I shouldn't really care. What Microsoft's shareholders want to waste their money building, instead of earning nice dividends from two or three fabulous monopolies, is no business of mine. I'm not a shareholder. It sort of bothers me, intellectually, that there are these people running around acting like they're building the next great thing who keep serving us the same exact TV dinner that I didn't want in Sunday night, and I didn't want it when you tried to serve it again Monday night, and you crunched it up and mixed in some cheese and I didn't eat that Tuesday night, and here it is Wednesday and you've rebuilt the whole goddamn TV dinner industry from the ground up and you're giving me 1955 salisbury steak that I just DON'T WANT.
Interpreting censorship as damage part two: Perhaps you would like to read Michael Chabon's original screenplay for Spider-Man 2, which differs significantly from the one that was filmed. Perhaps you were disappointed to find that it's no longer available at McSweeneys.net. Perhaps you are interested to know that you can download the whole thing here.
Obviously I am not posting everything good being written about the nonsense that seems at the moment to be engulfing Barack Obama like a tide of nonsense. But I'm posting this, by Timothy Noah, about Peggy Noonan, because in a voice that is the very soul of reasonableness it breaks the nonsense down into little atoms and asks, What the fuck is up with this crap?
Last year a friend sent me a link to Dylan Hears a Who, a mysterious and wonderful collection of songs that set the words of Dr. Seuss to music in the style of vintage Bob Dylan. Then some lawyers for the estate of Dr. Seuss got involved, and the site was taken down. Dan Brekke summed up the affair in Salon.
It's a shame that, unless you downloaded them at the time, you can't listen to these awesome recordings anymore. Of course, you could acquire them via Bittorrent, using this torrent file. But that would be wrong.
The Lost writers room sounds a lot like conversations between the Roth brothers:
DL: We have one writer, Brian K. Vaughn, who writes comic books, and then another writer, Adam Horowitz, who's like a die-hard sports fan.
CC: Yankees fan. He used to sell hot dogs at Yankees Stadium.
DL: We'll ask Vaughn an easy sports question, like how many innings are there in a baseball game...
CC: Or what is the color of the Carolina Panthers or what sport do the Carolina Panthers play...
DL: And then we'll ask Horowitz to name two of the Avengers. And they will face off, and it's fun to watch them, you know, try to answer questions outside of their specific area of expertise.
I feel kind of lame linking to a Pitchfork review. But I also feel kind of psyched: look, they gave Let It Be a perfect 10! O ambivalence! Update, now that I've heard it: The remastered version sounds great, and Let It Be is still all-time. Let's hope these reissues prompt Sire to remaster Tim, the Mats' major-label debut and perhaps the worst-sounding great album I own.
Abhay Khosla on the new Blue Beetle series:
Consider the likely goals of the creators at the outset of the series:
(1) Tell a single two-year meta-story that was comprised of smaller story arcs (what TV fans might call the "Buffy" model); (2) launch a new superhero character in a marketplace hostile to new superhero characters; (3) launch an ethnic character to an audience that never supports minority characters; (4) tie into the shitty, oppressive meta-story of the "DC Universe"; (5) remain independent enough of the shitty, oppressive meta-story of the “DC Universe" to convey the book’s own meta-story in a comprehensible way; (6) service a meta-arc while satisfying the demands of monthly fans-- e.g. having a superhero fight every issue; (7) tell a superhero origin story as well as telling a teen coming-of-age story; (8) juggle a superhero cast-- heroes, villains, mentors, etc.-- with a sizable supporting cast for the teen coming-of-age story; (9) place the brand new Blue Beetle character into some kind of larger context visa vi earlier iterations of the Blue Beetle brand name, without angering fans of previous iterations by suggesting those earlier versions were somehow less than the new version, while still allowing said fans to see the new characters as being a worthy inheritor of the brand name; and (10) present an all-ages book that's friendly to new fans looking for a new character to latch onto but also friendly to DCU otaku.
SPOILER WARNING: they fail.
I don't know what it says about me that this site, which lists unintentionally funny internet addresses (for instance, an Italian power generating company whose site is powergenitalia.com) made me laugh harder than I've laughed in maybe like months. There are literally tears streaming down my face right now.
(Via Matt Yglesias, who shares my puerile sense of humor.)
Posted by zack at 3:35 PM
The thesis of Dan Ariely's new book, Predictably Irrational, is that "people often make decisions that seem to defy logic--but they do so in very predictable, consistent ways." It sounds like a good book, and I'm looking forward to reading it. But one of his experiments, described in this MIT Tech Talk article, doesn't really make sense.
Ariely and his students went around and left six-packs of Coke in randomly selected dorm refrigerators all over campus. When he checked back in a few days, all of the Cokes were gone. But when he later placed plates of six loose dollar bills in those same refrigerators, not a single bill was missing when he checked back. Even though the value was comparable--and thus the situations were supposed to be equivalent--people responded in opposite ways.The problem is with the idea that "the value was comparable -- and thus the situations were supposed to be equivalent." The value is comparable in the sense that the price of a can of soda is around a dollar. But to a person standing thirstily in front of a refrigerator, the value of a can of soda is greater than a dollar. Try leaving a six-pack of Coke and six dollar bills on a municipal garbage can and see which one disappears first.
Update: Good lord! Ariely himself (the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Behavioral Economics at MIT's Sloan School of Management) responds, both courteously and informatively, in the comments. The internet is amazing.
Last night I dreamt that we were in China and our dog got sick, and it was hard to get good veterinary care in China, and I realized that, in an economy in which millions of people are living at subsistence level, veterinary care for non-productive animals must seem an absurd Western luxury. Which suggests that my unconscious can sometimes be more perceptive than my conscious mind, because I'm not sure it had ever occurred to me before.
This country is nuts: Until recently, governors of Wisconsin could use their veto power to strike individual words from legislation, allowing them to create entirely new meanings. "Like when Gov. James E. Doyle, a Democrat, scratched out some 700 words from a section of the 2005 budget bill, leaving behind just 20 words that, when stitched back together, moved $427 million from the transportation fund to education." (It gets nuttier: until 1990, they could cross out letters to make new words.)
Pants on (Sa)fire: Pedantic warmonger William Safire, guest-blogging for Oxford University Press, claims to have made up the verb "consense":
As a language columnist, I feel free to coin a neologism now and then; “consense” is a verb that can replace “form a consensus”. Not the opposite of “nonsense”.Anyone who has spent even a little time around left-wing politics and activism has heard "consense" used in exactly this way a hundred times. Wiktionary has several citations, including one from 1970 -- a speech by pioneering gay activist Harry Hay. Looks like the queers beat you to that one, Bill!
Everyone knows it's hilarious when old people refer to a blog post as a "blog". As in, "I liked that blog you wrote about..." Even the founder of the site that may become the model for online news, being an old person, does this.
Also amusing, in an endearing way, is the tendency of Roth Brothers' mutual, aging, and much beloved mother to call a Facebook profile "a Facebook." As in: "Does Timberlake have a Facebook?"
But here's an even better one. Marty Peretz of The New Republic writes a blog called The Spine. In a post from the other day, he referred to an earlier post as "a Spine."
I hope you have enjoyed this Roth Brothers.
Posted by zack at 4:53 PM
This McCain web ad appears to argue that he would be a good president because in high school he reported on students who broke the honor code, and would continue to do so in the White House.
Surely they could have come up with a more compelling argument than that!
Also, check out how in showing "our heroes", they have some real people (Thomas Edison, Teddy Roosevelt, Ted Williams) and then a generic headless dude with a guitar. It's like they knew they should have a "rock star" but they didn't feel comfortable singling out any actual existing "rock star" as a hero!
Posted by zack at 4:43 PM
If you made it through my "Disagreeing with Paul Graham," you might like to know that there's a lively comments thread about it on Graham's social news site, Hacker News. Graham responds here; I respond to his response here. Also:
This reads like Mister Spock's review of a punk rock concert.
"I don't understand why the audience was asked if it was 'ready to rock', as they clearly did not have instruments. Also, it was illogical to ask them to 'fight the power', since power is an abstract physical quantity that cannot meaningfully be 'fought'."
Indie-rock smackdown! First Stephen Malkmus, in Spin, says:
For all the mistakes that were made marketing Pavement, it comes down to the song; and the song ["Cut Your Hair"] was pretty good, but it just wasn't the song of the time. The Offspring song ["Come Out and Play"], "Cannonball" by the Breeders -- those were bigger songs people could get behind.Kim Deal's response, in Time Out New York, seems to me a bit of an overreaction:
I liked Pavement. But if he keeps fucking smacking his mouth off about me, I’m going to end up not being able to listen to any of their fucking records again. Anyway, I thought, God, man, “Cut Your Hair” isn’t as good of a song as “Cannonball,” so fuck you. How’s that? Your song was just a’ight, dawg.