling the First Amendment and the right of free speech, the right to peaceably assemble?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Fourth Amendment, probable cause, the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Fifth Amendment, nullifying due process, and allowing for indefinite incarceration without a trial?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Sixth Amendment, the right to prompt and public trial?
How can we justify in effect canceling the Eighth Amendment which protects against cruel and unusual punishment?...
[ 03/06/02 ]
:: Want to learn a swell skill? One that you will share with only a few other living people? Lewis Mitchell is the Bay Area's only typecaster, and, now in his 70's, he is looking for an apprentice. Even if you don't need a job, read the article: you'll wish you had a couple of years to learn this skill at the side of an accomplished master.
Arion's biggest book by far, both physically and metaphorically, is its recent letterpress edition of the Bible, for which Mitchell cast all the type. This version of the Good Book is 18 inches tall, 13 inches wide, about 8 inches thick, and 1,350 pages; copies cost between $7,250 and $11,000, depending on the binding and illumination. Even the staid Wall Street Journal was moved by the production values, and described reading the book as 'an experience not unlike the perfect ocean voyage or a night in the mountains sleeping under the stars.'
[ 03/06/02 ]
:: Follow along: We attacked Afghanistan (causing an indeterminate number of 'necessary', regrettable casualties) because they were in thrall to the evil Taliban government, who was harboring the evil mastermind Osama bin Laden. If they would only have turned him over, none of this would have been necessary; war would have been averted, and justice done. Remember?
Now that we've installed a new government, Osama, it seems, is irrelevant.
As one who has always been inclined to regard the US government as opportunistic rather than flat-out evil, even I have to say that this does lend credence to the whole blood-for-oil interpretation of the war. (via yet another weblog)
Other Japanese designers address international affairs, including Kosuke Tsumura, the creator of a line called Final Home. For the past few years, a mainstay of the Final Home collection has been a long coat made from transparent nylon which looks like a quilted down coat with all the down removed. The coat is designed to serve as a final home in the case of a natural or man-made disaster, Tsumura explained to me.... For warmth, you can stuff its many pockets with newspapers, or with the floppy nylon teddy bears which Final Home also sells.
'Each customer customizes the number of bears, according to the weather,' Tsumura told me. 'In my own coat, I wear maybe ten bears....' After the Kobe earthquake, Tsumura sent ten of his coats to the disaster-relief efforts.
(via boing boing)
:: Technology has always had a profound effect on music. Will digital copying destroy the entertainment industry? Not a chance. All it has to do is to provide consumers with reliable filters and value-added products that are more trouble to copy than to buy. Kevin Kelly on The Future of Music. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket]
There is no music made today that has not been shaped by the fact of recording and duplication. In fact, the ability to copy music has been deeply disruptive ever since the invention of the gramophone. When John D. Smoot, an engineer for the European company Odeon, carted primitive recording equipment to the Indonesian archipelago in 1904 to record the gamelan orchestras, local musicians were perplexed. Why copy a performance? The popular local tunes that circulated in their villages had a half-life of a few weeks. Why would anyone want to listen to a stale rendition of an obsolete piece when it was so easy to get fresh music?
As phonographs spread throughout the world, they had a surprising effect: folk tunes, which had always been malleable, changing with each performer and in each performance, were transformed by the advent of recording into fixed songs that could be endlessly and exactly repeated. Music became shorter, more melodic and more precise.
(via boing boing)
(via the null device)
After hearing Lawrence Lessig speak at SXSW about digital rights, copyright law, and the importance of the public domain, I'm all over this. If you ever have a chance to hear him speak, do, by the way. Also, I'm now going to buy all of his books.
:: Lawmeme is a weblog from the Information Society Project, Yale Law School's Center for the study of telecommunications, internet, and intellectual property law. It was here I learned about the Original SSSCA.
Statement of Yakval Enti...to His Highness Hammurabi, King of Sumeria:
Your Majesty: I wish to call your attention to a severe threat to the security of your kingdom, and the livelihoods of thousands of your subjects.
After Shamash sets and the people kick back after a long day of growing millet, they desire entertainment. Their favorite forms are stories, tales, and sagas, told by the members of the MPAA....
Understand the threat to our business model. At the moment, if someone wants to hear 'The Tale of the Ox, the Ass and the Sumerian', they find an MPAA member, pay him, and sit back to listen to the whole four hour saga. While anyone could recall and tell others the general outline, only MPAA members know every detail and can give the listener the whole story. If you want to hear it again, you pay again. Thousands of MPAA members rely on this fact for their livelihoods.
[ 03/18/02 ]
In bringing down the World Trade Center...the killers also managed, at one blow, to knock the brains clean out of countless good Americans.
And where our prior wars had met with just and patriotic skepticism...this latest...meets with mere assent...and...a nasty allergy to all the rational and necessary questions....
Ask such questions now, and, while you probably won't get the answers that you're looking for, you're likely to learn something quite important from the current climate--that terror serves to sabotage democracy, by making thought itself seem like a crime against the state. Ask those questions, and you will surely be accused of siding with the enemy--just the sort of answer that Al Qaeda's goons would also give you, if you asked them certain tactless questions.
[ 03/22/02 ]
Eliot Gelwan has important opinion about the Bush Administration's proposal to drop a key requirement in the federal rules that protect the privacy of medical records. Eliot's opinion has special weight with me since he is a doctor and has dealt with the medical establishment in both directions. He encourages you to make your thoughts known to your representative. [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket]
:: He also points to news about the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA) which 'prohibits the sale or distribution of nearly any kind of electronic device -- unless that device includes copy-protection standards to be set by the federal government'.
Translation: Future MP3 players, PCs and handheld computers will no longer let you make all the copies you want.
There are only two things you need to know about this. 1 - There isn't a protection technology that cannot and will not be circumvented (sooner, not later) by other technology. 2 - This is about protecting corporate control, not about protecting the artist or the consumer.
If the entertainment industry wants to thrive in the digital environment (and they easily can) they will need to provide products that consumers are willing to pay for, and to provide valuable filtering services which consumers will also be willing to pay for. Video hasn't killed the movie industry, it has provided them with an additional source of revenue; cassette tapes didn't kill the music industry, it gave enthusiasts another reason to buy records to make mix tapes with.
:: I loved the Academy Awards last night. The producers made a number of good calls, including shorter presenter speeches, no horrible dance numbers, clumping all the songs in a group, and including Cirque du Soleil, one of my favorite things in the whole world. (If you ever get to see them perform, say, when you're visiting Las Vegas, go. Athleticism, spectacle, and theatre.)
I will say that the camera work during the Cirque du Soliel number was fairly bad, and they needed to do something different if they wanted to show film clips in conjunction with the performance: as it was, it would have been very difficult to follow what was going on onstage with all the busyness behind them.
In particular I loved Robert Redford's and Sidney Poitier's acceptance speeches. Redford's speech was wonderful in its acknowledgement that the awards themselves mean little in the larger scheme of things, except to the recipients and those who are close to them; his next words '...in my appreciation, I'd like to say what it means for me' seemed to me very fitting. He has, in his commitment to nurturing independent film, demonstrated his belief that each of us has a story to tell, and that our stories are important. Seeing him speak was inspiring to me.
Poitier is another stand-up guy, and his speech was also very inspiring. I was particularly impressed with his recitation of the names of every filmmaker who gave him the opportunities that made his career. As I listened, I realized that his career rested much less on that tricky triumverate of talent, luck, and hard work than other successful film careers have. Sidney Poitier's career was made possible only by the progressive decisions of a few white men. I hope that his acceptance speech inspired a few of the decision-makers to step up to the plate and give talented people of limited opportunity the chances that Mr. Poitier was given.
This year was an exception because there were blacks up for the two top acting honors, a rare thing in and of itself. The Academy can't control the hive mind, so, it dawned on me during his acceptance speech, they decided to honor Sidney Poitier so that in case white people won everything--again--a black actor was honored anyway. That Denzel and Halle won anyway must have made it all quite a night for Mr Poitier--for all of them. To see Halle Berry literally immobilized by the announcement that she had won, and her heartfelt acceptance was very moving to me. When Denzel took Best Actor, I hooted. It was quite a night.
Unfortunately, I think the only way more black actors will get more Oscars is for more black actors to get major roles in successful films. Hollywood is a profoundly conservative town, and I don't see last night changing that fact one little bit.
Poitier's speech also caused me to reflect that while the playing field has been raised--quite a bit, from my perspective--for people of color in this country, we are at the same time less progressive than we were in the sixties and seventies. People of color are less segregated than they were then--color is more normal--and as a result, invisible in a different, but not equal, way. People of color have, I think, better lives now overall, at least as measured by better opportunities and less fear. But we have lost our progressiveness, both in creating opportunities for success in fields that are white dominated, and less interest in understanding life through, say, a black man's eyes.
Other than that, what was Gwyneth thinking, why so many instances of corpse-pale lipstick, and did anyone else notice what a hottie Ian McKellan's boyfriend was?
[ 03/25/02 ]
:: You need to know about the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act (CBDTPA). If you read other weblogs, likely you've already heard about this. Read the Wired article and Dan Gillmor's excellent column and see what you think. You may also be interested in the set of links Rafe has collected on the issue.
Note that though the bill makes provisions for a narrow range of fair use (backups and reproducing short sections of works) somehow, the technology is supposed to be able to determine what is fair use and what is not; in other words, content distributors will decide how you may use the content you have paid for.
After you've read up a bit on the issues, let Congress know in the strongest terms that you do not support this bill.
Mr. Barclay bought the machine to keep out underage drinkers who use fake ID's. But he soon found that he could build a database of personal information, providing an intimate perspective on his clientele that can be useful in marketing. 'It's not just an ID check,' he said. 'It's a tool.'
[ 03/27/02 ]
:: This is getting a lot of play: at PC Forum, when Dan Gillmor misunderstood a presenter and posted the misinformation on his weblog during the panel, the misquoted panelist (who was reading the weblog while another presenter was speaking) corrected him from the dais.
I can't help but notice that Dan would have gotten a similar result by raising his hand and asking for a clarification. That the panelist responded to what he read on Dan's weblog has nothing to do with weblogs, or journalism, or instant publishing (which are three distinct things, by the way). This is an instance of an audience member misunderstanding a panelist and being corrected. The exact same thing often happens during audience Q&A. It could just as easily have happened in the hall afterwards, if the panelist had overheard an audience member pass on a bit of information that clearly indicated he had not understood a key point.
Let me add that I'm not sure that a conference that everyone--including presenters--experiences through the medium of a screen is an improvement on the traditional format. Why bother meeting face to face in the first place? Mediated experiences tend to be less satisfying, overall, than those that are unmediated. I'm interested in panel discussions during which the panelists listen and respond to one another and interact with an equally engaged audience.
Transcription is not equivalent to reporting. Good reporting involves selection and thought. And though it's terrific to have eyes into a closed-door event, I don't have the time to read the minutes of every notable event that happens on Earth every day. We need people who will attend events, fully engaged, do whatever background investigation is necessary to tell the whole story, and then reflect on the entire thing before writing an account that will tell both what happened, and why it matters.
Weblogs can be terrific filters. That involves discrimination and reflection, too.
We remember the days, not long ago, when our users were stupid. They thought they were giving money to the artists. We want them to be stupid again.
(via whump|more like this)[ 03/28/02 ]:: Evidence that Ted Nugent is the most highly evolved human on the planet: Hunting = Civilization
[ 03/29/02 ]
For [biomedical company] SonoSite, the relationship began more than two years ago.... But the company worries that the relationship could be ending. General Electric, the owner of NBC, is elbowing its way into the portable-ultrasound business and is said to be pressuring the show's prop masters to ditch the devices from its little rival....
(via Anita's list of links)
This deregulation, should it proceed, will result in an explosion of corporate deal-making that will make the past decade of unprecedented media conglomeration look like a Wednesday-night bingo game at the local old-folks home.
For the first time, media giants that control TV station empires—Disney, News Corp., Viacom, General Electric—would be able to merge with or acquire media empires built on cable franchises, such as AOL Time Warner and AT&T-Comcast. As Blair Levin, a former FCC chief of staff, puts it, the ruling 'allows for a powerful new entity we have never seen before—something that combines both cable and broadcasting assets.'
Mr Eisner, I'm ready for my closeup.
:: Here we go. When Maryland Public Television unceremoniously decided to dump Louis Rukeyser as the host of the show he created 32 years ago, he went straight to the people, asking his viewers to write their local PBS affiliate asking them to carry Rukeyser's new show instead of the re-vamped 'Wall Street Week Without Louis Rukeyser'.
Plus, Rukeyser announced to the world on PBS...that his show is a "major cash cow" for the network, costing only $2 million to make while bringing in about $6 million a year in national underwriting.
Maryland Public Television scrambled to fill the slot until they could get their new, more youth-oriented show off the ground. But, what's this? [NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket]
They could not choose among the 22 analysts and money managers who made regular appearances alongside Mr. Rukeyser. That group, showing allegiance to Mr. Rukeyser, who hopes to have a program elsewhere on television, banded together and decided not to participate, two of them said.
How much do I love this story?????
Let's say it together: Who is the most dangerous man in the world? A man who has nothing to lose. Good luck, Mr. Rukeyser.
'Larry Ellison, Oracle's flamboyant chief executive, earned a stunning $706 million in total compensation last year. Assuming a 40-hour workweek, that works out to nearly $340,000 an hour. Total one-year return for Oracle's shareholders in 2001? Minus 25 percent.'
:: Oh, jeez. Yahoo! masters of unethical marketing, have, due to 'changes with their system', reset your preferences so that you will receive every bit of marketing they send out. Go into every Yahoo! account you own, click 'account info' and set them all back to no.
This should be illegal. We need laws that will go further than that. We should have control over our own information, and corporations should be required to wipe their databases everytime they change their terms of agreement, or honor the terms of the older agreements. I'm tired of corporations taking my personal information with promises that they will never sell it and then unilaterally changing their minds. For that matter, all marketing materials should be opt-in in the first place. (via rc3.org)