aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, April 03, 2006
Cramer to the Times: abandon newsprint!
James Cramer in NY Magazine:
This week, the Times will drop its stock-market tables, the hallowed small-agate-type section that used to be the mainstay of every newspaper that aspired to have a legit business section. The move, which follows similar initiatives by some other majors, including the Los Angeles Times, is meant to save newsprint costs while simultaneously driving traffic to the Times’ excellent Website. You can’t miss the logic: In a world where stocks trade around the clock and the closing price is pretty meaningless, static stock tables don’t cut it anymore, especially when the Web allows for live pricing… These pages are deadweight; they generate no ads and can’t pay the freight.
One could be tempted to write off the whole New York Times as a similar dinosaur. If all we care about is what we want to customize, who needs all the other filler? Why not preselect everything we need from the Times via Google and be done with the paper entirely? While we’re at it, why not write the obituary of the whole company? After all, it’s been the worst-performing newspaper stock in America for the past five years… A new generation is hooked on Google, and that $100 billion information-accessing behemoth has cut into the value of every bit of intellectual property produced by the Times’ vaunted newsroom.
There’s one way out of this mess for the Times. It is a bold, gutsy, and, some would say, foolish way, at least initially: The Times-here’s the irony-should go all-digital.
I’d agree but… They should keep newsprint in the NY metro area and abandon those National edition ambitions put in place a few years back.
Via Romenesko, “James Cramer knows Times execs will laugh at his proposal.”
Cross (Ex-Gay) Ministry
You want to know a secret? I still find myself attracted to men occasionally. To those of you with the puzzled looks on your faces, let me say it a different way. I have found that God’s provision is not necessarily eradicating the same-sex attractions; His ways, which are not my ways, include strengthening the shoulder that bears the burden. And as Dr. S. M. Lockridge used to say “That’s my King!”
I will avoid the movie like a slug avoids an overturned saltshaker and for the life of me, cannot understand why any evangelical would see it-though there appear to be many. But what is more disturbing to me is that many men and women I know with unwanted homosexual attractions are seeing the movie.
A reporter from The Christian Post asked my thoughts about the movie and I obliged. My comments as a former homosexual were made from the reviews I had read-comments which generated numerous emails to me from individuals arguing that I could not make an intelligent comment on a movie I had not seen.
They suggested that my viewing the movie would be beneficial in responding to the reporter’s questions. I told them and the reporter that my going to see Brokeback Mountain would be similar to asking a former alcoholic to go to a liquor store to buy his neighbor a toddy for the body.
Opponents of ex-gay ministries will immediately shout “Aha- so you are still tempted with same-sex attractions!” I do not deny it! Martin Luther said it this way, “if your head is made of butter, stay away from the fire.”
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Download movies legally
Six major studios plan to begin selling movies over the Internet today that buyers can download and keep for watching at any time. [...]
New movies will cost about $20 to $30 to download; older titles will cost as little as $10. The downloads will be available on the same day that the DVD is released - quicker than rentals, which are put online about 45 days later and cost $2 to $5.[...]
For now, these movie downloads are a bit cumbersome, and the studios have limited the way they can be watched. A movie will need about 1 gigabyte of hard-drive space and will take an hour or two to download using a high-speed Internet connection.
CinemaNow will allow the movies to be played only on a single computer. Movielink will allow the movie to be copied onto a DVD, from which the movie can be downloaded to two other computers, but it cannot be played on a conventional DVD player.
My gut reaction:
“They are giving the consumer less and charging more for it,” said Warren N. Lieberfarb, the former president of Warner Home Video and now an entertainment technology consultant. “To me this really stacks the deck against mass consumer adoption.”
Korea’s committed to robots
South Korea, the world’s most wired country, is rushing to turn what sounds like science fiction into everyday life. The government, which succeeded in getting broadband Internet into 72 percent of all households in the last half decade, has marshaled an army of scientists and business leaders to make robots full members of society.
By 2007, networked robots that, say, relay messages to parents, teach children English and sing and dance for them when they are bored, are scheduled to enter mass production. Outside the home, they are expected to guide customers at post offices or patrol public areas, searching for intruders and transmitting images to monitoring centers.
If all goes according to plan, robots will be in every South Korean household between 2015 and 2020. That is the prediction, at least, of the Ministry of Information and Communication, which has grouped more than 30 companies, as well as 1,000 scientists from universities and research institutes, under its wing. Some want to move even faster.
And get this:
South Koreans use futuristic technologies that are years away in the United States; companies like Microsoft and Motorola test products here before introducing them in the United States.
Since January, Koreans have been able to watch television broadcasts on cellphones, free, thanks to government-subsidized technology. In April, South Korea will introduce the first nationwide superfast wireless Internet service, called WiBro, eventually making it possible for Koreans to remain online on the go - at 10 megabits per second, faster than most conventional broadband connections.
McCain’s appeasement II
Georgia10 says we saw “the death of McCain the Maverick, and the birth of McCain the Chameleon” on Meet the Press this morning:
I have to commend Russert for confronting McCain about his decision to speak at Liberty University and his acceptance of Jerry Falwell (maybe he does read Daily Kos after all!) Confronted him with an outrageous Falwell quote, Russert asked if McCain is “embracing” Falwell’s statements. McCain again gave a non-answer, but he did say he does not believe Falwell is an “agent of intolerance” anymore. In a telling exchange, he said that the “christian right” has a major role to play in the Republican Party.
Think Progress has the video and a transcript.
My grandmother came over on a boat to Ellis Island. She arrived so sick she was held there and almost sent back. As a very old woman she came to visit me in New York, before Ellis Island had been restored, and I took her to see the Statue of Liberty. She told me then the story of her arrival.
A line from a poem, ”The New Colossus,” by the nineteenth-century American poet Emma Lazarus was on a plaque at the base of the statue (since moved to an exhibit). It ends with the statue herself speaking:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
Times change. But should they? Fareed Zakaria in Newsweek today:
Guest workers, penalties, sanctions and deportation are all a part of Europe’s mode of dealing with immigrants. The results of this approach have been on display recently in France, where rioting migrant youths again burned cars last week. Across Europe one sees disaffected, alienated immigrants, ripe for radicalism. The immigrant communities deserve their fair share of blame for this, but there’s a cycle at work. European societies exclude the immigrants, who become alienated and reject their societies.
One puzzle about post-9/11 America is that it has not had a subsequent terror attack-even a small backpack bomb in a movie theater-while there have been dozens in Europe. My own explanation is that American immigrant communities, even Arab and Muslim ones, are not very radicalized. (Even if such an attack does take place, the fact that four and a half years have gone by without one provides some proof of this contention.) Compared with every other country in the world, America does immigration superbly. Do we really want to junk that for the French approach?
Saturday, April 01, 2006
Garage Band jams
As it happens, in the midst of teaching an iMovie workshop, and just after helping a student with interstertial and title music using Garage Band, I see this in the Times:
I’M not a musician, but I recently composed and recorded a song. More than that, in a Paul McCartneyesque fit of post-Beatles hubris, I played all the instruments and produced and engineered the entire thing, even though I have no experience producing and engineering anything more complicated than a Bombay martini.
The title is “Eventide,” ...it is four blistering minutes and 31 seconds long; it features three electric guitars, electric bass, grand piano, electric piano, two string sections, synthesizer, drums, congas, bongos, tambourine and shaker. I think it’s smashing, frankly - the old “Avengers” theme smudged with the dark atmospherics of Sigur Ros.
I put the artcile on screen and played the music for the students. Involved as they are in their own projects, they completely ignored it.
In my dozen years as a Community Media manager I licensed a music library far less interesting than this. Now we can make our own. Or is it?
There’s just one thing: I didn’t compose “Eventide” any more than Ashlee Simpson sang “Pieces of Me” on “Saturday Night Live.” The song sprang from computer-sampled snippets of musical instruments that I stitched together using Apple Computer’s GarageBand software. GarageBand is a denatured version of industry-standard recording software that allows amateurs to cobble together a song using nothing but the program’s digital instruments. You preview the samples from a Chinese-menu-like array, drag them into a virtual mixing console, push them this way and that, and voilÃƒÂ ! The software automatically renders the composition into a tidy audio file that can be posted to Web sites like MySpace.com, which teems with thousands of MP3 files from would-be Coldplays and Alicia Keyses.
READ ON. A wonderful tour. I can’t resist closing with this quote from Nic Harcourt, the host and musical director of “Morning Becomes Eclectic” on KCRW in Santa Monica:
“What music software does,” he told me, “is enable people who perhaps have a rudimentary understanding of music to flex their creative muscles, even if they don’t have any musical training, and I think that’s good. I mean, let’s be honest: a lot of people who don’t have musical training make hit records.”
Back to work…
Fun with light
Everyday objects get a healthy glow thanks to Rachel Wingfield and Mathias Gmachl of Loop.pH. The pair has even turned bed linens into fine art with programmable light-emitting materials. Their designs include pillows and a duvet cover that wake sleepers gradually with a blue-green glow, and curtains that blink to life as the sun sets. Their latest effort, Weather Patterns, is a light display of floral designs whose patterns and movement are animated by changes in barometric pressure, temperature, humidity, precipitation, and wind speed.
I failed the Apple quiz!
5 Right: “You have dabbled in the world of iPods but still rely on your Windows PC.” Grr!
Here’s my result.
Liza on Judy from 1972
I did some old-fashioned digging through the library stacks hunting for reviews of the original ’Liza with a Z‘ to compare with the heaps of praise the restored and remastered program - free on Showtime tonight - is getting.
Alas, I found none. But I can’t let all that digging go without posting something! So here’s Liza on Judy from a February 20, 1972 New York Times interview:
When asked to describe her saddest memory of Judy Garland, Liza smiles. “I’m never sad when I remember Mom. Our home life was strangely normal. My mother was not the tragic victim of fate that she presented to the world. That was something she planted there for the public to see. She let everyone else wallow in her misery, while she sailed on through life. Mom was exactly what she wanted to be, a brilliant witty, optimistic lady.
“She was not self-pitying, either--except on rare occasions. We were having an argument once, and I turned to her and said, ‘How can you be so self-pitying? Why are you so full of sympathy for yourself?’ She looked me straight in the eye--I’ll never forget it--and she, said, ‘Sympathy is my business!, You see, Mom always knew what she was doing.”
There were times, though, when Judy did experience some slight doubt, and she went to Liza for advice. “I talked my mother out of doing the part that Susan Hayward finally did in ‘Valley of the Dolls.’ I said, ‘It’s going to be a cheap movie, Mom. Don’t you understand? That woman they want you to play is a tough, hard woman,’ And Mom said, ‘But I like to play that sort of woman.’ ‘O.K, Mom,’ I said, ‘but not in this film. It’s not up to your standard”
I also found more Liza footage. Here mom introduces her at the Palace in 1960-something. More recently, Myles marked the occasion of Liza turning 60 with this footage of her Royal Variety Performance.
And if you missed my post yesterday, here’s clips from Liza’s appearance on Larry King that include her “gravelly Phyllis Diller cackle.” And my favorite, this clip from Ellen where she croons, “Oh I’m so glad I’m not young any more!”