« December 2009 | Main | February 2010 »

January 2010 Archives

Friday, 1 January 2010

On the last day of 2009, The San Francisco Chronicle inexplicably noted Violence Dominates 2009 Headlines, a self-indictment given that with three days left in the year San Francisco was on track in 2009 to have its lowest murder rate in 50 years.

Despite that SF was more peaceful than it had been in half a century, the SF Chronicle hyped the year as one of its most violent. Great going, SF Chronicle.

Buy the fear and stay for the Kool-Aid.

Here’s hoping that in 2010 the editors at the Sf Chronicle heed their ethical obligation to provide news about the real world in which we live rather than writing ledes that bleed and, in the process, distorting reality to look like a first-person shooter.gore »

Combined with the US executive’s continuing commitment to supress trial evidence as a matter of state security, the New Year’s Eve ruling to dismiss all charges against the BlackWater Five seems to imply that no one» working in connection with US military interests will be held accountable for their actions, however heinous those actions may be.

Couched in terms of sacrifice, the linked NYTimes article partially reveals the extent to which the US is openly conducting war as a covert operation whereas in times past covert wars were hidden from general view.1 As with the notoriety and renown of the secret prisons run by the CIA to render suspected terrorists, keeping the presence of CIA operatives in Afghanistan a secret is a liability. When the secret of a secret becomes an open secret, public backlash is all but eliminated.

With the secret known as a secret, the public can mourn the death of US Intelligence officers without being outraged those officers were there to be killed in the first place.

1 The fact of US engaging in war as a covert operation is not new. Cuba in the 1950s and Central America in the 1980s are two notable examples.

Speculation regarding a tablet computing device designed by Apple is at fever pitch. Last month Amazon sold more ebooks than paper books. Two great tastes that taste great together?

All I know for sure is that I want one, too.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

I expected to sneer my way through Sara Markham’s pseudonymous account of how raising a guide dog puppy helped repair her relationship with her three boys. I can’t exactly pinpoint where my feelings changed, but changed they had by the time I reached the following (three-sentence) paragraph.

While they ignore me, the three boys greet Rosie with affection every morning and every evening. She nearly knocks them over with her bounding response. Occasionally, they take her for walks, on their own favourite routes, coming back worn out and happy and with a tale to tell.

We’ve all seen by now virtual reality panoramas stitched togther from many smaller pictures. The linked 360° panorama of Prague contains a boggling level of detail, calling to mind the following scene from Blade Runner.»

Duration: 3m 18s

Clicking downloads a 30 MB file.

Please be patient while the file loads

Ctrl/Right-click here to “Save File As . . .”

Monday, 4 January 2010

In an extraordinarily thoughtful NYTimes article, David Carr notes some of the ways in which Twitter can be useful, getting far past the objection I don’t need to know someone is eating a donut right now. Carr explains that

On Twitter, anyone may follow anyone, but there is very little expectation of reciprocity. By carefully curating the people you follow, Twitter becomes an always-on data stream from really bright people in their respective fields, whose tweets are often full of links to incredibly vital, timely information.

Additionally, Carr’s thoughtful article explains some of what makes Twitter valuable in clear and specific terms.

I’ve tweeted a handful or fewer times so far, and I have never checked my Twitter stream while logged in. I intend for this to change once I’ve settled on a standalone Twitter client.

Napster Circle Barred

With the exceptions of Radiohead’s Kid A and Moby’s Play, I don’t own any of these albums. I also wonder about the inclusion of the Rushmore soundtrack and the complete absence of The Colour and the Shape (Foo Fighters), Homogenic (Björk), In Sides Orbital, Mezzanine (Massive Attack), and U.F.Orb (The Orb).»

How can any list of albums that defined the Dot-Com era fail to at least mention one of the hundreds of techno compilation albums that practically was the musical zeitgeist when Netscape and Microsoft duked it out?, especially when these albums and the anonymity and interchangeability of its artists were part and parcel of the fragmentation of musical markets due to electronic distribution?

I suppose nothing makes a good top ten list like a top ten list that’s just plain wrong.1 2


1 At one point, Steve Robles notes.

And it [Kruder & Dorfmeister — The K&D Sessions] holds up easily to this day, embodying the best of what DJ culture had to offer, tastefully, artfully, and not without wit ("Kruder and... Dorfmeister?").

I suppose Kruder and Dorfmeister is witty in the way surnames are witty when you’re in grade school.

2 I was all ready to check the albums I knew nothing about but then my inner curmudgeon got loose.

The linked thread presents in dialogue form the distinctions among the end of the aughts, the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, and the end of the millenium. Great if you like your information in flamewar form.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Given how much there’s there, I’m working through these only a few at a time. Lots of good stuff. So far, I’ve come across untold riches in Dustin Curtis. And from Shit My Dad Says:

“We’re out of Grape Nuts... No, what’s left is for me. Sorry, I should have said ‘You’re out of Grape Nuts.’ ”

“Son, no one gives a shit about all the things your cell phone does. You didn't invent it, you just bought it. Anybody can do that.”

Looking forward to checking out the list’s remaining five sixths.

Can you feel it? The frenzied hype machine? The blistering urgency to just get your eyes and hands on the device of the decade, the one that will forever change how we read texts?

As long as I’ve been watching Apple, the rumors about Apple’s tablet device» this go-round feel palapably different. John Gruber puts his finger on its pulse when he notes

The situation is uncannily similar to the run-up preceding the debut of the original iPhone in January 2007, including many of the same engineers and software teams at Apple — such as those who built the iPhone Mail, Calendar, and Safari apps — disappearing into a black hole.

The Tablet
John Gruber

If you don’t have time to read anything except one more thing about the tablet, read Gruber’s remarks about The Tablet OS. Peering at the opaque black box of Apple product development, Gruber intuits the most important point of what we all know is coming, which is that If Apple’s starting with a hardware size where the iPhone OS can’t be used one-handed, then [. . .] they’re designing a new interaction model.

Apple Tablet Frenzy Roundup

There really is no good way for BeatifulPeople.com to spin this. Fat people can’t also be beautiful people? Thin beautiful people aren’t attracted to fat people? Your fat is my beautiful?

BoingBoing is rightly having a conniption.

Maybe BeautifulPeople.com will nuke the accounts of anoyone who is not blonde-haired, blue-eyed, and at least 6 feet tall. I mean, that is the definition of beautiful, right?

During the rise of cable in the early 1980s, Showtime occasionally featured performances by Gallagher. As I recall, Gallgher’s routine pointed out the ironies of cutural conventions and frustrations of contemporary life, steadily increasing in exasperation and irritation until it reached the climax of the Sledge-O-Matic.

These days Gallgher is bitter and he hates Detroit.

Detroit is drunken idiots. It was no surprise to me. I performed with Kenny Rogers for one year as his opening act, and I got to visit every major American city and notice the audience, and Detroit was one of the worst.


screenshot of Web 2.0 Suicide Machine

Feeling cynical about the possibilities for social interaction on the web? Demoralized by the enforcement of arbitrary standards of beauty? Bewildered by the digital detritus of people you know and love?

Try unfriending everybody by commiting Web 2.0 Suicide.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Movable Type 5 has been released. A cribbed list of new features include

  • Websites for grouping blogs together.
  • Themes with full support for custom fields, static files, templates, categories, folders, etc for blogs and websites.
  • Revision History for entries, pages, and templates.
  • Custom Fields for all objects.
  • User Dashboard for quick access to the most used blogs and websites.

Lucid and example-filled introduction to over a dozen new input types that you can use in your forms.

I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise.

An ambitious project» to see if one person can actually drink at every bar in the City. I laud the unnamed principal’s decision to start with bars in the Tenderloin because if anyone in SF deserves libation props it’s bar-goers in the Tenderloin.

The principal also doesn’t appear to be a drunken sot and seems to have her wits about her. In response to a commenter about her slow pace, the principal explains

I want to experience every bar in San Francisco, but there is no time limit. If I tried to average more than three a night, I would lose my job and therefore my funding for this project.

Case in point: On Sunday, October 11, Every Bar in SF wrote up five bars. They haven’t posted since the end of that week.

If you don’t use public transportation and undertake to have too many drinks in every bar», you can call these guys.

Born of a noble cause,1 Zingo exists in the interstice between municipal financial interest, motor vehicle safety, and alcohol abuse awareness, what Althusser would recognize as a materialization of ideology.


1 According to the WTVJ report

The man who runs Zingo out of their headquarters in Atlanta has special motivation[. . . .] Years ago, he was driving drunk and killed his best friend, so he sees Zingo as a way to make amends.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Funny as in that metaphorical slow train wreck kind of funny, especially if you consider how the story enhances the author’s reputation and renown.

(show punchline)

Was just in an earthquake here in San Francisco.» Shaking started about 10:10 AM Pacific. I’m on the 13th floor in the Fillmore District.

The geology has officially welcomed me back.

UPDATE: More info from NPR (via).

Friday, 8 January 2010

Puzzling, like much about Lady GaGa.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Intriguing series of ruminations wherein Richard Foreman describes the Internet-induced dazed state of having everything at your finger-tips, Clay Shirky considers how the Internet, as the largest increase in expressive capability in the history of the human race [is in one way] a misfortune because surplus always breaks more things than scarcity, and Tim O”Reilly speculates ideas themselves are the ultimate social software. Speculators include Sue Blackmore, Daniel C. Dennett, Esther Dyson, Jaron Lanier, Steven Pinker, Sherry Turkle, and more.

Another Irregularly Periodical Roundup for the Rumored Apple Tablet

  1. I think Andy Ihnatko’s right that The RAT [Rumored Apple Tablet] will be as completely unlike the iPod Touch and the MacBook as the iPhone was to the iPod and every other smartphone. One part of me thinks he’s lowballing the price; another part of me thinks he’s hit pay dirt. (via)

  2. Christopher Breen speculates that the RAT may point the digital way forward for the beleagured paper publishing industry.

  3. There is no step 3.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Tuesday, 12 January 2010


For more than a generation now, we in the West have aggressively spread our modern knowledge of mental illness around the world. We have done this in the name of science, believing that our approaches reveal the biological basis of psychic suffering and dispel prescientific myths and harmful stigma. There is now good evidence to suggest that in the process of teaching the rest of the world to think like us, we’ve been exporting our Western “symptom repertoire” as well. That is, we’ve been changing not only the treatments but also the expression of mental illness in other cultures. Indeed, a handful of mental-health disorders — depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anorexia among them — now appear to be spreading across cultures with the speed of contagious diseases. These symptom clusters are becoming the lingua franca of human suffering, replacing indigenous forms of mental illness.

It was Heinrich who'd told me that exposure to the chemical waste could cause a person to experience a sense of déjà vu Steffie wasn’t there when he said it, but she could have heard it on the kitchen radio, where she and Denise had probably learned abouts weaty palms and vomiting before developing these symptoms themselves. I didn’t think Steffie knew what déjà vu meant, but it was possible Babette had told her. Déjà vu, however, was no longer a working symptom of Nyodene contamination. It had been preempted by coma, convulsions, and miscarriage. If Steffie had learned about déjà vu on the radio but then missed the subsequent upgrading to more deadly conditions, it could mean she was in aposition to be tricked by her own apparatus of suggestibility. She and Denise had been lagging all evening. They were late with sweaty palms, late with nausea, late again with déjà vu. What did it all mean? Did Steffie truly imagine she'd seen the wreck before or did she only imagine she'd imagined it? Is it possible to havea false perception of an illusion? Is there a true déjà vu and a false déjà vu? I wondered whether her palms had bpen truly sweaty or whether she’d simply imagined a sense of wetness. And was she so open to suggestion that she would develop every symptom as it was announced?

I feel sad for people and the queer part we play in our own disasters.

But what if she hadn’t heard the radio, didn't know what déjà vu was? What if she was developing real symptoms by natural means? Maybe the scientists were right in the first place, with their original announcements, before they revised upward. Which was worse, the real condition or the self-created one, and did it matter? I wondered about these and allied questions. As I drove I found myself giving and taking an oral examination based on the kind of quibbling fine-points that had entertained several centuries’ worth of medieval idlers. Could a nine-year-old girl suffer a miscarriage due to the power of suggestion? Would she have to be pregnant first? Could the power of suggestion be strong enough to work backward in this manner, from miscarriage to pregnancy to menstruation to ovulation? Which comes first, menstruation or ovulation? Are we talking about mere symptoms or deeply entrenched conditions? Is a symptom a sign or a thing? What is a thing and how do we know it’s not another thing? (125-126)

White Noise
Don DeLillo

DeLillo, Don. White Noise. New York, NY: Viking, 1985.

This is just terrible.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Michael Sippey bullets a few speculative points on possilbe Apple-branded services. I like his last bullet in particular.»

Today music; tomorrow everything. At launch iTunes.com will support buying, discovering and enjoying music, but eventually it will be the place where you discover and enjoy all types of digital content.

When I think about this possibility, I’m reminded of YDAU:

Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment: InterLace Telentertainment, 932/1864 R.I.S.C. power-TPs w/ or w/o console, Pink2, post-Primestar D.S.S. dissemination, menus and icons, pixel-free Internet Fax, tri- and quad-modems w/ adjustable baud, Dissemination-Grids, screens so high-def you might as well be there, cost-effective videophonic conferencing, internal Froxx CD-ROM, electronic couture, all-in-one consoles, Yushityu nanoprocessors, laser chromatography, Virtual-capable media-cards, fiber-optic pulse, digital encoding, killer apps; carpal neuralgia, phosphenic migraine, gluteal hyperadiposity, lumbar stressae. (60)

Infinite Jest
David Foster Wallace

Wallace, David Foster. Infinite Jest: A Novel. Boston: Back Bay Books, 1996.

Angles and lines in graceful confound.

C from Priori Acute

Google Inc. will stop censoring its search results in China and may pull out of the country completely after discovering that computer hackers had tricked human-rights activists into exposing their e-mail accounts to outsiders.

Income from Google.cn only contributes about 2.7% to Google’s entire revenue, which might be balanced by the fact that Baidu represents about 60% of China’s searches. Two things that might tip the balance against China:

  1. Google.cn will now offer uncensored results.»
  2. Baidu might be a bit ramshackle.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Donate to Haiti Earthquake Relief

Where to donate

Some of my results.

I am transformed, master, am I not?

(click for full contact sheet)

Friday, 15 January 2010

Saturday, 16 January 2010

I’d pay $1.99 for that؟

The only problem with the SarcMark™ is the fugly. That and Alcanter de Brahm proposed a better version at the end of the 19th century. Still, I think it’s going to be a huge hit.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

It’s been too long since I’ve W3C-validated front-end code. Came across a problem with a JavaScript-validated form in an XHTML 1.0 Strict web page because forms are not specced to take the name attribute.

Instead of


	<form name="foo"  ... >
		<select name="bar" ... >


	if (document.foo.bar.value == '') {
		return false;

one should use


	<form id="foo"  ... >
		<select name="bar" ... >


	if (document.forms['foo'].bar.value == '') {
		return false;

This may the most important reason why the fight between Google and China is so important.

The presidency has never gone so public with criticism of China’s human rights policy and its disregard for intellectual copyright law. But that’s not the reason why it has become so involved in the controversy. Google is the most powerful presence on the internet, with the largest repository of data in the world. And for all its global reach, it’s an American company. The Chinese hack goes well beyond a plot to nick ideas on improving the manufacture of widgets. Attack Google and you attack America’s critical infrastructure. Washington regards this as a major security issue.

Warfare using projectiles, explosives, and incendiaries is a relic, perhaps ineluctable, of the 20th century and our Neanderthal past. Now, cyberwarfare unfolds out of science fiction into empirical fact. What I don’t understand is why it has to be war.

Behold the Airnergy Charger, which generates electricity just by tugging on WiFi signals.

RCA Airnergy

I almost can’t believe it.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Bonus Irregularly Periodical Roundup for Everyone Gripped by Rumors of an Apple-Branded Tablet Device

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Espresso, Intelligentsia

So, what I have to do is redistribute the coffee using my index finger. Next I’m gonna tamp, about thirty pounds of pressure. A litte polish. Wipe it clean, and it’s just about ready to go.

Kyle speaks about extracting espresso as if reciting a poem. I love stuff like this.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

At fourteen minutes I had these awful contractions like this urge to breathe. (@17:27)

RZA Considers How Zombies Can Be Read as a Metaphor for Black Men in America

Coming from so hypermasculine a figure as RZA of Wu-Tang Clan fame, the focus on black men to the exclusion of black of women is unsurprising.

When I first saw Night of the Living Dead, I was scared to death.  But when I watched it again at age sixteen (when they were up to Day of the Dead), I’d gotten knowledge of myself, and could relate to what it was saying about America.  The dead were alive, but they were blind, deaf, and dumb.  So to me, they were symbolic of black men in America. (44-45)

Tao of Wu
Robert Fitzgerald Diggs aka RZA

What is interesting is that his interpretation preserves the racial character of zombie films prior to George Romero’s 1968 postmodern masterpiece, Night of the Living Dead. In classic zombie films such as Victor Halperin’s 1932 White Zombie and Jacques Tourneur’s 1943 I Walked With a Zombie, zombies were only black because in those films they represent the slave class.

For RZA, blackness is legible even though it’s been whitefaced and the story has been transformed into one about white zombie hordes and spoiler» the film’s black hero.

It’s a good thing 1968 is long past. White zombie masses would never rise up against their black hero here in 2010.


Rza. The Tao of Wu. New York: Riverhead Books, 2009.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Friday was» National Lady GaGa Day.