aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, July 11, 2005
From an editorial in the Times today:
The Adirondack Park Agency, a powerful group charged with protecting New York’s six million-acre state park, decided last week that a cellphone tower could be constructed near Lake George. The tower, a 104-foot fake pine tree, will be “substantially invisible,” the agency’s statement promised. If this tower looks like others in the cellphone tree arboretum, one suspects it will be about as substantially invisible as a smiley face tucked into one of the famous Georgia O’Keeffe paintings of the very landscape in question.
Across the country these days, there is an expanding battle between those who want the wilderness to stay as wild as possible and those who want cellphones to work even when they’re camping. At present, the technology has not made it possible to communicate from deep in the forests or out in the desert without also having a 100- to 200-foot tower somewhere nearby. So, some telephone companies have been offering these electric trees and plants that are supposed to look more natural. There is a cellphone magnolia, a cactus that looks as if it could poke a hole in the moon and now the mock white pine at Lake George, or, as opponents have aptly named it, the Frankenpine.
For years I’ve longed for a Michael Graves cellphone tower. In this instance, I bet a Frank Lloyd Wright tower could work.
Isn’t this one of the great design challenges of our era? Let’s enlist some of our great architects.
The real reason for Apple’s switch to Intel
It’s the iPod.
That according to Jon “Hannibal” Stokes at Ars Technica, who’s guessing we may see a video iPod as early as Christmas.
After a discussion of “Apple’s mercurial and high-handed relationship with its chip suppliers” that leaves IBM looking classy, he spills the “insider information from unnamed sources that I can confirm are in a position to know the score:”
For the real reason behind the switch, you have to look to the fact that it’s the iPod and iTMS-not the Mac-that are now driving Apple’s revenues and stock price. As I stated in my previous article on the switch, Apple is more concerned with scoring Intel’s famous volume discounts on the Pentium (with its attendant feature-rich chipsets) and XScale lines than it is about the performance, or even the performance per Watt, of the Mac.
It’s critical to understanding the switch that you not underestimate the importance of Intel’s XScale to Apple’s decision to leave IBM. The current iPods use an ARM chip from Texas Instruments, but we can expect to see Intel inside future versions of the iPod line. So because Apple is going to become an all-Intel shop like Dell, with Intel providing the processors that power both the Mac and the iPod, Apple will get the same kinds of steep volume discounts across its entire product line that keep Dell from even glancing AMD’s way.
If you think XScale is too powerful for the iPod-it’s used in powerful color PDAs-then you’re not taking the device seriously enough as a portable media platform. The XScale is plenty powerful enough to do video playback, and I have reason to believe that Apple is currently working on a video iPod to counter the Sony PSP. (My guess is that we might even see it in time for Christmas.) When the video iPod hits the streets, Apple will have an iPod product that plays each of the media formats (music, pictures, video) represented in its iLife suite.
The cold, hard reality here is that the Mac is Apple’s past and the iPod is Apple’s future, in the same way that the “PC” is the industry’s past and the post-PC gadget is industry’s future. This transition mirrors the industry’s previous transition/expansion from the mainframe to the networked commodity PC-a transition that is still ongoing in some sectors of the market. Of course the PC will stick around, but as the hub of a growing and increasingly profitable constellation of post-PC gadgets. It’s a shame that Steve Jobs can’t be upfront with his user base about that fact, because, frankly, I think the Mac community would understand. The iPod and what it represents-an elegant, intuitively useful, and widely appealing expression of everything that Moore’s Curves promise but so rarely deliver-is the “Macintosh” of the new millennium. There was no need to put on a dog and pony show about how IBM has dropped the performance ball, when what Jobs is really doing is shifting the focus of Apple from a PC-era “performance” paradigm to a post-PC-era “features and functionality” paradigm.
Rove’s way out
I’ve been watching the Rove talk since Saturday’s David Corn post, through yesterday’s release of Isikoff’s Newsweek article, and today’s declarations from bunches of bloggers and writers at Slate and Salon that Rove must go.
Rove claimed to the FBI that he only found out Wilson’s wife was CIA from reading Novak’s column, and called reporters only after that point.
Novak published on the 14th.
Update [2005-7-10 3:45:56 by Hunter]: Oh boy—hang on—this is playing the razor’s edge. Is there is some possibility Rove could have found out “from Novak’s column” on the 11th? Novak’s column was apparently “written” by then, but not actually published until the 14th. Dangerous, dangerous ground. Look for the talking points from hell, once everyone wakes up in the morning.
Update [2005-7-10 4:23:18 by Hunter]: From the Washington Post, Nov 26th 2004:
While Novak’s column did not run until Monday, July 14, it could have been seen by people in the White House or the media as early as Friday, July 11, when the Creators Syndicate distributed it over the Associated Press wire.
Cooper talked to Rove at 11:07am, according to Newsweek. You can bet Fitzgerald has already determined precisely when Novak’s column hit the wires.
So when did the story hit the wire? That’s what I’m still watching for. Rove’s not just an architect, he’s a magician. He’s pulled a rabbit out of his hat before.
House of Labor blog
Joining me at HOUSE OF LABOR is a pretty stellar list of labor writers and activists, including Harold Meyerson, American Prospect editor and Washington Post columnist, Bill Fletcher, President of Transafrica, Jim Grossfeld of the Center for American Progress, Jo-Ann Mort, former director of communications for Unite, Frank Joyce, former UAW director of their publications department, Roberta Lynch, International Vice President of AFSCME, and a number of other folks who will be coming on board.
The goal is to expand the discussion between labor and non-labor progressives on the role and fate of the US labor movement, discuss the policy issues that matter for working families, and more generally discuss the role of the workplace in American politics and society.
I’ve added it to my blogroll and suggest you add it to yours.
I’m grateful to have a post in it.
I’m a fan of Al Gore but I have criticized his new cable venture, Current. The goal of a channel that “embodies the freewheeling air of the Web” with “interactivity, openness, a willingness to tell stories that buck the mainstream” is a good one but that first call for submissions was not promising.
Today Salon looks at the challenges the network faces as it approaches its August 1 launch:
Some Current observers say the former vice president’s network looks less like a plan to remake TV than an attempt to make money by going after the lucrative youth market. In the past few months, many young filmmakers who initially saw Current as a perfect way to showcase their creativity have begun to change their minds about the network… Activist filmmakers like [23 year old Josh] Wolf say that despite Current TV’s revolutionary rhetoric, the station appears uninterested in hard-hitting political footage. As Ari Berman pointed out in the Nation in April, “‘politics’ is simply another word in Current’s programming lineup, not a guiding theme.” Wolf, who created a San Francisco “Meetup” group to bring other filmmakers to the network, says Current’s rhetoric rings hollow.
On Current, “shows” are “pods:”
A “pod,” [programming chief David] Neuman explains, is a short show built around a theme. Each pod has a title and a subject. “We have a pod about spirituality called Current: Soul, or a pod about technology called Current: Tech, and a pod about money called Currency, and a pod about sexy people called the Current Hottie,” Neuman says. “It’s a systematic and quite lengthy list of subjects that are of interest to our audience.”
Each pod will feature short nonfiction films built around the pod’s theme. At first, Current itself will produce many of these videos. But Neuman says that when the network goes live, slightly more than 20 percent of the video shorts it broadcasts will be those submitted by viewers—and, as the network grows, it hopes to show even more viewer-submitted short films. Neuman says that he’s been pleasantly surprised by videos people have sent to Current. “It’s turned out to be more, and better, than we expected.”
As I read on, I grow more optimistic. I don’t think a revolution will work, much as we might profess to want one. Evolution will:
Current will give viewers a chance to participate in programming decisions in two ways: First, it will let people submit their own videos, and second, it will give viewers a chance to vote on which videos should make it to the air. In an April interview with the NPR show “On the Media,” Neuman compared Current’s video-selection process to the model of “American Idol.” “I think ‘American Idol’ is in the gene pool of this network,” he said. “We love that. I think we think of that as a form of democratizing the television medium that we think is a cool thing.”
So what kind of submissions are they getting?
Current has posted some of its best video submissions on its Web site. And they do cover a wide range. Some are funny, some are compelling, a couple are brilliant, and a few are boring and banal. Tamara Straus wrote recently in San Francisco magazine that because the films are short, many lack narrative depth. That’s one problem; another is that many appear safe.
Narrative depth is precisely the kind of old media measure that I don’t think applies to the revolution. Some will have it, some won’t. For narrative depth I can watch network drama. As to safe, TV, even in its niche forms, is a mass medium. As such, it’s hard not to be safe.
More my criticism is that they won’t be making all the video submissions available on the Web, ignoring the long tail and contagious media potential, and that they apparently take the copyright (submitters can’t put their videos on their own sites).
A real revolution, a real embrace of the Web ethic, would open up the content, put it in the public domain, and allow it to be downloaded, distributed and remixed by others, and Yahoo-like become the community video nexus of the cable television world.