Friday, March 28, 2008


IF YOU READ JESSE THORN'S BLOG, then you knew about this 100 years ago,

BUT BILL WASIK BROUGHT IT TO MY ATTENTION TODAY, and I have to say, New York Times Magazine contributor Jon Glaser has got SERIOUS PIPES.

(That is slang for "vocal cords")

AND HERE'S THE ESSENTIAL "making of video" that you saw 100 years ago on Jesse Thorn's blog.

That is all.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


1. COULTON covers BRAGG. In the words of his wife, "FINALLY."

I HOPE VERY MUCH that Billy Bragg supports creative commons, because it would be sad to be sued by a communist.

2. SACHS has a blog about his mad, lovely travels around the earth. It is worth reading, because SOMEDAY HE WILL UPDATE IT.

TO FIND OUT WHY SACHS RUNS* SO HARD, you can read this month's GQ.


3. BRETT MARTIN has a worldly blog as well. It is worth reading because HE UPDATES IT EVERY DAY, and also it is named after his initials.

In the words of MARTIN, "FINALLY!"

4. JOHN SELLERS has always had an ANGRY BLOG, and plus he is reading from his book about his life as a GUIDED BY VOICES stalker at BOOK COURT tomorrow night. SEE YOU THERE.


Monday, March 24, 2008


AND I THINK its unabashed intelligence and its signal that he is unwilling to play the game of predatory politicking is one of the reasons I am so bloggingly open about my support for his candidacy.

BUT I MUST CONFESS, this was a very smart, compassionately wonky, and meaningful speech for Clinton to give today. And she lays claim to the economy as an issue, which it undoubtedly is to those of us who are not latte sipping bazillionaires.

OBAMA IS EQUALLY WONKY, but unless I've missed something, he's been very shy recently about offering this kind of meat-and-potatoes policy-meal to Democrats who need more than just inspiration. I wish he had taken the lead on this one.

AND PERHAPS IT'S ALL EXPECTATION MANAGEMENT, but I don't like to hear David Plouffe giving up on PA at the end of this AP story. I don't think it's wise to cede Clinton this state and the important, if symbolic, victory she'd take with it if she trounces him.

AND SURE, I'M ALL FOR THE NEW POLITICS, but seriously--why isn't the sideshow media jumping all over this plain lie?

OK. That is all I wanted to say....

That is all.


EVERYONE HAS SEEN THIS ONE about the robots...

BUT MAY I JUST CALL ATTENTION to the brilliant Brian Huskey and Tom Shillue (the humans on the left).

THE OTHER PERFORMERS are equally great, but I don't know their names, and thus I naturally wonder if they are not actually just androids.

That is all.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


BUT I AM STILL PRETTY SURE that it's some kind of Mumenschanz stunt.


That is all.

Friday, March 21, 2008


IN WHAT MAY BE A RECURRING FEATURE for this non-blog, please find today's very beautiful, strange, and surprisingly Gene Shalit-y


...describing a Look magazine photo-essay on that new campus trend of 1965: computer matchmaking.


SUMMARY: Photographs show a computer matched couple on a weekend date in New Haven, Conn. Includes students Nikos Tsinikas, of Yale University, and Nancy Schreiber, of Smith College, at parties with other students; touring an exhibit at the Yale Art Gallery; dining in a restaurant; kissing. The job also includes portraits of Harvard student Jeff Tarr, founder of Operation Match, a computer dating service based at Harvard; the Operation Match computer room; MIT student David DeWan founder of Contact dating service operating a computer; Chris Walker, of Yale, looking at computer printouts. Also a portrait of writer Gene Shalit, wearing an Arabian headress and smoking a cigar.
Unpublished photographs show young adults in a computer lab(?).


That is all.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


JUST TO BE CLEAR, I was not intending to use my iPhone upside-down in order to make a "joke."

I WAS MERELY DISTRACTED by the gigantic and authentic STOCK TICKER, and the fact that if I broke it, it would cost the show ten thousand ACTUAL DOLLARS.

That is all.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008


YES: of course I have seen the Playmobil Security Checkpoint. IT IS AWESOME. But I trust you have seen the 19th CENTURY PLAYMOBIL CONSTABLE ROUSTING THE DRUNKEN TRAMP?

NO: I have not yet seen Olberman, but I am going to ask the Internet for it for Xmas.

SORRY: I gave you the wrong URL for Ape-Lad's book. Here it is again, I hope.

AND ALSO I AM SORRY: for I have been out of town.

That is all.

Monday, March 10, 2008


die, die, DIE
Originally uploaded by Ape Lad.
THIS, from Ape-Lad, re: the legacy of Gygax.


AS WELL, have you seen Ape-Lad's book?

HOLY CATS! (literally*): It is awesome.

That is all

*(Not literally)


ADAM ROGERS, my editor at "WIRED,"

and SAM POTTS, whom you may know from the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company and the design of A BOOK

(and whom I know from Mr. Koestenbaum's Photo 1 class)

TEAM UP TO SEND OFF GYGAX with a lovely essay, and an amazing chart.

JOIN THE DISCUSSION OF SAME on and marvel as Potts fends off the typical comments board sniping by OUTGEEKING THEM ALL:


"Vin Diesel is included because he's a self-avowed (-confessed?) D&Der. His connection to Asimov is that "Pitch Black" was based loosely on Asimov's story 'Nightfall.'"


(C. Alan Joyce of the World Almanac also jumps into the fray.)

FINALLY, and BELATEDLY: thank you, Gary Gygax, and safe journey. We shall all be raiding your tomb forever.

That is all.

Friday, March 07, 2008


THIS IS WHAT I'm missing while I'm going crazy.

That is all.


WHILE THE VIDEO IS NOT THERE, I did manage to find this abstract of POWER'S TED TALK from the TED blogger Bruno Giussani.

READ, if you like, and MARVEL at all the links Bruno puts in his post!


Harvard political scientist and writer Samantha Power is tasked with the closing speech. Ted08power She wrote a book on genocide, and a new one (just out) called "Chasing the flame", a biography of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN envoy in Baghdad who was killed in the first suicide bombing in 2003 (book cover left). She is a powerful proponent of bringing human rights back to US foreign policy -- see her essay on "The Human-Rights Vacuum", arguing that the erosion of US influence around the world has created "a void in global human-rights leadership". She may get her voice heard by the next president: she's an adviser to Democratic candidate Barack Obama (she wears an Obama badge on stage).
On April 31st, 1994, in the middle of the Rwandan genocide, the NYT reported that 200 to 300'000 people had already been killed. An American congresswoman from Colorado met that day with a group of journalists, and one asked why there is so little response out of Washington, no hearings, no denouncing. She said: "It's a great question All I can tell you is that in my congressional offices in Colorado and in Washington we are getting hundrds of calls about the endangered apes and gorilla populations in Rwanda, but no one is calling about the people". The truth is that while we have developed endangered species movements, we don't have an endangered people movement, we have a Holocaust museum but we haven't really created the movement-of-never-again. Now, almost out of nowhere there is an anti-genocide movement, it grew up in response to the atrocities in Darfur, there are more than 300 anti-genocide chapters in universities in the US (bigger than the anti-apartheid movement) and the idea that not being an up-stander, but being a by-stander, has a price. This has led to the referral of the crimes in Darfur to the international criminal court etc. But evil lives on, people in refugee camps are surrounded by janjaweed militias. We have achieved alot, but still far too little. Why? Several reasons. The movement such as it is stops at America's borders, it's not a global movement (BG: that's not exactly true, there are movements in other countries, the UK government has been a key player in trying to broker peace, etc). Second, US has a credibility problem in international circles, it's difficult to remain credible when you denounce genocide on Monday, declare waterboarding as acceptable on Tuesday, and ask for troops on Wednesday, as the current US administration is doing.
She turns to Sergio Vieira de Mello. He was a cross between James Bond and Bobby Kennedy. He was ingenious, spoke 7 languages, was successful with women; and one could never tell if he was a realist masquerading as idealist, or the other way around (BG: I met him twice, and that's an accurate description of him). He worked for the UN in Bosnia, Rwanda, Congo, Kosovo, East Timor and many other countries. "He was the cutting edge of our experimentation with doing good with limited resources". Four lessons from his life on how to prevent evil from prevailing:

  • His relationship to evil is something to learn from. Over the course of his career he changed alot, he had alot of flaws but he was very adaptive. He started as someone who charged, attached, accused. Then in Southern Lebanon in 1992 he said to himself that he would never use the word "unacceptable" again. He became almost obsequious, even negotiating with the Khmer Rouge. But towards the end of his life he had achieved a balance, don't ignore history, don't ignore what the wrongdoers have done but go into the room and discuss with them.
  • He espoused and exhibited a reverence for dignity that was really unusual. At a micro-level the individuals around him were visual, he saw them. At a macro level, dignity was at the center of his action.
  • He talked alot about freedom from fear. Fear is not a concept that we want to walk away from, but let's calibrate our relationship to the threat. Let's not hype it, let's see it clearly. Fear is a bad advisor.
  • Because he was working on all those hard place, he was very aware of their complexity, humbled by it, but not paralyzed by it. We, there seem to be a temptation to pull back from the world. We can't afford to pull back, it's a question on how to be in the world.
If we want to see change, we have to become the change.



that is all.


I HOPE THAT they post Samantha Power's TED talk from last week as soon as possible.

FOR IN IT, you will get to see what a smart and funny and deeply principled scholar looks like when she gets tired of the annoying absurdities of political life, such as PRETENDING THAT GENOCIDE ISN'T REALLY HAPPENING.

I FOUND her call and efforts to organize a meaningful policy to deal with genocide one of the most inspiring things I heard at the conference.

(THAT, and Joshua Klein's plan to crowdsource litter management to enormous packs of CROWS).

BUT BECAUSE Hillary Clinton apparently can't bear to be called a name, a brilliant, talented woman is chased from public service--at least for now.


That is all.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


ANOTHER NOTE on the matter of Pennsylvania.

I DID NOT MEAN TO SUGGEST that Clinton's victories last night were hollow by calling them "symbolic."

SYMBOLIC VICTORIES are extremely important. Even if she hasn't changed the math, she has fundamentally changed the tenor of the conversation, which is absolutely what she had to do. Her win in Texas, as of this writing, is only by three percent; but had it gone only 3 percent to Obama, an argument could have been credibly mounted that she did not meet her own expectations and should now step aside.

BUT SHE WON THAT MARGIN and now people are asking Obama if he would settle for VP.

(NO ONE SHOULD SETTLE AT THE MOMENT, though any combination of those two would be a ticket I would probably vote for, either as a Dem or Ind, depending.)

BUT IN THE SAME VEIN, Pennsylvania shapes up not only as a necessary MATH victory for Obama, but a crucial SYMBOLIC one.

Even though he might lose PA by a small amount and STILL come out ahead in pledged delegates; and even though the general election relies less on core Democratic support than it does on the candidate's ability to attract independents and swing voters (where I believe Obama has a significant advantage)...

Even though all of this, Clinton's SYMBOLIC victory in Ohio suggests that the post-industrial OLD-LINE DEMOCRATIC VOTERS are still not sold on him. That is to say, the working class white men and women whom he had been attracting in Wisconsin, but lost ground with in Ohio.

HE NEEDS TO PROVE THAT HE CAN WIN THEM OVER, decisively. And he needs to win them in primaries, not caucuses, in order to beat back the Clintonian myth that he can only win in caucuses because they are stacked with LATTE-DRINKERS AND COLLEGE PROFS AND ACTIVISTS.

Pennsylvania is not only a big state, it is a post-industrial state conveniently full of old-line Democrats with a Democratic-only primary. From a MATH point of view, it's a "would be nice to win" state.

But from a SYMBOLIC point of view, it's a MUST TO WIN state if Obama is to have any hope of convincing the party elders (ie, superdelegates) that he's earned the full backing of the party he seeks to represent.

ALL PREVIOUS EVIDENCE suggests that the longer voters are exposed to Obama, the more they like him. So my feeling is: he has seven weeks before Pennsylvania: HE SHOULD GO LIVE THERE NOW.

I GAVE YESTERDAY, and I will wait to give again until I see evidence of a clear, powerful Pennsylvania strategy. And when I do, I will not only give, I WILL GO VOLUNTEER.

(PS: hey, matching donor Mark F, where are you?)

ON ANOTHER NOTE, it looks like Scott Adams is one of COULTON'S 1000 TRUE FANS.

That is all.


CLINTON WON the two big states. She fought hard and deserves congratulations. It's a symbolic win, given that the delegate math does not seem to have shifted very much, but not entirely so. She can now easily make an argument that she deserves a fair hearing from the super-delegates regardless of the pledged delegate count.

THIS WILL BE HARROWING. Given their respective support and the clear ambivalence of the electorate, it would be foolish for either candidate to drop out. Yet it will be hard on the party for them both to stay in. My hope is that they work together to find a way to at least make it fun and interesting, and not just oppressively petty and painful.

ONE SUGGESTION: please don't go out saying McCain is better than Obama on any issue, no matter how it helps you. Obama could still be your party's nominee, after all.

SINCE THE WORLD WAS DEPRIVED of my incredible insight and unbeatable political strategy until it was too late last time, I'll say this right now: Obama must focus on winning Pennsylvania, and by a good margin. It's the only fight left: the only way to counter the argument that he cannot win the big, traditionally democratic, Clinton-leaning states, which is the argument Clinton will use should she face the convention with a minority of pledged delegates.

I LOVE MY WYOMING AND MISSISSIPPI, and they should not be wholly neglected.
But it's time to shift from a 50 state strategy to a one state strategy.

AND NO MATTER WHOM YOU SUPPORT, LET'S BE CLEAR: the only way to avoid a convention decided by politicians instead of voters is to provide Obama with a clear, undeniable electoral mandate. He has one now, and every time he broadens the delegate gap, he gets closer to an uncontested convention.

IF YOU REALLY SUPPORT CLINTON, then you must face facts and realize that she gained very few delegates last night, despite all the press. No matter her future performance, her road to the nomination relies almost surely on political gamesmanship and her ability to convince the super delegates to her cause.

BY ALL MEANS, FIGHT ON. But harbor no illusions. Unless you can show me math that proves otherwise (and I've seen none), she comes to the nomination by a questionable mandate and a lot of political arm-twisting. And as you know, I don't think that's such a hot position to lead from.


That is all.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


H in Sunrays on Cracker.
Originally uploaded by weirdel.
I need another cracker.


Thanks again Weirdel.

That is all.


To reply to Kelly and Lex from the comments below, let me clarify regarding my decision to leave the Democratic party should Clinton become the nominee.

First, I did not say I would vote for John McCain. No matter what happens, I will vote for the nominee whose ideals are closest to my own. Despite my self-smear as a latte drinker above, I am actually pretty small-government in my social and economic thinking, and so I doubt I would ever be able to vote for a person aligned with the privacy invaders of the anti-abortion, anti-gay right wing.

Second, I support Obama because I support the party. I believe that Obama as nominee will strengthen and broaden the party. I think his nomination is our best shot at winning the presidency with a broad, clear mandate and in winning back to our cause the independents and moderate Republicans that the Clintons, rightly or wrongly, seem to have lost.

(ironically, they lost them over the same tactics they used to seek them, but more on that later)

Pragmatically, such a mandate would create coattails upon which other Democrats, as well as Independents and Republicans I agree with, will be able to ride into office. Far more so than a scorched-earth, 51%, dare-I-say Clintonian victory in November, this kind of mandate and broad based electoral success is our best chance of actually enacting the kind of change both candidates want to make.

Third, Obama represents the model of the Democratic party I wish to belong to. It is a party that is inclusive. It is a party that does not tell me that I'm the wrong kind of Democrat (ie, latte-drinking). It is a party that does not imply that the Democrats of Texas or Iowa don't count because they don't fit into the electoral calculus. It is a party that is committed to innovative grass roots organizing: raising funds and building policy support voter by voter in all 50 states, and does not rely solely on entrenched political machines and top-down, mass media, which is dying.

I acknowledge that Obama is not pure-as-driven snow on these metrics. I am sure some may find quotes that would support that he alienated a voter there, or benefited from a political machine here. But is clear at least to me that he is closer to the mark on these principles than his rival, and he is a leader insofar as he is showing us why they matter so very much. These models for the party, especially the matter of inclusiveness, are not merely inspiring ideas, but also represent a blueprint for what I would consider to be a broader, more vibrant, and more powerful Democratic party.

Fourth, and to specifically answer Lex, I do not dislike Hillary Clinton. I voted for her husband twice, and I think she would be a capable president, were there not a better option available.

However, she nonetheless represents what I consider to be a model for a failed Democratic party. A party that divides its own membership against one another--by suggesting that a rival is not black enough, for example, or too maybe-Muslim--in order to conquer it. A party that prefers a meaningless, symbolic conflict over an effective struggle, or reasonable compromise. A party that is essentially unprincipled, following the DLC line of tacking further and further to the right to capture what I consider to be a mythical conservative majority until finally it is merely a shadow republicanism. A party that mocks inspiration and villifies optimism.

Again, I do not just find these qualities loathsome. Pragmatically, they add up to a party that loses elections, loses core support, and presides over a dwindling collection of special interests instead of a national movement. Our success in 2006 stemmed from our firm principled opposition to the war, resonating with a motivated electorate, and our embrace of disillusioned republicans like Jim Webb. Yet we have retreated from that stance ever since. On the war alone, the defining issue of our day, there is little meaningful difference between McCain and Clinton. If Clinton's democratic party is, in policy and tactics, merely a shadow of the Republican party, then independents and moderate republicans will simply and understandably vote for the real thing.

Fifth, and this goes without saying, my loyalty is to my country and its principles first, not to the private enterprise that is a modern political party. Like most, I didn't choose my political party, I inherited it. I've always been proud of it and its stances. But I think we see a clear difference here not only in which way the country goes, but the party. If Clinton is nominated, and especially so if she is nominated without a clear electoral mandate, then I will conclude the democratic party is not interested in being the party I think it can become, the party I wish to be a part of. And while I might vote the democratic ticket in the future, I would in that case become an independent.

I hope that all make sense. Did you notice? NO CAPS!

That is all.


H in Sunrays on Cracker.
Originally uploaded by weirdel.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE, this easy-cheese reminder from Weirdel that



That is all.


I AGREE WITH BILL SCHER'S FOOLISH PREDICTIONS, though it is not a happy agreement.

Obama's message since Wisconsin has been that the delegate math proves that OBAMA IS INEVITABLE, and that message has consistently annoyed voters in this primary.

AN ALTERNATE, and better story might have been that the delegate math proves that, unless Obama is the clear nominee, there WILL BE a brokered convention.

FOR, AS I HAVE NOTED BEFORE, the voters have consistently rejected the notion that this election be decided by super delegates, the press, or anyone who is not them.

ALL DEMOCRATS and all voters instinctively loathe the idea of the brokered convention.

AND A BROKERED CONVENTION WILL HAPPEN if Clinton wins both OH and TX, or maybe even just OH, as she is unlikely to step aside EVER.

I TRUST OBAMA has been concentrating on his ground game, as that produced large wins in what had seemed like close races, as in Wisconsin. I hope that's what happens here.

BUT IF HE LOSES EITHER OH OR TX, I think it will be because of this rhetorical error.

(And also, I think, because of the insidious, Limbaugh-esque pigeonholing of his supporters as latte-swilling liberal freaks. Far more than the empty-suit-plagiarist-crypto-muslim-weak-baby smears that have gotten all the attention, I think THAT is what's really driving working class Democrats to Clinton in Ohio. AND I DON'T JUST SAY THAT BECAUSE I AM A LATTE-SWILLING LIBERAL FREAK)

AND IF OBAMA LOSES BOTH OH AND TX, I think it's over. Because at that point the nomination will go to whomever wants it enough to destroy the party over it, and I think that person is Hillary Clinton.

AND NOT THAT IT SHOULD MEAN ANYTHING TO YOU, but if Hillary Clinton wins the nomination, I'm leaving the party.

I MAKE THIS PROMISE TO YOU, in internet writing.

That is all.

Monday, March 03, 2008

I HAVE BEEN OUT OF TOWN the TED conference, and now I am trying to figure out if it really happened.

I KNOW IT SOMEHOW involved both Craig Venter and Goldie Hawn.

BUT THAT cannot be true, can it? WAS IT A DREAM?

Meanwhile, I just matched Mark F.'s contribution to Obama. I will let you know if he writes back to me.

That is all.