Updated: 7/28/02; 8:30:43 AM.
there is no spoon
there's a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path

Saturday, July 27, 2002

Will Blogs Improve the World?

Hello. If you're visiting here through Dave Winer's link to David Watson's response to one of my questions: Hi, and welcome.

Please check out Illusions of Freedom, part 1, the first half of an investigative paper I recently completed on the political efficacy of blogs. The paper generally argues that blogs will not make much difference to the real world, but I have to say that I'm still highly ambivalent about that, and I hope I'm wrong. At any rate, this first half is just the introduction and a section talking about what blogs are and what they do -- that's what might be interesting. If anyone is interested, I'll clean up the second (and I'm sure more controversial) half and post it soon, as well.   6:52:56 PM      comment   

categories: meta-blogging

Sunday, July 21, 2002

So You Thought Retirement Might Be Nice

Less than a week ago I was talking about the problem with Social Security and the fact that a majority of Americans aren't going to be able to pay their way through retirement. Now, USA Today says the same thing:

The prognosis is grim, especially for middle-class families. "The average American household has virtually no chance to reach an adequate retirement savings in the next 50 years," says Christian Weller, a retirement specialist at the Economic Policy Institute. Retirement dreams are taking a beating:

  • 37% of those saving for retirement say they are doing only a fair job of managing their retirement portfolios, and 7% say they are doing a poor job.
  • 44% of those saving for retirement say they expect to live less comfortably in retirement, according to the poll.
  • 29% of retirees say their standard of living has gone down in retirement.

Single women are among the most vulnerable. Linda Peterson, 57, works as a freelance writer in Arlington, Va., after being downsized out of a job. Widowed more than a decade ago, she has a small pension from her husband's job and another from a job she previously held. Together, they will provide about $800 a month in retirement.

So what are we going to do? If things don't change, here's what will happen: The U.S. will become increasingly bankrupt by spending everything on destroying all the "evildoers" on the planet. Then, when it can't pay its debts, it will continue to destroy its creditors (saying they, too, are evil), and it will either be successful in bringing the whole planet under its military rule, or its citizens (you and me) will become slaves or prisoners to the countries of the world who finally stand up and say enough is enough. Do you think my vision is too bleak?   9:46:25 AM      comment   

categories: politics

Get A Life File 1

So Apple is doing its switch campaign, and it has posted a new ad featuring a college or high-school student named Ellen Feiss. I like the ad because I know lots of people to whom it would appeal -- the people Apple is trying to reach, the people who don't want to think for even a second about how their computer works or to deal with it if it doesn't. Ok, so she might look a little stoned, but... These people (check out the comments) have far too much time on their hands.  9:36:03 AM      comment   
categories: mac-related

Saturday, July 20, 2002

How Corporate is Apple?

Um, pretty corporate.  2:29:43 PM      comment   
categories: mac-related

Move To Iceland

This flash animation is in a directory called "switchback" and the title of the page is "Fuck your Macintosh Lifestyle," which leads me to believe the creators of the page/animation are not Mac fans. The great thing is: their "parody" only makes the Mac sound better, in my opinion. Who wouldn't want to move to Iceland? I'm serious. At least part of the Mac fanbase (and let's face it, a lot of people who use Macs are more like groupies/fans than simple computer users) revels in the whole idea of wanting to escape the dominant culture -- particularly U.S. corporate culture -- so the idea that Mac fans might care about matching socks, hang out with movie stars, go hang gliding, and move to Iceland -- these are all good things in my book. Speaking of which, did you know there was a Mac Communist? I stumbled on his manifesto many moons ago, but it's nice to see him getting some press. Of course, if you're a serious communist the Mac is still corporate corporate corporate, but I'll still argue that Apple's corporate culture/ethos is still a damn sight closer than Wintel to being compatible with social progress. Don't you think?

(Later: The animation's creator explains the thinking behind the animation. No wonder I found the spoof ad so likable. We agree -- Apple's still corporate, it's still not open source, etc., but it's still the lesser of two evils...)  2:21:58 PM      comment   

categories: mac-related

Opportunity for Whom? And for What?

If you have any doubt about the truth of Madison's statement (below) that war is basically the root of all evil in a democracy, check out the Citizen Corps homepage, which features this quote from Shrub:

"We want to be a Nation that serves goals larger than self. We have been offered a unique opportunity, and we must not let this moment pass."

President George W. Bush - State of the Union, January 29, 2002

Think about that for a minute. Who is the "we" to which Shrub refers? What is the opportunity? Who benefits? So far, the Bush and Co. agenda to remake the U.S. in its pro-business, militaristic image has been the greatest beneficiary of 9-11. This should come as no surprise. (Again, see Madison's quote, below.  1:31:05 PM      comment   

categories: politics

War is the Enemy

War is the Enemy And if we're going to demand real change to make our world a better place, we need to add this whole "war without end" business to the top of the list. On April 20, 1795, James Madison said:

"Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. And armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended. Its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war...and in the degeneracy of manners and morals, engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."

As I said below, "the people," (that's you and me) have let ourselves become subdued, and Madison's predictions about the effects of war seem more true every day. For more on this, including suggestions for things we might do about it, see MoveOn.org (the source of the Madison quote, above).   12:51:09 PM      comment   

categories: politics

Don't Assume Anything

In his most recent DaveNet, A New Beginning, Dave Winer seems to be trying to muster up some enthusiasm to jump back into the fray of the working world after his recent heart surgery. The kind of hope and enthusiasm he's looking for is kind of in short supply these days, it seems to me, and for good reason. But Winer seems to be going with the "if we build it, they will come" approach. He writes:

From this point we'll get much better information about how companies are doing. Stock options as we knew them, are over. Salaries and benefits matter. Transparent management. Time to ride the Cluetrain, for real. Companies must make identifiable products for real people that they communicate with honestly, directly and openly. You can't view your customers, shareholders or readers as fat, dumb and happy; or they'll take you down the Enron-WorldCom road. It's time for the philosophy of the Web to become the philosophy of business. View your constituents as people with minds, and treat them accordingly.

That all sounds great, except for one thing: Corporate America (and our Corporate government in the form of Bush and Co., especially) treats customers, shareholders, and readers as fat, dumb, and happy because that's how they (we) have been behaving for decades now (since the 1960s, I'd say). We have become complacent and lazy, and far too trusting, which has forced us into the jam we're in today. All of which is to say I fear Winer's hopeful optimism about the changes we're going to see might do more harm than good. Nothing has changed, and nothing will change, unless and until we all actively demand that it does. And that means more than watching the news and saying "me too" when someone says he/she is shocked! shocked! about all this greed and fraud. Real, active demands for change mean marches on Washington, letter-writing campaigns, and voting only for candidates who really get it. For example, despite Winer's optimism, and despite the dueling bills in the House and Senate, there have been zero changes to "stock options as we know them." So what's changing, really? Nada. And what are "customers, shareholders, and readers" (we) doing about it? Nada, really. So where's the hope?   12:45:51 PM      comment   

categories: politics

Monday, July 15, 2002

Operation TIPS

People are talking about a new U.S. Government initiative to provide a formal way for average Americans to spy on each other, called Operation TIPS. Tom Tomorrow points to what he calls an alarmist article about it, but I agree that it deserves some alarm. Tomorrow's take is priceless:

I know that many of you prefer to live as if you awaken each day in a world made anew--why on earth would we worry about giving the FBI broad and sweeping new powers?--but I'm going to go way out on a limb here and say flat out: there are things to be learned from the lessons of history. And an official government system by which citizens are encouraged to spy on their neighbors should really set the alarm bells ringing.

What does your new world look like today? Perhaps if we all set our alarms to "lessons of history" the world might become a better place.   10:41:41 PM      comment   

categories: politics

Accountability What?

How can America's corporate and political leaders do their jobs if they know nothing? Um, they clearly can't:

Remember when George W. Bush was celebrated as the first president with an MBA, the CEO of the entire country? Remember all those oozing news accounts of the early days of the presidency, which noted how the White House was being run like a tight corporate ship for the first time ever? Makes you a little nervous now, doesn't it? Because even the Executive in Chief himself doesn't appear to know too much about his own past business dealings. When asked by reporters why certain crucial SEC forms concerning his sale of $850,000 worth of Harken stock back in 1990 were filed 34 weeks late, he shrugged: "I still haven't figured it out completely." Why, he just doesn't know.

Out with the lot of them, I say. CEOs should make no more than 10% more than their average employee, and people with an income more than 10% above that of the average American should not be eligible folr public office -- including and especially the office of President of the United States. I predict those measures would reshape American society for the better, across the board.

Meanwhile, a new meme seems to be spreading, namely: Politicians are juggling the Federal budget books just like corporate America does. First I saw it in Ted Rall's strip, now it's made its way to this AP story. And as everyone's honest aesthetic advisor Martha Stewart says, "That's a good thing."   4:14:36 PM      comment   

categories: politics

Mac: Plays Nice With Others

Nathan Torkington just got a an iBook to replace his Win2000 box, and guess what, he loves it. No surprise there. He praises the Mac because it works, and because it works with other technologies:

I came to realize something: I'd been with Microsoft for so long, who are complacent and hoard their customers, that I'd forgotten what it's like to use an operating system built by people who want it to cooperate with the rest of the world. It's good.

It's kind of ironic that Apple, the company that "builds the whole widget," might be more interoperable than any other system. I'm sure it's not, and Apple could really do a lot more to make its technologies interact nicely with others, but still, I think Torkington has a good point. I hope Apple continues to work hard to keep its technologies open and make sure they work with others.   8:42:51 AM      comment   

categories: mac-related

Not A Whore

I'm not being a very good blogwhore, but I'm linking to Photojunkie, as requested, so maybe someday I can be a whore, too.  8:26:36 AM      comment   
categories: meta-blogging


What a great idea: Bill and Steve are getting it on! Bill who? Steve what? Read the stories and see for yourself. I hadn't thought of this before, but I wonder if there are any slash stories about, oh, I don't know, Shrub and Cheney? No! Shrub and Putin (reportedly Shrub calls the Russian president "Pooty-poot" or something like that). Hmmm...  8:00:29 AM      comment   
categories: books, mac-related, politics

Earth to McCain

So John McCain is trying to outdo Shrub in cracking down on corporate crooks. In McCain's speech at the National Press Club he described his thoughts on the matter, including this brilliant gem of wisdom:

I believe I still believe that the best way to ensure the solvency of the Social Security system, to honor the solemn promise that in exchange for the payroll taxes they have rendered all their working lives, all Americans will receive a minimally adequate retirement income, is to allow them to invest a portion of their payroll taxes in the financial markets. In fact, I can see no other viable way to ensure that those entering the workforce today will receive the benefits promised to them upon their retirement. Markets fluctuate. We are in a down cycle today. But it won't last forever. And investments in the stock market have over time always yielded higher returns than any other responsible investment. Allowing Americans to invest responsibly a small part of their payroll taxes will not only save Social Security, but will provide them with greater retirement income than those who now or will soon depend on Social Security checks.

Wow. That sounds like a really good idear. Perhaps McCain should look at some of the effects of those "market fluctuations" on people who were planning to retire on stock market investments:

The oldest retirees, those over 70, tend to have pensions and so rely less on the stock market, economists say. Those approaching retirement are far more likely to have 401(k) plans, which became the primary retirement option offered by companies over the last two decades. As the stock market swelled in the 1990's, so did those plans, and many people looked at the big gains and thought they could retire early.

"Many retirees became complacent," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Economy.com, a consulting firm in Pennsylvania. "There was so much money being made, they didn't do the normal shifting most people do. Many of them were putting more in the market, thinking this was a quick way to fund their retirement. They got caught."

According to Labor Department numbers quoted by AARP, the nation's largest lobbying group for retirees, the number of people over the age of 55 in the work force rose by 8.4 percent, or 1.6 million people, between June 2001 and June 2002, compared with far smaller gains in previous years. Every other age group declined in that period.

"What do you do if you find yourself at retirement age without enough to retire on?" asked John Rother, AARP's policy director. "You keep working."

If we listen to McCain and his Repub friends and invest Social Security funds in the stock market, we'll be effectively giving corporate America billions of dollars to play around with. That's just an awesome idea! I wish millions of Social Security dollars had been tied up in Enron stock, or Worldcom. The world would really be a better place right now, don't you think?  7:59:44 AM      comment   

categories: politics

Wanna Play?

In Now, the Personal Ethical Assistant, Matt Richtel suggests some new technologies to help keep corporate crooks on the straight and narrow. How about:

THE TIME MACHINE This is a handy application for the Palm Pilot that can help keep you on the righteous path. Simply enter your plans for overstating revenue, doing off-book transactions, or telling all your friends to dump your stock. This program will help you automatically calculate how much time you can expect to serve.

Made by the finest Silicon Valley and legal minds, the algorithm deftly accounts for any legal breaks you may receive for past political contributions. And it doubles as a phone!

Version 2.0 will offer virtual landscapes of a white-collar prison so you can see where you can expect to spend the next 18 months. It will also include a daily organizer, games and e-book function that comes with two complimentary titles, "Seven Highly Effective Habits of People Who Aren't in Lockdown" and "Who Moved My Cellmate's Cheese?"

This gave me an idea: Is there a recent video game that lets people pretend to be a corrupt CEO? I mean, we've got the infamous Grand Theft Auto that lets players pretend to be a car thief and have all the fun running people over and beating them to death that they can never have in real life. Now we need something like "Grand Theft Life Savings" that lets us pretend to be creating shell corporations, hiding cash in off-shore tax havens, and otherwise amassing huge sums personal wealth while making our employees and stockholders think we're doing our jobs. To win the game, you'll have to escape with your loot while your failed corporation tumbles into dust. You'll get extra points for bankrupting widows and orphans (because their life savings was in mutual funds which were heavily invested in your company's stock since you paid the analysts to give it a huge buy rating for the few weeks leading up to your company's collapse). The sequel to the game will be "Grand Theft America" where you buy the U.S. Presidency and proceed to run the country into the ground in the same way you ran your corporation into the ground. What fun! (See Ted Rall's brilliant comparisonof current corporate scandals and Shrub's recent tax cuts.)   7:58:25 AM      comment   

categories: politics

Friday, July 12, 2002

Same Games, Different Playing Field

William Saletan's Harken Hypocrisy compares Bush on Monday, July 8, to Bush on Tuesday, July 9, showing how he contradicts himself and expects us not to notice. Saletan's conclusion is eloquent and devastatingly simple:

Bush was elected on a promise to end the contradiction between presidential rhetoric and presidential rationalization. So far, all he's done is change the subject from sex to money.

Whether Bush was actually elected at all is still debatable, as far as I'm concerned, but otherwise, Saletan is absolutely right: Bush is not delivering what he promised. Of course, that should surprise no one. What also shouldn't be surprising is the fact that somehow the media and politicians can whip up more moral indignation and righteous anger over sex scandals than they can over money scandals. I wonder if this is because the Repubs are just better manipulators of public opinion (playing the "morals" card on sex is always a winner for them), or if perhaps it's simply that we all second-guess ourselves before getting angry at greed, since we're all greedy, too. Oh, and then there's the fact that media organizations are probably less eager to pounce on corporate fraud and corruption since they are themselves fraudulent and corrupt corporations. Sigh...  1:52:58 PM      comment   

categories: politics

Good Ol' Tenure

So you thought academia was a meritocracy, huh? You thought the smartest people, with the best ideas and abilities, who worked really hard, were the ones who ended up with tenure? Think again: More and more people (especially women) are being denied tenure because they're not nice enough or don't "fit in" with other faculty. In academia, if you play nice with others you're called "collegial," but:

"Historically, collegiality has not infrequently been associated with ensuring homogeneity, and hence with practices that exclude persons on the basis of their difference from a perceived norm," the statement [from the American Association of University Professors] said. "An absence of collegiality ought never, by itself, to constitute a basis for nonreappointment, denial of tenure or dismissal for cause."


Because tenure reviews are confidential, and based so deeply on personal judgment, it is often difficult to assess precisely what went wrong with a particular candidate.

As if the Humanities job market wasn't bad enough, now you have to be nice, too? :-)

The fact that promotions in academic fields (particularly the Humanities) can so easily become capricious and personal only proves the truth of Noam Chomsky's assertion that American universities are normalizing (read: brainwashing) institutions:

The universities, for example, are not independent institutions. There may be independent people scattered around in them but that is true of the media as well. And it[base ']s generally true of corporations. It[base ']s true of Fascist states, for that matter. But the institution itself is parasitic. It[base ']s dependent on outside sources of support and those sources of support, such as private wealth, big corporations with grants, and the government (which is so closely interlinked with corporate power you can barely distinguish them), they are essentially what the universities are in the middle of. People within them, who don[base ']t adjust to that structure, who don[base ']t accept it and internalize it (you can[base ']t really work with it unless you internalize it, and believe it); people who don[base ']t do that are likely to be weeded out along the way, starting from kindergarten, all the way up. There are all sorts of filtering devices to get rid of people who are a pain in the neck and think independently. Those of you who have been through college know that the educational system is very highly geared to rewarding conformity and obedience; if you don[base ']t do that, you are a troublemaker. So, it is kind of a filtering device which ends up with people who really honestly (they aren[base ']t lying) internalize the framework of belief and attitudes of the surrounding power system in the society. The elite institutions like, say, Harvard and Princeton and the small upscale colleges, for example, are very much geared to socialization. If you go through a place like Harvard, most of what goes on there is teaching manners; how to behave like a member of the upper classes, how to think the right thoughts, and so on.

After nearly 20 years of formal education (gasp!), I still feel like I haven't learned how to think the right thoughts and how to behave like a member of the upper classes. More evidence that I need to find a new gig.   10:27:50 AM      comment   

categories: education

Ending DOJ vs. Microsoft

Here's a great way to make Microsoft behave: cut off their government funding.   9:57:00 AM      comment   

White Collar Crime and You

Craig's Booknotes from the last couple of days has some great coverage of the whole pot calling the kettle black business as Bush and Co. pretend to crack down on corporate crime. But this isn't just about crooked corporations or politicians. There's a structural problem here: the U.S. simply relies too heavily on the stock market to take care of people in their old age.

For example, a friend of mine makes $40-50k/year and has been contributing to her 401k plan every month for many years. She told me yesterday that she lost nearly $5,000 in the last quarter, and the fund has been losing value more or less steadily for the last two years. That matches my own experience w/my meager retirement accounts. And, of course, stock people always say that you have to be patient w/stocks, that over time they will increase in value, yadda, yadda, yadda. Fine. That's great. But I don't think we should have to gamble with our life savings and play the odds in the hope that we'll be lucky enough to retire when the market's up. What's happening to people who are reaching retirement age right now? Not to mention the employees of these corrupt and soon-to-be bankrupt companies like Enron and Worldcom -- what about them?

You might see this as something of a leap, but what all this corruption on Wall Street shows more than anything is that we need a national health care and retirement system that's funded by corporate taxes, not by stock dividends. If people's health care and retirement money came out of corporate profits via taxes, when companies like Enron crashed and burned their employees wouldn't be left high and dry -- they'd already be taken care of. Social Security on steroids. It's time.  8:32:12 AM      comment   

categories: politics

Tour de France

The U.S. got all excited about the World Cup recently, showing it could show enthusiasm for some sport other than football, basketball, or baseball. Yet, domestic coverage of the Tour de France (the World Series of cycling, if you will), remains almost nonexistent. If you'd like to follow the tour, try the BBC's Cycling Homepage. It features daily recaps of each stage, great maps of the routes (including elevation changes), and in-depth profiles of various riders. Great stuff.   8:06:37 AM      comment   

Unlimited Sunshine

Another great morning in the middle of the middle of the midwest. You know you're in a strange place when the day improves with clouds. Today the clouds are dark and dense, a tease that rain might come, but it's ok that it's just a tease -- at least the temperature is bearable w/out AC.

The kind of sunshine I'm looking forward to comes in the form of a tour featuring the Flaming Lips, Cake, Modest Mouse, De La Soul, and Kinky. Wow. Unlimited Sunshine is coming to St. Louis at The Pageant on Wednesday, July 31, and to Chicago's Aragon Ballroom on Friday, August 30. Sounds bright and shiny to me.   7:52:55 AM      comment   

Thursday, July 11, 2002

Vote With Your Remote

If you're getting bothered by the direction of politics in the U.S. (and the world -- see Bush Threatens Future of Peacekeeping to see the most recent reason the global community has for being angry with the U.S.), you may have a chance to do something serious about it in November when it comes time to vote for your representatives in Washington. But why wait when you can vote w/your remote by choosing to watch television w/a progressive slant? According to Vote with Your Remote: Phil Donahue for National TV Host, you can do just that:

The new Phil Donahue show that debuts next Monday is up against the heavily watched O'Reilly Factor on right-wing Fox News Channel, and a new show on establishment CNN featuring familiar face Connie Chung, who was just snagged from CBS for $2 million a year.

This contest is the clearest national political race since the muddy results from Florida in 2000. Viewers can opt for the conservative O' Reilly; for Chung, the play-it-safe corporate candidate; or for Donahue, who appears ready to speak some truth to power in the populist seat.

Sounds like some good tv.  11:33:37 AM      comment   

categories: politics

Cheney: Also A Crook

Ridgeway convincingly shows why Bush is not doing much about all this corporate fraud, but Bush isn't alone. Check out the lawsuit against Cheney for doing basically what Enron did:

Judicial Watch alleges that Halliburton overstated profits to the tune of $445m during the period 1999 to 2001, resulting in some investors "suffering huge losses".

Update: Learn everything you ever wanted to know and more about Crooked Cheney from MoveOn.org.   11:32:37 AM      comment   

categories: politics

George Bush, Failed Corporate Crook

Damn! James Ridgeway's latest edition of "Mondo Washington," Nitwit Scion Turns Avenger, kicks ass and takes names as it connects the dots on pResident Bush's crooked past. Why isn't Bush and Co. doing more to stop the corporate fraud that seems to be steadily destroying the global economy? According to Ridgeway, it's not because Bush and Co. doesn't have the tools it needs to take action:

If Bush really wanted to address the situation, all he'd have to do is to pick up the phone, call Attorney General John Ashcroft, and ask him to launch an investigation of any one of these CEOs for fraud, conspiracy, theft, obstruction of justice, or perjury. The president could also turn to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which can refer a civil case for criminal prosecution. Bush doesn't need additional legislation to do this. All he has to do is call. He refused to do that in the Enron case, even though his administration knew about the scandal months before the company went public with its bankruptcy. And he hasn't done it with any of the subsequent double-dealings.

Regardless of your political leanings, the expose is definitely worth your time. Consider: If you have a retirement plan through your job (millions of Americans don't), your retirement is probably funded by a 401k. That means that if the market continues to plunge or stays flat, you'll have nothing to retire on. That means it doesn't matter what you think of Bush's performance in other areas, his inaction w/corporate fraud is something you really can't afford to ignore. Literally. [via MLWebblog]

Later: Joe Conason offers related commentary on the fraudlent Shrub in his new "weblog" on Salon.   11:28:54 AM      comment   

categories: politics

Fun With Words

Logophilia, a new site for word lovers, will introduce you to a new word each day, or a new use of an old word. Meanwhile, if you're a person of few words, you might appreciate The Bible in Five Words. Hilarious! See The Five-Word New Testament as well. I'll get you started:

Matthew: Verily, Christ was way cool. Mark: Verily, Christ was the whip. Luke: Verily, Christ was the shiznit. John: Christ was one cute baby!
  8:49:57 AM      comment   
categories: books

Simulated Living

For all you "Matrix" and Baudrillard lovers, Steve's No Direction Home Page offers a link to The Simulation Argument, a collection of links to essays and books in various scholarly fields investigating the idea that we may already be living simulated lives. Looks like some potentially great reading.  8:39:18 AM      comment   

Is XM (and Sirius) the FM of the '00s?

Satellite radio companies are positioning themselves as the alternative to today's corporate-controlled FM radio, just like FM itself was an alternative to AM radio in the 1960s and 70s. Will Americans Pay to Turn On the Radio? sets out the argument, but it's interesting for the brief snapshot of radio history it provides:

XM senior vice president and chief programmer Lee Abrams, who is credited with inventing album rock, classic rock, urban/dance, and many other radio formats, likens the evolution of satellite radio to broadcasting's big metamorphosis from AM to FM dominance.

In the late 1960s, he explains, AM was ignoring the explosion of new music being made. Stations sometimes played big hits by Jimi Hendrix or Santana late at night, but their outdated-sounding jocks didn't "get" the music [^] which sounded terrible anyway, because it was meant to be heard in stereo. "FM came in and embraced these artists," Mr. Abrams recalls. "Gave them their own format. Secondly, back then AMs were running 18 minutes of commercials an hour and choking people.

"It's the same scenario now, except FM is the culprit," he says. "FMs are not part of the new technological retooling that's happening with the Internet, cellphone, digital, Palm Pilot era. Just like FM took advantage of all of AM's vulnerabilities, [satellite radio] is taking advantage of all of FM's vulnerabilities."

So does that mean that 30-40 years from now satellite radio will be the standard and we'll all hate that, too? Oh, wait, 30-40 years from now, Earth might not be inhabitable by humans so the state of radio and entertainment won't really matter, will it?  8:22:44 AM      comment   

Summer Reading

If you're looking for a good book, you might find some good suggestions in A Peek Into Professors' Pleasure-Reading Packs. For Sci-Fi fans, there's Diplomatic Immunity, "Lois McMaster Bujold's latest installment in her sci-fi series about the Vorkosigan family." I've never heard of it, but then, part of the fun of summer reading is trying something new, isn't it?

My summer reading so far has consisted of Straight Man by Richard Russo, half of The Corrections by Jonathon Franzen (I passed it to a friend before I could finish it but I'll definitely read the rest as soon as I get it back), and The Lecturer's Tale by James Hynes. All are somehow related to academia and I'm loving them -- great hilarity derives from mocking ivory tower theorists and their largely petty problems. I do wonder how these things play to people who haven't been through the academic ringer (grad school in the humanities, mostly is what I'm thinking here). Have you read any of these books? Any thoughts?

What are you reading this summer?  8:09:58 AM      comment   

categories: books

Books: Commodity or Art Object?

Did you know Barnes n' Noble keeps "subversive" and "experimental" books behind the counter so you have to ask for them if you'd like to buy them? In Novel Concepts, Dennis Loy Johnson laments the decline of reading, the rise of publishing and bookselling conglomerates, and introduces us to the Dalkey Archive Press as something of an antidote to both. As a spokesperson for the press says:

being a non-profit "allows us to do all kinds of things other publishers would think was crazy," but then goes on to add, "such as keeping a book in print forever!"

Yeah, what a crazy idea! I mean, I'm not wild about the idea of books as art objects (the idea seems to play too well with the whole romantic notion of "literature" and author as god/genius, which I don't really think helps anyone), but it's sad to see books reduced to commodities as well. Can't there be a middle ground? And can't we publish on demand, by now, so no book ever has to go out of print, ever again? Still waiting for Eldred to win and for us to get a Napster for books.  7:56:49 AM      comment   

categories: books

Don't I Wish

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): You will move mountains today. Get involved in competitive sports or join a fitness club. Your love of excitement and adventure will lead to interesting events and new friendships. 5 stars

It is a gorgeous morning here in the middle of the middle of the North American continent. Thing is, there are no mountains to move. I know, it's a metaphor, and metaphorical mountains I'm sure we've all got plenty of. Time to get a-movin'....  7:42:22 AM      comment   

Tuesday, July 9, 2002

Moving from Radio to MT

David Watson has posted a helpful reply to my question of how he moved his posts from Radio to Movable Type. Thanks David! Now I just have to find the time to try out those scripts. I wonder if the recent MT upgrade to using SQL databases will change anything?   11:02:27 PM      comment   
categories: meta-blogging

The Business of America Is...

Lying, stealing, and cheating: Some business people are saying that the popular opinion of corporate America has reached an all-time low as scandal after scandal reveals the fact that corporate America will literally stop at nothing to make a buck. But what about popular opinion of our very own corporate president, the first President with an MBA, Shrub? Shrub's approval rating is still hanging around 70%. Why? How? As Paul Krugman points out in Succeeding in Business, Bush is a much bigger scoundrel and crook than his immediate predecessor ever was. As we all know, a big chunk of Shrub's personal wealth was earned from an accounting scandal at Harken Energy that was just like what happened at Enron, yet we're supposed to trust him to reform business in this country?

Republicans loved to snipe at Clinton and they did everything they could think of to defame him and get him out of office. The dirtiest dirt they seemed able to find on him, though (at least prior to the Monica thing, which, really is debatable as far as political merit is concerned), was Whitewater. And as Krugman notes:

Oh, and Harken's fake profits were several dozen times as large as the Whitewater land deal [~] though only about one-seventh the cost of the Whitewater investigation.

So basically, if Clinton would have been caught doing what Georgie has done, Clinton would have been impeached. Tell me again why anyone listens to Shrub?

On a related note, in Shocked by Scandals? These are Nothing!, Daniel Akst offers a concise speedboat ride through the history of American business corruption to show that it's nothing new. The reminder is great, and Akst comes to an interesting conclusion:

the idea that regulators or auditors can protect us from our own excesses is absurd. The point is not that corruption is our natural state, or that capitalism will always be crooked. It's caveat emptor. Let the buyer [~] and voter [~] beware. Don't invest in companies with no real businesses. Don't vote for politicians who won't deliver some decent regulation. Don't expect to become rich overnight. Maybe most important, don't forget history.

Maybe so. In a way I agree -- corruption certainly doesn't have to be our "natural" state. However, I'm less sanguine about the possibility that capitalism won't always be crooked. So long as profit is the only value, capitalism will be crooked. Akst is correct that no amount of regulation will stop the corruption of capitalism, because when regulations get tight enough to stop the corruption, we won't have capitalism anymore because profit will no longer be a value in itself. Put that in your pipe and smoke it a while: What would the world be like without the profit motive? Blasphemy!   11:00:39 PM      comment   

categories: politics

The End of the World As We Know It

According to a study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF):

Earth's population will be forced to colonise two planets within 50 years if natural resources continue to be exploited at the current rate. ... The WWF report shames the US for placing the greatest pressure on the environment. It found the average US resident consumes almost double the resources as that of a UK citizen and more than 24 times that of some Africans.

But this is America, dammit! We have a right to consume more per capita than any other nation on the planet and then declare that global warming is a hoax!

This is truly scary stuff. And note: if you're 35 or younger (which I am), the end of the world could easily come in your lifetime,, so it's not like we can afford to remain unconcerned about this. (The pessimist in me predicts the U.S. media will hardly cover this. Yes? No?) [via DayPop]   10:59:41 PM      comment   

categories: politics

Why We're So Hated

While some people dismiss the idea that we need to be asking more serious questions about what prompted the 9-11 attacks on the WTC and Pentagon, Gore Vidal has been ploughing ahead. Here's an example of some of the dots he's connecting:

I was in Guatemala when the CIA was preparing its attack on the Arbenz government [in 1954]. Arbenz, who was a democratically elected president, mildly socialist. His state had no revenues; its biggest income maker was United Fruit Company. So Arbenz put the tiniest of taxes on bananas, and Henry Cabot Lodge got up in the Senate and said the Communists have taken over Guatemala and we must act. He got to Eisenhower, who sent in the CIA, and they overthrew the government. We installed a military dictator, and there's been nothing but bloodshed ever since.

Now, if I were a Guatemalan and I had the means to drop something on somebody in Washington, or anywhere Americans were, I would be tempted to do it. Especially if I had lost my entire family and seen my country blown to bits because United Fruit didn't want to pay taxes. Now, that's the way we operate. And that's why we got to be so hated.

Why isn't this in the news? Why isn't this part of the Congressional debate about a proper and fair response to the 9-11 attacks and to dealing with "terror" in the world? Why is "terror" only what we, the U.S., don't like?

On a somewhat related note, Matt Welch ponders whether the moratorium on Bush-bashing is over, and concludes that, yes, Viriginia, it just might be. We can only hope.   10:58:44 PM      comment   

categories: politics

July 2002
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31      
Jun   Aug

- - - -
- - - -

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Subscribe to "there is no spoon" in Radio UserLand.

© Copyright 2002 mowabb.
Last update: 7/28/02; 8:30:43 AM.