Tuesday, November 30, 2004

EPIC 2014

If you have the patience to appreciate a slowly-developing 5-minute online movie, you'll enjoy Robin Sloan's EPIC 2014, a prognostication set in 2014 that looks back to the events (from 1989-2014) that lead to the demise of traditional media.

Sloan depicts a mildly dystopian portrait of technology and democracy challenging editorial wisdom. This future shows a society where myriad points-of-view paint the world in shades of yellow journalism.

In EPIC 2014, blogs and social networks (and their affluent, paranoid technological patrons) harm our society by sacrificing the professional attitude toward media and media ethics so carefully cultivated during the 20th century.

Today, to read the Drudge Report is to know the power of an editor whose personal foibles outweigh his journalistic principles, and therefore to understand how the seeds of Sloan's EPIC 2014 have already been sown.

Monday, November 29, 2004

My Firstborn Shall be Named Happenstance O'Balderdash Le Folderol

Not to be outdone by Gwyneth Paltrow and her baby Apple, Julia Roberts has decided to name her newborn twins Phinneaus and Hazel.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Additional Context for the Mosque Shooting

All you news junkies have seen the video or read the story of the US Marine killing a gravely wounded insurgent in a Fallujah mosque.

To get a better understanding of the complex situation surrounding this tragic act, read the blog of the journalist who was embedded with that unit and shot the footage.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Greek Lawyers: Alexander's Relationship With Hephaistion Was Strictly Platonic

Any blushing freshman studying humanities at an American college will tell you that casual homosexuality was socially acceptable among male citizens of Ancient Greece. However, a group of peeved Greek lawyers want you to know that Oliver Stone's portrayal of a bi-sexual Alexander the Great amounts to little more than salacious allegations.

I'm glad this issue is hitting the press right now. After homosexuality was simplified and demonized by Radical Christian Clerics in the run-up to the US presidential election, shining some light on the complex relationships among males in Early Greece will force some people to see same sex relationships in a new light.

Liberals/Progressives/Democrats/Religious Lefties,

Please refrain from using the phrases Christian Fundamentalists or The Religious Right to refer to Pat Robertson and his ilk. Both are hidden compliments. Please use Radical Christian Clerics.

That is all,

Thursday, November 18, 2004

I'll Be Attending a Speech on Speeches

I was one of the founding crew at my company. But, since I have no discernable technical skills, the title on my business card reads, ahem... Director of Marketing.

Since this title gives people the false impression that I know Thing One about the highly specialized and decidedly frightening area of marketing, occasionally companies send me silly promotions directed toward Directors of Marketing.

Case in point, this is a tradeshow on tradeshows. Yikes.

Adoration in Any Language

My friend Mark has started writing an online column for Google's Orkut service.

How does this sudden online fame change his world? Well, now Mark gets to contend with broken English fanmail.

I love the stark poetic quality of these notes. Mariane tells Mark:

I call Mary
I am Brazilian
but I am liveing
in japao.

Procuro friendship
and also much understanding
therefore I am new in orkut
and wait its here


Who can argue with that?

President George H. W. Bush: Fashion Maven

How daring.

Khaki after Labor Day. In Little Rock, of all places...

Source: Yahoo!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

New Education Secretary Fighting Style!

You are strong, Lo Fei, but have you seen my Twin Goose With a Kleenex style?!?! (Sensei Bush looks on, pleased with his pupil. "You are learning, grasshopper," he thinks.)

Source: CNN.com

This is an auspicious beginning, but Margaret Spellings will need to diligently train if she wants to match the 1000 Fighting Styles of Donald Rumsfeld.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Wild Thing, You Make Our Sales Sing

I'd be bummed if Pfizer had to pull its Wild Thing Viagra ads. This ad was the first to broach that hot topic among the Viagra/Cialis/Levitra/Swedish Miracle Pump set: Trophy Wives. In the Wild Thing ad, the woman walking around with the Viagra'd man is easily 15 years his junior.

Had the FDA not stepped in, I'm sure that an ad for recreational Viagra use would have been forthcoming.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

If We Did It This Way, I Guess Bush Would Be Mr. America

A strange factoid:

The British Royal family don't really have surnames.

Well, they do have a surname (Mountbatten-Windsor), but the usage of their surname is strange enough that Prince Henry, who recently joined the British Army, will come to be referred to as Mr. Wales, Officer Cadet Wales, or simply Wales.

Henry Charles Albert David Mountbatten-Windsor's formal title is His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Find the Velveeta

Based on Monday’s post, you might think that I’m intentionally avoiding a discussion of politics, eschewing it for lighter fare. In a way, you’d be right. During Democratic Party Introspection Month™, I’ve found my political itches scratched by Talking Points Memo, Andrew Sullivan, Eschaton, Daily Kos, & Wonkette. If you’re unfamiliar with these politoblogs, I highly recommend checking them out.

In the meantime, I’ll be sticking to the namesake of the blog: Commenting about things I encounter while sauntering, whether it be sauntering online or about the town.

Today, it’s cheese. Well, not really cheese. Velveeta.

Velveeta is the most difficult item to locate in the grocery store.

I challenge you: Go to any unknown grocery store. Locate the Velveeta.

Took forever, didn't it? Why the confusion? Well, Velvetta is the un-cheese. Cheese is not an ingredient in Velveeta; however, people use it like cheese. Before it’s opened, Velveeta doesn’t need to be refrigerated. You could put in anywhere in a grocery store. In my experience, those stocking the shelves do stick it anywhere.

The Mollie Stone’s store near me dignifies Velveeta. They place Velveeta on a shelf near actual cheese. Separate but equal. It's a yellow-orange neighborhood.

The nearest Safeway slanders Velveeta. They place it in the cracker/chips/snacks/bad-for-you section, next to the squeezy cheese. Velveeta may be a lot of things, but it is not cheese from a can. C’mon. People actually cook with Velveeta. (By people, I mean me. By cook, I mean make nachos).

Another local Safeway actively tries to hide the Velveeta. Since oils are the primary ingredients in this loaf of cheezy endurance, the shelf stockers plop the Velveeta amongst the oils. Olive Oil. Canola. Velveeta. Incredibly odd.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Complex Instructions for the World's Most Ordinary Task

This post is far grosser than my usual fare, so the easily concerned/offended should just stop reading now.

On yesterday's All Things Considered, author Ken Smith discussed his work on Junk English, a multifaceted problem that afflicts our language. Smith complains that whether it be Wal-Mart's sales associates (rather than salespeople) or the CIA's intelligence assets (instead of spies), English speakers are choosing complexity over clarity, ultimately harming our everyday communication.

This morning, I spotted some rather awkward Junk English during a visit to the doctor for a routine physical. As part of the physical, the doctor required a urine sample (...see, I warned you it would be gross). On the urine sample cup were written three instructions:

  1. Clean the Uro-Genital Area.
  2. Begin Voiding.
  3. Capture the Sample Midstream.

Although it was the Begin Voiding that caught my eye, each step is really a separate work of linguistic art.

I'm not sure what a Uro-Genital Area is, but there was a can of spray disinfectant in the doctor's bathroom. Maybe I was supposed to clean around the commode. If so, I left that step unstepped.

Begin Voiding is a pretty good name for an album. Voiding? Come on. If Urinate really makes you blush that much, maybe you just shouldn't be the copywriter at the pee cup factory.

Lastly, I really enjoy the use of Capture in the last step. Such active language really changes this procedure from being a gross-out chore to a fun game of Capture The Pee.

There. Now that I've given you far too much information, you may move along. Go on. Shoo.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

It's Going to Get Worse Before It Gets Better

With Feinstein getting involved in the fray, Democrats are going to start piling on Gavin Newsom.

Regardless of Democratic in-fighting and wound-licking that's bound to occur, I still agree strongly with Josh Marshall: Time is not on the side of the kind of values and politics that President Bush represents.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Bipartisan Opposition of the Electoral College?

If there was no Electoral College, the 2004 Presidential Election would be over.

During the 2000 Election (when Gore won the popular vote by 500,000 votes), it seemed as if only the Democrats had reason to oppose the antiquated Electoral College. However, Bush looks to have won the popular vote by nearly 3 million this time around, yet the Electoral College winner is still in doubt.

Though things look dire for Democrats, all observers acknowledge that Kerry could conceivably win -- even though he lost the the popular vote by a significant margin. It's time to bury this antique and move to direct democratic election of the President.

Proponents of the Electoral College will talk about how it empowers small states, and how it means the President needs broad support. Yet, to watch cable news is to be reminded how provincial we are made by a state-dominated electoral system. As I hear Chris Matthews looking for agreement among his peers that Blue States look down upon Red States, I long for a system doesn't use the states as anti-democratic interference in the message of the people.

It'll be really hard to get rid of Electoral College -- it requires a constitutional amendment -- so let's get an amendment moving through Congress while the absurdity of the 2000 and 2004 elections is still fresh in our minds.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

If Ifs And Ands Were Pots And Pans...

Whomever is Elected…

  • Will America continue to accept a media dominated by punditry and bias, or will they begin to demand a straighter story from their media sources?

If Bush Wins…
  • Will he act as if he received a 400 Electoral Vote mandate?
  • Who will remain from his cabinet?
  • Will the Democrats retreat from this administration or will they stay in the contest, battling an administration that they so desperately oppose?
  • Will Bush attempt to move to the center? What would that even look like?
  • Can the Republicans stay united, or will fiscal conservatives and libertarians break away from religious evangelicals?

If Kerry Wins…
  • Can Kerry and the Democrats put forward a platform that is policy-based, as opposed to merely anti-Bush?

If the Electoral Vote is a 269-269 tie…
  • At least people will realize that America is first a republic, then a democracy.


Did I think that Kerry would lose Florida by this much? No way.

Fingers still crossed on Ohio, but I don't think that it'll look good by midnight Pacific tonight.

Election Central -- Patxi's Pizza

I've set up Presidential Election camp with Garth Patil at Patxi's Pizza in Palo Alto. We look like Princes of Dorkdom.

Don Hoffman, Scott McKissen, and Steph are due soon. Only then will our grouchy, liberal quintet be complete...

The Poor Voter on Election Day

This morning, NPR re-introduced the country to:

The Poor Voter on Election Day
by John Greenleaf Whittier
December 23, 1852

The proudest now is but my peer
The highest not more high.
Today, of all the weary year,
A king of men am I!

Today alike are great and small,
The nameless and the known.
My place is the people's hall,
The ballot box my throne.

Who serves today upon the list
Beside the served shall stand;
Alike the brown and wrinkled fist,
The gloved and dainty hand!

The rich is level with the poor,
The weak is strong today.
And sleekest broadcloth counts no more
Than homespun frock of gray.

Today let pomp and vain pretence
My stubborn right abide.
I set a plain man's common sense
Against the pedant's pride.

Today shall simple manhood try
The strength of gold and land;
The wide world has not wealth to buy
The power in my right hand.

While there's a grief to seek redress
Or balance to adjust,
Where weighs our living manhood less
Than Mammon's vilest dust -

While there's a right to need my vote
A wrong to sweep away,
Up! Clouted knee and ragged coat -
A man's a man today!

National Review Ready to Implode

Election Day panic at arch-conservative National Review is black comedy at its best. It's like 1,000 Haldemans as a Neo-Watergate crashes down around them.

Watch the rats abandon the sinking ship.


Monday, November 01, 2004

Time for Change: Vote John Kerry

When I sent in my absentee ballot 2 weeks ago, I voted for John Kerry for President of the United States. Nothing in the intervening 14 days has swayed my opinion one iota. We need a new President sworn in on January 20th. We need a fresh start.

I’ll spare a bunch of tempting theatrics concerning an obvious endorsement from this all-but-unknown blog. I’ll just point out two pro-Kerry rationale that I feel have been underrepresented in the all endorsements that I’ve read.

Time for Change: Compromise
In an electoral season punctuated with savage attacks, Bush accusing Kerry of flip-flopping was one of the less-pointed jabs that he and his minion made against Kerry. Accusing someone of inappropriately changing his or her mind is a double-edged sword – a sword that I believe will cut Bush at the ballot box tomorrow.

Changing one’s mind when the situation dictates or finding compromise with an entrenched opposition are positive traits for dynamic leadership. These are traits that Governor Bush advertised in his 2000 campaign (Remember an end to “playing politics” in Washington?) and they are traits that President Bush utterly lacks and completely disrespects.

Granted, Bush abruptly changes his mind – as when he suddenly let fly on Good Morning America that he thinks gay civil unions are okay (What about those 11 state amendments banning any kind of gay partnership recognition? Does he now oppose these measures?) – but Bush’s changes of heart occur in a one-sided manner. This move, and others like it, are Machiavellian calculations designed to gain maximum political advantage.

We need someone willing to compromise. Bush has provided us with enough Inpendent Yankee Cowboy moments to fill 5 presidencies.

Time for Change: Moving On From 9/11
The events of September 11, 2001 transformed the attitudes of Americans about security, identity, and our place in the world. We’re still in the shadow of those towers, adjusting our domestic and foreign policy in a climate of uncertainty.

President Bush was at the reins on 9/11, but it could have been President Gore. Heck, in a bizarro world where we didn’t have the 22nd amendment, it could have still been President Bill Clinton.

Bush’s squad bumbled quite a bit, but who wouldn’t have bumbled?

Would a Democrat have built a more effective Department of Homeland Security?

Would a Democrat have enlisted all of NATO (or – dare think it – the UN) into unseating Saddam?

Would a Democrat have had the courage to back away from rash decisions when his blood boiled?

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. From where I sit, these questions hardly matter. Whether Bush & company like it or not, they carry the mark of our post-9/11 confusion. Had their performance been superhuman, I’d probably encourage you to keep them in office. Their performance has been only human, so I encourage you to let them go.

It’s time to let go of the immediate aftermath of 9/11 by letting go of the leaders of America’s post-9/11 reaction. Let’s see how another set of talented people guide our country through these uncertain times.

Let’s move to the next chapter of American history, the chapter where America reconsiders its place in the world. Let’s move on.

Poll All You Want...

...but every online gambling house in England has Kerry as the favorite with 24 hours left. (Thanks, John!)