Preference Personnelle
Friday, February 28
Play 20 questions with a computer. It's all kinds of fun.
Tuesday, February 25
Here's an article about Steve Madden and securities fraud. And a mefi thread about vegan diets for prisoners, and one about the faintly-ridiculous M$-backed Ooh, and one about Konono No. 1. A Slashdot story about 'google,' the verb. Ooh, and, incidentally, I suddenly want a PDA (maybe a Handspring--I'd love a GPS module). I had never considered using one to read Project Gutenberg texts, until I saw some of the posts in this Slashdot story.
Monday, February 24
Here's some music stuff--the coming end (maybe) of the cd, a hypothetical record deal dissected, and...

"Spend any time in an arts school and you will find that there are plenty of gay males in the choir, the orchestra, the dance department, and the theater department, of course. There may be a few gay artists and writers. But if you're a girl looking for a straight guy, the jazz band is the place to go. (The jazz musicians are also typically the least likely to be stellar students.)"--from a mefi thread about gay people and jazz.

Here's another article about space shuttle problems, and one about limits to doubt in capital murder cases. Ooh, and here's a mefi thread about Nauru, a country I was briefly obsessed with as a child. Looks like it's just as well I didn't move there. And here's an Atlantic article about caring for introverts. Gabrielle's roommate, Daniel, and I were talking about The Atlantic vs. Harper's. We did not, however, play the fuck/marry/kill game, speaking of just-as-well.

Friday, February 21
"Being a woman's woman all the time means never competing with another woman, 'cause if you're competing for a job, you're holding us all back. Please make room for both of you. If you're competing for the same man/woman, what the winner's getting is no prize. If you're competing in some deeper, vaguer sense with every woman out there--to be prettier, get married sooner, or look younger longer--you are living in the Dark Ages."--Jane Pratt, quoted in 'Laws of the Bandit Queens,' by Ali Smith, which is lying around Rachel's house.
Thursday, February 20
I posted yesterday about visiting a Carnegie library, but now no post. And livejournal appears to be down, though, y'know, it's probably my problem. Soon, I will try to call Rachel. Though I suspect she's not awake.
Sunday, February 16
Ooh, it looks like Soulseek is/was back up. If someone had said to me, 'I've got something that's going to make you hate 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' even more than you hate it already,' I'd've been skeptical. That is, I would've been before I saw the teevee ads for the video/DVD.

Yet more Joe Millionaire--Jane Big Boobs. And yet more buildings--old Victorian houses in Washington, D.C. Another pop culture collection--8 Track Heaven. And all of this via mefi, which also offers threads about Peter Singer and Rorscharch tests. The latter has a poster who suggests that the tests are stolen from William Poundstone's 'Big Secrets.' I own some of Poundstone's books, and I can believe it. He writes about, like, how magic tricks are done, and what the hardest holes in golf are.

Those Jurassic 5/MasterCard commercials--does Cut Chemist even appear in them? He didn't show up when they were on some late-night talk show, either.

Salon looks closer to bankruptcy than ever--it's really too bad. I've been reading these great books lately about the mid-to-late-'90s dotcom boom. Here's a vast generalization from those days: people don't want experts, or editors, or, uh, events explicated by educated Englishmen. They want to create content--community, and chat. CB radio and cybersex. So many 'c's, and I haven't yet said 'crap.' At the time, the conventional wisdom was that big business and mainstream media didn't get it. As sites like Salon are in fiduciary trouble while Quizilla, Livejournal, Slashdot, etc. get millions of visitors, it seems clear this is still the case.

Saturday, February 15
Big roundup: a Peter Bagge comic about peace activism, 'my vagina' pages, a Sinatra concept album, fast seduction, dead wrestlers, stalking hoaxes exposed.

And Joe Millionaire--episode recaps, gossip about Paul's boozy parties, Evan's tattoo and Evan the pro wrestler. An ad for one of Sarah's movies and a weblog with lots of Joe gossip, by somebody who also does

Friday, February 14
Here's that testimony against Mikejack from 1993. I love TSG. And a mefi thread about best-of-year lists, and a salon article about child labor in the chocolate industry. Happy Valentine's.
Wednesday, February 12
I guess it's not news to anyone that we've been getting clobbered in the ratings for the last few months. I have to tell you, it's been a very humbling experience. It's an experience that's caused many hours of self-reflection, self-doubt, and, on a few occasions, debilitating bouts of depression, rage, paranoia, and a mild lack of appetite -- nothing unhealthy, I'm just not very hungry (mostly at night, but I think I sleep better on an empty stomach). My point is, we work really hard on this show and when we lose in the ratings it just plain hurts. There's nothing to be done about it except to sit in the pain and pray for it to pass. Of course you could call twenty friends and encourage them to watch the show. That might help. I'm not actually saying you should do that. But you could... if you cared. I'd do it for you. If I had twenty friends. And you had a show.

Here's a link to those Dharma-and-Greg vanity that run as part of the end credits.

  4:07 PM 0 comments
Tuesday, February 11
I've been looking for some really beautiful suspension bridges. I managed to find Japan's Akashi Kaikyo bridge, Royal Gorge, CO, the Mid-Hudson Bridge(upstate NY), one in Danube, NY and England's Clifton suspension bridge. Admittedly, though, just googling (teehee--still not quite a real word) or checking out Wikipedia also reveals a world full of bridges, suspension and otherwise.
Friday, February 7
So I frequent various Animal Crossing message boards. There are a lot of kids on them, including one 15-year-old whose father won't let him watch 'The Simpsons,' but bought him GTA:Vice City. I don't even know what to say about that, except to note that, when I was very young, my parents wouldn't let me watch 'Three's Company.'
"How many babies live with their mother, and no father around, and nobody says nothin'?"
Thursday, February 6
Jesus Christ, Michael Jackson just said that white people are into tanning because they're trying to look black.
Those pricks at Microsoft have a different version of the msn homepage for Opera users. Less content, and the page is made to appear broken. Here's a Slashdot thread, a Register story, a ZDNet story and Opera's explanation.

In other news, I signed up for an MSN account, so that some Animal Crossing kid could send me some files via the very bloated MSN Messenger. This required signing up for a Passport/Hotmail account. I've never used the mail account (and I mean, like, never even gone to the appropriate page), yet I'm getting spam sent to it.

And, in very vaguely related news, I just learned that Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry did a Windows 95 instructional video. It's probably the best movie a male Friend has ever done. It's in Amazon's catalog, but unavailable. And there was one on Ebay recently. The winner bid a buck. Dammit.
Via mefi: Einstein's theory of relativity in words of four letters or less. And here's a thread about Lana Clarkson, the woman Phil Spector allegedly murdered. Social scientist asks kids which Breakfast Club character they resemble, then tracks the results. The Journal of Adolescent Research published the results (do you get access through your college?), but here's a newspaper article. And, last but not least, a thread about drug researcher Alain Labrousse that has, as yet, not gotten any comments, perhaps because it doesn't offer much in the way of links for the non-Francophone.
It's hard to go wrong with a worst movies of 2002 list.
Wednesday, February 5
This Jack Valenti interview was posted to slashdot, and originally appeared in the Harvard Political Review, but they require registration. So, if you don't want to use mine (name: shellcorporation, password: ku4692), here's the text:

Valenti's Views
The MPAA president and former LBJ aide opens up on a range of topics
By Derek Slater

Jack Valenti has led a prolific political life. A decorated World War II pilot,
Valenti served as a special assistant to President Lyndon Johnson until 1966. Since then, he has served as the President of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), turning the entertainment studio consortium into a lobbying juggernaut. Valenti helped pioneer the movie industry's voluntary rating system and has tirelessly fought government censorship. He has also headed the Motion Picture Export Association, protecting American film studios' interests in other countries.

In recent years, Valenti has become an outspoken leader in the fight against piracy on the Internet. Known for his sharp rhetorical abilities, Valenti always speaks about piracy in calamitous terms, prophesizing the eventual death of the movie industry. To defend its copyrights, MPAA successfully sued publishers of a program that undermined the copy prevention technology on DVDs and is currently suing several file-sharing services. In addition, Valenti has taken his case to Congress, pushing for mandated copy prevention technologies in all digital devices that play movies, music, and other media.

But many people have criticized Valenti's hard-line stance, calling it anti- technology and anti-consumer. These critics assert that Valenti's copy prevention mandates will harm innovation, forcing all technologists to ask the MPAA's permission before creating the next generation of amazing gadgets. Copyright holders have always fought new technologies, from Marconi's radio to cable television to VCRs, and in no case have their apocalyptic visions come true. Furthermore, copy prevention technologies will go beyond ending piracy by limiting how consumers can make personal use of their legally purchased movies.

After delivering a speech on "Persuasion and Leadership" at Harvard's Institute of Politics, Valenti sat down with the HPR to discuss his side of the digital debate and his life in politics.

HPR: You once remarked that "VCR is [to the movie industry] the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone." Even though the movie industry profits from video rentals, the MPAA still fears new technologies like digital VCRs and the Internet. What are the significant differences between the threat posed by the VCR and by today's technologies?

Jack Valenti: I wasn't opposed to the VCR. The MPAA tried to establish by law that the VCR was infringing on copyright. Then we would go to the Congress and get a copyright royalty fee put on all blank videocassettes and that would go back to the creators [to compensate for videocassette piracy].

I predicted great piracy. We now lose $3.5 billion a year in videocassette analog piracy. It was a 5-4 Supreme Court decision that determined VCRs were not infringing, which I regret. As a result, we never got the copyright royalty fee, but everything I predicted came true.

Now the difference between analog piracy and digital piracy is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. For example, it's very cumbersome to deal in piracy of videocassettes; it costs a lot of money. But in digital piracy, with the click of a mouse a twelve year-old can send a film hurdling around the world.

The music industry now is suffering nine, ten, fifteen percent losses in revenue. When you compound that over the next three or four years, the music industry is dead. I don't see a future for it. After awhile, who's going to produce it?

It now costs about $350,000 to produce a CD; it costs $80 million to make and market a movie. Big difference. The MPAA could live with the fifteen million homes that currently have broadband internet access. But when sixty million homes have broadband, plus the people on fast connections in universities, making it so easy to bring down a movie in minutes...

We're breeding a new group of young students who wouldn't dream of going into a Blockbuster and putting a DVD under their coat. But they have no compunction about bringing down a movie on the Internet. That isn't wrong to them. Why? I don't know.

HPR: The MPAA has backed several bills mandating copy prevention technologies. Critics have lambasted these bills for curbing consumer's "fair use" rights, including the ability to make back-up copies. How can we balance the interests of consumers and the movie industry?

JV: What is fair use? Fair use is not a law. There's nothing in law.

Right now, any professor can show a complete movie in his classroom without paying a dime--that's fair use. What is not fair use is making a copy of an encrypted DVD, because once you're able to break the encryption, you've undermined the encryption itself.

HPR: Even if breaking the encryption is for a legitimate purpose, to make a back-up copy?

JV: But you've already got a DVD. It lasts forever. It never wears out. In the digital world, we don't need back-ups, because a digital copy never wears out. It is timeless.

The minute that you allow people to break an encryption, you lose all security. If anyone can do it under the rubric of fair use, how can we protect the artists?

Today, it's illegal to copy a videocassette. No one has a fair use to copy a videocassette. If you lose it, you get another one, and there's nothing wrong with that. That's what people have been doing for generations.

HPR: Why do we need government mandates for copy prevention technologies?

JV: You have to have copy prevention mandated by the government sooner or later because otherwise everybody's not playing by the same ground rules. For example, the standards of my cell phone have to be mandated by the FCC because everybody has to operate off the same standards. Also, all railroad tracks in this country are the same standardized width.

If you don't have tightly focused, narrowly drawn mandates, either regulatory or congressional, then, if I'm a maverick computer maker in Taiwan, I can say, "Hell, I'm not going to play by the rules. I'm going to do it so everybody can copy." Then Toshiba and Sony and IBM can say, "Well if he does that, then I want to do it." We always operate on the fact that everybody needs to know that there's a 55 mph speed limit. That's called a standard.

HPR: You served as special assistant to President Johnson at the formative stages of the Vietnam War. Given your experience, what do you consider most crucial to keeping the war on terrorism, in light of conflict in Iraq, from becoming a quagmire?

JV: Nobody realizes that when Johnson became president on Nov. 22, 1963, we had 16,000 fighting men in Vietnam. Nobody remembers that.

The problem in Vietnam was that we couldn't get these people to negotiate. Johnson always believed that there was no such thing as victory--only negotiation. He never could get the Vietcong to the negotiating table. A lot of people urged him to go all out, as Richard Nixon did later, to bomb them into the Stone Age; he refused to do that, ultimately to his detriment.

I think you need to remember what de Tocqueville once wrote, that "The people grow tired of a confusion whose end is not in sight." If you're going to go to war, you must have the people with you. If you lose the confidence of the American people, you face a terrifying problem.

So long as George Bush has the majority of the American people on his side in the war on terrorism and the war against Iraq, he'll be just fine. But if he ever begins to lose that support, he will not do fine. That's what you learn from Johnson.

HPR: In an interview with, you discussed how costly the lack of censorship was to President Johnson during the Vietnam War. Having fought against the government's attempts to censor the movie industry, how do you think the government should approach censorship during wartime?

JV: At all costs, the government should stay out of censorship, except in war. When soldiers lives may be at stake, I think you can. Vietnam is the only war we've ever fought in the history of our country, without censorship. But in any other arena, I'm totally opposed to censorship in any form. I'm a great believer and defender of the First Amendment.

HPR: How do you view the influence of lobbyists in government and campaign finance reform? Do organizations like the MPAA have an undue influence because they have money?

JV: I think lobbying is really an honest profession. Lobbying means trying to persuade Congress to accept your point of view. Sometimes you can give them a lot of facts they didn't have before.

Money, however, is negative--it's corrupting the body politic. Even though money might be the most self-conflicting force in politics today, there are too many loopholes in this McCain-Feingold bill. All these lobbyists in town who are callous to what the bill stands for are going to exploit it. They'll turn to state parties and special interest groups and the money will keep pouring in. It's a tragedy.

Tuesday, February 4
Here's a nice page about relatively-unknown serial killer Henry Holmes, and the Straight Dope question from years ago without which I probably wouldn't've recognized the name.

Ooh, and a Car Talk Name That Noise quiz. Who the hell are SHeDAISY? And are they lesbians?

Monday, February 3
Here's a nice Morning News column about collecting strange cookbooks, and an occasionally-hilarious essay about cinematic NYC that makes me wonder why I never chased down the 'Black and White' DVD. I do, however, have a cookbook with recipes for a post-nuclear-holocaust world (central conceit--55-gallon drums of honey, flour, salt, etc.) Here's another songs-of-the-year list. The twist, they claim, is that they have mp3s of many of the songs. Yeah, who doesn't? The gentleman who wrote that 1980 space shuttle article hasn't changed his mind. One of my favorite 'Car Talk' features--the worst cars of the millennium.

Joe Millionaire? What's with all the cheesy fake thunder?

Dammit, what the hell's wrong with all these links?

Sunday, February 2
More mefi--a 1980 article that calls the space shuttle a death trap. Also, here's a Morning News Super Bowl ad piece and an article on how to teach go, especially interesting because I want someone to teach me.

Ooh, and here's this wonderful LC exhibit--The Floating World of Ukiyo-E. And here's an essay about the idea of the 'floating world' in modern Canada. And the mefi thread I got both these links from.

TSG Joe Millionaire stuff, part two: apparently, Sarah isn't the only one with a background in, uh, softcore. He's such a bear!

Come on, Will, just take off your shirt and tell us! Phoebe really did say that.

Here's a Salon article about Joe Millionaire and social class. Good, not great. And, as long as I'm at it, another link to Patrick Smith's 'Ask the Pilot' columns.
Entertainment Weekly offers Simpsons commentary: Best (and worst) Episode Ever. Their worst episode choice, though, is Bart to the Future (Indian casino, Lisa-as-president), which seems to me just mediocre. My vote for worst episode might go to the treacly 'Jazzman' episode, or maybe the one about the aftermath of Maude's death. And where are all the Krusty-centric episodes? Sideshow Bob Roberts? The Hurricane? The trillion-dollar bill? Mary Bailey? Hank Scorpio? Larry Burns? Johnny Cash? Listen Lady? Trilogy of Error? Crayon in Homer's brain? Odyssey/Joan of Arc/Hamlet? And it goes on like this. (Incidentally, I have gradually concluded that the John Waters episode isn't really that good.)

I have been led to believe it's cool to be real. Also, Salon has something about NARAS vs RIAA w/r/t P2P. Get used to it. From now on, we're going to be spelling everything with letters. I've got to post this, or else I'll be thinking of Simpsons episodes all day. Oh, here's the mefi thread.

Saturday, February 1
"It's sort of no longer kosher to make fun of someone's sexuality or class status, but you can make fun of something that symbolizes that."--someone talking about the mullet, on this... strange Trio documentary. It's possible I've heard about enough about the mullet. Incidentally, Don't Look Back, Looking for Richard and Beyond the Mat are all definitely worth watching.
"Of course, we all know that the space shuttle is like a beautiful butterfly strapped to a bullet."--Story Musgrave, former astronaut
Columbia Streaks Toward Florida Landing

By Marcia Dunn
AP Aerospace Writer
Saturday, February 1, 2003; 8:28 AM

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. �� With security tighter than usual, space shuttle Columbia streaked toward a Florida touchdown Saturday to end a successful 16-day scientific research mission that included the first Israeli astronaut.

The early morning fog burned off as the sun rose, and Mission Control gave the seven astronauts the go-ahead to come home on time. "I guess you've been wondering, but you are 'go' for the deorbit burn," Mission Control radioed at practically the last minute.

Ilan Ramon, a colonel in Israel's air force and former fighter pilot, became the first man from his country to fly in space, and his presence resulted in an increase in security, not only for Columbia's Jan. 16 launch, but also for its landing. Space agency officials feared his presence might make the shuttle more of a terrorist target.

"We've taken all reasonable measures, and all of our landings so far since 9-11 have gone perfectly," said Lt. Col. Michael Rein, an Air Force spokesman.

Columbia's crew � Ramon and six Americans � completed all of their 80-plus experiments in orbit. They studied ant, bee and spider behavior in weightlessness as well as changes in flames and flower scents, and took measurements of atmospheric dust with a pair of Israeli cameras.

The 13 lab rats on board � part of a brain and heart study � had to face the guillotine following the flight so researchers could see up-close the effects of so much time in weightlessness. The insects and other animals had a brighter, longer future: the student experimenters were going to get them back and many of the youngsters planned to keep them, almost like pets.

All of the scientific objectives were accomplished during the round-the-clock laboratory mission, and some of the work may be continued aboard the international space station, researchers said. The only problem of note was a pair of malfunctioning dehumidifiers, which temporarily raised temperatures inside the laboratory to the low 80s, 10 degrees higher than desired.

Some of Columbia's crew members didn't want their time in space to end.

"Do we really have to come back?" astronaut David Brown jokingly asked Mission Control before the ride home.

NASA's next shuttle flight, a space station construction mission, is scheduled for March. The next time Columbia flies will be in November, when it carries into orbit educator-astronaut Barbara Morgan, who was the backup for Challenger crew member Christa McAuliffe in 1986.

Supposedly,, the Post has already taken this article down. The reference to Christa McAuliffe, the crew member asking "Do we really have to come back?"--I can see why.
Columbia--oh, no, not again. At the risk of sounding insensitive, a simple decision is long overdue. Are we planning to settle space or not? If so, let's do it, already, and if not, let's forget about the astronauts and just send up machines with cameras. The way things stand now, manned spaceflight is somewhere between Potemkin village and loss-leading PR device--hardly the kind of things that are worth dying for.
A lagniappe of cultural kitsch and B-movie claptrap

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