Entries for October 2002 (November 2002 »    December 2002 »    January 2003 »    Archives)


Au revoirOCT 29

Second to the last day in SF, packing madly. Movers come tomorrow and we will be left with 3 suitcases. The day after tomorrow, we're off to Paris for a whole month. So so looking forward to that.

If you've sent me email in the past month and I haven't gotten back to you, I apologize...I'll try to get to it in between croissants and steak frites.

I'm going to try to post stuff from Paris, but who knows how that will go. I'm not going to worry too much if I don't get around to it.

My stuff, part 2OCT 28

We've got one item left to sell: a dining room table with 4 matching chairs for the ridiculously low price of $30. It's almost robbery at that price.

Oh, we're also giving away (FREE!!!) some Wired and National Geographic magazines. The Wireds are from 1995 to 2000, some are probably worth some money to somebody.

PenmanshipOCT 27

I'm sure you could have guessed that Maggie Berry has exemplary handwriting. It looks like one of those handwriting fonts. I think she might be a robot. I can't think of any other suitable explanation for such consistent kerning and x-height.

All work and no play makes Jason a dull boyOCT 27

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Screening of Adaptation at the SFMOMAOCT 26

I got to see Adaptation last night as part of the New Yorker Nights series. Here are some thoughts from the night. No spoilers or anything because everyone had to sign a waiver saying that they wouldn't review the film for publication.

Blogger woesOCT 25

Overheard this morning: "Maybe it's not such a good idea to publicly announce that your system administrator is unavailable."

Lyrical gangsterOCT 23

I'm beginning to understand what the critics see in Eminem. Contrary to most of Mr. Mathers' other material -- of the look-at-me/fuck-you variety -- Lose Yourself, off the soundtrack for 8 Mile, is surprisingly uplifting, positive, and even poignant. Dr. Dre's beats have always been top notch and they're put to excellent use here by Eminem with each verse powerfully building to the chorus. The first bit of the song is especially good...everyone is familiar with the feeling of nervous anticipation and potential for failure you experience when attempting something that's important to you and Eminem captures it perfectly:

snap back to reality
oh, there goes gravity
oh there goes rabbit
he choked, he's so mad
but he won't give up that easy
nope he won't have it
he knows his whole back's to these ropes
it don't matter he's dope
he knows that but he's broke
he so sad that he knows
when he goes back to this mobile home
that's when it's
back to the lab again, yo
this whole rhapsody
better go capture this moment
and hope it don't pass him (you betta)

lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it
you better never let it go
you only get one shot
do not miss your chance to blow
cuz this opportunity comes once in a life-time, yo

"lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it, you better never let it go"...that's good advice no matter who it's coming from.

I don't have a contract with youOCT 23

Don Henley to fans at a concert about downloading his songs:

"Download all you want. The record companies have been ripping artists off for years. Go ahead. I'd rather lose money to you than them. I don't have a contract with you."

via brushstroke

Hell hath no fury like a broker scornedOCT 22

A couple days ago, I wrote, "when the opportunity arose to move to New York, we figured why the hell not". It turns out there are many good answers to this question. Real estate is at the top of the list. If you're unfamilar with the workings of the apartment rental process in NYC, consider yourself lucky. It ranks among mankind's poorest social and technological achievements.

On a typical day, you might encounter Rita, the super who would take a chunk out your ass as soon as look at you and, as we later learned, is amenable to kickbacks. Kickbacks? Growing up in rural Wisconsin, we didn't use such words. What is this, The Sopranos?

You might also run into Suzanne from New York Apartments, a real estate broker. New York real estate brokering is middlemanliness raised to an art form, a vestigial appendage on the NYC housing market. When used car salesmen dream, they imagine themselves as brokers.

Suzanne made two mistakes in dealing with us: 1) she didn't understand our motivations and 2) she didn't know that she didn't understand our motivations. We're not the type of people that respond well to Slick Eddie salesmanship. Cultivate a relationship with us, dazzle us with knowledge, make us trust you, and do it like you're working for free. Earn that fee. Suzanne never picked up on that and was doomed from the beginning. I think the reality of the mistakes hit her as she chastized us in her snottiest tone of voice for wasting her time taking us on a tour of New York even though Meg seemed more familar with the area than she was. As she stalked off into the rain, squinting in search of the correct subway station, the chances of her collecting that fee went with her.

Punching drunk idiotsOCT 20

Please, do not go see Punch Drunk Love if you're expecting Sandler's typical Happy Gilmore schtick. You will just be disappointed and annoy the crap out of your fellow movie-going patrons. Rent The Waterboy for the 12th time instead.

Off to New YorkOCT 20

Two years is about long enough. Several of my friends, upon visiting or moving to San Francisco, instantly fell in love with it. I like it OK, but I don't love it and never felt quite at home here for several reasons. But that's a topic for another time.

When the opportunity arose to move to New York, we figured why the hell not. So, we're taking up residence in NYC in December. We're busy with the many things we need to do before we go, but we're looking forward to the many things we'll be doing once we get there. Your suggestions on NYC living are welcome.

World Series fever grips San FranciscoOCT 19

People are offering all sorts of things on craigslist for tickets to the Giants' World Series games at Pac Bell Park:

- "Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll-What's a Girl Gotta Do to Get 2 WS Tickets? You know what I want. Please tell me what you'd like."

- "I have a ton of Cisco equipment and would trade equipment for tickets"

- "Will trade rounds of golf at private country club"

- "willing to pay face value" [Wow, face value!]

- "I will Photograph your wedding"

- "I have an original w.s. ticket from 1962 when the giants played the yankees I will trade this for a ticket to the 2002 w.s."

- "Will trade my iMac for your World Series Tix"

- "Giants WS tix for trip to Mexico"

- "4 WS tickets for 2 tickets to be a guest of maguel tehada to any game next year yes even the yankees you get on field pass to batting practice meet and get a baseball bat and his autograph be that close to all the players,then sit in his luxury suite to watch the game"

- "Delta Ticket Vouchers for 2 WS Tickets" (from the same sex-for-tickets woman above)

- "I also have golf clubs and nice clothes I'd be willing to trade"

- "I Want a Free World Series Ticket"

and the cream of the crop:

"I will trade fifteen minutes of my ass in exchange for two tickets to the World Series. For fifteen minutes, you may do whatever you wish to my ass--you may kick my ass, kiss my ass, beat my ass, or place my ass and some whoop in a can for subsequent opening. Perhaps you'd like to hear me talk out of my ass, or watch as I get up off my ass, blow it out my ass, get drunk off my ass, and then sit on my ass. You can fire my ass, dump my ass, or spank my ass 'till it shines like the hood of a Volkswagen. For fifteen minutes, my ass is yours, grass or otherwise. No reasonable request will be refused."

You know you want to own my furniture and household itemsOCT 19

Here's your chance. Meg and I are moving (more on that in a couple of days) and have listed a bunch of items for sale on craigslist. If you're in SF, need cheap stuff (the TV and bike are great values), and can come pick it up, have a look & email me at jason@kottke.org if you're interested.

The tiny ship was tossedOCT 16

I'm watching people walk on the ferry we're taking to Nantucket. The sea is rough and rainy, pitching the boat about in the waves. The walkers fit quite distinctly into two groups. The crew members walk deliberately to their destinations in mostly straight lines, months and years of practice walking on boats evident. One fellow has his hands in his pockets and no zig in his zag at all.

And then there's the rest of us. The landlubbers. We have vague ideas of where we want to walk to, but little idea of how we're going to get there with the boat shifting under us. We just set off in a general direction and let our stumbling determine our path; it's easier than fighting the ocean. The ocean is clearly winning. This one poor woman has been to the bathroom three times in the past 30 minutes.

regarding: AdaptationOCT 10

In the preview for Adaptation, Charlie Kaufman says, "I've written myself into my screenplay". Which he did, both in real life and in the movie. With Susan's permission, I've written myself into her Web site. I'm keeping an Adaptation weblog there. Movie news, little tidbits that Susan sends me, the goings-on of the actors, producers, directors, etc. It's just getting going, so I have yet to find the right voice and such, but there should be some good information there as the premiere approaches.

Here's part of a post from today about Susan at a pre-release screening:

"it was totally funny to meet ms. streep last night -- she was lovely and funny and gave me a huge hug and was just...great. what i found so funny was how many actors at the screening last night were congratulating me (huh???) on the movie. ha! like i did anything! kevin kline grabbed me and said, 'wow, i can't imagine what this is like for you!' how strange, coming from an actor."

OrangeOCT 10

The first assignments are posted at WeeklyDV: Orange. Subliminal Orange is my favorite, but I might be biased because Mark has the power to pull the plug on my site and makes me say nice things about him in public (unclean! unclean!). Next week's assignment is "People".

(Oh Meg, you'll like this one for the cameo of one of your favorite places.)

Washington sniperOCT 09

I hope the Washington police department reads Yahoo! News. I think there's a big clue about the identity of the sniper lurking on their most popular news page:

god? god the sniper?

RSS advertisingOCT 09

Unlike the BBC and Salon, many media companies are not providing public RSS feeds of their headlines. For the news-hungry armed with RSS readers, this is not so good. I suspect the reasons are many but largely financial: "when we make our content available via this channel, where's the money coming from?"

There are a number of potential solutions, but one of the easiest (which I have yet to see) would be embedding text ads into RSS feeds like so:

<title>Today's news is sponsored by Jaguar:</title>
<description>The Jaguar S-TYPE. Dramatic, flowing lines. Inspiring to look at. Thrilling to drive. With power that reaches awesome heights in the 390-horsepower supercharged.</description>

<title>2 Americans Awarded Nobel for Economics</title>
<description>Two Americans have won this year's Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for trying to explain idiosyncrasies in people's ways of making decisions research that occupies the nexus of psychology and economics...</description>

For sites like Obscure Store that survive on tipjar donations, the first item could be a mention of that with the appropriate link to PayPal or Amazon's Honor System.

Is anyone out there doing this already?

Eldred vs. AshcroftOCT 09

Matt has written a great article today about Eldred v. Ashcroft and what a creative commons could mean. Like Matt, I'm concerned that the case is not going to be won, but I've got my fingers crossed for the L Train.

I'd love to live in a country where copyright protection is available, does not last forever, is not renewable, and the price you pay for that protection is you have to give it up after a reasonable amount of time (10-20 years seems more than fair). That way individuals have incentive to create and publish original works and thoughts, but we all benefit from those creations after a time. There's no right answer to the copyright question -- it's a matter of preference -- but as both a creator and consumer of copyrighted works, I'd prefer to be part of a society that values both protection and a plentiful amount of intellectual and artistic energy in the public domain.

Update: The hearing is over. Some coverage: High court hears arguments in case of Congress, copyright and Mickey Mouse, Live from Eldred v. Ashcroft I, a summary of the arguments, NY Times: Supreme Court Hears Copyright Challenge.

WantingOCT 08

The size of the earth's population and uneven distribution of wealth makes possible a wide range of human experiences. These two situations are perhaps as far removed from each other as you can get.

Names I have called Meg's catOCT 08

Bode Dogg
Hey, knock it off
Bodhi Wan Kenobi
Bode Diesel
Dogg Cat
Shitty McShit Shit

A weekly Google "I'm feeling lucky" calendarOCT 07

First Monday
First Tuesday
Sheffield Wednesday Football Club
Full Collapse (for a band called Thursday)
The Friday Five
Saturday Night Live
The Sunday Times

Gouda, where have you been all my life?OCT 06

I'm 29 years old, and I'm just now figuring out that I like smoked Gouda cheese. A lot. I've often felt myself superior in matters of cheese, being from Wisconsin and all, but this Gouda out of nowhere has me reeling.

The Google "I'm feeling lucky" calendarOCT 06

January Magazine
February 7
March of Dimes
Association Pour la Promotion et la Recherche en Informatique Libre
As We May Think by Vannevar Bush
June Mountain
4th of July - Independence Day
Georg-August-Universitat Gottingen
The September 11th Fund
Focus Features (formerly October Films)
The November Coalition
December Communications HTML Station

The September that never endedOCT 05

From the Jargon file, the September that never ended:

"All time since September 1993. One of the seasonal rhythms of the Usenet used to be the annual September influx of clueless newbies who, lacking any sense of netiquette, made a general nuisance of themselves. This coincided with people starting college, getting their first internet accounts, and plunging in without bothering to learn what was acceptable. These relatively small drafts of newbies could be assimilated within a few months. But in September 1993, AOL users became able to post to Usenet, nearly overwhelming the old-timers' capacity to acculturate them; to those who nostalgically recall the period before, this triggered an inexorable decline in the quality of discussions on newsgroups."

Yahoo! now sorting news by reader ratingsOCT 03

The photos on the Yahoo! News Reader Ratings page are much like those that appear on the most read and most emailed pages: tits, tragedy, cute baby animals, and weird. But the news stories appear to be of much higher quality than those on the popular pages, with only a couple of news-of-the-weird & celebrity stories. It'll be interesting to see if that trend continues.

Calling all digital video filmmakersOCT 03

Jason Zada is trying to stir up some digital video creativity with WeeklyDV.com:

"So, if you own a DV camera and a computer, have a few hours and want to participate then here is your [first] assignment. It's a color. It's an agent. It's a fruit. You decide what you will make your short about. Orange is the theme."

You've got four hours to shoot and edit. Deadline is Oct 9th @ noon PST. Sounds like fun...if only I have a DV camera and some free time.

There's no place like 15,000OCT 02

Everyone's down in the dumps about the U.S. economy. Rising this & falling that, indices at multi-year lows, etc. It doesn't have to be this way. If the last 20 years has taught us anything, it's that the stock market has little to do with realistic concepts like revenue, earnings, and employment figures. We, the people of the United States of America, can bend the market to our collective will if we choose to do so. If analysts start saying Microsoft will hit 100 by the end of the year and people start buying Microsoft stock, it will. There's no reason Enron's stock, despite the company's scandal and restructuring, can't jump to 50 in the next 3 months. You just gots to believe.

So you, sitting there reading this claptrap, get up out of your chair, grab $1000 and invest in Cisco and Disney and McDonalds and 3M and GM and UAL and Amazon and Ebay and USX and Enron. If you happen to be Alan Greenspan, run to the nearest journalist and tell her that the economy is completely recovered. Say it like you mean it and we'll believe it. Together, we can will the Dow Jones to 15,000 and happier times for everyone. The stock market is a big house of cards as it is...let's just cross our fingers and build it a little higher.

p.s. This works for just about anything, by the way. If we all stop paying attention to Britney Spears, she'll cease to exist.

P2P apps: built to steal?OCT 01

Ev sez: "Kazaa was designed to let people get copyrighted material for free, which wouldn't otherwise be free. In fact, looking at their practices, I'd go so far as to say that Kazaa was designed for the creators to profit from people illegally sharing material."

Meg sez: "Kazaa isn't designed to steal things. It doesn't go into your house and take your DVD player. If Kazaa is transfering files that people have illegally placed online, the fault does not lie with Kazaa (or Napster, or LimeWire). It lies with the individuals who placed property online without appropriate permission. And it lies with individuals who download files without ascertaining whether they have the right to do so."

Without getting into who's right or wrong here, let's approach it more constructively from the software developer's point of view. How would applications like Kazaa, Limewire, or Napster be designed if they were deliberately built for stealing? How about if they were not built for stealing? What features would they have that they now lack? What about new features?

My feeling is that if Kazaa is designed to steal software, music, movies, and pornographic images, the people behind it are doing a crappy job. The software does little more than find files based on their metadata and some search terms, the barest of functionality needed to locate files. I should have the option of clicking on a song to download the rest of the songs from the album. I should be able to d/l the top 20 Billboard singles as a collection or separately without having to search for each one manually. A list of new releases by artists I've d/led before? How about a list of Amazon's best sellers? The top 10 movies in America in DivX format? All of the apps that Adobe makes? People love books on tape...how about a list of the titles on the NYTimes Bestseller List in mp3 format? The rest of the images in a particular porno image series? And if any of these aren't available, I can place them on a wishlist that d/ls items as soon as they become available. And those are just the no-brainer ideas.

If it is truly designed to steal, Kazaa should function much like Amazon with recommendations, top 10/25/whatever lists, and collaborative filtering, except with a "Steal now with 1-Click" button in place of the "Buy now with 1-Click" one.

You say you want a revolutionOCT 01

How's this for a change: a bit of heartening news regarding the music business. A bunch of musicians, including heavy hitters Elton John, Madonna, No Doubt, and Eric Clapton, are going up against the RIAA in hopes of leveling the playing field for artists in the music industry. It's nice to see some big names speaking out against the RIAA, especially since of all the artists out there, they have the most to lose. Big-name artists actually make money in the current system, whereas small artists generally don't...Madonna could keep her mouth shut and continue raking in the dough.

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