Preference Personnelle
Tuesday, June 29
So I started reading some advertising criticism at Slate, right? (Remember when they had Michael Kinsley as an editor? Did he leave before or after Salon became a pay site?) This piece on Levitra (it's the teevee spot with the guy throwing the football through the tire), for example (here's another Levitra mention). And that led, in that serendipitous hyperlinky way things go, to ex-Slate writer and ad critic Rob Walker's page, and to, which is a strange mix of real ad criticism and, largely, Maximesque Onion-style fake news. It seems like it's been a while since it's been updated.

I'm more of a fan of, though, which is all about campaign 2004 advertisements from a 'progressive perspective.' For a more pro-ad-industry perspective, here's AdWeek's campaign coverage. For a more historical perspective, try the American Museum of the Moving Image's wonderful The Living Room Candidate. And, speaking of moving images, did you know that I daydream of someday working for the Alaska Moving Image Preservation Association?
Friday, June 25
This INDUCE act, proposed by would-be singing star, Mormon and wholly-owned subsidiary of the Disney corporation Orrin Hatch, is utterly ridiculous. Essentially, Hatch proposes an amendment to the Copyright Act which would make liable anyone who aids, abets, induces, etc. copyright violation. Forget about the 'noninfringing uses' standard set by the Betamax case--even though that VCR can be used for time-shifting and dubbing home movies. Basically, we're talking about suing pencil manufacturers. Like many bills proposed by Sen. Hatch, this one appears to be unconstitutional--not that that will stop it from passing.

Check out today's exhaustive discussion on Slashdot, the considerably-less-exhaustive discussion on Metafilter, and, my favorite, the obsessively-annotated text of Hatch's introduction speech. Further, here's more from Ars Technica, Copyfight, the EFF, the Home Recording Rights Coalition and Google News. Last but not least, here's coverage from Wired, and some from the biggest newspaper in Utah.

Also, here's a Beastie Boys/DRM update, via Slashdot.
Now these are fresh--very expensive, but fresh: Cubit small-form-factor computers. This is the kind of thing I'd have in my expensive-crap fantasyland (as a router, with a 2-Ethernet-port Via motherboard, because, y'know, I love my Shuttle), along with a Kinesis ergonomic keyboard (maybe a Gyration, too, for, y'know, when I'm lying in bed), an X-Arcade joystick, an iMon PC remote (ugh, that capitalization. Thanks, Apple. And, by the way, your BMW integration sucks--no in-dash display? A cable in the glove compartment? I thought you were supposed to be the design company.) and a pair of Eizo LCD monitors.

Of course, to paraphrase those stupid Walgreen's commercials, I don't live anywhere near expensive-crap fantasyland (good segue to a parenthetical mention of that ALA/Walgreen's deal), and so, instead, I try to make the stuff I have work as well as possible.

That's why I'm such a big fan of sites like and (I don't agree with everything BV writes, but his guide to Windows services is a wonderful resource), which detail ways to make Windows work better, and programs like AdAware, Spybot Search & Destroy and HijackThis, which can help keep things from getting worse (because the PC part most prone to failure is usually the nut. The nut? The nut in front of the keyboard. Hey-o.). I'm also a very big fan of tweak programs like TweakAll, X-Setup (6.x is the free version) and Microsoft's own TweakUI. After hours of tedious checkbox-checking and option-setting, Windows, by which I mean 2000/XP, becomes a fast, stable operating system. I'd probably be better off with Linux, but I've got a lot of sunk costs, y'know?

Also, which OS are you? Which Linux distribution are you? And check out this great section of Neal Stephenson's wonderful 'In the beginning was the command line.'

Update: I plugged a bunch of those programs a week ago. Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but I think we're approaching some kind of tipping point, with Mozilla/Firefox adoption or IE security problems or maybe both, because the two are certainly linked.
Tuesday, June 22
Why, it's another list-heavy alt-music ezine. And a Frontline about SUVs and rollovers. And here's Howell Raines in The Atlantic on, y'know, what went wrong. Here's one of a forthcoming Slate series about swing states.

"The breadth of their claims is stunning," says one patent attorney who has followed the Acacia case closely, Bruce D. Sunstein, of Bromberg & Sunstein LLP, in Boston. "If you look at the potential targets, they include software providers like Microsoft, RealNetworks, and others, at least for contributory infringement, and possibly every cable provider and satellite provider, too. I suppose I'm a contributory infringer if I download some media content and look at it."

It sure is hard to get people excited about patent law, and how incredibly broken the U.S. patent system really is. And while this article is really good (and it's more magazine journalism than tech piece, think piece or polemic), it seems unlikely that it's going to, y'know, light a fire under any asses, so to speak. Via slashdot.
Friday, June 18
There's going to be a Christian American Idol? And it's going to air on TBN? A snide comment would be redundant.

More entertainment news: According to documents found by Court TV, Mikejack's total payout to his 1993 accuser was around $25 million. No wonder he's having financial trouble.

Provided the EU approves it, BMG and Sony's music units are on the verge of a merger. And thus, the five major record companies would be reduced to four. This is interesting among other reasons because of crippled CDs, like the new releases from the Beastie Boys (thanks, Sumei) and Velvet Revolver.

Vaguely related, here's a (very incomplete) guide to Beastie Boys NYC references. And here's a better one, albeit just about 'Paul's Boutique.' And Velvet Revolver was a key element in 'The Way the Music Died,' a Frontline I've posted about a couple of times before.

Also, Esther disses Bush. 'Esther?' you say. 'Who cares what she thinks?' Exactly.

More perhaps forthcoming about that prick Jack Valenti, clean-DVD software, and how Valenti only likes censorship when it's coming from his bullshit cartel. Maybe I should calm down a little first, though.
Tuesday, June 15
Here's some Slashdot coverage of BugMeNot, which provides communal logins for, y'know, login-requiring websites like, etc. Better, here's a BugMeNot Firefox extension.

Speaking of, here are a couple third-party programs that go a long way towards making Microsoft's insecure POS operating systems work a little better: Spybot Search & Destroy (catches things that Ad-Aware misses, and vice versa) and HijackThis. Combine these with an alternative browser and email client, a firewall (hardware, software or both), an edited hosts file and some very restrictive IE settings (or, if you've got an install CD and you think you can hang, just ditch IE completely. Warning: this might prevent programs whose built-in browser uses IE components (like Winamp and Soulseek (By the way, there are Linux Soulseek clients with more functionality--Nicotine (seems to be the preferred one), PySoulseek, Museek--and Soleseek for OS X.) from working properly.). Now, if you're a little drunk and you squint a bit, Windows starts to look like a secure OS.

(Can the people on TV see me, or am I just paranoid? I know I'm paranoid, but am I paranoid enough? Tell me the song and the book I'm thinking of, and I'll send you a Gmail invite. This is a limited-time offer. And S, if you don't already have a Gmail account, let me know.)
Friday, June 11
This online [U.S.] citizenship test isn't all that different from the real thing; the main difference is that it's multiple choice. This worked out well for me, as I would have otherwise almost certainly missed the question about the thirteen original colonies. 10/10, though apparently I was lucky to not get any North Carolina questions, as the only thing I know about that state is John Edwards. Via metafilter.
Thursday, June 10
I email myself links, meaning to post them here later, and I've accumulated quite a backlog. The only problem is, I can't decide whether I'd prefer to make an inappropriate metaphor (e.g., high colonic) or a pointless cultural reference (e.g., 'Cleaning Out My Closet.' Then maybe 'Looks like he came out of the pep closet! D'oh!'). Anyway.

Penn and Paul Provenza are making a movie based on comedians telling the Aristocrats joke. A South Park clip intended for said movie is quickly making the online rounds. This metafilter thread, and this Ask Metafilter thread, quickly became, y'know, a place for jokes.

Here's a page about math in Futurama, to go with the page about math in The Simpsons. Is this how Appalachian State's math department attracts students? I certainly hope so. Via Slashdot.

Here's discussion of the anti-Bush messages on the labels of Tom Bihn bags. Here's a Mefi thread about 'Let's Roll,' and a Counterpunch article about Lisa Beamer.

Here's Lux, a Risk clone. Here are a few retrogaming-themed commercials. Here's a metafilter post about science teevee shows. Here are fetus-themed products, and anti-Bush ladies' undergarments. Here's a 'Pinball Number Song' video remix. And gaming superplays.

Here's another reason to have a Telnet client--Star Wars in ASCII. I don't like Star Wars, but I like this. Here's a Slate writeup of Trio's Flops.

For someone who dislikes M$ as much as I do, I've been reading a lot of Slate lately. I blame it on being sick of those damn Salon 'ultramercials.' (and, like, ultramercial? Please.) That said, Slate's menus use stupid ActiveX controls that only work in IE (stupid among other reasons because Javascript would do the same job, and because ActiveX is the source of a lot of Microsoft's ongoing security woes), wildly reducing the site's functionality for, well, me. Do you think complaining would do any good?
Wednesday, June 9
Celebrity Atheists, and Let Them Sing it For You (no, not the atheists).
Sunday, June 6
66 Things to Think About When Flying into Reagan National Airport:

The firing of the air-traffic controllers, winnable nuclear war, recallable nuclear missiles, trees that cause pollution, Elliott Abrams lying to Congress, ketchup as a vegetable, colluding with Guatemalan thugs, pardons for FBI lawbreakers, voodoo economics, budget deficits, toasts to Ferdinand Marcos, public-housing cutbacks, red-baiting the nuclear freeze movement, James Watt.
Getting cozy with Argentine fascist generals, tax credits for segregated schools, disinformation campaigns, 'homeless by choice,' Manuel Noriega, falling wages, the HUD scandal, air raids on Libya, 'constructive engagement' with apartheid South Africa, United States Information Agency blacklists of liberal speakers, attacks on OSHA and workplace safety, the invasion of Grenada, assassination manuals, Nancy's astrologer.
Drug tests, lie-detector tests, Fawn Hall, female appointees (8 percent), mining harbors, the S&L scandal, 239 dead U.S. troops in Beirut, Al Haig 'in charge,' silence on AIDS, food-stamp reductions, Debategate, White House shredding, Jonas Savimbi, tax cuts for the rich, 'mistakes were made.'
Michael Deaver's conviction for influence peddling, Lyn Nofziger's conviction for influence peddling, Caspar Weinberger's five-count indictment, Ed Meese ('You don't have many suspects who are innocent of a crime'), Donald Regan (women don't understand 'throw weights), education cuts, massacres in El Salvador.
'The bombing begins in five minutes,' $640 Pentagon toilet seats, African-American judicial appointees (1.9 percent), Reader's Digest, CIA-sponsored car bombing in Lebanon (more than eighty civilians killed), 200 officials accused of wrongdoing, William Casey, Iran/Contra.
"Facts are stupid things,' three-by-five cards, the MX missile, Bitburg, SDI, Robert Bork, naps, Teflon.

(by David Corn, originally in The Nation, March 2 1998, and posted by me before)

Also, I'd like to collect a list of anti-Reagan songs. Off the top of my head, there's Suicidal Tendencies' 'I Shot Reagan,' and the different song of the same name by Non-Phixion. And virtually the entire catalog of Reagan Youth. And the Dead Kennedys, for that matter. And about a million other '80s punk bands. Ooh, and there's Johnnie Taylor's 'Reaganomics,' and Genesis 'Land of Confusion,' and The Ramones' 'Bonzo Goes to Bitburg,' and Bonzo Goes To Hollywood's 'Five Minutes.' Got more? Please let me know.
Tuesday, June 1
And, quoted directly from Memepool: "They have their own personals [edit: and many others], their own slang, their own philosophy, and a combined IQ of about 85. Oh, and their own porn, too."

They've also got weblog rings, online communities, meetups, all that jazz. Not that any of that is surprising.

Someone should market some kind of ICP-themed stuffed toys, like those Grateful Dead beanie babies from some years back. How many juggalos (or maybe it's -oes (spelling isn't particularly popular with this crowd)) are maladjusted tweens and teenagers, overflowing with hormone-fueled, facile emotion? How many ICP fans are in the kind of doomed relationship that's sustained mainly by the flow of gifts? How many ICP fans like having a bunch of stupid shit on the dashboard of their car? These no-talent troglodytes are more successful salesmen than anyone this side of Kiss (uh, I mean, KISS)--people like Eminem, Outkast and Jay-Z could learn something about marketing from the Insane Clown Posse, just like ICP could... well, you see where I'm going with this.

All this juggalo talk reminds me of at least two things--first, of this Douglas Rushkoff-hosted documentary, 'The Merchants of Cool.' The clowns (or is it 'klowns'? Nah, fuck that. I only spell K-words with K.) make a brief appearance in a documentary that's largely about the mook, the midriff and the feedback loop, but Rushkoff comes off downright fascinated by the world of ICP. He theorizes that the only way teenagers can resist having their fandom corrupted by big business is by attaching themselves to something utterly, repellently unmarketable. Later, he notes that the Clowns, at the time of filming, were wrapping up an MTV-style video (after signing to Island--the same people that sued Negativland over 'U2') and preparing some kind of pro wrestling joint venture with the wild and woolly ECW, (which has itself since been subsumed into the WWE (WWF before a World Wildlife Federation lawsuit), though ECW survived long enough to make some fairly awful video games).

And also, years ago, a then-pal (who shall remain nameless) and I (we'd met in Women's Studies courses) rented and watched (albeit with a lot of fast-forwarding) some clown-themed pornography. It was quite a letdown--very standard stuff, except that, say, dude would be wearing a red nose, like that. We were expecting the establishing scenes to be both longer and more bizarre. No dice.

What is it with people and clowns? A book I enjoyed, not long ago, Mark Dery's 'The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink,' treats the issue. It seems like the kind of thing that should have been covered in Daniel Harris' 'Cute, Quaint, Hungry and Romantic: The Aesthetics of Consumerism,' too, though it's never addressed directly. Serial killers aren't a trendy hipster interest any more, having gone the way of grunge rock and zines, but coulrophobia (yeah, that's what it's called) continues to run rampant. It's like near-death experiences or astrology or something, by which I mean that it sometimes irritates me in a similar way.

Clowns also pop up briefly in Chuck Klosterman's essay collection 'Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs,' where he mentions that his pal Eric Nuzum (a WKSU staffer whose 'Parental Advisory,' about music censorship, is pretty good in its own right) owns one of John Wayne Gacy's paintings. Tidbit about Gacy's paintings from Dery's book: although Gacy prefers to paint happy clowns, he does a lot more of the tragic Emmett Kelly variety, because that's what sells.
A lagniappe of cultural kitsch and B-movie claptrap

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