Preference Personnelle
Friday, July 30
Here's a fairly interesting article about cellphones, convergence and disappearing profit margins (via Slashdot), and an even-more-interesting (well, to me anyway) article on Gizmodo about eBooks, barriers to adoption and DRM (via Library-Link-of-the-Day).

That said, if you just want to know what cellphone to buy, you might try Phonescoop and/or Mobiledia.

Thursday, July 29
This is a little old, but great. Ann Coulter and USA Today. Via Metafilter, which has covered Coulter before. They've got snazzy Flash about tall buildings too. Oh, and here's a Michael Moore/Bill O'Reilly transcript, and comments.
Wednesday, July 28
"What does it take to sign up an account?"

"ID and credit card."

"What if I have no credit card?"

"Drivers licence and a social insurance number."

"Well, I brought my phone bill to show where I live and my name."

"... Sir, this is a disconnection notice for your phone."

Acts of Gord, about a used-video-game-store and its moron customers, is funny, funny stuff. There's also a comic.
Tuesday, July 27
Three things about the DNC:

1. All the other networks have coverage of the convention, but C-SPAN has the actual convention. The only thing better would be pulling raw network feeds with one of those giant satellite dishes. Note that I didn't say being there.
2. Friends in Boston have had about enough of the traffic, media circus and assorted hassles.
2. I keep hoping to see Jessamyn in the crowd shots.
3. Just like it might be a good time to reread 'The Boys on the Bus' and 'Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72,' it might also be a good time to revisit P.J. O'Rourke's essay about national party conventions from 'Parliament of Whores.'
Monday, July 26
Jessamyn West linked to Michael McGrorty writing about librarians and book reviews, and McGrorty plugged George Orwell's Confessions of a Book Reviewer, and, y'know, it's all good. I wonder what it would take for me to go from occasional capsules to actual reviews.
Sunday, July 25
I will never get tired of this story: Here's more Slashdot coverage about the RIAA library settlement. Executive summary: the RIAA is still sending out thousands of copies of cut-outs, singles, holiday albums and anything from the 'shipped gold, returned platinum' category. Here is an older Slashdot story on the same topic.

Here are some other links on the topic, from intellectual-property legal blog Furdlog, political newd site Free Republic, uberblog BoingBoing, library news site LISNEWS (the name makes it pretty clear, huh?), file-sharing news site Zeropaid and two from, where, again, the name kinda says it all. And here's more from the Shifted Librarian, the Creative Librarian and the Kung-Fu Librarian, which is a new one on me.

Last but not least, did you know that NC and PA managed to work out a deal that lets them actually choose the CDs? Those lucky quakers and, uh, tarheels. And did you know that some of the settlement CDs actually had mold on them? That's not just a colorful metaphor.
Saturday, July 24
Here's a nifty everything2 thread--originally in a Wired piece by Douglas Coupland, but I can't seem to find it right now--Statements that would be shocking to people living in 1975. First published in 1995, but just like futurism, it gets better and better with each passing year.

Ooh, and an Ask Slashdot about laser eye surgery. My favorite comment, by far, is this one, which namechecks silicon-eyelet manufacturer Kaos Softwear. Not surprisingly, I like laser eye surgery better in the company of subincision and tooth-filing than I do in the company of tanning beds and botox. That said, I like it best of all in the company of Steve Austin and Jamie Sommers.

Also, here's Commercial Closet, about LGBT issues in advertising, and a collection of especially difficult (i.e., more accurate in higher ranges) IQ tests.

Also, the Internet Archive is amazing. Yeah, yeah, I'm probably mostly telling people who already know, but just in case. Amazing. Getting better all the time, too, with things like Election 2004 video archives, Naropa Institute audio and videogame speed runs. And have I mentioned that Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools rocks my world?

Ooh, and here's an entertaining Mefi post about high-IQ societies, and a Slashdot post about MS looking to sell Slate. There is speculation (passive voice) that Slate's Firefox recommendation just might have something to do with it. Also librarian pickup lines, and LIS terms that sound dirty. "Members of group X do it in some humorous X-related manner."

And, via Game Critics, here's videogame forefather (well, one of them) Ralph Baer interviewed in High Times. Yes, that High Times.
Friday, July 23
From Barney Hoskyns' Waiting for the Sun, which I really enjoyed (and which is, regrettably, OOP), here's Appendix A: Los Angeles in Songs. Boomer-heavy, but what do you expect? It's quite a cultural history even in list form; and, of course, it would make for several good mixtapes, and several very bad ones. Side note: the book was published in 1996, which may explain the absense from this list of, for example, 'California Love.'

Joe Turner: Blues on Central Avenue (1941)
Crown Prince Waterford: LA Blues (1947)
Ricky Nelson: Lonesome Town (1958)
Eddie Cochran: Summertime Blues (1958)
The Beach Boys: Surfin' (1961)
The Penguins: Memories of El Monte (1963)
Jan and Dean: Surf City (1963)
The Beach Boys: I Get Around (1964) (Tupac's 'I Get Around' isn't really LA-centric. His 'California Love' sure is, though.)
The Beach Boys: California Girls (1965) (Is that cover version Van Halen or solo Dave? Who cares?)
The Rolling Stones: The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man (1965)
The Mamas and the Papas: California Dreamin' (1966) (I would add Osymyso's 'California Nightmare,' which heavily samples 'California Dreamin'.')
The Mothers of Invention: Trouble Every Day (The Watts Riot Song) (1966)
Love: Maybe the People Would Be the Times, or Between Clark and Hilldale (1967)
The Doors: Moonlight Drive (1967)
The Leather-Coated Minds: Trip Down Sunset Strip (1967)
The Monkees: Pleasant Valley Sunday (1967)
The Byrds: So You Wanna Be a Rock'n'Roll Star (1967)
The Fifth Dimension: California Soul (1967) (As heard on the 'Brainfreeze' mixes)
The Mamas and the Papas: Safe in My Garden (1968) (What a difference a few short years can make.)
HMS Bounty: Drivin' Sideways on a One-Way Street (1968)
Richard Harris: MacArthur Park (1968)
Dionne Warwick: Do You Know the Way to San Jose? (1968)
Van Dyke Parks: Vine Street (1968)
Cass Elliott: California Earthquake (1968)
John Mayall: Laurel Canyon Home (1968)
Van Dyke Parks: Lauren Canyon Boulevard (1968)
Jackie DeShannon: Laurel Canyon (1969)
The Byrds: Bad Night at the Whisky (1969)
The Flying Burrito Brothers: Sin City (1969)
Firesign Theatre: How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere At All? (1970)
Joni Mitchell: Ladies of the Canyon (1970)
John Phillips: Malibu People (1970)
John Phillips: Topanga Canyon (1970) (Topanga is a name perhaps best known to the young folks as the girlfriend on 'Boy Meets World,' who, for the first few seasons, was actually a sort of bobo plastic hippie type.)
The Doors: L.A. Woman (1971) (I prefer Jane's Addiction's 'L.A. Medley,' which also includes The Germs' 'Lexicon Devil' and X's 'Nausea.' Why not X's 'Los Angeles'? Who knows?)
The Byrds: Precious Kate (1971)
Joni Mitchell: California (1971)
America: Ventura Highway (1972)
David Ackles: Oh! California (1972) (Not to be confused with the similarly-named sex musical.)
Albert Hammond: It Never Rains in Southern California (1972) (Was it Boyz II Men that covered this in the '90s? Weren't they from Philly?)
Thelma Houston: Black California (1972)
Todd Rundgren: Sunset Boulevard (1973)
Neil Young: LA (1973)
Steely Dan: Show Biz Kids (1973)
Joni Mitchell: People's Parties (1974)
Neil Young: On the Beach (1974)
Neil Young: Revolution Blues (1974)
War: Low Rider (1975)
Ronnie Spector: Say Goodbye to Hollywood (1975) (Is the lame Billy Joel song a cover? I have no idea.)
Terry Allen: There Ought To Be a Law Against Sunny Southern California (1975)
The Sweet: Desolation Boulevard (1975)
John Cale: Mr. Wilson (1975)
Guy Clark: LA Freeway (1975)
The Eagles: Hotel California (1976)
The Eagles: The Last Resort (1976)
Warren Zevon: Join Me in LA (1976)
Warren Zevon: Poor, Poor Pitiful Me (1976)
Warren Zevon: Desperadoes Under the Eaves (1976)
Iggy Pop and James Williamson: Kill City (1977)
Dennis Wilson: Pacific Ocean Blues (1977)
Bob Seger: Hollywood Nights (1978)
David Ackles: Surf's Down (1979)
Donna Summer: Sunset People (1979)
Ry Cooder: Down in Hollywood (1979)
The Rotters: Sit on My Face, Stevie Nicks (1979)
Steely Dan: Babylon Sisters (1980)
Jackson Browne: Boulevard (1980)
Tom Waits: Heartattack and Vine (1980)
John Stewart: Hollywood Dreams (1980)
X: Los Angeles (1980)
The Circle Jerks: Beverly Hills (1980)
Black Flag: White Minority (1981)
Neil Young: Surfer Joe and Moe the Sleaze (1981)
The Go-Gos: This Town (1981)
Randy Newman: I Love LA (1983)
T-Bone Burnett: Hefner and Disney (1983)
True West: Hollywood Holiday (1983)
Frank Sinatra: LA is My Lady (1984)
Don Henley: The Boys of Summer (1984)
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Out in LA (1984)
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Hollywood (1985)
David Lee Roth: California Girls (1985) (There's your answer.)
Sonic Youth: Death Valley '69 (1985)
David and David: Welcome to the Boomtown (1986)
Ice-T: Six in the Morning (1986) (arguably-better LA song from T: 'Colors')
Guns 'N' Roses: Paradise City (1987) (What, no 'Welcome to the Jungle'?)
Jane's Addiction: Up the Beach/Ocean Size (1988)
NWA: Fuck tha Police (1988)
Randy Newman: Red Bandana (1988)
LA Guns: Riot On Sunset (1989)
Public Enemy: Burn Hollywood Burn (1990)
Elvis Costello: The Other Side of Summer (1991)
Cypress Hill: How I Could Just Kill a Man (1991)
The Nymphs: Sad and Damned (1991)
Tom Waits: Goin' Out West (1992)
Body Count: Cop Killer (1992)
that dog: Westside Angst (1993)
Annie Ross: Evil California (1993) (Yes, that Annie Ross.)
Pavement: Unfair (1994)
L7: Freak Magnet (1994)
Wax: California (1995)

It's a good list, but I think that, much like LA itself, white people seem to be hogging the credit. Here are a few additions off the top of my head; please help me come up with more:

LL Cool J: Goin Back to Cali (Where can I find a list of videos that Rick Rubin appeared in? A couple old Beastie Boys ones, and this one, and Jay-Z's '99 Problems,' but what else?)
NWA: Straight Outta Compton
Bratmobile: Polaroid Baby (It's the best song to ever include lines about not needing no water.)
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Under the Bridge (I can't stand this song.)
Dr. Dre f. Tupac Shakur: California Love (There are about a million other rap songs about Los Angeles--I'm trying to show restraint.)
Defari: Lowlands Anthem (That said, this song, from the lost-classic 'Focused Daily' album, is vastly superior to the one I just mentioned.)
Thursday, July 22
Join the club--Librarians Against Bush.

Also, data-mining firm Axciom (headquartered in LR) was hacked again. Also via Slashdot, this eBay scammer story is entertaining even by the high P-p-p-powerbook standards of the genre (check out dude's obit in these Lexus forums. Also, Sveasoft, makers of alternative firmware for the Linksys WRT54g router, might not be following the GPL, the alleged-crooks.

Update: now the alleged scammer has a site of his own (via Slashdot).
Friday, July 16
Here are some reading suggestions. They're aimed at a certain someone, but, y'know, it's something everyone can enjoy. Categorized, even, and without any nakedly-greedy Amazon links, which I'll save for next time:


Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical, by Anthony Bourdain
This is the only reason I broadened auto- to plain old biography. Bourdain is a chef, and a dark, funny, sarcastic writer. (If you enjoy his style, I'd also recommend his two cooking books, A Cook's Tour and Kitchen Confidential, and his fiction, especially The Bobby Gold Stories. For that matter, he also did a 'Cook's Tour' teevee show, but I haven't seen it. While I'm at it, there's also a book in the 'Urban Historicals' series that was written by Joel Rose. Not that Joel Rose, though.)

Persopolis: The Story of a Childhood, by Marjane Satrapi
R, I believe you were leafing through this when you visited a while ago. This graphic novel is frequently compared to Art Spiegelman's Maus, but aren't they all? It's great storytelling, about an Iranian childhood, and it's been getting excellent reviews, and Satrapi's art reminds me of Emily.

Sorcerer's Apprentice: My Life with Carlos Castenada, by Amy Wallace
Doubtless, part of the reason I keep returning to this book (I think I've plugged it twice before) is my fondness for Amy Wallace, of the People's Almanac/Book of Lists Wallaces. There was a big boom in the late '70s and early '80s for these sort of fake reference books (this is an intentionally-broad category that also includes The Way Things Work, the various Guinness books, James Burke's Connections, the first Straight Dope columns and those stupid gnome books that Martha Stewart's first husband made his bones with). Another part of the reason is my distaste for Carlos Castenada, the man who put the 'fake' in 'fake anthropologist' ('shaman' and 'sorcerer' already have 'fake' in them).

Books about food:

I'm Just Here for the Food: Food + Heat = Cooking, by Alton Brown
All of the cooking books I've been reading lately have the same problem--too many recipes, not enough talk about cooking. Alton's no exception, but the non-recipe portions in this one are great. His style reminds me, in a good way, of that Futurama episode where Bender wants to become a chef. "It's ten percent less than a lethal dose."

Cookwise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking, by Shirley Corriher
It gets cited left and right by this new wave of flash-and-science-and-chez-panisse chefs, and, though I've just leafed through the thing, I'd say deservedly so. There are, of course, many very classic cookbooks, from people like Brillat-Savarin, James Beard, Julia Child and Alice Waters. It's too soon to tell, but I suspect that Corriher will someday enter their exalted company.

Food Fight: The Inside Story of the Food Industry, America's Obesity Crisis and What We Can Do About It, by Kelly D. Brownell
One of the things that often bugs me about this kind of book is the what-can-I-do-about-it chapter. They so frequently seem tacked on at the request of some outside force, which I anthropomorphize as a mid-level publishing employee who never reads actual books and is under the very mistaken impression that nonfiction demands an upbeat ending. This one's not too bad, though, and it manages the difficult feat of managing to come off fairly objective on a subject where the choice is between blaming cartoon boogeymen (why, yes, I am thinking of Ronald McDonald here) from the military-industrial complex or blaming, y'know, the fatso reader.

The Obesity Myth: Why America's Obsession with Weight is Hazardous to Your Health, by Paul F. Campos
This book is perhaps more about health than some of the other obesity books I've mentioned. I'm, personally, more interested in the business and culture ends of things, but this is only a personal bias. Campos' book is well-researched, sober and considered. In a more rational world, this thing would be atop the nonfiction charts while the South Beach diet would occupy the same place in the cultural imagination as the Britney-Spears-endorsed, Red-Bull-and-Subway Malibu diet.

Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World, by Greg Critser
Now, here's a book about the business and the culture. Much like Fast-Food Nation, there's a considerable focus on refined sugars and hydrogenated fats. Unlike Fast-Food Nation, however, there is also a fair amount of Red Lobster, White Trash and the Blue Lagoon/Skipping Towards Gomorrah-style satire directed at this world of X-Treme Gulps and Texas Cheesecake Depositories.

The Penguin Atlas of Food: Who Eats What, Where, and Why, by Erik Millstone
Graphics, graphics, graphics. It looks like a cross between USA Today, somebody's final PageMaker project and the work of Edward Tufte. And, I suppose, it's another of those reference books that are supposed to reward pleasure reading. Speaking of reference-lite books and the visual display of information, have I mentioned my abiding fondness for '80s-vintage reference publisher The Diagram Group? I have. Also, the same Penguin series includes a title about sexual behavior (here's an Amazon look-inside-the-book) and one on women.

Food Politics : How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health, by Marion Nestle
While I've yet to read this, it sure looks appealing. Politics, industry, influence--those are the kind of words I like to see in the title of a book about food.

The Hungry Gene: The Science of Fat and the Future of Thin, by Ellen Ruppel Shell
Not particularly shrill or polemical, this book instead talks about obesity, genetics and medicine. Besides being a great general-interest science book, it's also a fascinating social history, with elements that remind me on one hand of Nicholas Lemann's The Big Test, about the SATs and meritocracy, and on the other of T.C. Boyle's The Road to Wellville, about cornflakes and quackery. Let me just suggest that Atkins is to patent medicine as Beanie Babies (and dot-com stocks) are to tulipmania. Well, except for the played-out-metaphor part.

Things I've mentioned lately:

Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance and the Rise of Independent Film, Peter Biskind
His Easy Riders, Raging Bulls was fairly popular, and even spawned a series of teevee documentaries. I like this book even better (though, to be fair, that may relate to my actually being alive during the events discussed). Also, given their recent involvement in the media circus that is Farenheit 9/11, the Weinstein-centric content is especially timely.

Forces Of Habit : Drugs And The Making Of The Modern World, by David T. Courtwright
More consumption-related reading. This book has gotten pretty good reviews, but I haven't read it.

Waiting for the Sun: Strange Days, Weird Scenes and the Sound of Los Angeles, by Barney Hoskyns
Great stuff. Somewhere between Mike Davis' City of Quartz (which is referenced repeatedly) and Kenneth Anger's Hollywood Babylon (ditto), Hoskyns treats sleazy entrepreneurial hangers-on like Kim Fowley and Rodney Bingenheimer with just the right blend of importance and contempt.

Cigarettes : Anatomy Of An Industry From Seed To Smoke, by Tara Parker-Pope
Simple and plain, the best book about tobacco I've ever read.

Have Gun Will Travel: The Spectacular Rise and Violent Fall of Death Row Records, by Ronin Ro
Ro's other books are kind of a mixed bag (short version: Gangsta: Merchandising the Rhymes of Violence is very good, Bad Boy, about Puffy, not nearly as good, and his fiction even worse), but this one's great--right up there with William Shaw's Westside: Young Men and Hip Hop in LA and Tricia Rose's Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America among the best rap books ever written. Does that come off as faint praise? (Other rap-books-of-note: Oliver Wang's Classic Material, the two Ego Trip books, David Foster Wallace's Signifying Rappers and Cheo H. Coker's Unbelievable: The Life of the Notorious B.I.G.)

Can't Find My Way Home: America in the Great Stoned Age, 1945-2000, by Martin Torgoff
This book sits near the top of my stack of library books, but I still haven't started reading it. I was thinking boomer memoir, but this review says 'sweeping epic.' I don't know about that.

Also, the link part:
Did you know there's a Guys Gone Wild video now? Salon asks one of my favorite media-crit questions: just who is the target audience for this thing?

And here's Brunching Shuttlecocks' Book of Ratings. These guys are also on some of those VH1 snark shows lately. Either you like the style or you don't, I suppose. From the Marvel Supervillain ratings:

The Leader: He's a green guy with a big brain. He's the Hulk's arch-enemy. Kind of obvious, really. Hero: Big green dumb strong guy. Villain: Small green smart weak guy. It's not really dripping with creativity, and the moral ends up being "clever planning and logic can never win against the sheer physical brutality of a guy who barely even knows where he is." This is not a moral that your average comic book reader wants to hear. D+
Friday, July 9
Some consumption-related links:

Two junk-food blogs, and Phoood.

Three booze-related sites, (probably the best forty-ounce resource on the Web, i.e., on Earth), Beer Advocate (the Epinions of beer sites) and The Opinionated Beer Page (but aren't they all?).

Four sources of snooty audiophile-ness: Todd the Vinyl Junkie (plenty of records, and plenty of equipment--a good source for turntables you don't plan to scratch with), Turntable Lab (pretty good source for turntables to scratch with, excellent source for things to scratch), Audiocubes (heavy tendency toward the stylish and/or Japanese--overpriced, as you might expect) and HeadRoom (surely the best headphone site that will ever exist).
Wednesday, July 7
This Kuro5hin (I'm told it's pronounced 'corrosion,' though I see the name abbreviated enough that I suspect the cognoscenti prefers 'kay-five.) article about Farenheit 9/11 is among the better things I've read about the movie. This fairly-well-known Christopher Hitchens hatchet job isn't as good (and here are several hatchet-job hatchet jobs, from DU, Disinfo and Hollywood Bitchslap). This Filthy Critic review is a good bit worse.

Is Bush planning to 'find' Osama Bin Laden at a moment of political expediency? The New Republic raises the possibility--they call it the July Surprise. The name is a reference to the Reagan-era October Surprise. is a guess-the-Bush-dirty-trick site, and .com and .org point to ad pages and a Senate candidate, respectively.

I really like Memepool, though it's pretty clear that many of their contributors visit the same link-o-rama websites that I do. Speaking of, where do people go when they can't get Metafilter accounts? Monkeyfilter is the obvious answer, but I suspect there's a better one.

Here's some automotive journalism that isn't unbearable: Elepent Scribbles, The Truth About Cars and, of course, NPR's Car Talk.

Here are some vaguely sex-themed quizzes--Dog Toy or Marital Aid, and Porn Star or My Little Pony. While I'm at it, True Porn Clerk Stories.

Here's some weird-audio stuff--April Winchell (check out 'Rappin With Gas,' as heard on DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist's 'Product Placement' mix) and Otis Fodder's 365-days-of-outsider-music project. Also, via Mefi, 100-songs-on-a-single-CD.

Ooh, and ghost sites.
Tuesday, July 6
Mefi link city:

-The Living Room Candidate, all about presidential campaign advertisements (here's an old post)
-Sequence, a Shockwave music game
-Circles, an occasionally-bewildering Flash game
-Google-Fu, a collection of advanced search tips
A lagniappe of cultural kitsch and B-movie claptrap

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