Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Small People's Small Pieces

Where the heck have I been? John Porcaro just pointed out David Weinberger's kid's version of Small Pieces Loosely Joined, which I had NOT read. (Embarrassed blushing happening here.)

It's so cool and just right to read to my kid. Thanks David!

Waiting Eagerly For The Phone Not To Ring

So if they have BAD news for you at the Mammography Lab about the results of your mammogram, they call you by phone soon. If they have GOOD news for you, they DON'T call you and by Thursday evening (today's Tuesday) you can rest assured you're fine and they will mail you a letter confirming that.

Thursday come quick! Phone please don't ring!

[Editor's Update: Saturday morning -- no call and the doctor says I'm A+ healthy, all's well! Hurray!]

Daylight Savings Time The Death of Me

It's not MY problem adjusting to the one hour difference, it's my son's refusal to get with the program. He will NOT get to bed on time, just can't seem to get into the swing of it.

Tonight's the night.

We'll crack this nut -- 9PM and lights out OR BUST! Yes, we're on the road to an early night. Hosannah!

He Looked Good In Genes Too

Why do these sexy studs always end up in skirts?

Digital Pix of My Big Boobs

Oh, you were thinking about something like this?

I was thinking of something like this. And my boobs aren't that big, but they sure looked big up on the screen.

In fact, I just got back from having a mammogram and want to tell all the girls (of a certain age) to RUN don't walk to your local doctor to get a mammogram.

The new digital machines are so much better -- faster, less painful, and so much more accurate -- even a great mammogram-avoider like myself is keen on running right back in to get another pic taken ... well, not exactly, but honestly, they are a world apart from the other procedure.

In the old days (last year?) a mammogram took so long. You stood there with your tit in a vice essentially, being squeezed very hard and it was really painful, while they took plain old xrays, loaded the big heavy film cassettes, etc. It took forever.

And worse, then the films had to be developed and so you wouldn't get the results for awhile time -- and in some ways that was the most painful part -- waiting and waiting, your mind running wild at the possibility of having breast cancer. Now, the radiologist can read the digital pix this afternoon and let me know what's what. That is terrific.

Ask your doctor for "full field digital mammography" and if they don't have it, find a clinic that does.

And do what I do as a reward for getting a mammogram -- buy a sexy new bra!

First Album

Had a fun talk with a friend last night about the first album we owned -- by ourselves -- not bought by an older brother or sister, but really OURS. Both of us mentioned Beatles albums. Then we got on talking about old records we liked. I was nuts for Rubber Soul and Revolver.

Then I remembered this very early Elton John song. I used to wear white socks too.

First Episode At Hienton

--Elton John, music
--Bernie Taupin, lyrics

I was one as you were one
And we were two so much in love forever
I loved the white socks that you wore
But you don't wear white socks no more, now you're a woman
I joked about your turned-up nose
And criticized your school girl clothes
But would I then have paced these roads
to love you

For seasons come
and seasons go
Bring forth the rain the sun and snow
Make Valerie a woman
And Valerie is lonely

No more to roam on the snow hills of Hienton
Undecided with the guardians
of the older generation
A doormat was a sign of welcome
In the winter months to come
And in the summer laughing
Through the castle ruins
we'd run

For the quadrangle sang to the sun
And the grace of our feeling
And the candle burned low
as we talked of the future
Underneath the ceiling

There were tears in the sky
And the clouds in your eyes
were just cover
For your thighs were the cushions
Of my love and yours for each other

For seasons come
and seasons go
Bring forth the rain the sun and snow
Make Valerie a woman
And Valerie is lonely

The songs still are sung
It was fun to be young
But please don't be sad
where `ere you are
I am who I am
You are who you are
Now Valerie's a woman
Now Valerie's a woman
Now Valerie's a woman

Monday, April 05, 2004

Group Blogs: Four Corners

I've been hitting a treasure trove of group blogs today, ever since we launched ours today and Seth Godin pointed out that the blogosphere is changing the magazine world and group blogs are the thing to watch.

Check out Suw Charman's recommendation -- a new one she's writing for -- FOUR CORNERS.

Four Corners -- Living. Creating. Adventuring.

And who's doing all that fun stuff? These cool authors.

All You Ruggedly Handsome Programmers Out There

Hey, call me crazy but I'll bet you could use some new spring clothes from Land's End. Check out these duds for ruggedly handsome brainiacs like yourselves.

And they've got great chinos, jeans and shorts too. And they aren't very expensive. Get your credit cards ready. New clothes by the end of the week -- and what are you gonna wear to BloggerCon anyway??? Harvard Square here you come.

Thanks Seth

Seth Godin is speculating about the trends in blogs which look more and more like magazines. Thanks for mentioning Worthwhile. We are different from many magazines which also have websites or weblogs. We are starting with the weblog then adding the magazine, instead of the other way around.

Using our site meter, I can already see which writers on the new blog are getting hits and which are not ... will we keep them or dump them according to their numbers? That would be a little like a SURVIVOR Magazine Show -- horrors! But, don't worry, we won't use stats for that. Instead, we'll get a very up-to-the-minute reader feedback loop, telling us what people want to read about and what bores them. [Needless to say with 4 women writers and 4 men, we've been making bets! Go, girls, go!]

Last week I was talking to a friend over coffee who mentioned he likes the idea of Worthwhile a lot because he finds other monthly or weekly business magazines are too stale for him, even the day they are published, since paper just takes so long to write for, print, distribute and get into a reader's hands. He loved the idea that we could publish up-to-the-minute business blog posts on what's going on with a trial like Tyco or other business news hitting the wires right now.

Worthwhile Magazine Live Today

One of these days we'll tell the tale of how this baby got birthed with me here in Boston and Boris, our Ace Uber-Tech Webman in Tokyo and Kevin and Anita, our founders in Atlanta and the rest of us scattered from one end of the globe to the other, but not right now. It 5:25 am here, I'm still in my pj's and going back to bed and it's dinner in Tokyo and Boris has to grab a bite.

Too bad we didn't ask Ms. "Where In The World Is" Carmen Sandiego to write for us. Some of our bloggers, like Tom Peters, you actually can track worldwide.

Worthwhile Magazine -- easily found at www.worthwhilemag.com and we hope enjoyed by all today. It's a blog about ... read this.

I have to say, I didn't expect to read David Weinberger writing on hot stone reiki back massages. And now you can even subscribe to his own personal RSS feed.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

1 Out Of 8,130,000

Tonight, in my referrer log for Halley's Comment, I found out that I am number 1 out of 8,130,000 results for the Google search:

what to say to a woman

which certainly made me laugh. I'm hardly an authority, but better me than anyone else. Actually I think some other people who spoofed my blog post had even better things to say than I did. Like this. Big thanks to the person who inspired that post -- little did they know what the result would be.

[Or maybe you'd prefer the number one "SPONSORED" link. Free of charge here on my blog. Conversation-King.com you gotta love it.]

Science Project

We've been working on a science project all afternoon about electromagnets. We need to explain how regular old magnets work and how electromagnets work with an experiment that's simple, obvious, fun and NOT dangerous. Sounds easier than it is.

Palm Sunday

It's Palm Sunday. Not Palm Sunday, not even Palm Sunday, but Palm Sunday. It's been an interesting one.

My son and I volunteered to help out with "coffee hour" in our church. Connie, who runs the coffee hour program and is an old hand at the business of setting out great cheese platters, vegetables, dips, cookies and everything else you'd love to eat at 11:30 when church is over. She did most of it. My kid and I set up the kids table with Dunkin Donuts munchkin donut holes and also big donuts -- glazed and chocolate glazed. We sure didn't have trouble getting rid of them.

For some unknown reason, and this continues to happen, my kid has decided wearing socks is not cool. He does anything to avoid wearing socks. So when we pulled up to church this morning, he gets out on the side where there are bushes and there are thorns and he's walking where his ankles are getting scratched by thorns and it hurts and he's making odd noises, torn between how it hurts and how he doesn't want me to know he was busy sneaking out of the house this morning with no socks on. Sometimes raising a boy is like raising an alien invader, I have absolutely NO CLUE why he does some of the weird things he does. And when I say "no socks" let me remind you it's cold and rainy here and may snow later. It's not Palm Beach, or Palm Springs, it's just Palm Sunday.

Two Years Ago

I was going to post some things about what was going on for me two years ago, but when I took a quick look, I've decided against it. My dad passed away April 9, 2002.

I can't decide what's worse, reading the passages written when I didn't know I would lose him within the week or reading the passages about losing him. Nothing good about either.

And even reading the stuff I wrote about getting ready for spring and setting the clocks ahead on this Sunday two years ago, to know that time for him was running down to a lifetime low, to know that the clocks were about to meltdown anyway, all so strange, this life. Leaves me with the paradoxical and unachieveable desire to have just one more hour with him. And what would I say in that hour? A lifetime of words, or just be silent and hold his hand? I don't have the answer.

In Another Language

"Et puis tiens, je viens de me rendre compte que tu as “switché” vers le français pour parler d’amour. Intéressant. ;-)"

"I Found The Ocean!"

My kid is playing a new videogame Test Drive Off Road Wide Open. He's in Hawaii in a Hummer that lets him drive up and down volcanos, through lava, after a while -- I've asked three times why his tires don't melt or catch on fire -- he says "they're modified" -- "for what?" I ask -- "they're modified for lava -- everything in my Hummer is modified." Okay, right sure. The graphics are gorgeous but taking the 45 degree angle up the side of a volcano and then rushing the rim to come plummeting down into a pool of boiling lava -- well, just not my idea of a good time.

A mom can breathe a little easier when he yells out, "I found the ocean!"

And considering it's Hawaii, I figured he'd have to find some water at some point. "Modified" or not, his tires can use the cooling off I figure.

But talk about "OFF ROAD!" He hits the beach and drives RIGHT ACROSS THE WATER, drives right up along side a sailboat and then veers off towards a glorious rocky beach where big waves hit big boulders with mile high spray.

I'm trying to imagine how I'll get him out of a Hummer that drives on the ocean, into church clothes and off to hear the oh-so-dull-now story of Jesus H. Christ who was just a guy who walked on water. In today's episode, Palm Sunday, he rides a mule into town and people make fun of him. Tough sell. Only a jerk would pick a mule for a vehicle, any gamer knows that.

Episode 1018 AABF14

"Simpsons Bible Stories"
1018 AABF14
Original Airdate: 4/04/99

"A particularly boring sermon by Reverend Lovejoy sends each member of the Simpson family into his or her own biblical fantasy. Marge imagines herself and Homer as Adam and Eve, living in harmony with the flora and fauna of the Garden of Eden until Homer stupidly eats from the Tree of Knowledge. Lisa dreams of herself and the other kids of Springfield Elementary as the Israelites in ancient Egypt. Principal Skinner is Pharaoh and it's up to a nervous Milhouse to act as Moses and free his people from bondage. In Homer's dream, he is King Solomon, solving every dispute by cutting the contested object in half. When Lenny and Carl bring a pie to the King, he cuts it in half and eats both pieces. In Bart's action-packed fantasy, he is David, fighting Nelson as Goliath's son, Goliath II. When the Simpsons awake from their dreams, they discover that Revelation has come and it's time for God's final judgment. Only Lisa is allowed into Heaven, but Homer drags her down into Hell with the rest of the family."

Sunday Morning With Reverend Lovejoy

And as we pass the collection plate, please give as though the person
next to you were watching.

-- Rev. Lovejoy, "Simpsons Bible Stories"

Friday, April 02, 2004

Britt's Up To Something Cool Per Usual

Check out what Britt Blaser's up to over at his blog, Escapable Logic.
Open Republic helps activists grow their community, their support, their contributions and their political power. This is the entry point for the tech-averse political novice and a backroom operations guide for the tech-savvy political pro: Dean done right.

Tyco Mistrial

All those months, all that money, it's a shame. Retrial possible as soon as May. Read about it here.

Strong Jobs Numbers And Kerry In Peril?

Pssshaw. What, like a registered Democrat with a job is miraculously transformed into a Republican? I doubt it.

It's not JUST the economy, stupid!

Please Stop Asking Me About BloggerCon And Orkut

I get about 3 or 4 messages a week asking me if I'm attending BloggerCon and about 4 or 5 invitations a week to Orkut. So I've been spending a lot of time telling people I was previously booked and wasn't able to attend the event, and "Thanks, but no thanks," I'm not joining Orkut even if God invited me.

BUT ...

Things have changed in my calendar and I WILL BE ATTENDING BLOGGERCON. How could I miss some of these speakers. They are too good.

I'm still not joining Orkut.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Harvard Business School Or High School Diploma?

Tonight, the reality TV show about business, Trump's The Apprentice put two men in the hot seat in Donald Trump's boardroom -- Kwame, an African American from Goldman Sachs with an MBA from Harvard Business School vs. Troy, a natural salesman and street-smart closer with a high school diploma.

It is an interesting choice. The thing is, from an entrepreneurial point of view, the salesman would probably go further in a start-up or new business situation. But from the point of view of Trump hiring a polished, experienced "aide-de-camp" the guy from HBS is not to be beat.

Interestingly, the street-smart guy Troy, had the choice to bring in either Kwame or the other guy, Bill, the founder of a cigar store business to face the possibility of one or the other being fired. If Troy had chosen someone more like him in credentials to go into the boardroom with him -- in other words, Bill -- he might have appeared stronger and saved his own ass -- so the choice of Kwame was a disaster. Don't go into a fight with an HBS grad when all you bring to the table is an H.S.D.

I think that error in judgment was more significant than the reasons Trump gave to fire Troy. (Essentially that he was a "loose cannon" and not as experienced as Kwame.)

Trump was featured in the beginning of the program giving a lecture to a full room of eager listeners. He was talking about passion. He had wise words -- if you don't feel passion for your work, forget it, you'll never succeed at it.

Oreos and High Tea

If you could see the rain in Boston today -- it's unbelievable -- there's sure to be flooding all over and the evening commute will not be pretty. So the only rational remedy I can see is Oreos and High Tea. And that's just what I'm having.

Kinja Live

All sort of new blogs being born -- today Kinja goes live. If it's a Denton blog, it's bound to be good. Now, wait, wasn't that about Smucker's Jam? Whatever... I haven't read it deeply enough yet to give my opinion, but I will.

Worthwhile Coming To A Theatre Near You

No April Fooling around here. Yes, Worthwhile debuts next Monday, April 5.

Lessig Review In New York Times Book Review

Got an advanced copy of the Lessig review by Adam Cohen of Free Culture. It will run in this Sunday's (April 4, 2004) New York Times. Not sure if it's online yet.
The shrinking of the public domain, and the devastation it threatens to the culture, are the subject of a powerfully argued and important analysis by Lawrence Lessig, a professor at Stanford Law School and a leading member of a group of theorists and grass-roots activists, sometimes called the "copyleft," who have been crusading against the increasing expansion of copyright protections. Lessig was the chief lawyer in a noble, but ultimately unsuccessful, Supreme Court challenge to the copyright extensions act. "Free Culture" is partly a final appeal to the court of public opinion and partly a call to arms. ...

To his credit, Lessig avoids the classic law professor's trap of writing about legal cases and doctrines as if no actual people were involved. He humanizes his arguments with stories like that of Jesse Jordan, a freshman at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute who innocently put together a new search engine for his school's computer network, and, after students started using it to trade music, was notified by the Recording Industry Association of America that he owed them $15 million. (They settled for $12,000, his life savings.)

Lessig grounds his argument about the new rules' impact on the culture in a basic observation about art: as long as it has existed, artists have been refashioning old works into new ones. Greek and Roman myths were developed over centuries of retelling. Shakespeare's plays are brilliant reworkings of other playwrights' and historians' stories. Even Disney owes its classic cartoon archive -- Snow White, Cinderella, Pinocchio -- to its plundering of other creators' tales. And today, technology allows for the creation of ever more elaborate "derivative works,' art that builds on previous art, from hip-hop songs that insert, or sample, older songs to video art that adds new characters to, or otherwise alters, classic films."

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Parlez-Vous Monopoly?

In case you wondered --
What do they call Boardwalk in?:

France? Rue de la Paix
Germany? Schlossallee
The Netherlands? Kalverstraat
The United Kingdom? Mayfair

This Life

I was trying to explain this idea to a friend yesterday and getting nowhere with it. I went out for a walk in my town. I took a haphazard route, going through neighborhoods that were ... well I used the Monopoly board as an analogy ... walked through what I described as some Baltic Avenue and Mediterranean type streets, then took a turn towards town and back out on another boulevard that was pure Park Place and Boardwalk.

And on my walk I was thinking how it is some people end up on one street with the big house and some other people end up on the not so nice alley with the little shack and what the assumptions were when we were all growing up. Many friends of mine who expected to be doing very well now, are facing their 40's and 50's in a really difficult financial situation. Some other friends of mine are quite well off. Beyond the financial aspect, I also started thinking about what we do every day for work, for fun, for life.

I have to say, the walk at midday, at midweek, showed me a lot of empty houses, lovely big houses with wonderful lawns and yards and ponds and play structures and basketball hoops, but they were totally deserted. So the people who are living in these beautiful places, don't seem to be living in them at all, rather they are somewhere else working so they can afford these houses, big expensive places to sleep at night. Or maybe they are all inside, working on their computers, trading stocks ... but it wasn't a day for that, it was a beautiful Spring day and at lunch time, you'd think they'd at least come out for a minute or two. The houses really looked empty and dead. More like the red plastic Monopoly hotels.

And then, as I tried to explain to my friend, I've been thinking about how we all spend so much time having a life that seems to be the kind of life other people have -- get up, get breakfast, get dressed, go to work, get there at 9:00, leave there at 5:00 or 6:00 or whatever, come home, eat dinner, watch TV -- and I suddenly found this really sad. That we come to this earth and that's all we can come up with for a life. I don't want to be the fire-eating woman in the circus or something, but I think I want more of a life than a person who lives in a box, leaves their box in the morning, gets in their box-with-wheels, drives to another office box, sits in that box for 8 hours, their butt spreading a little wider every day from just sitting there, goes home to their box, sits in front of the box, eats a frozen dinner out of a box, goes to sleep on their mattress and box spring.

I tried to explain, I'm trying to imagine a life -- that's all -- since I don't find much value in this other life someone has imagined for me. I'm walking all over the Monopoly board wondering about a life. I might need to ride the rails a while. I might need to try my luck with Chance. I might need to find a little green house and set it up on St. James Place and see how that goes. I don't know, but I want to feel I had a hand in imagining this life -- MY life.

What's In Your Fridge?

Garbage day, so I took a little jungle safari into the back of my fridge to give some leftovers the heave-ho. I'm always fascinated by what we save and why we save it. My fridge seems to want to save old noodles and pasta for a rainy day. Not sure why. No one is eating them, that's for sure. Out they go. And one little tiny bit of tuna fish salad and some really old potatoes with scary eyes and shoots growing out of them.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Technorati's Pretty Face

To be fair, doesn't Technorati look great?

Top Bloggers List

Thanks Blogrunner for putting me on your Top Bloggers List ... but honestly none of it makes any sense and to be above Dan Gillmor, AKMA and Jon Udell seems completely crazy.

New Nielsens

Been having some fascinating conversations with Henry Copeland about his BLOGADS service. He was early and first to realize advertisers could really hit targeted audiences and serious opinion makers by advertising on blogs.

The Nielsens on TV used to guess at the audience and demographics they were hitting -- and the more technology comes into this space, the more we realize the Nielsens were hit or miss -- and more miss than hit unfortunately.

But imagine political campaigns plunking down $2000 for an ad on a blog -- and raising $10,000. That's a pretty direct ROI and easily measurable.

If you didn't read this piece in the Wall Street Journal about advertising on blogs -- check out this link.

Spoiled Brat

Was just reading some of the posts to the test blog for WORTHWHILE. They are great! I'm like a kid in a candy store. I'm a spoiled brat to be sure, lucky enough to read this great new stuff. Tried to talk our founders into launching sooner than April 5 -- they say, cool your jets. Here's a post from one of our new writers, a young woman entrepreneur.
Early Entrepreneurial Lessons

by Kate Yandoh

Although only 9 and not especially perceptive, I could tell that my parents were not as thrilled by the rapid population growth in my gerbil cages as I. So I asked for a ride to the local department store to see if they might be able to profit from my surplus. Armed with a shoebox full of little critters and clad in my favorite Polly Flinders party frock, I closed the deal and went home with an envelope of cash.

One Saturday, I went into the playroom to find mother and father gerbil happily devouring a new litter instead of their food nuggets. My mother tried to console me until she understood what I was saying through hysterical tears: "That's five dollars, gone!"

This introduction to product cannibalism spelled the end of my enterprise.

I'm With Jewel

Hey, like girls, do you know this great song by Jewel. She says it all:
I'm just a simple girl
In a high-tech digital world

Tuesday Yes Tuesday

Excuse me everyone, but I've been a little busy lately and poor Halley's Comment is getting a little thin here, but I'm about to launch a new blog and you wouldn't believe how much time that can take.

I think you'll love my new baby.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Electronic Arts Big Video Monster

Wow, their market share is monstrous. Very cool.
Electronic Arts Inc. (NasdaqNM:ERTS - news), the gaming industry's largest publisher, has perfected the art of getting gamers hooked on yearly releases of sports games and turning out versions of movie hits such as "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" and "Harry Potter (news - web sites): Quidditch World Cup."

EA's U.S. market share in 2004 is more than twice that of its closest competitor, and the company generates more revenue in the December quarter than its closest competitor does in an entire fiscal year, driven in large part by those repeat sports and film titles. -- Reuters via Yahoo News!
I don't know if I agree with the rest of this Reuters piece about how the gaming industry lacks creative energy. That's not been my experience. This year, I got my 8-year-old a P/S2 and his first video games, and I've been watching all of them and learning a lot. I think the creativity in gaming is awesome.

Scoble Sleeps

Thank God Scoble does sleep sometimes and on a Monday morning in the East Coast a blogger can still feel some shred of dignity that his blog in Seattle still says SUNDAY and he hasn't posted 25 new fresh interesting blog posts for Monday yet.

By the time you read this, I'm sure he'll already have proved me wrong.

Blogger Cool Stuff Coming

Somebody cool at Blogger told me that some cool stuff is coming out soon, except it's a secret, so I can't say anything about it, but it's really good ......mmmmmmmmm ... and so you didn't read this and I didn't write this and boy-oh-boy I can't wait and yes, btw, my lips are sealed. You didn't hear it here. Got it?

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Am I The Last To Know?

This series of Christian books is enormously popular. Did you know about it? I just found out about it. Left Behind.

Kevin Marks, Please Read Me A Bedtime Story

What a terrific voice you have, Kevin! Your British accent is hard to beat. Are all Americans just ga-ga for a British accent, like me?

If you haven't listened to Kevin reading the Preface to Lawrence Lessig's new book FREE CULTURE, you should go listen right now.

Chinese Food

I've been writing very long posts lately and I just wanted to show you I can write a short one. Have some Chinese food today -- I just did -- and it's so darned good.


There is a material world, where they keep things like Hot Wheels tiny cars and telephones and loaves of bread and the Post Office and clothing and TV's -- I've seen it, believe me.

And then there is my head -- where I keep all of that stuff, in a "just add water" form -- and a million other things. I am a writer and that means I am very very strange. I have so many things floating around in my head, even a cast of thousands of people who want to talk and talk and talk and tell me things about their lives.

Like this morning. I went to church. Church is in the material world. They have wooden benches there that they call pews and I was sitting on one and then there was a hymn we sang and then I realized I really wanted to write.

I wanted to find out what my lead character had told her sister in San Diego when she visited her the evening after spending the whole of Friday afternoon in bed with her lover -- a well-known Hollywood producer -- very well- known, too well-known and very married. So she drives down the San Diego freeway to see her sister and brother-in-law, but he's not there but their three boys (her nephews) are and they sit on the beach talking watching the boys.

And I knew what her sister was going to tell her. Her sister knew she was dating the married Hollywood producer and didn't like it one bit, she'd known for more than a year, but now it was going even deeper, because the sister's husband for the first time ever, was being unfaithful to her, no one would have ever taken him for the kind of guy that would do such a thing, and it was a big mess and the two sisters really needed to talk.

All this was happening in my head. I was driving down the 405 south -- near the Costa Mesa exit -- in church in Boston in a wooden pew.

That's the problem. I think the material world is highly overrated. When I have to navigate the material world, I find it extremely irksome some days. It's full of so many things you can just bang into and fall over. I'd rather fly like a spirit through walls. It would be so much easier. So right in the middle of the church service, after the hymn and before the collection plate went around, I got up and went to a quiet enclave where no people were, right behind the chapel, in the balcony with after-dinner mint green carpeting, and started scribbling all the details of the San Diego sister visit on the back of the church program and some other pieces of paper I found that were about doing good works by missionaries in Guatemala or something.

I have to figure it's what God had in mind. To put all these people in my brain. How the hell else did they end up there? My character is so upset to hear her brother-in-law is cheating on her sister, she nearly flips, and of course, she suddenly sees her own messing about with the producer in a new way. I still don't know if she's going to dump him. He IS a bad guy and she's too naive to see it yet. But she will.

Going Out Going In

I'm thinking about how much time I'm spending inside, how much out and about, because as the weather changes here in Boston, it's beginning to be almost reasonable to just decide on the spur of the moment to go outside.

Until ... about ... last week, you had to plan most trips with all the accoutrements and considerations of a trip to the South Pole, or you'd lose a finger, a toe or simply your nose to frostbite in the cold we've been having. (Okay, I do exaggerate a bit, but not that much.) As you can imagine, this tends to persuade people to STAY INSIDE.

If you think we're all a little cabin feverish here -- believe me, we are -- how many videos/DVD's can you rent in one winter? I think maybe I've rented a few thousand this winter.

So I've been trying to balance time out and time in. It's tough to balance. You simply have to spend some time inside restoring dirty piles of laundry with clean, folded stuff, filling an empty fridge, getting bills and papers into order, sleeping, or you'll just slam into that "It's Wednesday and I have no clean underwear" problem. There's really nothing worse than a week of work followed by a weekend of being out all the time and not getting your nest in order.

Then there's the matter of writing. It takes a lot of time with no one around, with no interruptions. But that's for another post.

It's Not Unusual To Go Out ...

Going out for a late lunch at 3:00 with a friend. For some reason I've got this Tom Jones song in my head and I'm remembering how he hits the word "out" so sharply in the song. I like Tom Jones.
It's not unusual to be loved by anyone
It's not unusual to have fun with anyone
But when I see you hanging about with anyone
It's not unusual to see me cry,
Oh I wanna' die
It's not unusual to go out at any time
But when I see you out and about it's such a crime
If you should ever want to be loved by anyone,
It's not unusual it happens every day no matter what you say
You find it happens all the time
Love will never do what you want it to
Why can't this crazy love be mine
It's not unusual, to be mad with anyone
It's not unusual, to be sad with anyone
But if I ever find that you've changed at anytime
It's not unusual to find out that I'm in love with you
Whoa - oh - oh - oh - oh


Daniel Okrent writes in this morning's New York Times about columnists relationship with facts, in his piece "The Privileges of Opinion, The Obligations of Fact."

He certainly knows which columnists stir the most ire. After a discussion of Krugman and Safire, he mentions Dowd:
... And Maureen Dowd is followed faithfully around the Web by an avenging army of passionate detractors who would probably be devastated if she ever stopped writing.

Coffee, Bagels, Maureen Dowd

Dowd in the Sunday New York Times this morning.
Republicans are demonizing Mr. Clarke, who has accused the administration of negligence on terrorism in the months before 9/11.

Bush officials accuse him of playing fast and loose with facts, even while they still refuse to acknowledge they took us to war by playing fast and loose with facts.

Even after a remarkable week in which a simple apology by Mr. Clarke carried such emotional power, Mr. Bush was still repeating his discredited line on Iraq, as if by rote.

"I made a choice to defend the security of the country," he said Friday, in a speech in Albuquerque, adding: "You can't see what you think is a threat and hope it goes away. You used to could when the oceans protected us. But the lesson of September the 11th is, is when the president sees a threat we must deal with it before it comes to fruition, through death, on our own soils, for example."

Missed The Apprentice

I can't believe I missed the Apprentice on Thursday. What the heck was I doing ... oh yeah, watching a movie with my son. Good choice, way more fun.

Here's what I missed. They went to the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. There were two women and four men left and they fired Katrina. That leaves Amy as the only woman. You could see that coming. She was the strongest woman competitor and every time they had to even up the teams and another team got their pick of the players, they always chose Amy, until last week.

I've been thinking a lot about the way the men will support one another at work (and in life for that matter), even if they don't like one another. Women seem to put personality ahead of that type of gender loyalty often enough. I know I'm generalizing, but this show puts these tendencies under the microscope. If a woman player doesn't like another woman, they don't seem to step back and judge her on her business acumen -- they just get rid of her for "personal" reasons. I think the sociological aspect of this show needs to be considered. Of course, it's phony and bogus in many ways, but it can be an interesting place to consider how we all work at work. I get the feeling men have a loyalty to their gender that's very basic -- and helps them survive in this world. It's a successful worldview if you're a man in a man's world. Is it a man's world? I don't know. I tend to think men are on the decline, really getting kicked around out there. They need to hang together.

Would it be easy for Donald Trump as a man to pick Amy, an obviously beautiful and smart woman, or any woman for that matter, as his apprentice? Will he have a loyalty to a man simply because he's a man? Or is it to avoid the obvious social complications of having a woman as his "right-hand man" and having people wonder if he's sleeping with her. Who -- in fact -- wonders these things? And how do they become obstacles to a woman's progress in business? Sometimes I think there's a "morality of convenience" that is in play. It's convenient to keep women out of the top positions and boardrooms and better for men to do this as it helps them keep other men in those jobs. There have probably been many big bosses sleeping with their male assistants for years, but we'll never hear the tales.

The people who wonder if a pretty female assistant is sleeping with her boss -- those "people" from what I've seen, are usually other men who want to sleep with her. So I'm not altogether convinced is has anything to do with propriety or morals. I think it has to do with jealousy and power. One man being jealous he isn't getting a piece of the action while another is. And men knowing on some fundamental level that they don't want to share power with women. In the guise of "moral and upright" behavior, they can deny women access to power. I sometimes wonder if these male/female dynamics at work are all twisted around that first oh-so-powerful relationship in a man's life -- his mom. I sometimes wonder if men are not terrified of women's power and they know better than women how powerful women can be.

So maybe we can have a little episode next week about Trump and his mother. That would explain volumes. A little intervention by Dr. Phil, for instance, to come in and talk to The Donald about dear old mom. Okay, I'm just kidding. Back to the real story -- who will be the Apprentice?

Can Trump really chose a woman, or is it rigged? Interestingly, the first 4 programs, when the teams were all women against all men, the women won 4 times in a row. The solution -- don't let the show continue to demonstrate how the women were killing the men week after week -- mix up the teams.

I guess we'll all just have to wait and see.

You're Fired

Trump is so nutty and funny and now, this rant that his "You're Fired" sign makes New York a better place to visit and more friendly ... well, he's probably right.

New York -- the place where they say it to your face. In every other town, they just downsize you.

Walking The Winter Woods

Slept soundly thanks to lots of exercise yesterday. Walked through the woods for more than two hours at a fast clip, stepping quickly along the bike path that wanders through my town. The weather was springy, bright then rainy, then bright, didn't know what to expect. Easter colors of yellow sun shards, soft hum of purple crocuses, rumble of grey rain clouds and the promise of a new season.

Torpedo cyclists in black rubber butt shorts, rollerbladers with duck-splayed legs roaring by, babycarriage-pushing mom joggers, walkers chatting with slight Hungarian accents, runners sweating in expensive nylon garb, everyone going by, going by, going by, "to your left" they shout, whiz of wheels, I was often pushed into the muddy shoulders of the path but didn't care much, with my big boots on, no problem, had counted on an extended mud encounter.

Looking up at the stark poles of winter trees, in the highest place, an abandoned nest, sinister like a crazy woman's bun full of sticks, perched in the crotch of branches. These trees have no leaves, no buds, nothing but makedness of bark stretching tall and chopsticky skyward. Wind rattles the poles like lonely masts in an empty harbor. Every 100 yards or so, you might find a spray of ancient dessicated oak leaves -- who knows why they hung on through winter -- bleakly bleached looking more like a carpenters' blond wood carvings than actual leaves that ever lived.

Down on the ground we are thinking S*p*R*i*n*G*!!, oh so confidently, but up on high in a quiet lonely place, the bare grey trees can't reach far enough, hard enough, please, just show us some sun, please, get us out of here, they seem to be yearning and not at all convinced they'll survive the frozen mud patches, even still some snow paddies around their roots, they seem like they'd like to fly into the sky away from this winter wood. They look like the unfortunate fat kids in a gym class, asked to reach high for the pull-up bar and just can't make it, just can't stretch far enough, rooted to the ground, rather hopeless.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Lessig: Exec Summary

I've volunteered to write up a summary of Prof Lessig's new book and record that for the project AKMA has suggested -- audio version of Lessig's new book Free Culture. And executive summary's a bit like "monarch notes" for a book, since it's so tough for people to find the time to read a whole book these days.

Fee Culture

Something brewing. We're talking about doing an audio recording of a bunch of bloggers and cyberfolks reading Lessig's new book aloud and then making a CD out of it.

Here's the link to Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology And The Law To Lock Down Culture And Control Creativity

Fat or Fit?

I've been both and fit is a lot more fun. We'll be on the beach all too soon. Have you thought about biting the bullet this year and getting in really good shape. You can. It's a lot easier than you think. Start by believing you can.

How It Feels Fat

When you get dressed, you go nuts trying to remember which clothes even fit, which are the fat ones, the fatter ones and the fattest ones. No matter what you put on, you look fat and you hate that. You wear dark, drab big clothes to cover all your faults. You hope nothing unbuttons or unzips on you, revealing any flab or flesh. You wish you had something that looked good on you.

When you go anywhere, you know you look not so good in your clothes. You move your body and your skin and curves and muscles follow your movement by a few seconds, like pulling along a sack behind you. When you are naked, you hide under any available covers, blankets, drapes or make sure to turn out the lights. When you have to get up in front of a room of people to speak, you know your body doesn't look good and that makes you that makes you nervous and rocks your confidence, so you make sure NEVER to get up in front of a room of people.

How It Feels Fit

When you get dressed, you throw anything on, because it all fits and it all looks fine and even if it doesn't, you know you look fine underneath it. When you go anywhere, you know you look good in your clothes. You move your body and your skin and curves and muscles move with you. When you are naked, you could stand there discussing baseball scores or anything because you know you look good and your feel confident. When you have to get up in front of a room of people to speak, you know your body looks fit and strong and that cuts your nervousness by about 100% and increases your confidence by about 100%.

Outta Here But See Ya Later

People to see, places to go, house to clean, Saturday errands to run. Bye.


I don't use them. I don't know anyone who works there. I haven't invested in them. So with all those disclosures up front, let me say that I continue to hear total rave reviews of NetFlix. I don't know why people love them so much, but I know people do. Killer word of mouth.

Another Bridget Jones

Looks like they're busy filming another Bridget Jones movie. Go, man, go!!

Great Girl Movie Rental

Hope you have two TV's -- if the guys are going to be glued to basketball today -- go get Pride & Prejudice and check out Colin Firth's action. Oh, baby!

Hoop Day

Now, who was it that told me this weekend is all about hoops ... I remember now.

Tatoo Ta-doo

What's the big ta-doo lately over tatoos? I see them more and more and I can't stand them. I mean, maybe on Popeye's bicep, okay, that's all right. But otherwise I just don't get into them.

Here's another How Things Work entry on how to get rid of tatoos. You mother told you so!

Lessig Is More

AKMA asks us over here to participate in reading Lessig aloud. Happy to help.

How Does It Feel?

Is it a woman thing? Is it a me thing? Rational explanations of how things work leave me cold. Here's a description of diving and surfacing in a submarine. The only interesting part to me is "how does it feel?!" to be in a submarine and suddenly dive or surface. What do you do, hang on for dear life? Do all the submariners (sailors?) get tossed ass-over-tin-cup if the captain decides to take it up fast?

My understanding of the world is all about feeling, not about thinking about feeling.

Life With My Son

In case you wondered whether my kid has an engineer's sensibility (and if you've read my blog for more than a few weeks, you already know I have a 8-year-old mechanical whiz), here's what he asked me at breakfast over pancakes the other morning. This was a school morning. He wants me to give him a detailed answer before the school bus:

"How does a nuclear reactor work? Why do they need to cool down the water inside of it?"

Car Talk: In Case You Needed To Know

A friend who thinks I should know more about car engines, has been tutoring me on how he learned about the piston engine. He tells me there are only four words to remember when it comes to car engines:

SUCK--intake of air and fuel into the cylinder through valves (downstroke)
SQUEEZE--compression of fuel-air mixture (upstroke) valves closed
BANG--combustion of fuel-air mixture (downstroke) with spark plug valves closed
BLOW--burned fuel-air mixture (upstroke) exhausted through open valves

Check out this action-packed graphic.

Honestly, this is exactly the kind of stuff my kid is always asking me about. I should bookmark this.

Get Your Butt In Gear

Less is more. Not about your butt. About exercising. When I write about working out, everyone gets tired just reading about it. I don't mean you have to do some monumental workout routine with machines and weights and marathon-length runs and god knows what else.

I mean -- go for a walk for 45 minutes this morning.

If you're feeling really virtuous, also go for a walk this evening for 45 minutes (after dinner is best).

And now, I'll throw down the big challenge, don't eat anything after 9:00pm.

Those three simple things done every day for a week will make you feel amazingly better.

And the walking doesn't even have to be outside -- you can do it in a mall, anywhere you can keep walking uninterrupted for 45 minutes, it doesn't matter, just do it.

[Actually, now that I reread the beginning of this, "less is more" definately applies to your butt.]

Spring Cleaning Again

Okay, I know I've been tough on you guys, but it's a spring cleaning Saturday again. Make a list like mine and then when it numbers up to 10 items, decide to just do two today. Let's not been TOO hard on ourselves.

1. clean out papers in back office;
2. take too small kid clothes to Goodwill;
3. kitchen -- get rid rid of too many kitschy coffee mugs
4. closet -- fact facts, dump too small duds and dumb looking unfashions
5. bathroom -- clean junky drawer of old 1/2 empty cosmetics bottles and jars
6. take winter coats to cleaners
7. pump up air in bike tires
8. weigh yourself -- look at yourself in bikini in mirror -- think beach
9. take big winter blankets and comforters to wash at giant washer laundromat across town
10. newspaper and magazine clean-out in bathroom, bedroom, office.

I'm going to do number 2 and number 6. I'm great. Hurray for me.

I Suck As An Avon Lady

So I signed up to be an Avon Lady but this local manager lady and I just don't seem to see eye-to-eye or eye liner pencil-to-eye liner pencil or something.

First she sends me an email with about 500 lines of dates and information and contests and bonuses and stuff -- with no paragraphs. It was unreadable. And this was the first email I ever got from her after having been signed up almost a month. She actually likes to leave phone messages. I don't do phone messages. I do email. I do email that is intelligible and readable. I hate people who do phone. I don't do phone for precise information, or for anything that includes real data like numbers, prices, colors of nail polish. I need email. I like a written record.

She has an email address like spam -- something like JoLo3428789 or something -- and I nearly deleted it, because it obviously didn't come from a human and then I realized it was from her, and then I opened it, but as I mentioned, it was a swirl of stuff I couldn't decipher.

And then I found a friend who actually wanted to be a customer.

She wanted to buy some nail polish.

The catalogue has a veritable beauty supply shelf full of different kinds and colors of nail polishes.

My friend asked me, "Which one lasts the longest?" that's all she wanted to know.

I decided to email the manager lady, figuring this must be her forte -- she can actually answer product questions for me and help me I thought naively. I wrote "Which nail polish lasts the longest?"

She didn't answer.

I realized I had to call her -- use the phone -- something I consider a gigantic waste of time.

I left her a message, "Which nail polish lasts the longest?"

She wasn't there.

She called back quickly and told me, "I don't know which one lasts the longest, but why don't you sell her ...." and then she told me to sell her something else. And then she went into a rant about how I hadn't placed an order this two-week period and I had to place an order and didn't I want her to send me a bunch of new catalogues for $50 dollars out of my pocket and I needed to at least place an order myself for cosmetics because I had to buy some stuff to make sure her region met their goals ... and on and on and on. It was all about what she needed.

I only needed to know, "which nail polish lasts the the longest?"

She wouldn't tell me. This must be secret information.

I told my friend, "the manager won't tell me which nail polish lasts the longest. You might want to buy some at the drug store. I don't want to sell you the wrong stuff."

Friday, March 26, 2004

Every Day I Write The Book

Always loved that song of Elvis Costello's.

Get Away Faster

I see a banner ad at the top of my email today, since I use Yahoo email, I see a lot of ads. This one has a sapphire blue ocean, a bright white sandy beach, a red and white striped beach umbrella, a sunny yellow feeling, though it might not have a crayon yellow ball of sun that I notice, but I get the beachy feeling -- it sweeps over me -- I may need to look down between my toes to check for sand. It says "Get Away Faster" and it says something else about getting 10,000 frequent flyer miles as a bonus, or some such thing.

What are they selling? Unspoiled nature and worry-free days for sale. That's what it's really about, which makes me know that it assumes, rightly, that we are far from a beach on this cold spring morning and far from worry.

Frequent flyer miles hardly seem the remedy for a morning like this, and I'm still stuck on the beginning of the phrase -- Get Away Faster. It means "Run For Your Life" or maybe "Run Away From Your Life" and so you can't help wondering what kind of life we've all made for ourselves that running away from it at breakneck speed is a sound philosophy that most people reading the ad would not only be willing to agree with, but be moved, if not seduced into a bit of a early morning coffee break swoon to consider it.

What else are they selling? Sex of course and a way to escape your life. The two go hand-in-hand.

So you are Jane or Joe, sitting in your company cafeteria, a scatter of cheesy plastic furniture around you and a vending machine against the wall of equally polyurethane food on little shelves next to you, but your mind is filled with this abandoned beach scene, the beach umbrella tilted in a sexy way, away from you, the viewer. And you are left wondering what's going on behind the umbrella. You can't help but wonder.

You're wearing clothes that didn't really come out of the dryer wrinkle free, in fact, you look a little sloopy. You're watching an icy rain storm hit the not so shiny cars out on the company parking lot. The cars all look grey and a little dinged up. You're thinking of an 11:00 meeting where that egomaniacial tyrant in Marketing is really just rounding you all up to tell you you're a bunch of assholes and can never get anything done on time or to his liking. The heel on your right shoe is in need of repair and you have a sad place inside that you contemplate for a few seconds -- why it is you always scrape your right heel like that in a shameful, "don't hurt me, I didn't do it!", babyish way. If you dare to go there, you wonder, "Did my mother do that to me, make me feel that shitty about myself that I still scrape my foot like that when I've done something wrong?"

If you are Joe, behind the umbrella, there is a model, you can't remember her name but she's topless and getting pretty impatient with you for not staying with her and making love to her and instead you have to go to some idiotic meeting at 11:00. She doesn't get it and is not willing to let you go. You yield to her finally and it's delicious. No one else in the cafeteria is begging you to let her give you a blow job, last you noticed.

If you are Jane, behind the umbrella, there is a model, you can't remember his name and he's been very romantic all morning, and teasing your clothes off you, making love to you, very skillfully, you've come twice -- no explaining or pointing out any anatomical roadmap thank you -- he's really good -- you knew he would be, since he doesn't speak English anyway, that was a tip off. And then he wants to take you shopping in town, ride you around on his motorbike and buy you stuff. He doesn't know what the hell an 11:00 meeting is.

STOP ... I'd like the audio of someone tearing an old record player needle across an old Hawaiian hula dance LP to stop the music, but that's so passe, a record player, sorry ... anyway, stop the fantasy for a second and think to yourself, "Wait a minute, maybe I could get out of here, really get out of here, maybe I could make a life I liked and not have to get away faster. Maybe I could have a life I liked so much I wouldn't ever want to run away from it." Now you are really getting away. Now you're thinking straight. Straight out of there in a few months, into a life that might be real and fun and really fun. Some people do it, you know that. There must be a way to find out how they pull it off. And you think of that uncle of yours. Everyone thought he was half nuts, but he had a life that guy, he had a wonderful life and you decide right then and there ... you'll figure out how he did it and you'll do it too.

Worth Your While

So excited about the WORTHWHILE Launch. We're live the first Monday in April. You didn't think we were so dumb as to launch on April Fool's Day, did you?

A shiny new blog and new magazine all about work that really matters -- profits passion and personalities.

Fine blog writing from me, David Batstone, Catherine Fredman, Tom Peters, Rebecca Ryan, Kevin Salwen, Anita Sharpe, David Weinberger.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Dick Clarke's American Bandstand

A week ago most of us didn't know who Richard Clarke was and this week he seems to be changing the course of American History.

The emotional apology by Clarke and total absence of Condoleezza Rice and everyone else at the top of the Bush White House at the 9/11 commission hearings sends strong messages.

Clarke, whose credibility has been questioned by the Bush administration, began his testimony on Wednesday to a commission probing the attacks by asking for relatives' forgiveness, prompting cheers, gasps and sobs from the packed hearing room on Capitol Hill.

"It's the first time we have had a public apology by any of the officials that were in office on that terrible morning," said Patty Casazza, who lost her husband when a hijacked plane rammed into the World Trade Center in New York.

"An apology goes a long way to healing the wounds and moving forward," Casazza told ABC's "Good Morning America" program.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (news - web sites). Relatives of those killed have been pushing for answers and some have voiced criticism over the Bush administration's cooperation with the commission.

Clarke, who served the last four U.S. presidents, has incensed the White House by saying publicly and in a book published this week that President Bush (news - web sites) did not take the terrorism threat seriously enough and that more could have been done to prevent the attacks.

Clarke, who resigned 13 months ago, said the Clinton administration was active in tracking Osama bin Laden (news - web sites)'s al Qaeda network but the Bush administration, which took office in January 2001, did not consider the issue urgent.


In his testimony, Clarke turned around to directly face the relatives and said: "Those entrusted with protecting you, failed you. And I failed you. We tried hard but that doesn't matter because we failed."

He added: "I would ask, once all the facts are out, for your understanding and for your forgiveness."

Beverly Eckert, whose husband died in the World Trade Center, said she "totally broke down" at Clarke's apology.

"It was a very emotional moment. As Patty said, no one has ever apologized. Most of the witnesses who come to these hearings come with, I would categorize them, as rather self-serving statements and everything they tried to do.

"He's the only one who said we tried our best but we failed ... not only did he apologize, he asked for our forgiveness. That meant a lot," said Eckert, who along with Casazza is part of an activist family group demanding answers to how the Sept. 11 attacks occurred.

--Reuters via Yahoo News

Wednesday, March 24, 2004


I was thinking about death the other day, having trouble finding the words to write about how vibrant a life at full throttle can be, and then just end so quickly.

Luckily, a wonderful writer I know put it exactly the right way.
You see how fragile life is, despite being so robust. How quickly and unexpectedly it's over. The trajectory arches up like a rainbow... and falls like an anvil off a cliff. One must remember to live.

--John Perry Barlow
Unluckily, his fine writing was due to the loss of his roommate and friend Tony Meilandt.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Conference Blogging

I'm trying to decide what I think about bloggers covering conferences, especially as David Weinberger and many others are at Esther Dyson's PC Forum event in Arizona this week.

I'm not there, but at home, though I am often at conferences like these, so the shoe is on the other foot for once.

Here's some ideas.

1. Does any one really need real time conference coverage?

2. I find real time coverage of a conference is more interesting to other bloggers who happen to be attending the conference and have a sense of the "context" and place itself.

3. I find the coverage is useful when I happen to run into it later on Google and I'm researching a specific subject and it happens to fall into that area.

4. I miss the conference bloggers regular writing and I would venture to say their conference blogging is almost always less interesting than their regular writing, unless there is just spectacular earth-shattering news happening at the conference.

How Court TV Stays In Business

Sometimes, you read things you wish you could invent as a fiction writer, but you know that no one in the whole wide world would believe them.

Start with a mansion in the Hamptons in Long Island, then take a millionaire husband and his wife in a bitter divorce, add an handsome young electrician who installed the security system for the mansion, find the husband brutally murdered a few days before the divorce is final. Add a wedding -- you guessed it, the electrician marries the widow -- add a Russian nanny, well ... you read it.

How's a fiction writer supposed to compete with stuff like this! There oughta be a law!

Monday, March 22, 2004

Eat, Don't Drink And Be Merry

Renewed my vows over at the blog Joi Ito started called "We Quit Drinking." Go check it out. And "BRAVO!" to Joi who still isn't drinking.

Two Can Play At This Game -- Blueblood or Blue-Collar?

They just planted a piece about John Kerry's $33 million worth of homes. Now how many homes do the Bushes own and what's the rent on that joint at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue anyway? Last I checked they had property in Greenwich, Connecticut, Jupiter Island, Florida, Kennebunkport, Maine, and Crawford, Texas. I've got to verify that, I might be wrong. But that's the best part of the game. When you play BLUEBLOOD OR BLUE-COLLAR from Rove Gaming Industries, you needn't be constrained by telling the truth! You can make up anything you like!

This is a game called BLUE BLOOD OR BLUE COLLAR -- and Bush thinks he can win it with a bio like this! There is nothing blue-collar about Bush. Believe me, I know, since he grew up mostly in my town Greenwich, Connecticut and the Texas thing is just a nice photo op background that helps him keep his "good ol boy" image in play.

A Matter of Style

I threw out a challenge to a friend of mine who blogs really wonderful LONG posts every few weeks. I asked him to post EVERY DAY THIS WEEK with blog posts no longer than ONE PARAGRAPH. I really don't think he can pull it off.

It was just a way to open up a discussion of how ENTRENCHED we are in our particular blogging styles. The way we blog is as much part of our "brand" as WHAT we blog about.

So here are some equally insane things you'll probably never see on some well known blogs:

-- Scoble starts blogging 3-page posts every three weeks and nothing in between;

-- Instapundit relocates to Manhattan and stops writing about law and politics, focuses solely on hip hop;

-- Jeneane stops writing about her family and friends, attends nothing but conferences and posts detailed minutes of every BrainyCon, all the latest A List blogger sightings and arcane discussions of telephony practices;

-- Rageboy goes all text/no graphics;

-- Shelley gets married, starts blogging only recipes and occasional sexy stories about how much she adores her new alpha male husband and stops writing about technology;

-- Doc blogs no headlines (agh! that even scares me -- please Doc, don't ever do that, I love your headlines);

-- Dan Gillmor starts a blog for Vogue Magazine, forcing him to use the word "wireless" only in the context of women's brassieres;

-- Jarvis stops blogging (yikes! don't ever do that!);

-- Joi Ito stops travelling, moves to Cleveland, opens a gas station and blogs about the people who cruise in for gas and windshield wiper fluid.

-- Winer goes to MIT to blog;

-- Weinberger closes down Joho and starts blogging for Disney under the stealth identity "The Nutty Professor" on subjects like The Flubber Echo Chamber;

-- AKMA starts a new blog called Oy Vey, recounting his conversion to the Jewish faith;

-- I start posting late at night, never early in the morning, about the merits of celibacy, my fascination with World War I aviation trends and the future of Linux.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Good To Be Google

And here's the Newsweek article: "Let's face it—it's good to be Google. Every minute, worldwide, in 90 languages, the index of this Internet-based search engine created by these Stanford doctoral dropouts is probed more than 138,000 times. In the course of a day, that's over 200 million searches of 6 billion Web pages, images and discussion-group postings."

Google Newsweek Cover

What's with the 3D glasses guys? Kinda weird.

Gays Non-Issue For Republicans

Ends up Mary Cheney, the vice president's openly gay lesbian daughter thinks the Republicans will come around to embracing gays.

Here's a quote from her:
"Working together, we can expand the Republican Party's outreach to nontraditional Republicans," she said in the statement. "We can make sexual orientation a nonissue for the Republican Party and we can help achieve equality for all gay and lesbian Americans."
Why do I get the feeling this probably won't happen.

Hmmm, just a hunch.

Thank Goodness Dick Cheney Supports Gays

Glad to know Dick Cheney is cool with gays and gay marriage I figure. It only makes sense, what with his daughter Mary Cheney being opening gay.

Or maybe I've got a few of the facts mixed up here. Better check on them.

Bush's Brilliant Web Strategists

Do any of the links on this site work, or did I miss something? Mary Matalin's site says "full site coming in October 2003" but I'm not holding my breath.

And then there's this about Karl Rove -- our favorite election terrorist -- willing to make up anything, launch any bomb, assassinate anyone's character. Why doesn't he have a blog? Roveblog would be very cool.

Email Hemail Shemail Things I Hate

When email was brand new technology, reasonable people wrote articles about net etiquette to get newbies on the same page with them when it came to "best practices" for writing and using email. Today I was thinking about how people still write perfectly impossible email and don't use it the right way, even now that it's so common. I have a few pet peeves about email and I wish everyone shared them, so we could all work on stamping them out.

1. Please don't ask me 5 questions in one email, please send me 5 emails with one question in each. Is that nutty? You'll have a much better chance that I might answer 4 right away and eventually answer the 5th which might require some thought or research. If you glob a million things into one email and one is in need of reflection -- I don't answer the message, thereby not answering ANY of the 5 points.

2. Please don't assume I remember the name of your husband (Tom), your son (Tommy), your dog (Tomahawk), your goldfish (Tom-Tom), and feel free to say "My son Tommy killed his goldfish Tom-Tom yesterday!" instead of "Tommy killed Tom-Tom yesterday!" and I have to ask "YOUR SON KILLED HIS DAD?"

3. Please don't assume I remember who the hell you are or where the hell we met -- or that I'll mind if you decide to describe it in detail -- PLEASE DO, especially if you have a common name. I hate it when I get an email that says, "Hi, it's me Dave, I love what you said about Alpha Males." Dave who? And I said something where? In my blog, in person, at a reading, in a magazine??? And what did I say? Try this instead, "Hi, I'm Dave, Stephanie's friend -- remember we met briefly at that bar in Cambridge called NOIR, during the blizzard on Valentine's Day weekend. I loved it when you told Stephanie she needed to let an Alpha Male kiss her any way and any WHERE he wanted."

4. And my most peeving pet peeve of all email traditions. The frigging email arrives from Mr. and Mrs. Jones -- this is due to free email accounts married people get with cable modem and DSL packages -- and I don't know if the email is from MR OR MRS JONES?!?! What, email is just so hard to get, you can't afford to have YOUR OWN EMAIL? I read two things into this -- both of which I can tell you are loathsome to consider and makes me want to dump both people as potential friends. By sharing conjugal email are you telling me "We are so bonded to one another and so psychologically healthy we speak with one voice and keep no secrets?!" Yeah, right, sure. This attitude I call Marital Macho -- "We're so married and you're so not!" Or worse, "We're so emeshed I can't imagine doing anything without my spouse glued to my hip." Get your own email, lovebirds -- if you ever want me to answer it. It's like sharing one another's panties ... pretty spooky shit ... but then again, maybe you do that in your marriage? Please don't even tell me, MR. AND MRS. JONES, I don't want to know the details!

5. Then there's my favorite "Mr. Memorandum" whose emails don't even get started without 6 paragraphs for setting the scene. Add about 17 more paragraphs to air his opinion and closing arguements add the requisite 5 more paragraphs. An email is SHORT, SWEET and TO THE POINT. And life, like email, is short too -- anyone mention that to you ever?

6. And God save us from the long-winded emailer who is unfamiliar with THE CARRIAGE RETURN. Yes, you've all seen these emails -- they are one long run-on gob of text. Never a break, never a paragraph, just on and on and on for the whole page. Try a little white space ... PLEASE?!

7. And then there are those clever email addresses like DADDYSDARLING@aol.com or LEADERSHIPMAN@yahoo.com or D4T4CODERGIRL@verizon.com and they don't include the person's real name and you end up having to reply, "Hi, Leadershipman" (read: moron) instead of knowing what the person's actual name is.

Okay, is it just me, or do you run into these things and want to vomit too?

Prodigal Son and Riotous Living

The sermon at church today was about the prodigal son today. Really fun to see it acted out by the youth group all decked out in sexy bad boy leather jackets and carrying boom boxes down the church aisle.

The older well-behaved son asking the dad, "what do you mean, you're throwing HIM a big party after he's been away wasting all your money and getting into trouble. Why do I even bother being good?!?"

The younger son, "Hey, Daddy-o, I'm home! Let's party!"

It's not about a wild party guy cruising back into town and always getting off the hook, as some of the older son-types would have you think. It's about God's forgiveness and extravagant love always being there for you. You can screw up big time and still be taken back.

But I've always found the basic truth of the story compelling as it exists in real life. The real-life stories of really bad guys being the life of the party, breaking hearts, not paying off their debts, dropping the ball at times of committment or responsibility and STILL being welcomed back into the inner circle is everywhere you look. There's just something more fun about that story. Maybe the prodigal son makes us feel simultaneously holier-than-him AND ultimately forgiveable, no matter how bad we might be. If that's the God who runs this Disneyland, we know we're in for a fun ride.

Asian Women Who Kick Anime Ass

Watching the fight scene from MULAN. Great movie. The girl soldier sends her big brute of an enemy flying off the roof with an ancient Chinese dragon rocket in his belly. Don't mess with Mulan boys! Also, how can you lose with Eddie Murphy as her tiny dragon lizard sidekick?!

Here's what Roger Ebert wrote at the time it came out in 1998:
The visual style breaks slightly with the look of modern Disney animation to draw from Chinese and Japanese classical cartoon art; in the depiction of nature, there's an echo of the master artist Hiroshige. In a scene where the Hun troops sweep down the side of a snowy mountain, I was reminded of the great battle sequence in Sergei Eisenstein's ``Alexander Nevsky.'' There are scenes here where the Disney artists seem aware of the important new work being done in Japanese anime; if American animation is ever going to win an audience beyond the family market, it will have to move in this direction, becoming more experimental both in stories and visual style.

Animation often finds a direct line to my imagination: It's pure story, character, movement and form, without the distractions of reality or the biographical baggage of the actors. I found myself really enjoying ``Mulan,'' as a story and as animated art. If the songs were only more memorable, I'd give it four stars, but they seemed pleasant rather than rousing, and I wasn't humming anything on the way out. Still, ``Mulan'' is an impressive achievement, with a story and treatment ranking with ``Beauty and the Beast'' and ``The Lion King.''

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Comments On Comments

Glenn Fleishman wrote this little GEM in Jeff Jarvis' comments over at BuzzMachine. Wow! He was reacting to a long thread from this post where there were some contentious comments posted.

If you're new to reading blogs -- this will prove to be the "Dummy's Guide to Blog Comments" and quite eludicating. If you're not new to blogs, you'll want to give Glenn a nice big hug and a kiss next time you see him. Hosannah!

He also deals quickly with the good reasons many of us don't bother to have comments on our sites.

This was an interesting thread because it shows the best and worst aspects of commenting. I typically see seven kinds of comments on my blogs:

1. Intelligent, germane remarks, which may be supportive or critical of what I have posted or, if a link, to the story in question.

2. Expansive remarks that provide more detail about the subject in question, often from the principals (cf. Mena, above)

3. Discussions that form in the comments section that are germane and useful to the discussion at hand (everyone in this thread)

4. Off-topic remarks or poorly written remarks that don't extend and expand on the comment.

5. Ad hominem attacks, rudeness, stupidity. (These posters always claim, when confronted, to not be exhibiting this behavior; viz., above.)

6. People who don't understand that the comments are for specific articles and post totally weird things, like requests to order books or sell stuff.

7. Comment spam.

Categories 4 to 7 led me to turn off comments altogether on my blogs until a better solution existed. This includes wifnetnews.com, which often generates a large number of good posts in the 1 through 3 category, even when they're totally critical of my point of view (but not rude or attacking the site).

The biggest problem I've found is category 4. People who cannot recognize their own tone are often wily enough to be able to register, enter obscured text, confirm their email address -- these are the folks that moderation solves the problem of.

I really want an integrated system that requires verification of a post (so the TypeKey solution provides me a mechanism of verification) and moderation of a post (so that I as a site operator can choose whether a post is in categories 1 to 3 or 4 to 7).

I've run mailing lists for years, and when I was running the Internet Marketing discussion list back in 1994-1996 (Jeff Bezos and many other folks who were evolving companies were members), I ran it moderated. I would have problems with posters every few weeks in which someone wanted to post every damn thing they thought of. I would reject, and sometimes explain.

These folks would scream bloody murder at me. Fine, I would reply. If you want an unmoderated forum, then you should create one. I will even link to it and promote it as a forum in which moderation isn't the key. And you know what happened: a couple people started an unmoderated forum and it devolved into useless nonsense and spam within a couple of months.

Meanwhile, my list grew from 1,000 in the first week (in 1994) to 7,000 by 1996 when I shut it down because the conversation had become tedious and useless. I did promote some new lists that formed, none of which lasted longer than a few years themselves.

The point (I've meandered) is that moderation is a good thing and validation of an identity is good thing *for the people running sites*. They may not be the best thing for people who want to post comments. In which case, the way the blogosphere works is that you post comments on your own blog, and TrackBack, Google, RSS readers, and other tools link your ideas to the offending post.

Posted by Glenn Fleishman at March 20, 2004 03:41 PM

Give Me A Break

Interesting Business Week story about the head of ad agency Young & Rubicam, Ann Fudge. Here's the link via Yahoo News. Notice that most of the criticism of her leadership style hinges on the fact that she was SANE ENOUGH to take a break and do a sabbatical of a few years. And it was between jobs, not even while she was at Y & R, so I find it incredible that anyone has the nerve to criticize her taking time off at all -- what business is it of theirs?

Well, I'll tell you. They're making it their business. It's a backlash against women executives I think. It's part of a wave of women changing the corporate workplace and a lot of senior male executives do NOT like women rewriting the rules. Rewriting the rules and winning by those new rules.

From a male point of view I can understand they feel they've been killing themselves all these years, why should women waltz in and get top jobs without the same sacrifice. But GUYS, don't you hear what I'm saying -- you've been killing yourselves, LITERALLY -- and we don't want you to! We want you all to stay alive, stay with us, work with us, have fun with us and take a page from our book of life balance. Men need the changes women are bringing to the workplace even more than women!
A surprising number doubt -- quietly for now, anyway -- that a woman who openly hugs fellow execs and values her life beyond the workplace can raise Y&R to new creative and financial heights. As one senior executive puts it: "I just don't know if someone who can spend months on a bicycle has the 24/7 drive we need." Even outsiders wonder about the fire in her belly. "Does Y&R need a General Patton or a well-rounded, solid business leader?" ponders veteran consultant Richard Roth, whose firm helps clients find the right ad agency. "Ann certainly represents the latter." Fudge laughs off the innuendo. "I really love doing things differently from the norm," she says.

Going To The Chapel

Get a load of this AP wire story about why Bush is having trouble with the Marriage Initiative -- it's all the fault of that pesky New York Times.
"We are conservatives -- we do believe that government ought to be limited," Wade Horn, assistant Health and Human Services (news - web sites) secretary for children and families, said in a telephone interview.

"But healthy marriages are good for children, good for adults, good for communities. When something can be shown to be a social good, government should not be neutral."

Horn said he has been striving for the past two months to disentangle the marriage initiative from the gay-marriage debate. He traced the entanglement to articles in the New York Times in mid-January that -- in his eyes -- gave the impression Bush's marriage plan was a new, election-year initiative aimed at placating conservatives upset by gay-marriage developments.

Walk In The Woods

Had a nice walk in the woods today with my kid. I love to borrow his eyes for a few hours and see things the way he does. We walk, we talk about nothing, he points stuff out. I love to see his world. It's a beautiful, funny, unexpected place, full of excitement and new ideas. Being "king of the hill" on the top of tall piles of old snow is especially fun. You stand higher than the low branches of a tall tree.

Also dropping big gobs of pure white snow into grey slush puddles and watching the white snow turn grey, sucking up the dirty water just like a ball of snowcone ice sucks up blue raspberry syrup he explains. We did that for a long time -- very entertaining.

Nestful Of Little Blue Robin's Eggs

Anything to push spring into arriving. My kid and I are eating a nestful of little blue robin's eggs. That is, we're eating a nestful of little blue robin's egg malted milk balls. Very delish. These are cute too.

My Ass Deservedly Kicked

So Joe Territo over here, is kicking my ass about writing that holier-than-thou blog post this morning about how I get up at 5:00am, work out and write by 7:00am on a Saturday all because I'm not drinking. What a stupid Miss Goody 2-Shoes I sounded like, he's right. If he could see what a lazy bum I can be most of the time.

Thanks for the blog post, Joe.

Congrats To Esther

CNET's bought Edventure -- Esther Dyson's company -- which is very cool. Congratulations.

We all hope this means she'll have more time to be brainy and hang out with all of us and blog, but we all suspect, au contraire, she'll only be busier.

It's A Blog World After All

Fast Company's Jena McGregor did a cool piece on blogging this month. It features our number one pal, Robert Scoble. I'm quoted in it too, although I must say, I sound like a high school cheerleader who's barely mastered English. Well, I guess I was channelling my inner and outer valley girl the day Jena interviewed me.
Corporate America is jumping onto the blogwagon for many of the same reasons all those journalists, brooding teenagers, and presidential campaigners are already on board. Unlike email and instant messaging, blogs let employees post comments that can be seen by many and mined for information at a later date, and internal blogs aren't overwhelmed by spam. And unlike most corporate intranets, they're a bottoms-up approach to communication. "With blogs, you gain more, you hear more, you understand where things are going more," says Halley Suitt, who wrote a fictional case study on corporations and blogging for the Harvard Business Review. "Even better, you understand them faster."
I guess what I meant to say is that blogs let you feel the pulse of a market very early on and sense the way trends are developing and where they are headed. You can't afford to ignore blogs anymore.

Thanks so much for the mention, Jena. And yes, Scoble, you are a powerful dude!

Sullivan Says

Andrew Sullivan has an interesting piece today about the Medicare prescription drug program.
Imagine for a moment that there is a Democratic administration in the White House. Now imagine that at a time of soaring deficits and a looming social security crisis, the president endorses a huge new entitlement program for seniors, designed purely for electoral purposes. Now imagine that he deliberately low-balls the costs of this program, to the tune of something like 30 percent. Would Republicans be outraged? You bet they would. Now imagine that the official designated to provide accurate costing figures was told that if he released the real numbers, he would be fired. Now stop imagining. It appears that all this occurred in the Bush administration over the Medicare prescription drug program.

Bush's Bait And Switch

Arlie Hotchschild of UC Berkeley has written an interesting piece about why blue-collar men are voting for Bush and have the most to lose at his hands. In this interview, she comments on this ironic situation. When she looks at those who say they will vote for Bush she says:
The surprise is that the people most hurt by Bush's policies are his strongest supporters. We know that there have been 2.5 million jobs lost in his presidency. He's kind of got a "bleed 'em dry" approach to the non-Pentagon part of government spending. He's not doing anything to help blue-collar workers learn new trades, or get a house, or help their kids go to college. He's loosening the Occupation Health and Safety regulations. The plants the guys work at are less safe. His agricultural policies are putting small farmers out of business. So we have to ask: why would they vote Republican?
And some more directly from her essay, Let Them Eat War:
For anyone who stakes his pride on earning an honest day's pay, this economic fall is, unsurprisingly enough, hard to bear. How, then, do these blue-collar men feel about it? Ed Landry said he felt "numb." Others are anxious, humiliated and, as who wouldn't be, fearful. But in cultural terms, Nascar Dad isn't supposed to feel afraid. What he can feel though is angry. As Susan Faludi has described so well in her book Stiffed, that is what many such men feel. As a friend who works in a Maine lumber mill among blue-collar Republicans explained about his co-workers, "They felt that everyone else – women, kids, minorities – were all moving up, and they felt like they were moving down. Even the spotted owl seemed like it was on its way up, while he and his job, were on the way down. And he's angry."

But is that anger directed downward – at "welfare cheats," women, gays, blacks, and immigrants – or is it aimed up at job exporters and rich tax dodgers? Or out at alien enemies? The answer is likely to depend on the political turn of the screw. The Republicans are clearly doing all they can to aim that anger down or out, but in any case away from the rich beneficiaries of Bush's tax cut. Unhinging the personal from the political, playing on identity politics, Republican strategists have offered the blue-collar voter a Faustian bargain: We'll lift your self-respect by putting down women, minorities, immigrants, even those spotted owls. We'll honor the manly fortitude you've shown in taking bad news. But (and this is implicit) don't ask us to do anything to change that bad news. Instead of Marie Antoinette's "let them eat cake," we have – and this is Bush's twist on the old Nixonian strategy – "let them eat war."

Paired with this is an aggressive right-wing attempt to mobilize blue-collar fear, resentment and a sense of being lost – and attach it to the fear of American vulnerability, American loss. By doing so, Bush aims to win the blue-collar man's identification with big business, empire, and himself. The resentment anyone might feel at the personnel officer who didn't have the courtesy to call him back and tell him he didn't have the job, Bush now redirects toward the target of Osama bin Laden, and when we can't find him, Saddam Hussein and when we can't find him... And these enemies are now so intimate that we see them close up on the small screen in our bedrooms and call them by their first names.

... Whether strutting across a flight deck or mocking the enemy, Bush with his seemingly fearless bravado – ironically born of class entitlement – offers an aura of confidence. And this confidence dampens, even if temporarily, the feelings of insecurity and fear exacerbated by virtually every major domestic and foreign policy initiative of the Bush administration. Maybe it comes down to this: George W. Bush is deregulating American global capitalism with one hand while regulating the feelings it produces with the other. Or, to put it another way, he is doing nothing to change the causes of fear and everything to channel the feeling and expression of it. He speaks to a working man's lost pride and his fear of the future by offering an image of fearlessness. He poses here in his union jacket, there in his pilot's jumpsuit, taunting the Iraqis to "bring ‘em on" – all of it meant to feed something in the heart of a frightened man. In this light, even Bush's "bad boy" past is a plus. He steals a wreath off a Macy's door for his Yale fraternity and careens around drunk in Daddy's car. But in the politics of anger and fear, the Republican politics of feelings, this is a plus.

There is a paradox here. While Nixon was born into a lower-middle-class family, his distrustful personality ensured that his embrace of the blue-collar voter would prove to be wary and distrustful. Paradoxically, Bush, who was born to wealth, seems really to like being the top gun talking to "regular guys." In this way, Bush adds to Nixon's strategy his lone-ranger machismo.

More important, Nixon came into power already saddled with an unpopular war. Bush has taken a single horrific set of attacks on September 11, 2001 and mobilized his supporters and their feelings around them. Unlike Nixon, Bush created his own war, declared it ongoing but triumphant, and fed it to his potential supporters. His policy – and this his political advisor Karl Rove has carefully calibrated – is something like the old bait-and-switch. He continues to take the steaks out of the blue-collar refrigerator and to declare instead, "let them eat war." He has been, in effect, strip-mining the emotional responses of blue-collar men to the problems his own administration is so intent on causing.

But there is a chance this won't work. For one thing, the war may turn out to have been a bad idea, Bush's equivalent of a runaway plant. For another thing, working men may smell a skunk. Many of them may resent those they think have emerged from the pack behind them and are now getting ahead, and they may fear for their future. But they may also come to question whether they've been offered Osama bin Laden as a stand-in for the many unfixed problems they face. They may wonder whether their own emotions aren't just one more natural resource the Republicans are exploiting for their profit. What we urgently need now, of course, is a presidential candidate who addresses the root causes of blue-collar anger and fear and who actually tackles the problems before us all, instead of pandering to the emotions bad times evoke.