Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Happy Failure By the Last Day of Nanowrimo

If you have a gorgeous handcarved bed like this, will you want to desert it for bloodsucking varmints?

As I check the website, I see there are less than four hours left and over 652 million words have been logged. How about my 50k, you ask? Horrible failure, really, less than last year. So why am I smiling?

1) I have around 10,000 words of a new novel that's interesting and challenging to me. It deserves finishing, I think. It's filled with crazy notions that I doubt I would've explored in novel format without the absolute disregard for quality of outcome that marks NaNo.

2) I lived a great month. Lots of events, lots and lots of visitors. Lots of derailment from writing.

3) I learned I'd reached a new level of productivity. I think the daily discipline of these few, ill-thought words has helped, too. I now know I can write a thousand words an hour on anything. Anytime I want. Won't be good or grammatical, but the fear of production is past. No writer's block, just smooth creation of awful, unentertaining text as easy as pouring sludge from a wheelbarrow. Believe it or not, this is a great thing. Not to worry about the horror of the blank page is a relief, and all real writing happens in revision. Even errant squiggles across the whiteness give you somewhere to start fixing. In writing, perhaps more than any other field, shinola is transmuted to gold every day.

So I'm happy.
Competive eaters and fascinated gastroenterologists are also happy.
This man who pulled a truck with his penis is happy. (via Apostropher)
The people living in New York with bedbugs are not.

If we ever become infested, I swear that I will begin a local blackmarket in DDT that'll make cocaine profits look like milk money.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Stop Mugging For the Camera and Entertain Me!

This is Will Rogers as a young cowboy hottie. He wrote, among other sentiments, "I have always noticed that people will never laugh at anything that is not based on truth."

I realized I'd have to cogitate and phrasify if I wanted to do my latest pop-culture rant justice. But what if I didn't do it justice, I thought? What if I gave it my normal slap-dash treatment? Why then I'd still have time to shower.

Here's what I read and what I thought about it.

Steyn comments on the PC hypocrisy of Hollywood and how it wrecks storytelling. Great, side comments on the lousy experience available at most cinemas today.

Henry Kisor reviews P.D. James' latest Dalgleish book which represents, to him, "stately irony and a desert of bang-bang, boink-boink."

James Pinkerton of TCS compares the perspectives of Hugh Hefner and Maureen Dowd while reviewing her latest. He personally found it "lively and enlightening", but also noted, "Such cynicism and pessimism practically pour from the pages of the book -- no wonder it's not selling."

An avowed conservative shows up for a press junket in her Ann Taylor business casual to discover that the praiseworthy trend in L.A. journalist apparel is pricey hobo rags accessorized with hunger and anger.

James Lileks discusses the upcoming rash of world-destroying dystopia pics on the drawing boards. A result of Hollywood's own General Despair?

A Charlie Brown Christmas is still TV's biggest Xmas favorite, though once feared to be too quiet and simple to please. Robert Thompson, professor of pop culture at Syracuse (a post whose very existence I find depressing) says it's "Hip in just its absolute sincerity." Get your head around that oxymoron if you can. This article has a helpful guide to the viewing times for other crusty, holiday favorites and some horrible new ones. A Rugrats Kwanzaa isn't just a punchline anymore.

Reading all this made me realize how bored I am with the garbage of consumer-herd, PC consensus crap people want to sell me, and apparently, I'm not alone. I don't need sunshine blown up my hinder, but I don't need to be lied or condescended to about my failure to exhibit the appropriate pessimism.

I have hopes and reasons for them. I enjoy conversing with and am entertained by people who are enthusiastic about things, the kind of deep-running excitement and joy in their passions (whatever they might be) that make someone vulnerable to being harshly judged. Earnestness is commonly considered unhip, ignorant, or naive regardless of the bearer's intelligence or experience. But sue me, even in fantasy pictures, I like genuine emotion, not soul-dead, self-referential irony from people who can't think fast enough to make me laugh. I aspire to beauty, not its facile corruption in the guise of faux creativity. Cool, above-it-all posturing which, perversely, is about courting someone else's validation reveals incuriosity and insecurity, not the creativity or vision which is likely to truly delight.

Whatever it is, commit to making it really something, not a diluted, least common denominator without the quality to stir or fascinate. Comedy, drama, art, and music are best when they're played straight- invested with real risk and humanity. So there.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Back From The Bucolic Tundra

New Hampshire was cold and snow showers imperiled the roads, but from behind toasty car windows, it looked like a Currier and Ives. (Worcester Art Museum link here.) I saw real-live clapboard churches with steeples on snowclad hills, brightly painted colonial homes and barns with lanterned posts standing amid the bare birches and evergreens, and icy streams gurgled over rock and rill. Big chunks of NH really looked like this picture, except we were hauling our cargo in a minivan, and passed more than a few strip malls and Dunkin' Donuts franchises. Still, the time was nicely spent in gluttony and conviviality, and I have returned to a warm Manhattan, over 60F today.

Catching up on my electronic reading, I've found many- if not exactly outrages- things I wish to comment upon. A few seemed to overlap for me, as they so often do, in a theme not precisely indicated by the story's lede or summary. Still, to do my ideas justice, or even my usual injustice, will take more clear thought than I have available in my cheery but scattered brain today. So, how about some miscellania as an amuse-bouche with international flair?

1) ShrinkWrapped has another psychoanalytical take on this Architectural Digest story of the overwhelming narcissism and therapy-inducing distress of New York's realty-deprived.

2) Despite what you may have heard from a hairdo with porcelain veneers (and despite the undeniable and egregious abuses and scandals), we have seen international peacekeeping work to reduce the deaths by ongoing conflicts over the last decade and a half. Oh yes, there are still largely-ignored horror spots in the world, but we're not powerless. We should do better and by whatever means to stop the killing short of handing a blank check to Kofi Annan which guarantees nothing but interior redecorations for those with diplomatic immunity.

3) In Saudi Arabia, forget romance. The key to luring quantities of mobility-restricted babes into sharing their paychecks and your care and feeding is being a good driver.

4) For those who think moral rectitude is always irrelevant to fitness for public service, read how the rejuvenation of mistresses as status icons in China has helped create case after case of graft and political corruption.

5) A recent revision of a long-famous children's book has Photoshopped the illustrator's picture to delete the cigarette curled in the hand of Clement Hurd. This truth of an era and a man that families reading Goodnight Moon have- apparently- grievously suffered by confronting for 60 years has, at last, been visually expunged. For those who view the facts of history as an opportunity for discussion and education, as well as those who merely dislike the PC whitewash, the move has spawned a blog called Goodnight Reality. Louis Bayard of the WaPo has textual suggestions as well.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Boring But Present, Just Like Your Family

Image site here. Fun with brains, and post-modern self-referentialism before its time.

No web-slinging yesterday, just stuffing myself to discomfort on grease, starch, and sugar in a dazzling array of shapes and colors.

No productive activity except writing a lame 250-word entry for the November Alfred Hitchcock Mystery magazine Mysterious Photo contest.

No news today except that I didn't have a cardiac or pancreatic attack in the night. I'm still here for you.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Don't Bogart That Gravy

Whether you take it tournament strength, crime-fighting, or family fun old school- baby, don't skimp or forget to share.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Nipples, Sniffles, Rascals, and Regrets. To Life!

Haulin' Hearse image by John Detrich.

1) Regretfully, today I must begin with sadness times three.

Sam, the world's ugliest dog, has passed away.

Link Wray, seminal rockabilly guitar hero, has shuffled off his mortal coils.

Chris Whitley, whose music made me realize I'd waited my lifetime to hear it, is gone, too.

I'm sorry that their lives and contributions will now only be able to enrich us from the past tense, but I am grateful that each existed to enrich us at all. I wish them luck in Whatever Comes Next.

2) If you, as I, have noticed the relocation of the decongestants from handy store shelving to various inconvenient places where you must wait in line to ask for them, you'll be interested in this Reason piece by Jacob Sullum on how retail initiatives against meth users are harshing his sniffles, and why they won't work.

3) As Congress fails to cut spending amid rampant fiscal inefficiencies, misprioritizations, and downright corruption, certainly we'd all agree that no one in this great land deserves a li'l old pay hike more than our dear Senators, right? Especially when a month ago, when more people were paying attention (not holiday plucking and packing), they voted down the same raise.

4) When I last wrote about George R.R. Martin's A Feast For Crows, my questions were whether this rambling man would finally address the questions begun in Book 1 about The Others, dragons, and direwolves. Via Sara Weinman, Tingle Alley, who's read the newest tome, has another question to add: What is up with all the nipples?

5) As some old friends say goodbye, perhaps there's room in your heart for new acquaintances. May I introduce you to The Ghastly Ones? Combining dread-tuned surf riffs with low-rent Ripper costumes, their video's here, although I recommend checking the 4 tracks at myspace. From off-kilter hooks to classic themes and busy-busy drumming, each one has its charm.

I Give Thanks for you and gravy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Is Courtesy An Alien Virtue Among NYC Parents?

I found lovely images of fallen leaves and headbangers and a champion Cocker Spaniel, but this from Ervin Sperla of Budapest, chroncling the celebratory beginning of Indonesia's monsoon season, was my favorite entry under November Rain. He's talented. If you need a dose of good, explore.

UPDATES liberally salted in.

Sorry I've been away. I've been distracted, exhausted, and in Pennsylvania. I didn't even get to the Penn & Teller yet. Today, it's just coursing rain from an overcast the color of a bloodless cheek. So, how've you been? The gig? The kids? The pets? Good. Me, too. Let's blurb.

1) Related to my recent point about the super psychic children who we might assume would eventually crop up on a home video somewhere, Douglas Kern of TCS explains how the internet, once an alien devotee's best friend, has contributed to killing one of the best loved conspiracies ever.

2) Exit Zero, who also posted on OSM, has a newer post on parents proselytizing through their children and the absurdly (to me) costly new movement in kidcentrism. It reminded me, though I forget where I read it, about a cafe owner who recently ruffled parental feathers to hissy fitdom with signage that children in the establishment should use their "indoor voices."

UPDATE 2: Of course, Lileks knew where it was. Here's the full story about Taste of Heaven in Chicago, a cute place I've been to in the Andersonville neighborhood.

Shocking that an owner should desire his place of business to be pleasant for all his customers, not just a few who want to park their strollers all day while their heirs scream and race and pull items off horizontal surfaces. It may be counterintuitive to some, but that quiet stream of people looking to nosh in peace and leave can be a much less destructive, bigger revenue stream to a business than campers who bring their own baggies of snacks and sippie cups for half the day.

Here in Manhattan, kiddom and parenthood usually look like no fun. The attandant competition, jockeying for status, material overindulgence, performance anxiety, lacks of meaningful discipline and inner security emanate like silent and not-so-silent screams from the well-to-do but frazzled parents, benumbed nannies, and intolerable children. The kids I see most often are not conversing or wondering or even enjoying, they're complaining or demanding by whatever methods are accessible to their age group. The parents are the same. You have to travel or meet nice kids from out-of-town to start to see what you'd think of as normal responses again. In that sense, Manhattan really is at one extreme of the spectrum.

UPDATE 1: Mary Madigan's added a smiting response to her caustic commenter Andrea from a babycentric site. I'm telling you, it's bloodsport out here.

3) I've written on courtesy and its considerate cousins promptness and reliability) as cheap but vital virtues that could save the world. George Will and Lynn Truss have been reading my archives.

4) I can't slog through today's cold November Rain without wondering what's up with GNR. Well, since Axl and pals have continuously failed to deliver a long-expected and delayed album, Geffen's leapfrogging them to release a double-CD called Welcome to the Jungle: The Very Best of Guns N' Roses'. That Very's in there to convince us all.

UPDATE 3: Color me the last to know. OSM (a bleck, phtoohey name as I opined) has gone back to being Pajamas Media. And you said they couldn't (wouldn't) be flexible. Sometimes, the first instinct is the right one. Now the more important question: Is my OSM branded swag from the launch now valuable on eBay?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Bona Fides Versus Bookmarks, Super Psychics

Image from the current Met exhibit, The Perfect Medium, examining the intersection of the developing form of photography and the once wildly popular interest in spiritualism. I gotta get there before it closes.

I possess lousy bona fides, the kind of thing which ought to stifle me when I'm around the auspicious, but I fake for parties. And yet, inside my teeny black heart, I know I'm a fraud. As mere bullet points on paper, I am as undistinguished as can be. My opinions aren't worth anything based on the formal paths I followed or the public validation, mostly lack therof, I receive. I recently met a lot of people in one room with impressive CVs and excessive accomplishments in various arenas. For a moment, I'll admit I lost the thread of my own preferences and aspirations, rudderless and mute in the wake of those others who, while not homogenous, mutually admire each others' plumage. This is not to say they're wrong. I admire them all, too, but dislike when I grow indistinct in reflection against others' brilliance.

What all this means is that of the possible backpats I might receive from the credentialed and vaunted, I value your reading this most. Those loyal friends who want to encourage me and those of you who came searching for competitive eating, fighting midgets, or a misspelled missing blond teen. Miracle of miracles, you have opted to give me another chance to amuse or inform or distract, and I'm delighted. Here some other things which delighted me.

1) Elgin Tyrell is another idiosyncratic blogger who does editorial cartoons from photos (photorials), and has worked me into his parody of Garden Party. As you'll read, I don't save my boring DDT rants just for you. Heck, no. As the lights came up in the hospitality room, and some of us foolishly relocated to another bar downstairs, we'd covered a lot of topical ground. It was especially nice to talk to another person concerned with visuals and art and examining that potential online. And he won the limbo contest!

2) Publius Pundit is Robert Mayer, an energetic guy who's passionate about international affairs and democracy. We talked most about the decline of Russia's democracy and health under the crony oligarchs of Putin. He also put me onto This is Zimbabwe, a blog from Sokwanele, the Civic Action Support Group. These two are not light and frothy places to visit, but if you can stomach the resulting sadness and rage, they have important things to say about the plight of people under that villain, Mugabe.

3) As I am drawn to the odd and speculative, and have lately been fixated on remote cardiac arrest for certain dictators I shall not name, I will drag you, too, into the book I once read on China's Super Psychics. For myself, I found the anecdotal assertions dubious and not terribly well-supported, a result of the government suppression of information, authors claim. Still, the stories of academies of psychic children starting fires and one master psychic busting through walls, as I recall, and killing by mentally squeezing a target heart from miles away were gripping stuff. For more convoluted tales of the feats of alleged super psychic children, try this Edge article or more from Spirit of Maat.

Yet, I always wonder why we haven't heard more about them if they exist in such great numbers. How such powers could be kept under absolute control, especially as kids reach adolescence? Are they born or made? Wouldn't there be at least a few unidentified cases running wild, reading numbers from strange armpits willy-nilly? I'm just saying, we know how the whole Carrie scene and X-Men went down. Even the Amish understand you have to allow adolescents rumspringa.

But picture this. We get a cool house with awesome video games and closets of branded apparel. Then we fill it up with a coed group of hormone-laden, super psychic kids, who haven't been out of the compound, if you know what I mean. Huh? Right? Is it TV gold?! Platinum, baby!

Reminds me, I have the DVD of Penn and Teller's BullShit! to watch.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Boffo OSM meets High-Tech Crocodile

Keep telling yourself that Lyle would never maul us or steal our picnic chicken just to warm his cold blood.

Thanks also to Pieter of PeakTalk and fabulous Karol of Alarming News for listing this dwarf along with the brighter clusters at the OSM cocktail hang. So, right back atcha linkwise. Karol actually lives in the hood (UES signify ya'll!), and since I enjoyed meeting them so much, I am exploring both their fine blogs to cherry pick stuff to steal, I mean, highlight entries of special interest and claim the ideas for my own.

1) This'll be my last post on OSM for the moment. Maybe it's because I've been a part of ventures, some flops but also some tremendous successes, and I know how harum-scarum things can be at the start. Even in the middle. I also have many friends with their own businesses, and you have to lean out over your skis if you want to land well. I'm going to wait and see with OSM, and I do have my own ideas that I think would make the portal more lively and usable. We'll see if they e-mail me for suggestions. However, I have to say when Althouse- a day after I did, thanks kindly- makes the underpants gnomes reference, I suspected she might be diguising herself by reading my blog through a relay site I associate with my mother, or the other five or six of you.

Actually, the comparison is not such a reach that I didn't expect someone else might make it, but where some see it as a negative, perhaps believing new ventures spring perfected into being as if from Zeus' head, I see it as the normal state of affairs at this stage. And it's not as if OSM has to retool a factory, retrain employees, or recall train cars of freight from Omaha to make changes. Some of the greatest developments in science and industry have been made by people collecting the underpants without being sure what to do with them. Entrepreneurial experimentalism can be tough to live through, and it's understandable why some people didn't want to ride on a haywagon that could be barreling toward catastrophe. Okay- not catastrophe, but professional embarrassment and potential lost revenue for participants and lost funds for the VC.

But to hear so many people making cracks as if concerned for the plight of the allegedly deluded VCs? Since when does everyone care so much that a venture capital firm might lose money on one part of its risk-adjusted portfolio? No children of VCs are going to have to pawn their Big Wheels, so relax.

Synchronistically, I just got a call from an old friend who's helped found a couple successful businesses and now does planning and development for an established firm. He Amen'd the opinions above, and told me he used the underpants illustration in his own company's presentation about their future strategies. Ha! For people who are natively entrepreneurial, the underpants stage is expected, exciting, and sometimes the most fun. Things will happen. I'll stand back and let them.

2) UComics feeds a selected pile to the Yahoo comics section. I won't lie. It's a daily destination. However, I was recently shocked and distraut to find that the Joe Martin strips, Mr. Boffo and Willy and Ethel, were dropped without preamble or explanation. I like the off-center cut of Martin's comedic jib, and for a guy drawing the epically lazy Willy, my personal idol, I must admire his Guiness placement as the Most Prolific Comic Strip Artist. He creates over 1300 strips a year with as many golden nuggets of delight among them as I find anywhere. Now I must read him at his own page and shake my finger at Ucomics.

3) This is a story about one guy finding one company with one highly efficient product and coordinating with one charity to get amazing high-tech blankets to earthquake victims in wintery Pakistan.

"Because the situation is so enormous, do not necessarily conclude that you can have no effect. The question is, how do you make it small enough, how do you make it simple enough… The question is whether you can find your own part."

4) So earnest today, so outraged, you may be thinking. Well, let's leaven it with croc talk, alligatalk even.

  • A 135 million year-old crocodile found in Argentina has the head of a dinosaur with the tail of a fish. Dakosaurus andiniensis is nicknamed Godzilla.
  • Scrolling down these reports from Gainesville, you'll learn that alligators can't resist Zaxby's spicy chicken. I see a new ad campaign where the bored Tastebuds in their pink body suits fight alligators for possession.
  • If you give your cartoon crocodile a name that rhymes with a powerful cleric's, you get jailed in Iran.
  • Though a Thai woman committed suicide by jumping into a croc pit, a 60-year old Australian saved her fellow camper by jumping on an attacking croc's back.
  • Concerning this pack of dogs versus a crocodile, I must repeat the gruesome image warning. Oh don't be such a weenie. Look already.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Technical Crappery and The Gnomes of OSM

Characters from South Park, where they have downloadable images from every episode. However, from legendary 217, there's not one with these guys. Sorry. I scored this on the street.

After last night's late night carousing with the online types, I had some personal malfunctions which interfered with me until the day was half done. When I was ready and rarin' to blog, link death was my fate. UPDATE: I was happy to see that Kristen of Beauty Addict and Never teh Bride actually liked my liveblog reportage of their panel. Some others were more negative, and I wasn't trying to smooch heiny. I just have a different aesthetic perspective from the more purely policy wonks.

1) My Cable Service Blows Donkeys
I held and held on the phone with the cable company who always, mostly politely, implies that it's your stuff not their stuff. Of course, I live in a giant apartment building, and people are constantly moving in and out. This means that various service providers are tromping through the spaghetti in the basement all the time doing new hookups and workarounds. This has caused cable disconnections before and killed our phone service once, too.

The cable in our apartment is actually a tapped line from the apartment below, so when they make any changes to their service, we get disruption. Our cable signal started stinking a couple weeks ago, and I didn't have an extra day to devote to the four hour waiting vigil for which I'll be charged if not present, though there's no fiscal penalty to them for blowing off the appointment. I've called several times each year we've lived here, and the service isn't cheap enough to be so temperamental. We have NEVER paid for a service call, because I sit my wide bottom here until someone comes, and the issue has NEVER been our stuff or any part of the service we control. Both our cable TV and our internet are sporadically hiccuping and dropping out. Sounds like another problem with the cable signal to me.

So today, I'm going through the usual phone rigamarole, and the guy on the phone springs a new one on me: he asks what brand wireless router I'm using so he can give me their toll-free number. See, now they're going to help me waste my time on things that aren't the problem because it's inconceivable that the Cadillac service package we pay for could have any problem on their end. Really. I'm currently back to functioning-sort of- but I'm connected by a cable umbilicus directly to the cable modem after the phone call. While the signal lasts because I'm getting a fair share of the party line, which I believe is the real issue, I thought I'd better hash through my e-mail and post quick.

2) We're working on Step 2, alright?
The OSM party was great. I met so many bright and funny and interesting people. I also collected scads of new blogs to check out across a wide variety of topics and approaches. I'm going to post about them as I explore rather than just plink out an undifferentated list. The roomful of guests held many people who've scrummed through hard-won successes in other fields, but last night was about optimism not jaundice, and I don't mind an occasional pep rally. For me, memories of those bonfires help warm the long, dark slogs of work and self-doubt that inevitably follow.

I was surprised to read a certain amount of bad pub blowback from some notables. People have a right to like or dislike, and I agree that certain things are loose which will have to get tight. But the tone of final judgment was unexpected.

I'm glad, and it wasn't completely explained until on the web site today, that they're emphasizing the name OSM, not branding it as Open Source Media with capital letters. They explain the three-word phrase is rather a description that applies to a large number of entities not just those on the OSM site. So we'll see how the branding plays.

The name could've been worse. I don't love it or the Lucent-reminiscent logo, but after misspending many youthful hours picking band names instead of practicing or writing songs, I know it isn't the letterhead choice which makes or breaks you. If you can get exposure, you have a chance to earn something beyond a first impression. Online, that process is ongoing. People hate blogs they used to love because of perceptions in quality droop or scope change. Blogs that used to be so-so suddenly take off and find broad readership. In an active market, and the online world is a swarming electron cloud, names are constantly redefined by the reality of their namesakes.

So, OSM's an incipient enterprise. Yes, the business model has to be fledged. Yes, things will get refined, filled out, revised, and scrapped. But unlike other kinds of more static organizations and products, it can adapt fluidly as it goes. Someone didn't like the writing on the first story. It can get better as it needs to please its audience, or people will let OSM know it's good enough by reading. I gandered the HuffPo when it first launched, and found it poorly done. I still don't like its layout or much of its content because of style as often as position, but isn't Arianna Huffington leveraging it as a success? Isn't she being lathered for reinventing herself as the doyenne of her online screedsalon? She hung in there and her audience found her. What could OSM become with a larger variety of voices and themes that openly interconnect, even if they don't agree?

I believe if OSM is responsive and nimble, experimenting with new ways of packaging online content and carefully analyzing the reponses, they can find a model and become a regular, esteemed destination for curious surfers, offering great, fresh content and new forums to readers. This is the first, critical task from which all else flows. But if and when that happens, it'll also have great value to advertisers or syndicators. Just give it a minute, willya?

We're still in the Underpants Stage.

Step 1) Collect Underpants
Step 2) ????
Step 3) Profit

Today, I'm proud to be OSM's undies.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Consolidated Live Blogging From Open Source Media Launch

Now that I'm back to the land of full capability, I'm going to take the stuff I had to do on the fly from my Palm as separate posts and group it together here with formatting, typo corrections, and links. I'll also add brackets for information I couldn't get until this repost. My own instant opinions are throughout.

Imposter at Open Source- 10:17am
I've discovered the name of an unknown blog on my name tag.

[It's this one, in fact, which seems cool and well-developed. Once home, I went to check to find him in the new Open Source Media Blogroll and confirm my status as the uninvited crasher, but now I've discovered pleasantly that not he, but my little self is listed! Go Figure. I feel less like an imposter now, but this morning I was live-blogging like mad to prove my value since I felt bad about being a fraudulent guest. Back to the instantaneous reactions.]

Is the free pink grapefruit juice sweeter when I know someone else was supposed to be drinking it? Most people are dressed for business. I'm one of the funkier looking folks, and I think I'm scaled down. La Shawn Barber is blogging a table away, and Cathy Seipp is behind me. Andrew Breitbart is doing an introduction, and I've already met a table of nice people and another fiction writer [Tobias S. Buckell] whose blog is 100 times more trafficked than mine and still softsells the size of his readership. If only he knew how far down the rat tail I am. I am an unintended guest in a gilded banquet chair at a large table. I'm doing it live. Roger L. Simon, who I admire and enjoy, has just unfortunately said "paradigm". I'll forgive and keep listening. Hope you like the coverage.

Intro to OSM Site, The Manolo- 10:43am
Charles Johnson introduced the capabilities of the new OSM site after Roger L. Simon intro'd him and the other key backoffice and business development players. Of OSM's mission, interesting aspects for me were the error checking they're promising, the ability to highlight emerging bloggers, and the online rountables called blogjams. The news headlines [fed through Newstex whose liaison I met at lunch] will constantly upddate. The first was about Alan Greenspan, the second about a transvetite turbot. Perhaps it won't be as stuffy as the navy and black suits might imply. At least Charles Johnson was in jeans with a ponytail. I'm not really a fashion snob. It was just my first impression or seeing the other attendees- must trigger my memories of being a refugee from the Fortune 100. But I'd rather write today about what people have to say than how they look. That's why I blog without real name or photo, no? Now begins the fashion panel, hosted by the Madeira-rich voice of The Manolo, who is, of course, the man. [Unless, now that I consider it, the lag in response resulted from typing the answer and having someone with the lovely accented voice repeat it. Get Penn & Teller on the horn.]

Lags Stink, Make Comedy- 11:00am
Beauty/Fashion blogging panel includes a journalist [Elizabeth Hayt, product placement here] who doesn't read or like blogs, and thinks they're for rich people with too much spare time. She does have a book to pimp, and admits she's not sure why she's been asked to talk, but I think the open sharing of contrary opinions is supposed to be the point.

[Also present is makeup artist Kim Weinstein of I Am Pretty NYC, a blog that surprisingly intends to promote fewer makeup expenditures and less panic over appearance. Also, Never teh Bride (spelled right) from Manolo's Bride Blog who swears she's never seen him which the moderator calls an odd business model. Hello? Charlie's Angels! Rounding out is Kristen of Beauty Addict who is unapologetic and inspired by her expenditures.]

The Manolo is long distance, over IP I suspect, and can only answer the question before the current one which makes for the funny, if it disallows him to take a more active role. Questions on fashion are dumped into the void for him to address in later non sequitur. The Manolo was asked, and I hoped he'd advance beyond the terse, about the advertising and retail model of his blog network. The answer: "Lots and lots of suede."

What Is Evident- 11:04am
When talking about superficial subjects, to be funny sometimes requires addressing the subject deeply. The Manolo has the elegant wit to go for the pithy tip-in. The conversation has turned to blogging's mean-spiritedness. Is it funny or has it gone cruelly out of bounds. I have battery concerns. Is really the cesspool of vitriol?

Does Meanness Win?- 11:15am
The panel wraps up with a disagreement. Is Meanness the essence of entertainment? The blog-dissing journalist versus the blogger who thinks magazines are just as mean as blogs in the ways they tell women how to look and what to think. She says some people want to be befriended and some to be bossed around, and she's just trying to say buy fewer lipsticks and be funny about it. We delve into the clubbiness of journalists and the journo on the dais stays calm to her credit. No evil pile-on ensued, despite the biases that might exist in the room. Onto the political panel.

Who Is a Journalist Panel?- 11:24am
David Corn [D.C. editor of The Nation and blogger] disusses the two aspects of journalism: spending time to gather and report fresh info that's not as readily available in addition to contexualizing and analyzing, which is more of what he sees blogger doing. Larry Kudlow's just arrived. Corn asserts that bloggers need the MSM to get info from the much-derided dinosaurs, but I wouldn't- and I don't think sensible people would- disagree with that. I DO need foreign bureaus and staff reporters and stringers to provide facts I can't get, but perhaps with more transparency. Do journalists really spend more time on their subjects? Do bloggers, as wretchard suggests, provide the role of specialized story collection and tracking in niches unprofitable to dedicate a pure journalism resource? How are these functions complementary?Richard Fernandez, formerly only known as Belmont Club's wretchard, likes that the blogger's identity doesn't provide any slack based on a perceived pedestal or masthead of authority.

Authority from Content- 11:35am
John Podheretz, columnist and blogger at NRO's Corner, claims authority not from his special skill or education, but from content. The premise of being assigned intellectual authority by virtue of being a quick writer needing little editing isn't valid to him. (wretchard also pointed out that many blogggers have such interesting day jobs with expertise that no journalist could acquire during single story coverage.) Kudlow wonders what's so wrong with opinion journalism? Won't it give us the universe of views to read and choose among? David Corn cites that blogging puts unequal voices on an equal status, which he thinks is good, despite my kneejerk perception that some voices seem to journalists more equal than others. He goes on to discuss niche coverage which allows sports fans not to have to sit through the rest of the news they don't want, but he's mourning loss of common ground for conversation in favor of intellectual ghettoes where we only read what we agree with. But I don't do that. If someone has a good point to make, I want to hear it, as long as it's substantive and grounded in something other than irrational (or worse, unclever) finger pointing. John P. says now people are acknowledging the niches they were always in, and more choices and voices are allowing greater participation for everyone.

Is anyone Reading? -11:47am
Toss me a comment at henway00 (that's two zeros)- at- to let me know if you're reading along or even interested. Tx.

[I didn't get any, you self-absorbed heretics.]

Claudia Rosett- 11:47am
She of the fantastic Oil-for-Food investigative journalism and columnist in the WSJ is talking about the vastly lowered transaction costs of reporting now that so much background is available online. Less boot leather journalism to get info and no need to physically travel or snail mail to sell your content has produced a lower value perception, so to speak, reflected in a proliferation of cheap sources of targeted information, like blogs. Kudlow acknowledges lowered barriers to entry. So how do we and why should we hold bloggers to a higher standard of accuracy and objectivity than the wild and wooly presidential debate coverage in the l1860s? To Wretchard: Is it enough to create a marketplace, should bloggers take more care? W. is singing my song. As blog traffic grows, your rep is your lifeblood and one becomes more accountable with the more eyes that read. The market corrects. John P. says caveat emptor, and that 90% of the people he worked with in the MSM were incompetent and carried by the top 10%. This was not widely known before, and all articles were treated like gold, rather than the first draft of history to be revised as we learn more and correct the errata. He tells an anecdote about the mythology of fact checking from his experience at Time. Corn asks whether we should intentionally misreport. [Of course not!, I say.] Rosett argues that it's not necessarily the largest organizations that do good research. Know your audience. Weekly World News knows it doesn't need to overly scrutinize its alien baby stories, If you market yourself as a place for facts, even the more rarified Truth, the stakes are much higher should you fail to deliver.

Live Blogging- 11:54am
I'm enjoying doing this, so I'll keep on, although no mail has arrived. Technorati: Please find this Pajamas Media/Open Source Media thread already. John P. talks about slander and libel as still in force, and Kudlow notes we'll all be held accountable. Corn discusses imposition of transparency a la transcripts. John P. talks about the imposition of modesty upon an industry which has styled itself as Olympian.

Will the Batteries Last (redux) ?- 11:56am
John P. talks about how experts can now get access to information at the speed of journalists and provide perhaps richer commentary immediately- example Volokh Conspiracy on Supreme Court rulings versus the old days when subscription to a special wire service was required and only news organizations bothered.

U.N. Grab for Internet Control- 12:06pm
Rosett says now that their eyes are on it, they'll try again, and bloggers must be the Paul Reveres to warn people about keeping this enormous bureaucratic arm from muscling in. From the audience, Austin Bay points out another factor is geographic dispersion as a difference of this new media in getting on-the-ground reports. I love hearing the scoop from cultural natives, not solely outsiders or those who may be fed the party line in controlled, limited access. There can even be reticence in sharing dirty laundry cross culturally, so people must report from the inside. I can see Judith Miller from where I'm sitting now. Kind of a tickle. Corn thinks people should try to be accurate and honest, if not objective, and bloggers must grapple with that and could learn from the MSM.

Has MSM Lost Killer App?- 12:20pm
Glenn Reynolds says that in trimming hard news coverage, which many consumers would like to see more, the MSM may have given up its irreplaceable bailiwick, "killer app" he said, just to substitute "attitude and zip," thus competing with every other person with an opinion, which is to say everyone. Corn and John P. point and counterpoint at various events in history and opine how they might have scrolled out differently had we blogs then.

Great Lunch and Company- 1:29pm
At a table with Austin Bay, wretchard, neo-neocon and Publius Pundit as blogdentities among other fine, engaged folks who I'll list as soon as I can decipher their name tags. Over actually tasty banquet chicken, we discussed issues for which we don't have answers. I'm always interested to spitball where things may go, and I got rambling about Everquest and online assets (I have more knowledge than I should here), the legal possession and trade of these identities. But we also discussed the possiblities to contest especially corrupted or degraded international media as a real alternative. Where most people in Zimbabwe aren't online, field blogging from there may have less affect there than it has on us, but when PowerLine- as I noticed catching up this morning- starts bouncing around the DDT issue, it gets way more traction than my puny rantings. Where will all this go? Hard to know but the breadth of imagination stirs the blood.

Keynote: Judith Miller- 1:40pm
Glenn Reynolds introduced her with the idea- related to lawyers and journalists- that anyone with half a brain wants a guild for its safety, support, and special privileges. Judith Miller begins with discussing a (rare for her) quote by Marx about the means of production changing consciousness. In current days, she says we see a change in consciousness fueling a change in production. She recaps the basics of her situation which I will not restate except to say her wording is careful, as I can understand. She refutes the stories of book contracts incenting her jail time, saying she couldn't track and rebut all the rumormongering from jail. She cites reporters she says are in danger of jail, and says the interest in gossip is drowning righteous questions about free speech and free media which should be raised. My first response: Isn't the fury about the wildness of blogging an attack on free media, too- must I defend a journalist at a paper as my only outlet for defense of free speech. She advocates support of a shield law which will protect all reporters and perhaps by umbrella some bloggers. Uninformed opinions, humor, nor vitriol (her words) would be covered, nor does she think they should be. Erma Bombeck in print- safe. A bloggy facsimile isn't. Serious content only. Who was it who said if you tell it worse than it is, they call it realism, and if you tell it as it is, it's satire?

Keynote Continued- 1:51pm
Not sure last post went through, but I wanted to say the comment about satire was mine if it wasn't clear. Miller gives her rules of journalism which all have to do with honesty, dedication to correcting mistakes, publishing denials, and one that bugged me: contacting a subject before writing about them. Like Glenn Reynolds said earlier, sometimes I toss out things which have been said elsewhere but which may not be true, and I try to be clear about what I don't know. But if neither Judith Miller nor any other major figure who I might write about will take my calls, I don't get to comment of have an opinion?

The Money Quote- 1:57pm
"There's a difference between a shoe leather reporter and a thumbsucker... and we confuse them at our peril." MSM, in Miller's view, may have been too open in using online sources and material thus aiding the confusion. I found it condescending, especially since so many more bits and bytes and synapses are used than shoe leather these days. You may diasgree. Questions included: What about the fact that her testimony would not have protected her under the shield law.? I wish I could provide the answer, but I was reconstituting this blogeaten entry. Others asked about the zealousness of Fitzgerald and whether things would have been different had the NYT editors also been subpoenaed. No definitive answers, but who could expect or give one?

Impressed by Journalists- 1:59pm
I don't agree with all the views expressed about the unique specialness of journalistic practice by the MSM reps, but their willingness to put themselves forward for a discussion with so many who might virulently disagree is admirable.

Senator John Cornyn of Texas Speaks- 2:03pm
I didn't realize he'd be speaking but it's good he's connecting. He admits he checks the blogs to find out "what's really going on." He calls himself a fan of open government especially with access to records so the governed may know and consent to how they're being governed. Freedom of Information laws, sunshine laws are also a concern. Believes the presumption that if a citizen asks for government information, he ought to get it without a runaround and wrangling.

Cornyn and Leahy-2:07pm
Joined together to support a national type of sunshine law. Believes bloggers shouldn't be constrained in any way citizens aren't typically, They shouldn't be disadvantaged compared to MSM. Another blogger-pamphleteer comparison, and he clarifies that bloggers are a respectable, vibrant part of a free press. He looks forward to helping blogosphere and citizens interested in free information, and opposes stifling blogs under guise of campaign finance reform. As painful as the commentary can be, it's part of a vibrant democracy. Because we're not pleased with every bit of content isn't an excuse for the gov't to jump in and regulate.

Questions for Senator- 2:12pm
Will internet be subject to FEC regulation in a way other media isn't? Evan Coyne Maloney cites (until now, I've been misspelling as sites in a dyslexic fit today) examples of his own film made after the election which could have been illegal in October while Michael Moore seems immune. Cornyn would like to see unfiltered, unedited speech, but is concerned about inviting Congress to further intervene to counteract some of the problem online applications of McCain-Feingold. The blogosphere should be used as a model for all political speech and advance from that position rather than looking for ways to extend the regulation.

Protection for Cell Photographers- 2:20pm
Cornyn believes someone taking a phone picture of a public figure and publishing it online should be protected, and wonders whether anyone should have special protection, especially in favor of another group doing the same kind of activities. Someone asked whether the Senator sees "no difference" between a person with "decades of experience" in "the craft", but Cornyn sees no logical way to differentiate them. He talked about majoring in Journalism before finding out the pay scale for a cub reporter. He also cites the many recent offenses exposed by the blogosphere against the supposedly high standards of career journalists. He sees the blogosphere as a way to help us recapture the historic intent of America's Founders with respect to an informed, freespeaking populace. Whew! Lunch's over- party later!

Hope you found this at all interesting and that I didn't mangle the substance of ideas by paraphrasing. If you were present, and I got something wrong, let me know. That's the point, right?

fascinating development- 2:26pm
the elevators from the sixty fourth floor aren't working. trapped like rats without a shift key.
[They were fixed about five minutes after the post. No biggie.]

Preemptive Posting Before Bed. Iggy Stays Up.

This is pretty much the only way I can manage early morning posting. Since I'm technically posting this in the glorious Wed. am, though, I can actually use the super cool Iggy photo forwarded to me by The Bummer Girls. (BG: I love the Dad post and pics, but what happened to the Worst Book You'd Ever Read? Are we getting nice in our aged decrepitude?)

I'll be at the Pajamas Media thing today, and I'm getting excited as the out-of-town/blog-ya-later messages show up on the sites of other prominent attendees who know they'll be there, but don't know I'll be. Free Wi-Fi and high speed internet will be available, but my laptop battery's pretty played and my wireless card is whimsical, I guess I'd say. Since my apartment's cable service is also degraded at the moment (the retrograde Mercury phobics may make a believer of me yet), tonight I took my Palm Tungsten C down to the coffee shop where I then broke a piece off my portable keyboard and still couldn't connect well enough to test stripped-down blogging through the little monster. Arrgh, man.

Will I live blog the event? Magic 8 ball says Reply Hazy.

Meanwhile, I really loves and gets the great values from the Netflixessess, so the buzz on this lousy class action settlement bothers me. Hmm, who got rich? Lawyers who collected signatures. Who got hosed? Consumers. At least here it happened immediately so you can see it. Usually the cost of class-action settlements has to filter through the company's operations into higher prices before the consumer gets it in the neck.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Keeping Time: My Adored and My Enemy

Image site, see item #1.

Since time is my enemy today, this post will be about it, or rather, timepieces. I know there is at least one reader who will enjoy this as much as I- talk about niche marketing.

1) I've always been a fan of fine watches, if less from an engineering standpoint than an aesthetic one. On of my favorite styles is the tonneu. Here's a history of the famous Longines' tonneaus, including the sensational one worn by Bogart from 1941 on. However, I did not know, and I am also her fan, that Audrey Hepburn has a long association with Longines.

In an update to their advertising, in 2003, they looked for a modern Bogart to advertise the line. Well, good luck. Today, even Bogart wouldn't be Bogart. Twenty and thirty something marketing reps would have rejected his high waist and occasionally hunched stature which always needed the aid of good tailoring as an elegant man's form may. They'd toss out his eye-bags and chimney-smoking. Most likely, they tried to get a pillow-lipped twenty-two year old to smolder in two dimensions, and that's why I don't remember anyone. The current line of pretty coeds never project the self-possesion, strength, and manliness of a more tarnished and tested man. When was the last time you saw a saggy or craggy film star projected as something other than comic relief? But I'd sure like a couple of them just to liven up the joint with some style and sophistication.

2) Stanford University gets back an important Patek Phillippe which was once sold off by the founder's wife to raise operating funds for the struggling library.

3) The most expensive pocket watch sold at auction, is- no surprise- also a Patek Phillippe. The Grand Complication, which has 12 different functions, will be going to a Swiss Museum that bid almost 2 million U.S. for the privilege.

4) Here are the results from National Jeweler of the fifth annual Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genéve.

5) This has nothing to do with watches for those anti-chrono types, but it's so weird and depressing, my master plan is that it will turn you to the beauty of timepieces as an antidote. A poor woman in India has died in the hospital after having her eye eaten by ants.

Got to RUN!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Celebrity Weddings For The Birds

Are you surprised at the wide selection of penguin cake toppers?

1) This strikes me as a sad thing to specialize in, sweeping away the wreckage of cancelled weddings. I would be interested to know how big a trend this is, and whether people who know think it has anything to do with the expansion of the wedding into such an enormously complicated and costly event, even for normal folk.

2) Gawker's delighted with Nicole Richie's new book and couldn't put it down. Prepared to tag it as ghostwritten, I perused this excerpt. My revised conclusion is that it's so awful I can easily believe she herself pushed out this mangle of abused language, puerile characterization, and stuff we already know about the well-funded and vapid.

Chloe Parker would be a terrible role model if she were famous. Trouble is that she was about to be. It started innocently enough, or as innocent as you can get on the dance floor of one of the hottest clubs in L.A.

If a junior high-schooler wrote what I read, I would be pleased with her efforts at expression if distressed by her precocious worldliness. That this comes from the "educated" mind of a not underprivileged adult ought to be humiliating to the author and her publisher. That it isn't, and that it will likely make money just proves why I shouldn't run the world. It would be so much unfunner.

3) This is a very worthwhile and link-rich article about the avian flu panic from my favorite health reporter and debunker, Michael Fumento. Before hyperventilating at terrifying cover stories and news crawls, read these avian flu facts that address the panics which many in the media are carelessy and ghoulishly inflaming. The bullets points:

  • Nothing about this particular influenza is new, the frenzy of reporting is new.
  • It well may not mutate or migrate per the worst case scenario. It hasn't yet after decades of living with us.
  • There are things we can do to control the spread.
  • Despite the scare-lede 50% mortality reports, we can't know what these statistics really are, because those who never displayed symptoms or got very sick haven't been diagnosed for counting. As Fumento points out, we know the numerator of deaths, but have no way of knowing how big the denominator of exposed people is.
  • Medicine today is not the same as 1918.
If you aren't familiar with the role secondary infections play in upping a flu's death toll, read especially about the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine which works against 23 kinds of pnemonia-causing bacteria which can never become resistant to it. This vaccine protects for life, and is one we need to invest in as heavily as Tamiflu et al which viral flu strains can become resistant to.

Now is the time for even greater education that viral treatments are not preventative, and should absolutely not be used except in the presence of a confirmed infection that needs them. Overuse will render these agents powerless, because the virus will have mutated past their abilities to inhibit it. Don't stockpile, don't premedicate, don't poison birds, or worry about catching H5N1 from your Thanksgiving turkey should you indulge.

(UPDATE: Michael Fumento is a discredited creep. Your humble author still agrees with the conclusions he made, as these data have been cited by other, reputable sources. However, I must alert you that this man was, quite unfortunately, a paid mouthpiece.)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Numberless Broke Coeds Make Lemurs Into Pillows

These are the Stooges. Quizilla says I am this '77 punk band. How about you?

Yesterday was lost. Almost as soon as I finished the blog post, a foul mood descended. The kind full of self-hatred and existential terror where the sky seems the gray of despair viewed from the recesses of one's own navel. Fortunately, I know for myself at least, such melancholies pass. Live through them, and I come out on the other side downright chipper. So, here's some junk for you to mull over should you choose. The weekend isn't over for my novel.

1) John Cleese has a lemur species named after him. Here's a helpful page of strange taxonomic constructions including species named for celebrities, myths, naughty parts and practices, and fictional characters. There are lots of rocker names, huge amounts of Zappa, and the ubergeeky naming from Tolkien and scifi. It's chock-full of amusing gems for those willing to scroll and read.

2) The Straight Dope addresses numerology By the time they've surveyed a pile of competing systems, you'll find something you like. If that one doesn't consistently satisfy, you can always roll the dice and pick again.

3) As Chris Rock jokes, are people gettin' real proud of not knowin'? Being infected since birth with incurable curiosity, I can't empathize with people who don't want to know anything, and are proud of -worse, satisfied with- being ignorant and useless. But since longevity studies tie intellectual engagement to longer, heathier lives, I suppose the dumbest lemmings will fall off the cliff soon enough. But see now where my vocational school idea makes sense? I would say curiosity and willingness to embrace new information are key components of adaptability and innovation. These collegiate lumps of unambitious sediment actively repel education as it's classically defined. Certain types of high achievement require a larger, internal framework of knowledge than simply how to plagiarize a paper by Googling a Wikipedia entry. For these, we require the kind of big thinkers who grow their capacities through challenging studies. If you won't study a broad sweep of sciences, philosophy, history, or the arts in their most complex and rarified manifestations, you don't need a university. You need trade school. And journalism is a trade, too. So sue me.

4) As college grads complain and journalists concur that it's harder today to reach the milestones of life, they remain willfully clueless about what were common financial sacrifices people used to make for homes and families. Weddings didn't cost tens of thousands, restaurant dining was a treat, and the common amount of money spent today on personal grooming and adornment would, I bet (even in adjusted dollars) strike speechless the prototypical middle-class household of the 1950s and 1960s who supposedly had it easy. I'm not saying everything's wrong today, just that when one's modern priorities are very different, it's invalid to judge from that position what someone else accomplished who sacrificed what you won't.

In this article, one person blames circumstances for her unwillingness to follow a professional career that she (I believe ingenuously) claims is her "passion". Others keep throwing more money and school time into career fields oversupplied with candidates. College is an investment, and I think it's more important to make it wisely than just to show up. Today, you can almost name your price as a pharmacist after a 4-year degree. In fact, many below-MD level health care fields are sparse in employees and the wages, benefits, and competition for staff have gotten higher, likely not to subside in the next decade certainly. So what's up with the almost useless thousands of Media, Communications, and undergrad Psychology degrees from undistinguished institutional incubators of venereal disease? If people graduate these progams knowing its from it's, you're from your, and their from there, I'm knocked down. Only this generation's upper-middle class have grown up with enough thoughtless comforts to expect that unspecialized knowledge and/or skills, conspicuous status-driven consumption, and broad swaths of costly leisure which rival the lifestyles of those born wealthy in less developed countries are the natural analogs to fiscal security.

The way normal families used to live would be considered lowly, embarrassing, and poverty-scented today. People also tend to undervalue how ever-cheaper technology has diffused society at every public and private level. Today's very average life looks cushy (and longer) by comparison to a very average life decades ago. For example, 30 years ago, a friend of mine was one in the pile of kids jammed into the station wagon, without DVDs or Gameboys, but next to a tin of sandwiches made to last for crossing the country, and thereby avoiding roadside expeditures. This, not a Disney cruise or Camp Kidtainment, used to be a normal family vacation. Now, it's fodder for comedy. I still enjoy an old-fashioned road trip, but I'm defective.

5) Will a chirping pillow help you sleep in stressful times? Soldiers in Kosovo say yes. But I couldn't post the picture of this freaky Warm Whiskers pillow on a woman's face- not public domain- so link here and see if you think an, eyeball-nesting zombiepuppy looks desirable.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

On a Three Day Weekend, a Holiday for Lobsters

Image from Genetic Gallery, Visualization Lab at SUNY Stony Brook.

I always plan to cut short the linky-linky and do a quickie post, but I start blathering, and those intentions evaporate. I do plan to get caught up on NaNoWriMo. Perhaps. My handy Excel spreadsheet says a mere 2500+ words per diem until month's end, and I'll make it to the 50k. I'm going to try to produce fiction like a maniac- thank heavens quality isn't a requirement- and do enough today and tomorrow to get my daily quota down to something more reasonable. After all, I'll lose some days to Thanksgiving, and next week is the Pajamas Media (whatever its name will finally be) launch event. I'm so excited about wasting Wednesday listening to and meeting people whose online presences I admire.

1) PJ Media had originally planned to incorporate so-called "tail" blogs. By size, that's what this is, however unflatteringly named. In later developments however, PJM decided to split into different missions and launch instead with 70 main blogs in their portal. They have some big-biggies signed up (if I'm right, 4 of the top 10 as ranked here). So, despite my voluntary enrollment, I wasn't invited on board. I can cry into my Cheerios, but I can't be suprised.

I want first to testify how pleased I am that persistent, candid willingness to accept one's humble place has its perqs. Though not in their blog portal (and I can't blame them- if it weren't a question of numbers, it might be one of taste), I was invited to the launch event at Rockefeller Center. Free eats, even. Tell me that ain't class. Last I read, Judith Miller was slated as lunch's keynote speaker. I will be interested to see if that's still happening since she's cleaned out her desk at the NYT. Also, many, many bloggers I enjoy and who are pushing the medium forward as a commercial and informational and communicational (?) tool will be attending. I eagerly await what they have to say in panels and at the hotel bar. I keep thinking there ought to be a way to work my kind of fiction and maybe artwork into a real online format, but I've yet to see it done in a way that I adore, and my own brain hasn't stormed.

I do still believe in PJM's notion of an organized portal. I'd love a categorical way to search blogs, not only by those covering a certain topic on a given day, but by style and general themes since so many (like this one, cough, cough) are varied in nature, making strange bedfellows of readers who may each appreciate it for very different reasons. As one example, if I read Vodkapundit's substantive foreign policy pieces or technology updates, would I also know to look for the occasional recipe? Well, you say, I would were I a diligent reader. But as my Favorites list expands geometrically and the eclecticism that blogging allows blossoms, shouldn't there be a way to find out if my fave bloggers are hitting my fave topics? (It would allow you to more easily dodge my frequent DDT posts...come on, that's worth something isn't it?)

I know lots of people use tags, but I don't have them here in my prepackaged Blogger set-up, and I'm not sure they're the be-all, end-all. Yet. What I really want is more like a one-page RSS digest of all new posts or on selected topics, not a real-time push or scroll. I'm playing with Jeeves' Bloglines, but I'm not so convinced, because I'm not finding it intuitive to arrange the stuff I want. The feature to allow mobile surfing of differing blog formats on my Palm is a fabulous idea, but I don't know if it works yet, and I'm reserving opinion. My bottom line, and perhaps yours, is to optimize the substance and enjoyment I get from the time I'm spending online, not to lengthen the already significant hours, put a streaming feed on my cornea, or feel like I'm in a chase. Probably, people have figured out an elegant solution already, and I'm just hopelessly behind. It's my fate to be the Tail.

I'm still disappointed that they're not keeping the original Pajamas Media name. That monikker came from the Big-Time-Media Rathergate attack on bloggers as inherently ignorant, unethical cranks sitting around in their nightwear. Now that wonderful name isn't serious or professional enough. Phooey. As others have asked, what sounds so serious about Yahoo or Google? When the people and the venture are professional, neither the logo nor the name need to be. Now, I suppose they'll use only Copperplate so all the words look solemn and true. Anyhoo, enough grousing about it. Despite developing recognition with the old name and profiling their participating bloggers under it, they will unveil their new identity on Nov. 16th. I will be there forming snap judgements to report.

2) If you could care less about me and the backstages of blogging, here's a heartwarming story of respect for age, despite the sweet, sweet allure of a bath in butter. 87- year old Fat Joe's going to the lobster stud farm.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Just for the Veterans- With Thanks!

Because I live like a bog creature, it took me until now to realize it's Veterans' Day. Sorry. It does explain why so few of you are checking in, you're out. And I did 2 posts today! Read first below.

HEARTFELT THANKS to all those in uniform who are sacrificing and have sacrificed at great cost to protect us and our nation's ideals.

Because I'm a mutt fan and can't be too solemn for long, here's a pic reported by Power Line to be the unofficial mascot at the Marines' Camp Pendleton.

The Day is Fair with a Westerly Cross Post

I'd hoped an image of a wind chime might help carry my theme. Is it working? Are you soothed by its tinkle?

Today, the kind folks at Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns have posted an article of mine as guest blogger du jour! I so appreciate the loan of the center column, and hope their many readers don't revolt. I think the idea is that I post the same article here, too, thus the name "cross post", but go read it over there. It's my TRUE SCOOP about what the French rioters want.

Now, in case you read that and demand more, more, more about France, here are two light but sharp-pointed rapier attacks from Mark Steyn about the effect of demography and Denis Boyles about Chirac's historic dodge-and-duck during domestic crisis.

Okay, you say, I appreciate the piles of links, but I don't give a rodent's rump about the topic. Well, then. How about:

1) Lotion Addiction thanks to Bookslut

2) The surprising power and reach of telenovelas thanks to Arts & Letters Daily

3) The woman who discovered, after waiting for transplants for 4 years, that the hospital had been offered and turned away 38 livers and 57 kidneys.

Enough! If I don't get to scribbling, I'll never have 10,000 words by bedtime.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Smutty Single Seniors Don't Use Real Names

Image site here.

I am always so happy when I finsh something, you'd think I'd do it more often. I just finished a submission for a potentially remunerative gig. I don't care that the pay will likely be paltry. I'd like to be semi-regularly published. Besides here, I mean, where I delight daily in the liberty of using the word crap a lot.

1) I'm also happy to be freed up for Nanoing. Yay- you sigh- another item on that. So tedious until the 30th. But now that the Grumpy Old Bookman's on board, can coolness be far behind?

2) My take on porn curricula is that one shouldn't have to pay $350 a credit hour to make one's own porn. Amateur's supposed to be free, isn't it? Besides, I remember some of the wacky professorial individuals at my schools. If I'm paying to perform, and the prof ends up with stacks of XXX student smut, who's the clear winner? Is it me with my shiny A and newfound vulnerability, or my professor with a large inventory of highly saleable and/or blackmailable material? Is the T.A. trustworthy? Are the locks secure? You'll only need an egg timer to measure the time before those tapes hit a subscription site, leak around the campus, or are used in another context that won't exactly enhance your transcript.

Granted, if you're afraid to tackle any learning above a high school level of competence, I can see why you'd stay away from real knowledge and select a topic that any autodidact with Cinemax can study in mind-numbing iteration and that many learn quite well "on-the-job" so to speak. This is again why I'm for the restitution of broad vocational schooling. Parents, wouldn't you be prouder and wouldn't your children have a brighter future if they were learning to repair dialysis machines or ATMs and not wasting their time and your cash in a university?

3) We're talking about aliases. The names authors take to help sell books when their own name has become associated with less-than-blockbuster performance or the gender and sound is "wrong" for marketing. I know it must be disheartening to build a career where your own name proudly identifies your work and then have to switch to a name you must explain. Like Sarah Weinman, I was reminded of Donald Westlake's book The Hook which gives a great rundown of the vicious cycle that can force an author into fakery. Westlake, of course, has his own alternate identity as Richard Stark. Unlike a couple of Sarah's commenters, I'm not offended as a reader. Not only can I conceive of plenty of good reasons for AKAs, I'll bet Henway Twingo isn't even on my birth certificate!

4) Senior bloggers are rockin' it old school, and proving to be actual individuals, not just airbrushed fiber ads. If my 77 year-old friend is reading this (and you know you are, you wired-up web-surfing vixen) you ought to give these bourgeois oldsters a run for the Celebrex. Metaphorically speaking.

5) Intellidating. This is where you attempt to meet a lover based on more than you can discover by screaming across a sticky bar. I thought attending events of personal interest and talking with other attendees was always a decent method of foraging for friendships and more. For someone brighter than a brick, the events might include words or art, talent or skill. But no one wants old, crustified dating advice. Rename it, and it's marketing gold!

CRAP, CRAP, CRAP. I feel so breezy and free.