The mayor of Philadelphia is currently third in line for an iPhone at the AT&T store in Philly.

Fake Steve Jobs:

To those of you who serve under me at Apple, I say this: Yes, I have berated you, and insulted you, and exasperated you. Yes, I've fired your friends for no reason, and made you work harder than you ever thought you could work. Yes, I've taken you away from your spouses, your children, your transgendered domestic partners. In some cases your devotion to me has cost you your marriages. You've sacrificed a great deal for this. But has it not been worth it?


Eric Lichtenfeld in Slate performs a close reading of the Die Hard catchphrase:

When terrorist-slash-exceptional thief Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) taunts hero John McClane (Bruce Willis), "Who are you? Just another American who saw too many movies as a child?" and asks this "Mr. Cowboy" if he really thinks he stands a chance, McClane's answer—"Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker"—marks the moment that McClane, an everyman, assumes the mantle of America's archetypal heroes: Roy Rogers, John Wayne, Gunsmoke's Marshall Dillon, and others who have been so vital to American boyhood. Unlike the many action-movie one-liners that are rooted in the hero's narcissism, McClane's stems from our collective wish-fulfillment. He is not referring to himself, not suggesting an "I" or a "me" but an us.
This is all valid, but I don't think Lichtenfeld gives enough time to the line's rhythmic beauty. Phyrric-spondee-trochee-trochee: a soft opening ("yippee"), a triumphant double-stressed cresting ("ki-yay"), and then the happy landing on the metrical regularity of alternating stressed/unstressed syllables ("motherfucker"). It's the rhythm that gives the phrase its playful feel and makes it more fun to say than "I'll be back" or "I'm your worst nightmare." Although the combination of gibberish and profanity doesn't hurt either.


George Packer has a blog.

Young Ezra Klein completely humiliates Larry Kudlow here.


Danah Boyd observes a burgeoning class schism between Facebook and MySpace:

The goodie two shoes, jocks, athletes, or other "good" kids are now going to Facebook. These kids tend to come from families who emphasize education and going to college. They are part of what we'd call hegemonic society. They are primarily white, but not exclusively. They are in honors classes, looking forward to the prom, and live in a world dictated by after school activities.

MySpace is still home for Latino/Hispanic teens, immigrant teens, "burnouts," "alternative kids," "art fags," punks, emos, goths, gangstas, queer kids, and other kids who didn't play into the dominant high school popularity paradigm. These are kids whose parents didn't go to college, who are expected to get a job when they finish high school. These are the teens who plan to go into the military immediately after schools. Teens who are really into music or in a band are also on MySpace. MySpace has most of the kids who are socially ostracized at school because they are geeks, freaks, or queers.

Check out Jew Benny Feilhaber scoring a stunning winner for the US in the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

At last, getting excited about the US soccer team seems at least theoretically possible.

UPDATE: Michael Winn of Weil, Gotshal and Manges points out that Feilhaber was joined on Sunday by another MOT, defender Jonathan Bornstein.


Vintage LOLcats!

More on Sao Paulo's advertising ban:

The law was hailed by writer Roberto Pompeu de Toledo as "a rare victory of the public interest over private, of order over disorder, aesthetics over ugliness, of cleanliness over trash… For once, all that is accustomed to coming out on top in Brazil has lost."


As a Mac user I mostly ignore Windows, but sometimes I stumble upon something that seems to sum up the entire Windows experience. Like this sentence, from a Lifehacker post: "That means the whole process of hunting down obscure error messages—especially those containing cryptic error codes—just got a whole lot easier."


Astute analysis of The Sopranos -- the whole thing, not just the last five minutes -- by New York's Emily Nussbaum.

And it was no wonder we, as an audience, identified with Melfi. She was—hard to remember, but it’s true—a perfectly decent therapist. She handled Tony’s transference gently; she gave him tools to cope with his mother and uncle (tools he used to consolidate power, but still). She even saved a life, that of Meadow’s child-molesting soccer coach. Instead of ordering the murder, Tony stumbles stoned into the family rec room, stunned with the effort of not killing, moaning to his wife, “Carmela, Carmela, I didn’t hurt nobody.”

Back then, this scene struck me as the show’s iconic moment—a bravura sequence in which the decision not to commit violence was as thrilling as any bloody hit. In a drama built on gore, it was thrilling. Though Tony continued to collect envelopes, order hits, screw goomars, it seemed like evidence that he could be a different man.

And then something in Chase's vision went black.


Very smart close-reading of that final Sopranos scene.


Bored? Excellent logic problem here. Satisfying, legitimate, non-trick solution here. (The solution's in white type; select it with your cursor to read it.)

When you are feeling low, it is fun to laugh at the stupidity of others: So here's a blog post about Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty, which I've just finished reading for the fourth time. Check out the comments, both from David Cawley. Cawley thinks that (a) Hollinghurst himself is the author of the blog entry; (b) Hollinghurst will enjoy hearing his novel compared to Bonfire of the Vanities; (c) Hollinghurst would like to begin a sexually charged e-mail correspondence with David Cawley. The first two, at least, are obviously false.


Very vague Sopranos ending spoilers ahoy

Here's my take on this Sopranos thing, now that everybody else has had their say. The Sopranos was never about plot development or resolution. Almost every episode introduced story elements that were never mentioned again, let alone resolved. The world of The Sopranos is largely non-cumulative: events don't tend to build on each other. (The exception is that most seasons included a guy who didn't fit, who caused problems for Tony and the crew, and who wound up dead.) I like a good solid narrative resolution, which is one of the reasons The Sopranos will never mean as much to me as The Wire. But it's not fair to criticize the ending for failing to do the thing the show has always refused to do.

The scene from the last episode that sticks with me is the one with A.J.'s shrink, when Tony starts talking about his mother and Carmella gives him that look of exhausted disbelief. It reminded me of the pilot, when Tony went to Dr. Melfi for the first time. At the beginning, it seemed like The Sopranos was going to be about a guy who goes into therapy and has to confront who he is and what he does, and who begins to undergo a wrenching process of change, with all the concommitant effects on his life and the people around him. That could have been a great show. But it's not the show we got. (I blame Melfi, who was a consistently terrible shrink: platitudinous, pointlessly confrontational, irrelevant.) Tony's lack of progress in therapy was a microcosm for the show as a whole: the same stuff happens over and over again, and nothing changes, and there's no progress except people dying. Remarkably, it was still a pretty good show.

Am I the last person to know this? The NYPost reveals that the big current emo bands -- Fall Out Boy, Panic! At the Disco, The Academy Is ... -- are created on an assembly line by a couple of Svengalis, just like *NSYNC/Backstreet/O-Town.


Ledes we never got past:

Really, the most that can be said of a great film is not that it is like a great book. Film is its own literature; and whereas I understand the comparisons of The Sopranos to the masterpieces of the realist novel, and I myself have not been immune to the hyperbolic impulse in praising this magnificent enterprise, it strikes me that the achievement of The Sopranos is not so much that it puts you in mind of Balzac or Dickens, but that here on television, for most of a decade, were tales that could stand in the company of Fassbinder, and Kieslowski, and Mike Leigh, and Chabrol.
From Leon Wieseltier's paean to The Sopranos. Really, the most that can be said of a great television program is not that it is like a great film.

Far from the tree

When I heard the Safari-for-Windows rumor, my response was, "It'll never happen -- Apple is a hardware company." Apple's business model is: (1) make objects; (2) sell them for a profit. They make OSX to sell Macs. They make iTunes (for Mac and PC) to sell iPods. How could Safari for Windows help their bottom line? If I had had more time yesterday I would have written a post to that effect, linked to Mary Jo Foley's blog, and looked like a moron.

So now I'm confused.

The main justification I've heard is that WinSafari is a kind of advertisement for OSX. As Engadget put it, "it seems the Apple folks plan to use it in much the same way they've used iTunes to grow the Mac fanbase by giving Windows users 'a glass of ice water to somebody in hell!'" In other words, Steve Jobs believes that PC users will try Safari and think, "This free browser is awesome -- now I'm going to spend $2,000 on a new computer to get other software that is presumably equally awesome." I find this hard to believe. Safari is a good browser, but it's not that much better than Firefox.

So what's Apple thinking?

My guess is that it has something to do with the new iPhone development standards that Jobs announced today. For those of you who don't follow this stuff as obsessively as I do: independent software developers (i.e. programmers who don't work for Apple) will be able to write programs for the iPhone, but those programs will be akin to "web apps" like Google Maps and Flickr -- they'll run in the iPhone's web browser, which (it so happens) is a version of Safari.

So what I'm thinking is this: there will be occasions when a developer wants to write a program that runs on both the iPhone and the desktop (e.g. a program that syncs data between your phone and your computer in some specialized way). For most purposes, the iPhone will integrate with your computer using iTunes, just like the iPod does. But these new iPhone programs can't run in iTunes, because iTunes doesn't run web apps.

If Apple wants to accomodate them, there's three choices: (a) build browser-type features into iTunes; (b) force developers to write apps that work on Firefox or Internet Explorer as well as Safari; (c) port Safari to Windows. Option (a) stretches the iTunes concept (already pretty elastic) past breaking point. Option (b) would have worked for a while, mostly, but it risks sticking developers with compatibility issues going forward, which might have been a brake on iPhone software development. Option (c) allows Apple to build special features into this or future versions of Safari, just for developers of iPhone software.

So that's my guess: that the version of Safari on your computer will integrate with the version on your iPhone in some way. Time will tell.


So a bunch of high-profile lawyers (including Alan Dershowitz, Robert Bork, and Viet Dinh) put together an amicus brief for Scooter Libby. In his order allowing them to submit the brief, my new hero Judge Reggie Walton includes the following footnote:

It is an impressive show of public service when twelve prominent and distinguished current and former law professors of well-respected schools are able to amass their collective wisdom in the course of only several days to provide their legal expertise to the Court on behalf of a criminal defendant. The Court trusts that this is a reflection of these eminent academics' willingness in the future to step to the plate and provide like assistance in cases involving any of the numerous litigants, both in this Court and throughout the courts of our nation, who lack the financial means to fully and properly articulate the merits of their legal positions even in instances where failure to do so could result in monetary penalties, incarceration, or worse. The Court will certainly not hesitate to call for such assistance from these luminaries, as necessary in the interests of justice and equity, whenever similar questions arise in the cases that come before it.
[Via Swampland.]

From the making-a-fool-of-yourself-on-the-Internet department: A blogger named Mollie dares to criticize John Colapinto's New Yorker profile of Paul McCartney, and Colapinto responds by throwing a hissy fit in the comments. Money quote: "And that's why you're a blogger and not a writer." (HufPo confirms that it's really Colapinto.)

According to sources, Zack has posted some very minor spoilers for The Wire below. (They are properly flagged and everything.) While I think it's great that Zack is posting again, I am a total spoilerphobe and am thus unable to look at my own blog while his post is at the top. So here, to take up space, is a picture of a loldog. Borrowed from icanhascheezburger.com, obviously. By the way: am I the only one who thinks loldogs are way better than lolcats?


What better way to mark my triumphant return to the 'sphere after a hiatus shooting big game in the jungles of Tanzania than with this shocking tale: I was on a train from DC yesterday (Acela, coz that's how I roll) and we stopped in Baltimore. Who should get on but fockin McNulty! I swear to God. He sat down on the other side of the aisle, one row in front of me, and just started reading the international section of the New York Times, as if there weren't an ongoing epidemic of gang-related drug crimes and political corruption in the city, crying out for his hard-charging no-bullshit approach to police work. As the train left Baltimore, we could see the derelict backyards of those row houses in the ghetto, with like trash and car parts strewn everywhere, like where they left Omar's boyfriend after shooting him the eye or whatever. And McNulty didn't even look up!

Eventually the guy next to him got off the train, so I came over and was like "McNulty!" and he kind of smiled shyly. So I asked him if I could sit down and talk to him and promised it'd just be for a couple minutes, since I didn't want to be like the guy in Zuckerman or whatever, and he said sure, in a not unfriendly way. Of course I had to start off asking him questions premised on the fact that I was talking to "Dominic West", but I soon realized I didn't really care much about "Dominic West", so the conversation was a bit stilted (he was less impressed than I had hoped, for instance, by my revelation that I, like him, am from England). But once I just started assuming he was McNulty things went better. He said he's not in season 5 very much (which they're filming in Baltimore right now, hence him being there) but it's the best one yet. It'll be out in January. SPOILER ALERT - SKIP TO THE END OF THE PARAGRAPH IF YOU WANT TO AVOID LEARNING EVEN THE MOST BANAL TWO PIECES OF INFO THAT I WAS ABLE TO GET OUT OF HIM ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS IN SEASON 5: He ends up with that nice Beadie Russell but they "have problems". Bubbles does not die.

I got him to flash that roguish McNulty grin a few times, to my immense gratification (though I am no coblogger.) One time I think was when I told him that my Mom liked Stringer Bell best, and he said alot of the ladies like Stringer Bell best, and then he said "Bastard!"


Re: On Chesil Beach: Who knew that Ian McEwan was such a fan of the early-'60s British blues boom? I'm going to go out on a limb and say he's the greatest novelist in history to mention both John Mayall and Alexis Korner in two consecutive books.

Attention Zack fans: My erstwhile coblogger has a piece in the New Republic, on NBC News White House correspondent David Gregory and how he "saved the White House press corps." Update: Doesn't coblogger read kind of like a homophobic slur? Not intended, bro, for reals.


Slate's Dahlia Lithwick explains the significance of this week's Guantanamo decisions:

In the coming weeks, we may well learn that Brownback and Allred drive Volkswagen buses and wear love beads. But I doubt it. More likely, we'll learn that they are among the many, many highly conservative legal and career military professionals once willing to follow this president wherever he led them, until suddenly one day when they were not.


Jezebel (new gynocentric gossip blog from the Gawker empire) has a feature whose premise is as follows: men's magazines are better written than women's magazines, so let's get a men's magazine writer to critique articles from women's magazines. I am curious as to the identity of the lunatic/genius who thinks of this stuff. Anyway, this recent installment is more than 1,500 words long, and it's about Alyssa Shelasky, who writes a blog for Glamour, and it has nothing to recommend it except its quality. You can totally enjoy it without reading the source material.

I especially like the way the reviewer's insight into Shelasky's failure as a writer bleeds into criticism of her failure as a person -- a slippage that, given the nature of the work under discussion, is both inevitable and appropriate.

Three new TV ads demonstrating the iPhone's interface. Holy cow. Update: Gruber goes into detail: "I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen any tech product advertised simply by demonstrating how it works."

NYT piece on Google's constant refinements to its search engine. Contains a surprising amount of information that isn't in any of the millions of other Google articles.


It was twenty years ago today ...

... that i watched a BBC documentary entitled It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, about the making of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I remember coming home from school and sitting on my parents' bed with my dad, glued to the screen as George Martin played the original master tapes of the album to show how the different parts were layered and various commentators explained how the songs were sequenced to create the impression of a continuous, thematically coherent work. Today, on the twentieth anniversary of that formative childhood experience, I'm feeling a bit nostalgic. I'm not sure if there's been a falling-off in quality or if I'm just getting old, but somehow today's documentaries about defunct pop groups can't compare to the classics of my youth. The documentaries of 1987 had an innocence, a feeling of possibility, that I'm not sure we'll ever recapture. I feel sorry for today's kids, having to listen to things like this weekend's Radio 2 documentary, in which "multi award winning engineer Geoff Emerick heads back in to the studio to demonstrate the innovative techniques employed for the recording at Abbey Road studios back in 1967." It's just not the same.