Just what I wanted for Christmas: 144 staplers signed by celebrities. Signees include Paris Hilton, Donald Trump, Tiger Woods, and Cher.
David Pogue is writing a weblog for the NY Times on consumer electronics. He also says that the archive of the Circuit section is now free.
Teen girl has mom killed and then writes it up on her Livejournal. "Just to let everyone know, my mother was murdered".
Revolution in the Valley is a new book recounting how the Macintosh computer was made. It's written by original Mac team member Andy Hertzfeld and published by O'Reilly.
Lycos screensaver targets spammer's web sites in distributed denial of service attack. Do two wrongs make a right?
Audio of Ken Jennings' loss NOV 28
Note: I've been contacted by a lawyer representing Sony and they have asked me to remove the audio clip. Sorry.
[Warning, spoilers.] Here's a two-minute audio clip of Final Jeopardy from Ken Jennings' Jeopardy loss (due to air Nov 30). If you don't want to listen, here are the details (highlight the redacted text to read):
[Update: I deleted the description of the audio clip after Sony "requested" that I do so. You may be interested in reading this article in the Washington Post instead. This is really a irritating situation, but I don't have the time, energy, or the access to legal counsel that a large newspaper does and am therefore just basically just rolling over. Sorry.]
The original tips I got from Phillip (1, 2) ended up being pretty accurate. Some of the details were a little off and/or paraphrased (he got the number in the answer as well as the woman's name wrong), but it was mostly correct.
Final update: My legal difficulties with Sony are still unresolved but since the episode has now aired, here are the results of Ken's final appearance:
Final Jeopardy category was Business and Industry. Answer: Most of this firm's 70,000 seasonal white-collar employees work only 4 months a year. Nancy Zerg provided the correct question, "What is H&R Block?" which gave her $14,401, one dollar more than Ken. Ken answered incorrectly: "What is FedEx?" and ended up with $8,799 for a total of $2,522,700 over his 75-day run.
Haircuts now going for $800 in NYC. "Anyone who pays that much money to go to the meatpacking district to have their hair done is a meathead".
"We need a new term for 'computer game'". Gaming has moved well beyond kids playing Super Mario Bros.
Ken Jennings' final episode NOV 26
Set your TiVos and VCRs...it looks like Ken Jennings will finally lose on Jeopardy on Tuesday, November 30. His 72nd appearance aired yesterday (he won another $50,000), the 73rd will be today, and his final win will come on Monday. As reported here back in September, Jennings loses his 75th game after winning $2.5 million. No one from the show has confirmed this, so it may be wrong**, but we'll find out on Tuesday. (If it ends up being wrong, I will commit seppuku by falling on my TiVo remote for my role in misleading everyone.)
** Just to be more specific, I have recently received confirmation from a very reliable source that Ken has indeed lost, but that source didn't confirm (or deny) the specific timing.
Mandatory minimum sentencing laws tie judges' hands. Weldon Angelos got 55 years in prison for selling $700 worth of pot while carrying a gun.
Holiday gift suggestions from some bloggers and web designers. I specifically suggested the "Happy Fucking Holidays" cross stitch from Subversive Cross Stitch, but that bit got edited out somehow.
Confess your sins at Come Clean. Fun Flash advertisement for Method.
Wes Anderson's next film will be a stopmotion animation adaptation of Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox. What the? Let's see him wedge Futura into this one.
Futura and Wes Anderson NOV 23
Every year around this time, my thoughts turn to Wes Anderson and Futura. As noted elsewhere, Mr. Anderson is consistent in his use of Futura (bold) in his films. The supporting materials for The Life Aquatic (which opens here in NYC on Dec 10) continue the Futura trend, with the font appearing in the trailers and on posters. (A little Helvetica -- or worse, Arial -- has somehow crept onto this new poster, probably slapped on there by some intern when Someone Important noticed that Bill Murray's name wasn't on there.) What I've never been able to find an answer to, Wes, is why the Futura? This Typophile thread (kind of) suggests that David Wasco, Anderson's production designer on Tenenbaums, may have had something to do with it. Or is it a shout-out to Stanley Kubrick, who was partial to Futura Extra Bold? Does anyone know?
Statistical analysis of digital photos of paintings can reveal forgeries. Each artist has a statistically distinct "signature" and even multiple artists contributing to one work can be differentiated.
HP is developing a wearable badge that will blur your face in photos taken by a digital camera. Other new photography tech includes a paparazzi homing device and wearable hidden cameras that surreptitiously snap photos with a flick of the head.
On the difficulty of skipping Christmas. "The idea of being anything but wildly enthusiastic about the annual mass transfer of merchandise often seems abhorrent to the American psyche."
Amazon is selling the entire Criterion Collection of DVDs for $5,000. A few out-of-print titles are excluded, but there's 241 films in the gift set.
Dan Barber has a great op-ed in the NY Times today about the benefits of natually-grown food (especially when compared to ridiculous fad diets like Atkins):
A serving of broccoli is naturally rich in vitamins A and B, and has more vitamin C than citrus fruit. But raised in an industrial farm monoculture, shipped over a long distance and stored before and after being delivered to your supermarket, it loses up to 80 percent of its vitamin C and 95 percent of its calcium, iron and potassium. Fruits and vegetables grown organically, however, have higher levels of antioxidants. That's largely because a plant's natural defense system produces phenolic compounds, chemicals that act as a plant's defense against pests and bugs. These compounds are beneficial to our health, too. When plants are grown with herbicides and pesticides, they slow down their production of these compounds.
Broccoli is only one example...turkeys, chickens, beef, eggs, carrots, milk, beets, etc. are all made less nutritious and delicious by current methods of mass production. We're painting ourselves into a corner here. Soon even the non-processed food we eat will be almost entirely virtual. Our flavorless, nutrient-free broccoli will be artificially flavored, artificially colored, and supplemented with multivitamins (Centrum-brand broccoli?) and result in meals that are artificially satisfying. (via tmn)
Trickets and information are available for the New York Times Arts and Leisure Weekend, Jan 7-9, 2005. Guests include Bill Murray, Oliver Sacks, Dan Barber, Art Spiegelman, Chuck Close, etc.
Starbucks as an example of asynchronous processing. "The interaction between two parties (customer and coffee shop) consists of a short synchronous interaction (ordering and paying) and a longer, asynchronous interaction (making and receiving the drink)."
Most importantly NOV 22
Most importantly. "Listen to music a little louder, dance a little crazier, sing out loud in the shower, honk your horn for no reason, give your dog an extra treat, call your mother and tell her you love her, hug your friends even if they aren't the touchy-feely type, eat french fries once even though your diet tells you not to, walk around your house naked, and hold tight to your motherfucking family."
"In America, self-styled progressives look ever more the party of the past, and confessed conservatives are the ones focusing on the future". "Most of Mr Kerry's base was in stagnant America. Democratic strongholds such as Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco and Mr Kerry's Boston have been losing people and jobs. Mr Bush's America, for the most part, is booming.'
McSweeney's #13 NOV 21
weeks months ago, I chose this book as the first official selection of the unofficial kottke.org book club. The idea of the book club is that I tell you what book I'm going to read next, you can read along if you'd like, and then we get together to discuss it in the comments of a thread like this one.
What a terrible idea...I apologize for even suggesting it. I have trouble reviewing books as it is without the added pressure of a deadline and having people (if any of you actually chose to follow along) who read the book depending on me getting some sort of rip-roaring conversation going. As a result, even though I finished the book weeks and weeks ago, I've been avoiding writing this review. However, since I got myself into this, I'm going to give it a shot and hope that someone else can rescue us with a thoughtful, knowledgeable review of the book and/or the comics format in the comments. Here we go.
Many of my friends are into comics in one way or another. I never was, not even as a kid (ok, not exactly true...I really liked Bloom County). I go into comic shops, thumb through comic books and graphic novels, and leave wondering what the hell all the fuss is about. I guess you could say I don't get comics. Which is odd because as a sort of socially awkward dork, I should identify with many of the characters in the stories and the artists drawing them (and I mean that in a good way).
A few years ago, I bought Chris Ware's perfect Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, one of my all-time favorite pieces of media. But that's been the exception to the rule for me and comics. McSweeney's #13 contained a comic by Chris Ware (he designed the wonderful dust cover as well); it, The Little Nun strips by Mark Newgarden, and the wonderfully spare comics by Richard McGuire (which reminded me of Powers of Ten) were the highlights for me.
So instead of a review, a question. What am I missing here? Why do you enjoy comics and/or graphic novels? I can guess why they are appealing, but I'd rather hear about it from you guys.
Here's the reason for the odd photo caption from the previous post. The caption was summarizing survey results about what the world thinks of the British.
Oddest caption ever for a Yahoo News photo. It reads: "The typical Briton is polite, witty and phlegmatic, but lacks a certain style and has a dental hygiene issue while having an occasional drinking problem."
Beautiful book for you foodies out there, All About Apples. And it's a free PDF from the folks at tastingmenu.com.
This cnet holiday gift guide is stupid. Everyone gets the same general recommendations. Get my son a computer and my daughter an iPod? Wow, didn't think of that!
Two days in the life of 24 New Yorkers (including me). We're all obsessively documenting our lives with cameraphones for the next two days.
Bush twins try to get a table at a NYC restaurant, maitre 'd tells them the restaurant is full for the next four years. Entire restaurant cheers, does shots.
I'll be posting a bunch of photos on Flickr over the next two days for a friend's project. Savor the poor quality of my cameraphone.
The guy preparing your food in a restaurant is a "Mexican guy earning a paycheck, watching the clock praying for his shift to end as he sweats in front of a blast furnace". It's not "someone like Emeril or Mario Battalia waxing ecstatically about herbs and oils, engaging in something close to foreplay as they lovingly prepare your entree".
Sotheby's is auctioning off the world's largest bottle of wine. The 4.5 foot tall bottle holds 1200 glasses of wine.
Strange photos of Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz attacking some photographers. Look at Cameron use her mad Charlie's Angels skillz, yo!
Bill Gates gets 4 million emails a day. I thought I had a spam problem...
An interview with Michael Koubi, former member of Israel's security service. Some interesting stuff about interrogation techniques and approach.
A report from the Museum of Media History, circa 2014. Featuring Googlezon, Newsbotster, and news editing robots. I want me some Google Grid.
Interview with Tim O'Reilly about eBooks and remix culture. The first two parts of this interview are available as well.
Weirdly biased list of top 500 songs by Rolling Stone magazine. "Like a Rolling Stone" and a song by the Rolling Stones went one/two...is that a joke?
Disney to make Toy Story 3 without Pixar. Maybe they'll freshen it up with some new characters: they could have Cruella Deville, Lilo, Pumbaa, and the bear from Brother Bear make cameo appearances!
John Cleese now performing regularly on his web site. "It's like having a tiny TV station or a magazine. The simplicity is delightful."
The lost journals of Doogie Howser, M.D.. "Sometimes the best advice is in the last place you look, and by 'best advice,' I mean, 'my wristwatch.' And by 'the last place you look,' I mean, 'Mr. Cheswick's esophagus.'"
A former editor in chief of the Encyclopedia Britannica called Wikipedia a "faith-based encyclopedia". He's got a point, but on the other hand, find me the EB entry for the 2004 Presidential election.
The New Yorker on the "carefully wrought, highly refined" architecture of the new MoMA here in NYC. "It is one thing to display Frank Lloyd Wright models inside your galleries; it is quite another to have Rem Koolhaas design your building."
How to learn a language NOV 16
How to learn a language. "For instance, in French, 'Il fait du vent' can be used to practice French f's, v's and d's, or 'un grand vin blanc' for French nasals."
I woke up with a hangover this morning, which is odd because I don't drink. Maybe it had something to do with reading about PHP right before bedtime. I've heard PHP is just a gateway drug for Python, so I'm not looking forward to how I'll feel after reading about that.
My insomnia appears to be lifting...I slept until 10:30 on Saturday and the alarm woke me up this morning. Barely. The buzz around the water cooler was that I was either depressed or affected by daylight savings time, but I think it was just general stress.
(Still reading? Most boring entry ever, right? Be thankful I didn't regale you with how I got off the subway this morning. Said tale would have included the line, "wielding my New Yorker magazine like a machete, I slashed my way through the dense thicket of #9 train commuters..." You would have hated me for it.)
After 4100 miles, one man's trip across America on a Segway comes to an end in Boston today. They will continue on to Segway HQ in NH for a company celebration.
My favorite from a wonderful collection of Ronald Reagan photos. "There was this odd moment where Mrs. Reagan and President Reagan were having this little private chat and right in the middle you see Michael Jackson."
Jessica Helfand on the design of The Incredibles. "Design looms large in this new world vision [of Pixar]. And thanks to Edna Mode, we now we have our very own superhero to prove it."
Flipping NOV 15
After the Met yesterday, I sat on the stairs to watch these two street performers who were really quite good. At the end of the show, one of them did a flip over four people. I made this composite of the photos I took of his jump:
Ze Frank on Passive Aggressive Communications Solutions. This was part of his presentation at Poptech.
Malcolm Gladwell on "good artists borrow, great artists steal". A playwright steals material from an article of his and he tries to figure out why he's not that upset about it. Fantastic article.
The Paris Review is in the process of putting all of their interviews online. They've already made available interviews with Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, Truman Capote, etc. This will be a great resource when finished.
As part of a lazy Sunday here in NYC, I ducked into the Met for a couple of hours and wandered around. I've seen the whole muesum at least twice, but I never get tired of it. The Gilbert Stuart exhibition is worth checking out (the room with several of his Washington portraits is fantastic), but NYC photography fans will want to check out Few Are Chosen, an exhibition of street photography. Featured are the photographs of Walker Evans (he took photos of NYC subway riders with a hidden camera), Helen Levitt's photos of NYC street scenes, gritty photos of NYC by an artist whose name I forget, as well as a selection of Henri Cartier-Bresson's work. The collection is fairly small but well worth checking out if you're into that sort of thing.
It's Blogbitpodtorrenttivocasting!. Now, someone build an app where we don't need to know anything about what Bittorrent or RSS are and we'll have something.
The stock selections of US Senators outperformed the market by 12%. One of the study's authors says "there is cheating going on, at a 99 percent level of confidence."
Tarnation NOV 14
The main character and narrator initially spent $218 making this film on his Mac and ended up with something that is remarkably sharp and almost professional, considering he used iMovie to edit it. Caouette pieced the film together -- according to Ebert's review -- from "old home movies, answering machine tapes, letters and telegrams, photographs, [and] clippings" so effectively that it seems like the 30 years of media was recorded with the movie in mind. The feel with which Caouette crafted Tarnation reminded me of Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream and Pi...same twitchy editing and musical style combining to make a powerful and affecting film.
Head on over to Flickr and pick a good name for my helper monkey (you'll see when you get there). Best name gets 3 free months of a Flickr Pro account. Good luck!
Slashdot post from when Apple announced the iPod. They said "well-thats-not-very-exciting" and "lame"...but the commenters got it.
Since two Fridays ago, I have been unable to sleep past 7:30 in the morning, no matter what time I go to sleep or what time I am required to get up. In the months prior to that, I can count on one hand the number of times I awoke before my alarm at 7:45. I have no idea what's causing this.
Finally got the chance to check out Daisy May's BBQ with a friend last night. We wandered over to the restaurant, but I would recommend getting delivery instead (there are no tables, just a small counter), which according to to CitySearch, is free anywhere in the city. I had a beef brisket sandwich with pickles and onions (yummy!) while Nichol had a whole, like, 2 quarts of creamed spinach which she completely finished so it must have been good.
While I was waiting outside Daisy May's for my companion to arrive, a horse-drawn carriage sped by on 11th Ave. His horse at a full trot, the driver loudly sang the chorus to "Zombie" by the Cranberries:
In your head, in your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie,
Hey, hey, hey. What's in your head,
In your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie?
Hey, hey, hey, hey, oh, dou, dou, dou, dou, dou...
It's been in my head (in my head, zombie...) ever since.
Earlier in the evening, I saw the largest blue screen of death ever near Times Square. I tried not to take it as a sign of something.
The true story of Audion NOV 12
The true story of Audion. An independent Mac software developer loving tells the story of the little MP3 player that could. Worth a read.
Countries with very high and very low levels of political freedom have low levels of terrorism. Geography is a factor as well. Seems to me that a common factor is how well you can hide...difficult to plan terrorist acts in an open society, a tightly controlled society, or in open terrain.
The many Venn diagrams of user experience. Nothing sells your ideas better than three intersecting circles.
Update: It looks like Netcraft was a little overzealous in reporting the dangers this policy change poses and I misunderstood what is at issue here. Michael Moncur explains:
1. This policy is for registrar transfers, not ownership transfers. It doesn't make it any easier for a domain to be hijacked, except perhaps by a corrupt registrar.
2. The gaining registrar is still required to confirm the transfer: A transfer must not be allowed to proceed if no confirmation is received by the Gaining Registrar.
The policy change is to keep registrars from holding domains hostage when people wish to transfer them, which is a worthy goal. I don't want my domains to go to another registrar, so I've still got them transfer locked, but it's unlikely that anyone will have to cancel their vacation just to keep an eye on their domain names. Embarrassed apologies for any panic induced...my ass has been fact checked and it's a little sore.
Many of you are domain owners and have probably seen this elsewhere lately, but in case you haven't, pay attention. ICANN has a new policy about domain name transfers which will make hijacking domains much easier:
Domain transfer requests will be automatically approved in five days unless they are explicitly denied by the account owner. This is a change from current procedure, in which a domain's ownership and nameservers remain unchanged if there is no response to a transfer request. This could mean trouble for domain owners who don't closely manage their records. Domains with incorrect e-mail addresses and outdated administrative contact information are at particular risk, as the domain's WHOIS database information will be used to inform domain owners of transfer requests. A non-response becomes the equivalent of answering "yes" to a transfer request, according to the ICANN policy change.
What this means is that any dufus can drop 20 domain names into this form at register.com, hope that a couple of those folks don't get the emails from their registrars about the transfer (because they're on vacation for a week, the email gets spam filtered, etc.), and take those domains from their rightful proprietors. You probably have some sort of recourse through your registrar or ICANN, but I wouldn't expect it to be particularly timely (more than 5 days certainly) or rigorous.
So, what can you do about this? Some suggestions:
1. Make sure your contact information listed with your domain registrar is up to date. If a transfer request comes in for a domain you own and your email address on file with them no longer works, you won't hear about it until your domain name redirects to big-hot-mammas.com.
2. Don't go on vacation for more than 4 days or have someone check your email while you're gone. Impractical, but whaddya gonna do?
3. Make sure your spam filters aren't filtering out email from your domain registrar.
4. Some domain registrars allow you to "transfer lock" your domains. Do so now. According to one disgruntled register.com customer, register.com has no such feature at this time....you're on your own, sucker!
Scenes from a deli NOV 11
Pretty much every day for the last year and a half or so, I stop at the same deli to purchase some orange juice on the way to work. When I first started going, there were two Asian women who operated the cash registers and seeing them churn through customers was like watching a fine ballet or elite athletes at the top of their game. They knew the price of every item in the store, had your change to you almost before you'd paid them, and had everything in a bag in the blink of an eye, all while constantly chattering back and forth in their native tongue and bantering with customers, everything on autopilot. They moved so fast that they could have been picking pockets as well and no one would have noticed.
One morning about nine months ago, I came in to find that one of the two women was gone and had been replaced by another woman who, it seemed, had never worked in such a fast-paced environment. She was sooo slow. Her more experienced counterpart served 4-5 customers in the time it took her to serve one...it was almost painful to observe, like watching me playing Kasporov in chess. I felt bad for her and figured she wouldn't last more than a few days, but the next couple of months saw steady improvement as she learned the job and got used to the routine. However, she was still not as fast as the other woman by at least a factor of two.
All that has changed in the last month. I don't know what happened, but the new woman is now working as fast and efficiently as her partner. And what's more, she has learned my individual habits (no bag or napkin unless I get something to eat and no straw unless it's a carton), something which the other two women had never done despite my daily visit. It's been fun watching her develop into a kick-ass employee and now when I go in, I try to pay at her register if I can.
I hereby recommend Broadband Optimizer for OS X. My d/l speed for large files increased dramatically using this.
Frontline's The Persuaders "is a giant steaming crock of shit". "Culture is good, so I'm going to redefine it to this whole different thing because I think it's bad now."
The Uncanny Valley, or why Polar Express is so creepy. The Incredibles doesn't have this problem because the characters are still cartoons, not real humans.
Friday night is singles night at Wal-Mart in Germany. "The events have become such hits in Germany, increasing Friday night sales 25%, that Wal-Mart has trademarked the name 'Singles Shopping' to deter copycats".
NYC's 311 phone service...making local government smarter. "Think of 311 as a kind of massively distributed extension of the city's perceptual systems, harnessing millions of ordinary eyes on the street to detect emerging problems or report unmet needs."
The sexier side of McDonald's. Ever seen a chick dressed as Ronald McDonald pull a hamburger out of her bosom? You will.
Best Buy CEO: "Culturally I want to be very careful. The most dangerous image I can think of is a retailer that wants to fire customers.". As part of that effort, perhaps you might want to stop referring to 20% of your customers as "devils" in the Wall Street Journal.
Chef in French school introducing fine but affordable cuisine to students, who are now skipping McDonald's at lunch to eat in the cafeteria. Students and teachers eat such dishes as leek souffle and squid ink pasta, and most of the ingredients are grown or raised locally.
"From here on out, blue state voters should simply stop caring about what happens to red state voters". Could probably make a case for vice versa as well.
This page on Google is the default start page for Firefox. Could this be the extent of all the Google Browser hoopla?
The excellent Firefox browser goes 1.0. The Web site is getting pounded right now, so go check later.
So close, yet so far away NOV 09
[Potential Jeopardy spoilers] Ken Jennings is still ruling the airwaves on Jeopardy...he won his 69th game yesterday and has amassed a little over $2.3 million in winnings. As reported here in September, Ken's run is due to end after his 74th win. His 70th show is tonight, followed by two weeks of the college tournament ending on Nov 23. Assuming that Jeopardy does not air on Wed-Fri due to the Thanksgiving holiday** and returns to a normal schedule the next week, his final win will occur on Thu, Dec 2 and he will finally lose on Fri, Dec 3.
** If Jeopardy shows are aired over Thanksgiving, his 75th show will air on Tue, Nov 30 instead. That's the earliest the show would air if you're determined not to miss it. I'm sure we'll know more about the exact scheduling as the end of the month approaches and I'll let you know when I know.
Image annotations with DHTML NOV 08
Image annotations with DHTML. Like Flickr's annotation without the Flash.
Advice for the party thrower NOV 08
Since someone's always hooking up, getting wasted or starting a fight these days, my standard for a great party is somewhat higher. Most importantly, there must be a MIX - Vampires and diamond dealers, legends and New Kids, fetishists and objects of worship, romantics and cynics, geeks and pop stars, boys, girls and everything in between. Historically, New York's best parties (and club nights) have combined all ages, gender prefs, income levels and style schools. A roomful of one kind of person is boring and predictable - it is the mark of the provinces.
What's true for parties is also true for ideas, friends, and experiences; diversity is a good thing.
On Bush's plan to turn America into an ownership society. "The ownership society promises freedom, but at the price of a huge shift in risk, away from government and society and onto individual citizens."
Faces of the NYC Marathon NOV 08
Faces of the NYC Marathon. Rion captures people after they've finished the race.
The next season of Six Feet Under will be its last season. This bums me out, but it's probably a good idea not to go too long.
David Brooks on the election results and how evangelical Christians had little to do with the outcome. Gold star for this bit: "If you want to understand why Democrats keep losing elections, just listen to some coastal and university town liberals talk about how conformist and intolerant people in Red America are. It makes you wonder: why is it that people who are completely closed-minded talk endlessly about how open-minded they are?"
The Incredibles NOV 06
The Incredibles is just a flat-out fun movie. Tons of laughs, some nice family moments, and lots of explosions and cool stunts (although the latter were somewhat subdued because of the crappy sound in our theatre). Elastigirl is my new favorite superhero...great superpowers, a wonderful mom, and she vacuums too. Edna Mole, voiced by Brad Bird, who also wrote and directed the film, was the funniest character, but the uber-quick Dash provided the best laugh of the movie for me. The film was also packed with references to other movies. I only caught the Star Wars ones, but I'm sure that some industrious movie nerds are even now compiling an extensive list of references which will be available on the web soon.
Cory Doctorow's riff on branding and trademarks. Trademarks went from protecting consumers to protecting brands.
The purple by-county map of the 2004 election results adjusted for population. This is close to a true picture of how "divided" we are as a country.
Trailer for Pixar's new movie, Cars. No, not that new movie...the way new movie due out in 2005.
Upscale hotels now offering in-room iPods, sometimes encased in Lucite and chained down. It didn't work for Jabba in keeping Han from walking away. (Oh wait, that was carbonite...)
James Surowiecki on the decline of branding. "We've always overestimated the power of branding while underestimating consumers' ability to recognize quality."
The Incredibles is getting some good reviews on Metacritic. Looking forward to seeing it tonight.
Stocks of defense companies rose to 52-week highs on news of Bush victory. How much of this is due to actual benefit as opposed to perceived benefit?
The other side of the coin: the exit polls weren't wrong...the election results were. I had this thought too, but unfortunately it's a hopelessly partisan issue and difficult to prove. Bottom line: whoever won, we need a better electoral process in the US.
America is not red and blue, but more of a purple. Someone needs to do this with a map of the counties that the USA Today published.
The Economist on the music industry. Relying on one-hit acts is crippling the industry.
I don't think America is that divided. I think most of us are ill-informed in two major ways, "conveniently" split along the lines of the two major political parties available to us. We're told we have two different choices -- you're rooting for this team or that team and the other team is the enemy -- and we believe that and organize our beliefs accordingly. There's a lot of fear and emotion involved on both sides. I can't count how many times in the last two days I've heard self-righteous "liberals" call the entire middle of the country "stupid". Kerry voters, we need to get over ourselves...we're not special. We're not informed by some superior intelligence that gives us a unique insight into how the world should work. We buy into the Democratic Party/liberal/anti-conservative/fear the church crap in the same way that our "red state" brethren buy into the Rebublican Party/conservative/anti-liberal/fear the gays bullshit.
Half the country is not stupid. We're all stupid. We're convinced several times a day to do things that aren't in our best interests. We work too hard. We're drinking, eating, medicating, and smoking ourselves into early graves. We overextend ourselves on credit. We knowingly stay in emotionally or physically abusive relationships. We let television raise our children. We're deliberately mean and nasty to people we don't like or agree with. We learn science from the Bible. We stay silent when speaking out would help someone. We fear the future. We fear death. And we're lazy about our beliefs and convictions and we let the Democratic and Republican Parties dictate the political agenda in America by pushing our emotional buttons. Red, blue, black, white, brown, yellow, purple, and retina-burning yellow-green...we all share the blame.
Speaking of, I'll tell you who's smart. Karl Rove is smart. Karl Rove knows all of the above and used it perfectly to his advantage. It's not necessarily that America as a whole validated the actions of George Bush over the past four years...it's that the Republican Party got more of their people to the polls than the Democrats did. Looking out across America, what's one of the largest groups of people with a single strongly-held set of beliefs? The evangelical Christians. They comprise a large portion of the US population and believe in God more strongly than most other groups believe in anything. The Bush camp used a coordinated campaign to speak directly to those people and put their strong belief in God in direct opposition to what the other side stood for: liberals want to kill innocent babies, allow gays to marry, and let non-Christians run the country/world. To an evangelical Christian, the fear that those things will happen is almost overwhelmingly unbearable. Based on that emotional appeal, they turned out in droves, voting for Bush in greater numbers than in 2000 and overwhelming the increased turnout on the other side of the aisle.
The Democrats, with ill-defined fears of a mishandled Iraq war, America's place in the world, personal freedoms, anti-science agenda, the economy, and Bush's general stupidity, couldn't muster the same kind of turnout. They and their supporters ran a more decentralized campaign, with blogs, 527 groups, and assorted other groups all having their own agendas. Liberals had a million slogans, initiatives, and platforms, each tailored for a different group of people. In theory, this was lauded as a fantastic idea...you could reach more people with less organization and target small groups of people with exactly the message that would appeal to each group. But it didn't work out that way. The top-down campaign with the one focused message targeted at a large group of people won out.
California voters approve $3 billion for stem cell research. New lines of stem cells will be created, which researchers say will make up for the inadequacies of the existing lines.
Early exit polls, distributed mostly by bloggers, were terribly inaccurate, sent stocks falling, and misled a whole lot of people. Is this the opposite of blogging's self-stated role in fact checking the media? Blogger, fact check thyself.
10 things the Chinese do better than we do. Cell phones, adult playgrounds, daily banking, etc.
Kerry concedes election to Bush, official announcement to come. I am all emotions simultaneously today.
What to watch for on election night. A guide to watching the election returns.
Burning up the network NOV 02
The Internet is on fire today with all the election stuff going on and it ain't pretty. Mypollingplace.com is down as are many of the state election polling place locators (the NY state one is throwing a "Web server too busy, try again later"). Rock the Vote has been up and down. Many weblogs covering the election are having problems too. Instapundit, Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo, and Boing Boing have all been down or really slow at some point today. The large news sites like CNN and MSNBC are fine...they're architected to handle huge surges like this. kottke.org is doing OK as well, but I'm not seeing anywhere near the traffic that Instapundit must be getting today. As great as the Internet is, it still sucks to have these single points of failure. When Boing Boing's single server goes down or their router is handling too many requests, the site is completely offline. We need to get to the point where single sites and applications are as robust as the Internet at large.
Images of America voting NOV 02
Images of America voting. People are taking photos of their ballots, their "I voted" stickers, etc.
How'd your vote go? NOV 02
As important as this particular presidential election is, I'm more interested in the longer term factors affecting the voting process in the US. The electoral college system, how the media's election day coverage influences voter turnout, the construction and dissemination of information to voters by state and federal authorities, the voting process...basically the user experience of voting.
So if you've voted today (or earlier by absentee ballot), I'd like to ask you: how did your voting experience go? Any problems? How did you find out where to go and when? Did you vote using a computer? Any better/worse than a paper ballot? Were election officials helpful? Was there anything in particular you wished had been done differently? If you planned on voting and were unable to, what was the reason? Those are just suggested questions...basically I'd just like you to share the story of your voting experience, from registering to the actual voting process. In sharing our stories, maybe we can have some effect on changing what doesn't work for the next election. Thanks.
Instead of endorsing a candidate for President (ok, short answer: voting strategically against Bush, not that my vote will make any difference in NY), I'd rather see who you guys are planning to vote for and make that the de facto kottke.org endorsement. I already know what the answer will be, but I'm curious to see the extent of the skew. So...
Oh, and if you've already voted by absentee ballot, please indicate your choice. I'll keep this thread updated as the votes roll in and the poll will close when I feel like it.
After 201 votes: Kerry 72%, Bush 10%, Ineligible 8%, Not voting 4%, Other 3%.
After 510 votes: Kerry 70%, Bush 13%, Ineligible 9%, Other 3%, Not voting 2%.
After 1070 votes: Kerry 71%, Bush 13%, Ineligible voter 9%, Other 2%, Not voting 2%.
After 1631 votes: Kerry 70%, Bush 14%, Ineligible voter 9%, Other 2%, Not voting 2%.
Up-to-the-minute results here.
Ok, I think there are enough precincts reporting in and the percentages have stayed steady enough that we can comfortably call this sucker. FWIW, kottke.org officially endorses John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential election. What huge effect this will have on the election will be revealed tomorrow.
"Now that the Internet and cheap software enable buyers and sellers to find each other with great ease, why take a chance on a broker who may be ripping you off?". "If the middleman offend thee, cut him out."
Gladwell on the difference between modern society's perception of trauma recovery and the reality. "The vast majority of people get over traumatic events, and get over them remarkably well. Only a small subsetâfive to fifteen per centâstruggle in a way that says they need help."
"Just Around the Corner" is a London restaurant without prices on the menu. Instead, they ask people to pay what they think the meal was worth.
What to do on election day NOV 01
The NY Times has an excellent list of What to Do on Election Day. In particular:
Your board of elections can tell you where to vote. If you can't reach the board, a nonpartisan hotline, 1-866-OURVOTE, has a polling place locator. So does the Web site www.mypollingplace.com.
No voter can be turned away in any state this year without being allowed to vote. If there is a question about your eligibility, you must be allowed to vote on a provisional ballot, the validity of which will be determined later. But if you are entitled to vote on a regular ballot, you should insist on doing so, since a provisional ballot may be disqualified later on a technicality.
If you experience problems voting, or if you see anything improper at the polls, you may want to get help. It is a good idea to bring a cellphone, and phone numbers of nonpartisan hotlines like the Election Protection program's 1-866-OURVOTE and Common Cause's 1-866-MYVOTE1.
As long as you are in line before the polls close, you are legally entitled to vote. Do not let poll workers close the polls until you have voted.
So put those numbers in your cell phone and don't leave until you've voted.
Anil's got a new design with Google ads pushing content way down the page. But try the search in the upper right...the results appear right away on the page, iTunes-style. Very cool.
Dangerous ideas NOV 01
Reading the great National Geographic article on evolution (Was Darwin wrong? NO. The evidence for evolution is overwhelming.) I couldn't help but think about the discovery of Homo floresiensis, a species of tiny humans that lived on a small island in Indonesia as recently as 13,000 years ago. A bit from the evolution article:
[Evolutionary theory is] such a dangerously wonderful and far-reaching view of life that some people find it unacceptable, despite the vast body of supporting evidence. As applied to our own species, Homo sapiens, it can seem more threatening still. Many fundamentalist Christians and ultra-orthodox Jews take alarm at the thought that human descent from earlier primates contradicts a strict reading of the Book of Genesis. Their discomfort is paralleled by Islamic creationists such as Harun Yahya, author of a recent volume titled The Evolution Deceit, who points to the six-day creation story in the Koran as literal truth and calls the theory of evolution "nothing but a deception imposed on us by the dominators of the world system."
Flores Man lived at the same time as so-called modern humans and there could have been some interaction between the two groups. That's troubling enough from a creationist's perspective, but some Indonesian myths tell of tiny human-like/monkey-like creatures that are rumored to exist to this day and several eyewitness reports from various sources in Indonesia have hinted at the existence of a bipedal ape called orang pendek. If orang pendek does exist and turns out to be Homo floresiensis, what an amazing discovery that would be. But two different species of contemporary humans...that's a troubling reality to deal with for those that believe strictly in the Genesis account of human origin and supremacy.