best when viewed in low light

12.20.2010

Well Played



[We may have had our differences at one time or another, but that doesn't mean you're anything less than brilliant.]

WIEDEN + KENNEDY Sweet Smell of Success

A cross-platform campaign for Old Spice catapults the agency into the digital elite

By Eleftheria Parpis

Photos by Chris Mueller

Wieden + Kennedy was in a digital death spiral. The iconic creative shop behind Nike was blocked on how to adjust its psyche and personnel to embrace the digital shift transforming media and marketing.

It already had lost some Nike business when, in 2007, the agency’s founding client shifted its core running division due to Wieden’s lack of interactive depth. The shop needed to evolve quickly or die.

“We were not the swiftest picking up on the digital revolution,” says Dan Wieden, co-founder and global ecd. He told his staff, he says, that “whether we like it or not, the rest of the world has eclipsed us. If we don’t get our act together, we are going to be a footnote.”

Now, thanks to its breakout campaign for Old Spice’s Red Zone Body Wash—which broke with a Super Bowl weekend TV spot—Wieden is the agency your agency could smell like.

The work, a slightly twisted, tongue-in-cheek production starring a towel-wearing Isaiah Mustafa, was part of a concerted effort by the agency to strengthen its digital offerings. The results have landed the shop in its own version of Bizzarro World, a place where other marketers are looking to “The man your man could smell like” for ideas on how to run their own campaigns. The creative has garnered the brand a 2,700 percent increase in Twitter followers, 800 percent increase in Facebook fan page visits and a 300 percent increase in traffic to the Old Spice Web site. It’s also generated an estimated 140 million YouTube views.

According to Marc Pritchard, global marketing and brand-building officer of Old Spice at parent company Procter & Gamble, it has helped the brand lead market share and is “growing sales in double digits.”

Indeed, the Portland-Ore.-headquartered indie has had one of its best performing years in its 28-year history. It saw client growth in both Portland and New York, and increased its U.S. revenue and billings nearly 22 percent (billings to $1.5 billion, revenue $145 million).

For the most part, it mined existing client relationships. Chrysler added Jeep, Target gave Wieden lead agency status, P&G added a corporate branding assignment as well as Ivory North America, Nokia added North America, and Coca-Cola digital assignments for Diet Coke and Coca-Cola targeting teens.

The agency has also produced some of its best work for Nike, a client Wieden calls “the soul” of his agency. (Its running business returned to the shop in 2008.) “We were born in that cauldron of the early ’80s, when [Nike] wanted to be the Saturday Night Live of the Fortune 500,” he says.

Wieden’s best Nike work this year was the stop-motion spot “Human Chain” and its “Write the Future” commercial directed by Babel’s Alejandro G. Iñarritu. The latter spot, which starred more than a dozen pro-soccer stars and debuted on Facebook, was also in play during the World Cup as a digital installation on a Johannesburg skyscraper. It received so much positive buzz that World Cup sponsor and rival adidas ended up looking as battered as England after being drubbed by Germany.

The creatives that led the effort, Mark Bernath and Eric Quennoy, were promoted to ecds of the Amsterdam office, which had produced the work with assistance from Portland.

And this month, Wieden opened a new office in Sao Paulo, Brazil, headed by Icaro Doria, ecd, and Andre Gustavo Soares, managing director.

Improving the shop’s digital output took four years. To start on that path, in 2006 the agency hired Renny Gleeson, former managing director at Aegis Group’s Carat Fusion, as global director of digital strategies. He built up the shop’s digital production capabilities, adding digital creatives, developers, designers, coders—”folks who help iterate,” says Gleeson. He also worked on communications planning—what he describes as “changing the way the media team approaches what it does, how ideas evolve”—and community management.

“It’s not like we flipped the switch,” Gleeson adds. “It was a build. And we needed the spark to set it off. That’s where Iain comes in.”

Iain Tait, recruited last April from Poke London, which he co-founded, joined Wieden as global interactive ecd. Within months of his arrival, the Old Spice team let loose its “response” campaign. For three days in July, the agency created nearly 200 customized videos starring Mustafa that responded to mentions of the Old Spice TV spots on blogs and social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. These videos spread virally and, in some cases, became ongoing two-way conversations, engaging participation from celebrities like Alyssa Milano and Ellen DeGeneres, not to mention a random consumer who wrote in seeking help from Mustafa in proposing to his girlfriend.

This social marketing component generated 1.8 billion PR impressions for the brand.

Even before the Old Spice response campaign, Wieden was being recognized for its new digital expertise at Cannes. It won the Cyber Grand Prix for its 2009 Nike “Chalkbot” campaign—a collaboration with Deeplocal for Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong charity—and the Integrated Grand Prix for the Livestrong campaign of which it was a part. (Wieden also won the top prize in film, and a Best Commercial Emmy from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for its Old Spice work.)

With its global growth looking strong as well—it had a 10 percent jump in billings and revenue this year (billings to $2.3 billion, revenue $230 million)—the agency is especially optimistic about the future. Both Levi’s and P&G are expanding the agency’s duties with global assignments next year.

Wieden remains philosophical. “Brands are no different than people,” he says. “They lose their way and forget their way. You need to give them a jolt, hand them a mirror and put them on stage.”

YELLow Card



[always on the lookout, Ray]

Decode Cards







12.18.2010

Who's side are you ON, anyway?

18 December 2010 Last updated at 16:29 ET
'Don't ask, don't tell' defenders were doomed to lose

By Iain Mackenzie BBC News, Washington
Activists rally for the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy in Washington, DC, 10 December Supporters of repeal portrayed it as a 21st Century civil rights issue

There are still many Americans who do not want openly gay men and women serving in the military.

Some of them work in Congress. For the past year they have fought tooth-and-nail to keep the "don't ask, don't tell" that bars gay people in the armed forces from revealing their sexual orientation.

Defence spending bills have been filibustered off the floor simply because they contained provisions to repeal the law.

But it was a losing battle.
'Right thing to do'

Attitudes to homosexuality have changed since the controversial policy was introduced under President Bill Clinton 17 years ago.

Polls conducted within the military, and society at large, consistently show that people are far less troubled by the issue of sexuality than they once were.

For President Barack Obama it became a matter of credibility.

He promised during the 2008 election campaign to end "don't ask, don't tell", not just because it seemed to be in line with public sentiment, but because he believed it was the right thing to do.

Supporters of repeal portrayed it as a 21st Century civil-rights issue - on a par with earlier struggles by women and black Americans.

They pointed to about 13,000 military personnel dismissed under the policy since 1993.
Leeway for Pentagon

Their cause was bolstered when senior military figures joined the campaign - among them the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm Mike Mullen, and Gen David Petraeus, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan.
President Barack Obama. Photo: December 2010 For President Obama, the vote should have a positive effect

With a few exceptions, the issue divided Congress along party lines.

Conservative Republicans were often portrayed as prejudiced and out-of-touch for their staunch opposition.

However, many genuinely believed that there were matters of national security and troop safety at stake.

They argued that change may well be inevitable, but introducing it in the midst of two wars - in Iraq and Afghanistan - was an unnecessary burden on the military.

Congress was almost left out of the debate altogether in October 2010 when a legal challenge in California temporarily overturned "don't ask, don't tell".

It was an appeal by the US government that reinstated it. At the time, President Obama said he would rather repeal came through Congress than the courts.

They finally got that on their third attempt at a Senate vote. A handful of moderate Republicans crossed the floor to support the bill.

The time scale for phasing out "don't ask, don't tell" is not immediately clear, however the Pentagon is likely to be given some leeway to implement the new policy.
'New wave'

For President Obama, the decision should have a positive effect.

Along with delivering health care reform, the scrapping of "don't ask, don't tell" is one of his most tangible achievements.

But having takenwhat he described as a "shellacking" in the mid-term elections, continuing to deliver "change" is only going to get tougher.

The current "lame-duck" session of Congress was the Democrats best chance to push through their pet legislation.

In January, a new wave of Republican Senators and Representatives will arrive in Washington and they are not coming to help the president.

12.14.2010

Post-launch



[Still searching after 33 years]

13 December 2010 Last updated at 23:43 ET

Voyager near Solar System's edge


By Jonathan Amos Science correspondent, BBC News, San Francisco

Voyager 1, the most distant spacecraft from Earth, has reached a new milestone in its quest to leave the Solar System.


Now 17.4bn km (10.8bn miles) from home, the veteran probe has detected a distinct change in the flow of particles that surround it.

These particles, which emanate from the Sun, are no longer travelling outwards but are moving sideways.

It means Voyager must be very close to making the jump to interstellar space - the space between the stars.

Edward Stone, the Voyager project scientist, lauded the explorer and the fascinating science it continues to return 33 years after launch.

"When Voyager was launched, the space age itself was only 20 years old, so there was no basis to know that spacecraft could last so long," he told BBC News.

"We had no idea how far we would have to travel to get outside the Solar System. We now know that in roughly five years, we should be outside for the first time."

Dr Stone was speaking here at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, the largest gathering of Earth scientists in the world.



Voyager 1 was launched on 5 September 1977, and its sister spacecraft, Voyager 2, on 20 August 1977.

The Nasa probes' initial goal was to survey the outer planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, a task completed in 1989.



They were then despatched towards deep space, in the general direction of the centre of our Milky Way Galaxy.

Sustained by their radioactive power packs, the probes' instruments continue to function well and return data to Earth, although the vast distance between them and Earth means a radio message now has a travel time of about 16 hours.

The newly reported observation comes from Voyager 1's Low-Energy Charged Particle Instrument, which has been monitoring the velocity of the solar wind.

This stream of charged particles forms a bubble around our Solar System known as the heliosphere. The wind travels at "supersonic" speed until it crosses a shockwave called the termination shock.

At this point, the wind then slows dramatically and heats up in a region termed the heliosheath. Voyager has determined the velocity of the wind at its location has now slowed to zero.
Racing onwards

"We have gotten to the point where the wind from the Sun, which until now has always had an outward motion, is no longer moving outward; it is only moving sideways so that it can end up going down the tail of the heliosphere, which is a comet-shaped-like object," said Dr Stone, who is based at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California.

This phenomenon is a consequence of the wind pushing up against the matter coming from other stars. The boundary between the two is the "official" edge of the Solar System - the heliopause. Once Voyager crosses over, it will be in interstellar space.

First hints that Voyager had encountered something new came in June. Several months of further data were required to confirm the observation.

"When I realized that we were getting solid zeroes, I was amazed," said Rob Decker, a Voyager Low-Energy Charged Particle Instrument co-investigator from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.

"Here was Voyager, a spacecraft that has been a workhorse for 33 years, showing us something completely new again."

Voyager is racing on towards the heliopause at 17km/s. Dr Stone expects the cross-over to occur within the next few years.

12.12.2010

An achronism


"Teddy with all his most prized possessions: giant globe, leather sofa, and the iPad on the mantle."

[via The Sunday Memorandum]

Significance Mapping

Today as I was google mapping...


Funny. Never noticed the NY area housing projects as major markers on a map before.

And then I thought...what would it change if they were?

12.10.2010

Grasping at indictments

Julian Assange Indictment On U.S. Spying Charges Could Come Soon: Lawyer

First Posted: 12-10-10 11:51 AM | Updated: 12-10-10 01:55 PM
Important
Fascinating
Typical
Scary
Outrageous
Amazing
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Beautiful
Read More: Julian Assange, Julian Assange Arrest, Julian Assange Espionage Act, Julian Assange Indictment, Julian Assange Spying Charges, Wikileaks, World News

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could soon be indicted on spying charges in the United States, his lawyer tells ABC News. In an interview, attorney Jennifer Robinson says that he could be charged under the Espionage Act.

Assange, whose web site has published classified State Department cables, was arrested in London as part of a sex crimes investigation on Tuesday.

Robinson strongly disagrees with any potential charges of Assange under the Espionage Act. "Our position of course is that we don't believe it applies to Mr. Assange and that in any event he's entitled to First Amendment protection as publisher of Wikileaks and any prosecution under the Espionage Act would in my view be unconstitutional and puts at risk all media organizations in the U.S," she says.

[ABCs version of events]

The FUTURE belongs to you



[Bravo]

Where are the lines of battle drawn?

WikiLeaks avoids shutdown as supporters worldwide go on the offensive

By Joby Warrick and Rob Pegoraro
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, December 8, 2010; 10:53 PM

Over the past several days, the anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks has been hit with a series of blows that have seemed to threaten its survival. Its primary Web address was deactivated, its PayPal account was frozen, and its Internet server gave it the boot.

The result: WikiLeaks is now stronger than ever, at least as measured by its ability to publish online.

Blocked from using one Internet host, WikiLeaks simply jumped to another. Meanwhile, the number of "mirror" Web sites - effectively clones of WikiLeaks' main contents pages - grew from a few dozen last week to 200 by Sunday. By early Wednesday, the number of such sites surpassed 1,000.

At the same time, WikiLeaks' supporters have apparently gone on the offensive, staging retaliatory attacks against Internet companies that have cut ties to the group amid fears they could be associated with it. On Wednesday, hackers briefly shut down access to the Web sites for MasterCard and Visa, both of which had announced they had stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks' long-term survival depends on a number of unknowns, including the fate of its principal founder, Julian Assange, who is being held in Britain while awaiting possible extradition to Sweden related to sexual-assault allegations. But the Web site's resilience in the face of repeated setbacks has underscored a lesson already absorbed by more repressive governments that have tried to control the Internet: It is nearly impossible to do.

Experts, including some of the modern online world's chief architects, say the very design of the Web makes it difficult for WikiLeaks' opponents to shut it down for more than a few hours.

"The Internet is an extremely open system with very low barriers to access and use," said Vint Cerf, Google's vice president and the co-author of the TCP/IP system, the basic language of computer-to-computer communication over the Internet. "The ease of moving digital information around makes it very difficult to suppress once it is accessible."

Thus, despite the global uproar over the release of sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables, Assange's Web site remained defiantly intact Wednesday. Over the past week it has continued to publish a steady stream of leaked State Department documents with little visible evidence of injury from repeated, anonymous cyber-attacks or the multiple attempts to cut off its access to funding and Web resources.

By contrast, companies that have pulled the plug on WikiLeaks have suffered publicly, with cyber-attacks rendering their Web sites inaccessible or slow for hours at a time.

While a group of "hacktivists" targeted MasterCard and Visa - part of "Operation Payback," they called it - anonymous assailants have also in recent days attacked PayPal, which severed relations with WikiLeaks citing violations of its terms of service.

Web sites for Swedish prosecutors and a Swedish lawyer have also been hit, as has the banking arm of the Swiss postal service, which said it had frozen Assange's account, and even the Web site of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.

WikiLeaks' seeming invulnerability is seen by experts as a demonstration of the power of new Web-based media to take on not only governments but also the traditional news media.

The group prides itself as an organization without a country - it has supporters worldwide but no central headquarters that would make it vulnerable to legal and political pressure. The organization's Internet infrastructure is spread over several continents, making it harder for outsiders to knock the site offline.

For those reasons, experts say, WikiLeaks remained relatively unscathed last week when the site's main domain name - wikileaks.org - was deactivated by its New Hampshire-based domain-name manager. Within days, WikiLeaks had signed up with more than a dozen other firms scattered across Europe, Canada and Asia.

WikiLeaks also simultaneously posted an appeal to its supporters, asking them to voluntarily host "mirror" sites. Hundreds of individual Web servers signed up, from countries around the world.

Similarly, WikiLeaks found new avenues for processing donations after PayPal and MasterCard announced they would no longer service payments for the group. The effect on the organization's financial health is not yet clear.

Inevitably, efforts to restrict sites such as WikiLeaks through financial and regulatory pressures will fall short, for the same reasons that government regulators have been unable to shut down purveyors of Internet spam, or various Web-based criminal enterprises, said Paul Vixie, president of Internet Systems Consortium, a nonprofit Internet infrastructure company in Redwood City, Calif.

"Something that's illegal in some countries but not others is very hard to keep off the Net, even though there's been some success in keeping it out of the countries where it's illegal," Vixie said. "If WikiLeaks is willing to spend as much money as e-criminals . . . they could probably remain online indefinitely."

The pressure on WikiLeaks is not insignificant. Amazon, the online retailer, canceled its Web hosting services with WikiLeaks after receiving a call of concern from the staff of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.). At a technical conference Wednesday in Paris, a PayPal executive said the company's decision to freeze WikiLeaks' account was based in part on the State Department's declaration that the group had acted illegally in publishing classified documents.

The isolation of WikiLeaks has prompted cries of censorship and government interference.

"I can use my credit card to send money to the Ku Klux Klan, to antiabortion fanatics, or to anti-homosexual bigots, but I can't use it to send money to WikiLeaks," said Jeff Jarvis, a new-media critic and director of the interactive journalism program at the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. "The New York Times published the same documents. Should we tell Visa and MasterCard to stop payments to the Times?"

It is ironic, Jarvis said, that the U.S. protests against Assange's campaign of leaks come weeks after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized Chinese efforts to restrict freedom of the Internet. While Western governments are used to seeing secrets leaked through traditional media, they are struggling to adjust to a new era in which raw data can be easily and rapidly disseminated around the world.

"There is an information war, and it's about control," he said. "The choice is to either live in a transparent world or shut down the Internet."

warrickj@washpost.com robp@washpost.com

12.09.2010

Transparency

["Miss TSA" images via JPE]













12.08.2010

Mirror: 79Tehran8980

Viewing cable 79TEHRAN8980, NEGOTIATIONS
If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Understanding cables
Every cable message consists of three parts:

* The top box shows each cables unique reference number, when and by whom it originally was sent, and what its initial classification was.
* The middle box contains the header information that is associated with the cable. It includes information about the receiver(s) as well as a general subject.
* The bottom box presents the body of the cable. The opening can contain a more specific subject, references to other cables (browse by origin to find them) or additional comment. This is followed by the main contents of the cable: a summary, a collection of specific topics and a comment section.

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
79TEHRAN8980 1979-08-13 04:04 2010-11-28 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tehran

R 130458Z AUG 79
FM AMEMBASSY TEHRAN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 3182

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEHRAN 08980

E.O. 12065: GDS 8/12/85 (TOMSETH, VICTOR L.) OR-P
TAGS: PEPR IR
SUBJECT: NEGOTIATIONS

¶1. (C - ENTIRE TEXT).

¶2. INTRODUCTION: RECENT NEGOTIATIONS IN WHICH THE
EMBASSY HAS BEEN INVOLVED HERE, RANGING FROM COMPOUND
SECURITY TO VISA OPERATIONS TO GTE TO THE SHERRY CASE,
HIGHLIGHT SEVERAL SPECIAL FEATURES OF CONDUCTING
BUSINESS IN THE PERSIAN ENVIRONMENT. IN SOME INSTANCES
THE DIFFICULTIES WE HAVE ENCOUNTERED ARE A PARTIAL
REFLECTION ON THE EFFECTS OF THE IRANIAN REVOLUTION,
BUT WE BELIEVE THE UNDERLYING CULTURAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL
QUALITIES THAT ACCOUNT FOR THE NATURE OF THESE DIFFICULTIES
ARE AND WILL REMAIN RELATIVELY CONSTANT. THEREFORE,
WE SUGGEST THAT THE FOLLOWING ANALYSIS BE USED TO BRIEF
BOTH USG PERSONNEL AND PRIVATE SECTOR REPRESENTATIVES
WHO ARE REQUIRED TO DO BUSINESS WITH AND IN THIS
COUNTRY. END INTRODUCTION.

¶3. PERHAPS THE SINGLE DOMINANT ASPECT OF THE PERSIAN
PSYCHE IS AN OVERRIDING EGOISM. ITS ANTECEDENTS LIE
IN THE LONG IRANIAN HISTORY OF INSTABILITY AND INSECURITY
WHICH PUT A PREMIUM ON SELF-PRESERVATION. THE PRACTICAL
EFFECT OF IT IS AN ALMOST TOTAL PERSIAN PREOCCUPATION
WITH SELF AND LEAVES LITTLE ROOM FOR UNDERSTANDING POINTS
OF VIEW OTHER THAN ONE'S OWN. THUS, FOR EXAMPLE, IT
IS INCOMPREHENSIBLE TO AN IRANIAN THAT U.S. IMMIGRATION
LAW MAY PROHIBIT ISSUING HIM A TOURIST VISA WHEN HE HAS
DETERMINED THAT HE WANTS TO LIVE IN CALIFORNIA.
SIMILARLY, THE IRANIAN CENTRAL BANK SEES NO INCONSISTENCY
IN CLAIMING FORCE MAJEURE TO AVOID PENALTIES FOR LATE
PAYMENT OF INTEREST DUE ON OUTSTANDING LOANS WHILE THE
GOVERNMENT OF WHICH IT IS A PART IS DENYING THE VAILIDITY
OF THE VERY GROUNDS UPON WHICH THE CLAIM IS MADE WHEN
CONFRONTED BY SIMILAR CLAIMS FROM FOREIGN FIRMS FORCED
TO CEASE OPERATIONS DURING THE IRANIAN REVOLUTION.

¶4. THE REVERSE OF THIS PARTICULAR PSYCHOLOGICAL COIN,
AND HAVING THE SAME HISTORICAL ROOTS AS PERSIAN EGOISM,
IS A PERVASIVE UNEASE ABOUT THE NATURE OF THE WORLD IN
WHICH ONE LIVES. THE PERSIAN EXPERIENCE HAS BEEN THAT
NOTHING IS PERMANENT AND IT IS COMMONLY PERCEIVED THAT
HOSTILE FORCES ABOUND. IN SUCH AN ENVIRONMENT EACH
INDIVIDUAL MUST BE CONSTANTLY ALERT FOR OPPORTUNITIES
TO PROTECT HIMSELF AGAINST THE MALEVOLENT FORCES THAT
WOULD OTHERWISE BE HIS UNDOING. HE IS OBVIOUSLY
JUSTIFIED IN USING ALMOST ANY MEANS AVAILABLE TO EXPLOIT
SUCH OPPORTUNITIES. THIS APPROACH UNDERLIES THE SOCALLED
"BAZAAR MENTALITY" SO COMMON AMONG PERSIANS, A
MIND-SET THAT OFTEN IGNORES LONGER TERM INTERESTS IN
FAVOR OF IMMEDIATELY OBTAINABLE ADVANTAGES AND COUNTENANCES
PRACTICES THAT ARE REGARDED AS UNETHICAL BY OTHER
NORMS. AN EXAMPLE IS THE SEEMINGLY SHORTSIGHTED AND
HARASSING TACTICS EMPLOYED BY THE PGOI IN ITS NEGOTIATIONS
WITH GTE.

¶5. COUPLED WITH THESE PSYCHOLOGICAL LIMITATIONS IS A
GENERAL INCOMPREHENSION OF CASUALITY. ISLAM, WITH ITS
EMPHASIS ON THE OMNIPOTENCE OF GOD, APPEARS TO ACCOUNT
AT LEAST IN MAJOR PART FOR THIS PHENOMENON. SOMEWHAT
SURPRISINGLY, EVEN THOSE IRANIANS EDUCATED IN THE
WESTERN STYLE AND PERHAPS WITH LONG EXPERIENCE OUTSIDE
IRAN ITSELF FREQUENTLY HAVE DIFFICULTY GRASPING THE
INTER-RELATIONSHIP OF EVENTS. WITNESS A YAZDI RESISTING
THE IDEA THAT IRANIAN BEHAVIOR HAS CONSEQUENCES ON THE
PERCEPTION OF IRAN IN THE U.S. OR THAT THIS PERCEPTION
IS SOMEHOW RELATED TO AMERICAN POLICIES REGARDING
IRAN. THIS SAME QUALITY ALSO HELPS EXPLAIN PERSIAN
AVERSION TO ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY FOR ONE'S OWN
ACTIONS. THE DEUS EX MACHINA IS ALWAYS AT WORK.

¶6. THE PERSIAN PROCLIVITY FOR ASSUMING THAT TO SAY
SOMETHING IS TO DO IT FURTHER COMPLICATES MATTERS.
AGAIN, YAZDI CAN EXPRESS SURPRISE WHEN INFORMED THAT THE
IRREGULAR SECURITY FORCES ASSIGNED TO THE EMBASSY REMAIN
IN PLACE. "BUT THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE TOLD ME THEY
WOULD GO BY MONDAY," HE SAYS. AN MFA OFFICIAL REPORTS
THAT THE SHERRY CASE IS "90 PERCENT SOLVED," BUT WHEN
A CONSULAR OFFICER INVESTIGATES HE DISCOVERS THAT NOTHING
HAS CHANGED. THERE IS NO RECOGNITION THAT INSTRUCTIONS
MUST BE FOLLOWED UP, THAT COMMITMENTS MUST BE ACCOMPANIED
BY ACTION AND RESULTS.

¶6. FINALLY, THERE ARE THE PERSIAN CONCEPTS OF INFLUENCE
AND OBLIGATION. EVERYONE PAYS OBEISANCE TO THE FORMER
AND THE LATTER IS USUALLY HONORED IN THE BREACH.
PERSIANS ARE CONSUMED WITH DEVELOPING PARTI BAZI--THE
INFLUENCE THAT WILL HELP GET THINGS DONE--WHILE FAVORS
ARE ONLY GRUDGINGLY BESTOWED AND THEN JUST TO THE
EXTENT THAT A TANGIBLE QUID PRO QUO IS IMMEDIATELY
PRECEPTIBLE. FORGET ABOUT ASSISTANCE PROFERRED LAST
YEAR OR EVEN LAST WEEK; WHAT CAN BE OFFERED TODAY?

¶7. THERE ARE SEVERAL LESSONS FOR THOSE WHO WOULD NEGOTIATE
WITH PERSIANS IN ALL THIS:

- --FIRST, ONE SHOULD NEVER ASSUME THAT HIS SIDE OF
THE ISSUE WILL BE RECOGNIZED, LET ALONE THAT IT WILL
BE CONCEDED TO HAVE MERITS. PERSIAN PREOCCUPATION WITH
SELF PRECLUDES THIS. A NEGOTIATOR MUST FORCE RECOGNITION
OF HIS POSITION UPON HIS PERSIAN OPPOSITE NUMBER.

- --SECOND, ONE SHOULD NOT EXPECT AN IRANIAN READILY
TO PERCEIVE THE ADVANTAGES OF A LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP
BASED ON TRUST. HE WILL ASSUME THAT HIS OPPOSITE
NUMBER IS ESSENTIALLY AN ADVERSARY. IN DEALING WITH
HIM HE WILL ATTEMPT TO MAXIMIZE THE BENEFITS TO HIMSELF
THAT ARE IMMEDIATELY OBTAINABLE. HE WILL BE PREPARED
TO GO TO GREAT LENGTHS TO ACHIEVE THIS GOAL, INCLUDING
RUNNING THE RISK OF SO ALIENATING WHOEVER HE IS DEALING
WITH THAT FUTURE BUSINESS WOULD BE UNTHINKABLE, AT
LEAST TO THE LATTER.

- --THIRD, INTERLOCKING RELATIONSHIPS OF ALL ASPECTS
OF AN ISSUE MUST BE PAINSTAKINGLY, FORECEFULLY AND
REPEATEDLY DEVELOPED. LINKAGES WILL BE NEITHER READILY
COMPREHENDED NOR ACCEPTED BY PERSIAN NEGOTIATORS.

- --FOURTH, ONE SHOULD INSIST ON PERFORMANCE AS THE
SINE QUA NON AT ESH STAGE OF NEGOTIATIONS. STATEMENTS
OF INTENTION COUNT FOR ALMOST NOTHING.

- --FIFTH, CULTIVATION OF GOODWILL FOR GOODWILL'S SAKE
IS A WASTE OF EFFORT. THE OVERRIDING OBJECTIVE AT ALL
TIMES SHOULD BE IMPRESSING UPON THE PERSIAN ACROSS THE
TABLE THE MUTUALITY OF THE PROPOSED UNDERTAKINGS, HE
MUST BE MADE TO KNOW THAT A QUID PRO QUO IS INVOLVED
ON BOTH SIDES.

- --FINALLY, ONE SHOULD BE PREPARED FOR THE THREAT
OF BREAKDOWN IN NEGOTIATIONS AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT AND NOT
BE COWED BY THE POSSIBLITY. GIVEN THE PERSIAN
NEGOTIATOR'S CULTURAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL LIMITATIONS, HE
IS GOING TO RESIST THE VERY CONCEPT OF A RATIONAL
(FROM THE WESTERN POINT OF VIEW) NEGOTIATING PROCESS.


LAINGEN

CONFIDENTIAL

Wikileaks: Unlikely US prosecution

8 December 2010 Last updated at 18:06 ET

Wikileaks: Barriers to possible US Assange prosecution

By Daniel Nasaw BBC News, Washington
Julian Assange in a car The US would be hard pressed to extradite Mr Assange, experts say

The US government will face significant legal and diplomatic hurdles if it attempts to prosecute Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in connection with the massive internet dump of secret US documents, legal scholars, defence lawyers and former prosecutors say.

Mr Assange is currently held in Britain awaiting possible extradition to Sweden on sex crime charges. But the US authorities have made it clear they hope to prosecute him in the US over the release of thousands of classified diplomatic cables.

US Attorney General Eric Holder said officials were pursuing a "very serious criminal investigation" into the matter.

Yet while Mr Assange has widely acknowledged his role in disseminating classified documents, legal experts say US criminal statutes and case law do not cleanly apply to his case.

US espionage law has been used to prosecute US officials who provided secrets to foreign governments or foreign spies who pursued US secrets.

But Mr Assange, an Australian citizen, former computer hacker and self-described journalist, did not work for the US government, has no known links to foreign governments, and operates on the internet, by all accounts far from US soil.
Proof of harm

No single US law makes it a crime specifically to disclose classified government documents, but legal experts say the government would most likely prosecute under the Espionage Act of 1917, although Mr Holder cited "other tools at our disposal".

Under the Espionage Act, prosecutors would have to prove Mr Assange was aware the leaks could harm US national security, or show he had a hand in improperly obtaining them from the government.

"That act is a difficult act to prosecute people under, especially someone who might be considered a journalist, as he would argue he is," said Gabriel Schoenfeld, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and author of Necessary Secrets: National Security, the Media, and the Rule of Law.

In only known one instance has the US prosecuted for espionage individuals who were neither in a position of trust with the government nor agents of a foreign power. That effort ended in failure.

In 2005, two pro-Israel lobbyists associated with Aipac, an Israeli interest group, were indicted and accused of obtaining government information and spreading it to colleagues, journalists and Israeli diplomats. But prosecutors dropped the charges after a judge ruled they would have to prove the pair knew distributing the information would hurt the US.

In Mr Assange's case, lawyer Baruch Weiss, who represented the pro-Israel lobbyists, noted in a Washington Post article that Secretary of Defence Robert Gates has said the leaked diplomatic cables were embarrassing but would have only "modest" consequences for US foreign policy.

In addition, in November Mr Assange contacted US Ambassador in London Louis Susman asking for help redacting information that could put individuals at risk. When the US government refused, Mr Assange wrote he therefore concluded the risk of harm was "fanciful" while stating he had no interest in hurting US national security.
'Leaks rarely punished'

If Mr Assange were convicted, he could claim that he is a journalist afforded free speech protections under the US constitution - and would have a strong defence, some legal experts say.

"Leaks of classified information to the press have only rarely been punished as crimes, and we are aware of no case in which a publisher of information obtained through unauthorized disclosure by a government employee has been prosecuted for publishing it," wrote Jennifer Elsea, a legal researcher for the US Congress, in a report obtained by the BBC.

Apart from the Espionage Act, another statute criminalises the taking of government secrets through unauthorised access to a computer, but prosecutors would have to show Mr Assange had a hand in obtaining the documents from the government.

And a law that punishes the theft of government records or property has never been used to prosecute recipients of the information, Ms Elsea wrote.

"There appears to be no statute that generally proscribes the acquisition or publication of diplomatic cables," she added.

Mr Assange's lawyers could also argue in court that the Espionage Act does not apply to foreign nationals acting outside of US territory.

But even getting Mr Assange to the US would prove troublesome, according to Jacques Semmelman, a New York lawyer and authority on extradition law.

Espionage is seen as a political crime, and political offences are not subject to extradition under the US-UK, US-Sweden and UK-Sweden treaties, Mr Semmelman said.

12.07.2010

Stuck in "Neutrality"

Posted at 12:37 PM ET, 12/ 6/2010
FCC net neutrality proposal opens door for prioritization and higher fees for consumers
By Cecilia Kang

[For our collective edification:
neu·tral·i·ty
   /nuˈtrælɪti, nyu-/ Show Spelled[noo-tral-i-tee, nyoo-] Show IPA
–noun
1. the state of being neutral.
2. the policy or status of a nation that does not participate in a war between other nations: the continuous neutrality of Switzerland.
3. neutral status, as of a seaport during a war.

Ho hum. That doesn't answer any questions.

If "neutral" isn't the least meaningful word in the English language, then something about that's really not very nice.

And really, how can something have a definition where it is only defined by itself? Is neutral nothingness?

neu·tral
   /ˈnutrəl, ˈnyu-/ Show Spelled[noo-truhl, nyoo-] Show IPA
–adjective
1. not taking part or giving assistance in a dispute or war between others: a neutral nation during World War II.
2. not aligned with or supporting any side or position in a controversy: The arbitrator was absolutely neutral.
3. of or belonging to a neutral state or party: neutral territory.
4. of no particular kind, characteristics, etc.; indefinite: a neutral personality that made no impression whatever; a sex-neutral job title.
5. (of a color or shade)
a. gray; without hue; of zero chroma; achromatic.
b. matching well with many or most other colors or shades, as white or beige.
6. Botany, Zoology . neuter.
7. not causing or reflecting a change in something: It is believed that the new tax law will be revenue neutral.
8. Chemistry . exhibiting neither acid nor alkaline qualities: neutral salts.
9. Physics .
a. (of a particle) having no charge.
b. (of an atom, molecule, collection of particles, fluid, or solid) having no net charge; electroneutral; not electrified.
c. not magnetized.
10. Phonetics . (of a vowel) pronounced with the tongue relaxed in a central position, as the a in alive; reduced.
–noun
11. a person or a nation that remains neutral, as in a controversy or war.
12. a citizen of a neutral nation during a war.
13. Machinery, Automotive . the position or state of disengaged gears or other interconnecting parts: in neutral.
14. a neutral color.]


A proposed net neutrality regulation at the Federal Communications Commission would allow broadband service providers to prioritize their own content and that of partners over that of competitors. The draft proposal also would allow broadband network operators to charge consumers based on how much data they use, according to one source at the FCC who has seen the draft of rules.

What that means is that a company such as Comcast could make its soon-to-be acquired library of NBC content cheaper to watch and delivered at better quality than streaming videos from competitors like Netflix, the source and experts said. Add the permission of usage based pricing, which the source said Comcast insisted on in meetings with the FCC chairman’s staff, and you could see a scenario where users would be less inclined to subscribe to Netflix because they would meet their usage caps and end up spending more money for competing services.

“This allows for fast and slow lanes and while it suggests it would be a negative thing, nowhere does it say it violates the principle of rules,” the sources said on the condition of anonymity because the document hasn’t been made public.

The source said the FCC would require network operators disclose how they are managing services that allow for prioritization of certain content. But for enforcement purposes, carriers don’t have to prove it is reasonable so there is less burden on the carrier.

“If you are Netflix and suddenly it costs subscribers $60 a month to use the service, then this hits you directly,” said Art Brodsky, communications director at Public Knowledge. “Usage pricing is an excuse for not building out your network and the question is how to enforce this and whether a company like Comcast had set usage prices for YouTube but not Comcast content.”

The rules are weaker on wireless. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s proposal would prevent wireless carriers such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless from blocking competing voice and video telephony services (think Skype video or Apple Face Time). But observers say that by clearly drawing rules only on those two areas, the agency has opened the possibility for carriers to block all other applications.


By Cecilia Kang | December 6, 2010; 12:37 PM ET


[
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*
Anne-Taylor Adams not really neutral, is it?
about an hour ago · LikeUnlike
*
PH Elefante
it doesn't appear to be, but paying for data usage is more equitable...problem is...there's no way an individual can afford the bandwidth they're likely to need. and i don't mean just for watching internet tv.
how much more do i get to charg...e as a freelance designer to account for the bandwidth needed to run a virtual office space?
because the dollar-a-day i'm paying now is in NO WAY a fair price for the shitty service i get. if i could guarantee a reliable connection, i'd happily pay more!
...
the tragedy, of course, is that this heads us further away from internet-as-basic-utility (like electric or gas or water), and towards a luxury good. no amount of subsidizing - the FCC's traditionally fallacious way of resolving market-generated inequalities - is going to build the infrastructure we need in an information economy.See More
2 seconds ago · Like
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12.02.2010

11.30.2010

Stupid game addiction

Why We Can't Stop Playing
Mixing Psychology With Physics, Cute Characters, And Lots of Cheering

By NICK WINGFIELD

Angry Birds is dominating the best-selling-applications charts for Apple's iPhone.

Not since the invention of bacon and eggs has the collision of fowl and swine tasted so good.

A game called Angry Birds is dominating the best-selling-applications charts for Apple's iPhone with a simple, whimsical premise: Players turn different species of scowling birds into projectiles with which to crush a collection of grunting pigs scattered around various ramshackle structures. More than 12 million copies of Angry Birds have been sold since it went on sale late last year, most of them 99-cent downloads for iPhones and iPod touches, according to Rovio Mobile Ltd., the Finnish company that created the game.

A number of famous people are said to be fans of Angry Birds, a popular mobile game that is one of many in a growing category of casual games for phones. Nick Wingfield explains.

Why do smart people love seemingly mindless games? Angry Birds is one of the latest to join the pantheon of "casual games" that have appealed to a mass audience with a blend of addictive game play, memorable design and deft marketing. The games are designed to be played in short bursts, sometimes called "entertainment snacking" by industry executives, and there is no stigma attached to adults pulling out their mobile phones and playing in most places. Games like Angry Birds incorporate cute, warm graphics, amusing sound effects and a reward system to make players feel good. A scientific study from 2008 found that casual games provide a "cognitive distraction" that could significantly improve players' moods and stress levels.

Casual games are defined by the ease with which they can be picked up, including by players bewildered by more complex "hardcore games" for PCs and consoles, with their intricate story lines and controls. The category spans early sensations like Tetris, the Russian-made puzzle game for PCs and consoles from the 1980s, to Bejeweled, a decade-old shape-matching game that is still in wide use in mobile devices. The average mobile-game player is 45 years old and nearly as likely to be female as male, according to a survey last year of more than 1,100 customers of AT&T's wireless service sponsored by PopCap Games, the maker of Bejeweled and other titles. When asked where they play mobile games, the top answer from respondents to the survey, conducted by Information Solutions Group, was while waiting for an appointment.

Angry Birds has attracted an unusually high-brow roster of fans. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has said he plays the game on his iPad, according to Andy Payne, chairman of a British games-industry trade group, who spoke to Mr. Cameron at a group dinner in September. (A spokeswoman for the prime minister didn't return a request for comment.) The author Salman Rushdie in a recent radio interview called himself "something of a master at Angry Birds." And comedian Conan O'Brien posted a YouTube video recently to promote his new talk show, in which he boasts that he's on level four of Angry Birds.

Angry Birds falls into a category known in the industry as "physics-based games," in which basic actions like falling and ricocheting provide the underlying challenge and fun of a game. Players use their fingers on the iPhone or iPad's touch-sensing screens to adjust the tension and angle of a slingshot loaded with a bird, with the goal of maximizing the damage the avian missiles cause to the pigs.

Another physics-based game at the top of the App Store's charts is Cut the Rope. Players must figure out how to deliver a piece of candy dangling from various cords into the mouth of a sweet-hungry monster called the Om Nom. Cutting the cords in the proper order swings the candy into the creature's mouth.

Amber Strocel, a 34-year-old stay-at-home mom in Coquitlam, British Columbia, got hooked on Angry Birds a few months ago when she got an iPhone and has often played it while waiting for dinner to cook. Ms. Strocel, who says she hadn't played a game in years before Angry Birds, says she's amused by the game's characters, especially the mix of laughs and grunts that the pigs emit when she fails to hit them with birds. "They kind of kind of mock you," she says. "There's an appeal to that."

Players' infatuation with games like Angry Birds can end as quickly as it starts, often when the novelty of a game's features wears off. Ms. Strocel recently dumped Angry Birds for another reason: She completed all its levels. "It was fun while it lasted," she says.

Mikael Hed, chief executive of Angry Birds-developer Rovio, says the game's success is "really the sum of all of its parts," including the edgy-but-cute characters, amusing sound effects and simple rules. Rovio started in early 2009 with a rough idea of the protagonists it wanted to feature—a cast of stern-looking birds. It decided to make the game's villains a group of sickly-looking green pigs, in homage to the swine-flu pandemic then grabbing headlines. The reason the birds are so angry with the pigs, according to the back story of the game, is that the pigs swiped the birds' eggs to cook them up.

Rovio spent about $100,000 on the original Angry Birds and has invested more in new game levels that it offers, free, through updates to the game, a Rovio spokesman says.

Fueled by word of mouth, the game landed on the best-seller chart for Apple's App Store for Finland late last year. In February, when Apple made Angry Birds a staff pick in the U.K. App Store, sales exploded, Mr. Hed says. A couple of months later, the game became a best-selling paid app in the U.S. App Store, he says.

Like many casual games, Angry Birds uses positive reinforcement to make players feel good when they succeed: After a player lays waste to all the pigs on a level of the game, a raucous wave of cheers goes up. Other than the gentle mocking of the pigs, Mr. Hed says, "our game doesn't really punish players."

Game designers say this type of "reward system" is a crucial part of the appeal of casual games like Angry Birds. In Bejeweled 2, for example, players have to align three diamonds, triangles and other shapes next to each other to advance in the game. After a string of successful moves, a baritone voice announces, "Excellent!" or "Awesome!"

"That's a big part of" the game's success, says Jason Kapalka, chief creative officer of PopCap. "You're getting this unambiguous encouragement." PopCap estimates Bejeweled has garnered more than $350 million in sales and sold more than 50 million units since coming out a decade ago.

The length of the typical casual-game-playing session was less than 15 minutes, according to the survey of mobile-phone users. The survey also found that the primary benefit respondents said they got from playing was a "distraction from the issues of daily life."

In the 2008 study, sponsored by PopCap, 134 players were divided into groups playing Bejeweled or other casual games, and a control group that surfed the Internet looking for journal articles. Researchers, who measured the participants' heart rates and brain waves and administered psychological tests, found that game players had significant improvements in their overall mood and reductions in stress levels, according to Carmen Russoniello, director of the Psychophysiology Lab and Biofeedback Clinic at East Carolina University's College of Health and Human Performance in Greenville, N.C., who directed the study.

In a separate study, not sponsored by PopCap, Dr. Russoniello is currently researching whether casual games can be helpful in people suffering from depression and anxiety.

Write to Nick Wingfield at nick.wingfield@wsj.com

[An entertaining addendum]

Family photo

11.26.2010

Awwwbama



[Still, pretty badass]

11.24.2010

Ahhhhhh... The Roots are back

Emo turkey


[In honor of Eric, who thinks Thanksgiving sucks]


[this also comes up when you image search for "turkey disaster"]

11.23.2010

See music mashup

Snake missiles?

Watch the full episode. See more Nature.



According to this article in the Washington Post, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding research into air-slithering technology.

[For...?]

11.18.2010

Sparkling water frequency

Dear Content Distributors, this is what we want

[via Megaphone...]

"To FB friends - what do you do for internet TV?

"Trying to cut the TV cable, now use Netflix, Hulu+, and direct links to media websites (PBS, ABC, etc.). Don't currently have special hardware: internet-savvy TV, Apple TV, Roku.

"Want: a la carte programming, and minimal (or no) commercials. My wife would like to watch near real time if possible. Free is cool but will pay a reasonable fee for the above

"Ideas?"

As a matter of fact, sir, I DO have an idea.

Content owners - currently all you News Corps & Viacoms out there - charge a tiered subscription to ALL your content, ALL the time, with varying prices for multiple points of delivery (if, say, you want to be able to watch a la carte TV as well as stream from the internets).

No backing up
No permanent file transfers
No limitations

Also, while we're discussing this:

Movie theaters, stop worrying so much about NEW movies. You should be licensing OLD movies to replay on the big screen. In fact, open your websites up to popular demand. Play what people want to see...

Green schooling

11.17.2010

Burial

[Archangel]

[and a damn thorough discography]

Night Air

[love]

Moss stereoscope

Sunrise mirror

"methodology for explicating such relations"

"Warriors, Legends, and Icons: The philosophy and analysis of sports media narrative"

Jeff Cannon, School of Journalism doctoral student

School of Journalism Research Colloquium

Wednesday, November 17, 4:30pm

Ernie Pyle Lounge (2nd Floor)

Ernie Pyle Hall
True stories about sports operate in a unique cultural domain, one long understood to interact with the moral order. This research presentation picks up from Polumbaum and Wieting’s influential methodology for explicating such relations, proposing a broader and deeper structural framework for parsing sports media accounts for cultural meanings. The framework proposed is situated as an operation upon collective memory. Three overarching domains of implicit meaning are proposed: the story’s influence upon the rules of order, the stories we tell, and the iconic values we use to order experience. The framework is finally put to example as was Polumbaum & Wieting’s: in consideration of coverage of golfer Tiger Woods. This paper brings together concepts from Bourdieu, Nora, Morgan, Mitchell, and others to contribute a useful and nuanced heuristic for examining the “cultural meaning” of sports stories, an especially powerful zone of cultural production.

[It's email notifications like these that make me both dreadfully jealous and ecstatically happy that i am not at school.]

11.16.2010

11.15.2010

Sir Ken Robinson: The past talks to the future



[this brings me to tears...of joy, frustration, gratitude, rage]

11.10.2010

11.08.2010

The clock



The Clock, Christian Marclay

Rainy day music

There's something about music on rainy days...more contemplative? more cerebral? more confrontational?

11.06.2010

Long Night, Hot Music

at BAMCafe, an afrobeat-dance-your-ass-off-band called (Kaleta &) ZoZo Afrobeat.


at Rockwood Music Hall, a bedtime story by Michael Leonhart & the Avramina 7 (a band that is not exactly a band, but a bass-heavy, brass-heavy, breast-heavy symphony)

11.02.2010

Who are you Google Buzz?

From: noreply-buzz-classaction@google.com
Subject: Important Information about Google Buzz Class Action Settlement
Date: November 2, 2010 3:30:00 PM EDT
To: phe

Google rarely contacts Gmail users via email, but we are making an exception to let you know that we've reached a settlement in a lawsuit regarding Google Buzz (http://buzz.google.com), a service we launched within Gmail in February of this year.

Shortly after its launch, we heard from a number of people who were concerned about privacy. In addition, we were sued by a group of Buzz users and recently reached a settlement in this case.

The settlement acknowledges that we quickly changed the service to address users' concerns. In addition, Google has committed $8.5 million to an independent fund, most of which will support organizations promoting privacy education and policy on the web. We will also do more to educate people about privacy controls specific to Buzz. The more people know about privacy online, the better their online experience will be.

Just to be clear, this is not a settlement in which people who use Gmail can file to receive compensation. Everyone in the U.S. who uses Gmail is included in the settlement, unless you personally decide to opt out before December 6, 2010. The Court will consider final approval of the agreement on January 31, 2011. This email is a summary of the settlement, and more detailed information and instructions approved by the court, including instructions about how to opt out, object, or comment, are available at http://www.BuzzClassAction.com.

--------------------------------------------------------------------
This mandatory announcement was sent to all Gmail users in the United States as part of a legal settlement and was authorized by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

Google Inc. | 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway | Mountain View, CA 94043

11.01.2010

10.31.2010

I ride an old paint


I ride an old paint, I lead an old Dan
I'm goin' to Montana to throw the hoolihan
They feed in the coulees, they water in the draw
Their tails are all matted, their backs are all raw

Ride around little doggies, ride around them slow
For the fiery and snuffy are rarin' to go

Old Bill Jones had a daughter and a son
One went to college, the other went wrong
His wife, she got killed in a poolroom fight
But still he's a-singin' from mornin' till night

Ride around little doggies, ride around them slow
For the fiery and snuffy are rarin' to go

When I die, take my saddle from the wall
Place it on my old pony, lead him out of his stall
Tie my bones to my saddle and turn our faces to the West
And we'll ride the prairie we love the best

Ride around little doggies, ride around them slow
For the fiery and snuffy are rarin' to go


[One of the earliest songs I remember from my mother's nearly constant singing. It's one of those tunes that paints a whole story in your mind...though the landscape has changed in thirty years.]

[More American folk songs]

10.28.2010

Or, you can get there from here

Future Ziggurat

Mayan coloring book

Matthew's Wife sees Stela C

Ah, Archeology!

Your pompous, uncertain, demagogic, mysoginism never gets tiresome.


"Stela C

In 1939, archaeologist Matthew Stirling discovered at Tres Zapotes the bottom half of Stela C. This stela was carved from basalt, with one side showing an Olmec-style engraving that has been variously characterized as an abstract were-jaguar or a ruler on a throne.[13] On other side was the oldest Mesoamerican Long Count calendar date yet unearthed. This date, 7.16.6.16.18, correlates in our present-day calendar to September 3, 32 BCE, although there was some controversy over the missing baktun, the first digit, which Marion Stirling, Matthew's wife, had contended was a '7'. Her judgment was validated in 1969 when the top half of the stela was found.

Since 1939, only one older long-count date has been discovered, Stela 2 from Chiapa de Corzo, Chiapas, with a date of 7.16.3.2.13 (36 BCE).

The back of Stela C is engraved with one of the few surviving examples of Epi-Olmec script. Interestingly enough, a 1965 study concluded that Stela C, unlike most other basalt stonework at Tres Zapotes, was similar to the basalt used for La Venta Stela 3 and the basalt columns surrounding La Venta Complex A, which themselves have been traced to Punta Roca Partida, on the Gulf Coast at the northern side of the Los Tuxtlas Mountains.[14]"


[Thanks, Marion!]

10.27.2010

Little Dragon: Best band bio

From the city of Gothenburg grew the birth of tiny creature.  Its breath full of fire passion death and dreams.
It lived in a fantasy called the electric forest. This forest was thick  with russtling secrets and  infintite amounts of pinetrees.
On occasional full moons the pine trees would light up in neon auras  of lime and turquoise and the ground would shake  with a steady rumble. The tiny creature grew into a little dragon.  It wrestled with the large wind sometimes. The heat of its breath would weave in with the cool air and make patterns in the sky. Although the creature was a powerful little beast it was light as a feather and would often sleep on the leaf flowing in the breeze.
And there it would dream in a dream. These dreams were without visuals and haunted by sounds.  electric sounds and beats would pump its little  heart and make her sleep walk around the forest like a ghost dancing in the night.
And the aching of this lonely creatures heart would be reflected in bittersweet melodies both haunting and happy.  

10.26.2010

Titanically fallible assumptions

Behold, the Next Media Titans: Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon

* By Fred Vogelstein Email Author
* October 25, 2010 |
* 2:28 pm |
* Categories: Future Shock, Intellectual Property, Media, Mobile Internet, Silicon Valley
*


Venture capitalist John Doerr is well-known for his hyperbole. Remember his comments about the internet bubble back in the late 1990s? “The largest legal creation of wealth in the history of the planet.” Most forgive Doerr for getting swept up in things, though. His track record for spotting high tech inflection points and betting on the right companies is unparalleled.

But even a wide-eyed optimist like Doerr, who puts billion-dollar net worth where his mouth is, may be underestimating the seismic shifts going on under our feet.
This isn’t just about a software revolution. This is a massive reexamination of how technology, media and communications intersect.

Let’s recap: During the PC era in the 1980s, Doerr and his firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers were early investors in Compaq Computer and Sun Microsystems. During the internet era of the ’90s they helped lead deals in Netscape, Symantec, Amazon, Intuit and Google.

With two new funds, Doerr has raised nearly half a billion dollars to invest in the exploding mobile software and social media businesses. In May he said KPCB was doubling its $100 million mobile software fund because it had already run out of money. Last week he announced a $250 million social media fund and said that thanks to Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook, what is happening now in the Valley is nothing short of a “third wave” of computing.

Doerr is hooked on how touchscreens and social networks accelerate use of the internet — and it’s easy to see how he gets there.

We in the United States already spend nearly as much time online as we do watching TV and those lines are merging so fast they are going to cross in a matter of months. Mobile search traffic at Google is up 50 percent in just the first six months of this year. And while a third of Facebook’s 500 million users access their accounts from a mobile device today, expect that number to double in the next two years as smartphone sales double. By 2012, more smartphones will be sold every year than laptop and desktop computers combined, according to Morgan Stanley analyst Mary Meeker.

But for once, I don’t think even Doerr has grasped how big a deal this is. This isn’t just about a new software revolution. There is a massive reexamination underway of how technology, media and communications intersect.

High tech and media have argued about the future for a generation by having the following debate: Are we going to watch TV and movies on our PCs, or are we going to surf the web and answer e-mail from our couch? They called it “convergence,” and it has been the source of so many business failures that few mention it anymore. Indeed, many have come to assume it will never happen.

Now it’s clear what the problem has been: Executives have framed the debate the wrong way. The PC will always be a lousy device to watch TV and movies on. The TV will always be a lousy device for web surfing and e-mail. Smartphones and tablets, on the other hand, are turning out to be good for all of them.

Watching a movie or a baseball game on a smartphone is obviously not the same as seeing it on a big television set, but its portability more than makes up for those shortcomings. It is the only option on the bus, for example. Last Thursday I watched part of the baseball playoffs on my iPhone while I was cleaning up the kitchen. When I was done, I watched the rest on my TV.

This is hugely disruptive. It means that Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon are becoming more than just dominant technology companies. They are well on their way to becoming the news, entertainment and communications networks of the 21st Century. Five years from now they will touch and profit from almost everything we see, hear, read or buy — like giant media conglomerates. They will control most of the distribution and access to the largest audiences.

It’s already happening. Magazine publishers can’t heap enough praise on the iPad, but there is a reason why their readers must buy magazines individually: Apple and the publishers can’t agree on who will control the information from electronic subscriptions.

Count on the traditional media and communications moguls fighting these changes every step of the way. Phone and cable companies will be scrambling to make their bandwidth the choke point even as it becomes more and more of a commodity. Studios, networks and publishers will continue fighting over how best to control access to their content for maximum profits. But these new platforms already control so much of the world’s audience that it’s only a matter of time before that strategy runs aground.

When I have made this point to executives in the Valley and Hollywood, most make sure to point out that none of the big tech companies make or carry movies or television shows in a meaningful way. What I say in return is that they will. In small ways, they already are. Yes, Google is going toe to toe with the TV networks as we speak over whether the company will get access to their content for Google TV. But I can buy movies and TV shows on iTunes and Amazon. And I can log into most of those sites with my Facebook account.

Terry Semel, the former entertainment mogul who tried and failed to lead Yahoo to this new world, reminded me five years ago that whenever new ways to distribute media have been invented, those used to distributing it the old way scream about how it is going to put them out of business and then discover that it makes them more money than ever before.

It happened with movies on television and on video cassette. It happened with movies and TV shows on DVD. It will happen on the new networks of Silicon Valley too. It didn’t happen fast enough for Semel because there wasn’t an iPhone or an iPad then and Facebook — though Semel tried and failed to buy it — was too small to matter as much.

But all those pieces are in place now, and the powerful vortex being created will turn the world upside down much faster than anyone ever could have imagined.

Fred Vogelstein is writing a book about the intersection of media and tech in Silicon Valley. Follow him on Twitter @fvogelstein.


[The problem with all these predictions is that it fails to take into account two things: 1) people are animals, and it takes us generations and generations to adapt to new environments, and 2) things just haven't changed that much.

In conversation with my dad last night, we were talking about a funny instance of 21st century community in action: He and my mom were at a coffee shop and spotted a boy I had a crush on in high school. My mom emailed me about it, I found him on facebook, and by that evening, he and I had exchanged a couple messages catching up on the basics of what we'd missed over the past 15 years. (Not much.)

My dad asked if this had in some way improved my life. The answer was, unequivocally, "not really".

But to me, there's nothing really "new" about Facebook. It's the town square re-envisioned. It's the neighborly gossip repackaged. It's peeking in other people's windows...on a global scale. But it's nothing new.]

Sleeping Beauty by Granny O'Grimm

Public Straddling

Sim City InAction


Sim City With Population of Six Million People - Watch more Game Trailers

Sympathetic, maybe



Today in Fat Hatred
Posted by Melissa McEwan at Tuesday, October 26, 2010
[Trigger warning for fat hatred.]

Yesterday, I wrote that a fat woman "requires supernatural strength just to get through every goddamn day." There are people who will read that and think it's hyperbole.

They are people who don't understand the world is filled with bigoted assholes who have absolutely no compunction about unapologetically expressing their seething contempt, naked hostility, and rank hatred for fat people, right out in public.

Yes, it's the people who shout fat-hating epithets at us while we're Being Fat in Public, doing outrageous things like riding our bikes or eating or crossing the street, but it's also people like the writer who questions, without a trace of irony, whether she is being "an insensitive jerk" at the end of a piece in which she writes of fat people:

The other day, my editor asked me [with regard to the television show Mike & Molly], "Think people feel uncomfortable when they see overweight people making out on television?"

My initial response was: Hmm, being overweight is one thing — those people are downright obese! And while I think our country's obsession with physical perfection is unhealthy, I also think it's at least equally crazy, albeit in the other direction, to be implicitly promoting obesity! Yes, anorexia is sick, but at least some slim models are simply naturally skinny. No one who is as fat as Mike and Molly can be healthy. And obesity is costing our country far more in terms of all the related health problems we are paying for, by way of our insurance, than any other health problem, even cancer.

So anyway, yes, I think I'd be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other ... because I'd be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I'd find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair.

This is what I face every day: The knowledge that there are people who are "grossed out" just seeing me walk across a room.

This is a fact of my life: All around me are people who are repulsed by my very existence—and many of them make no pretense of it, make not a modicum of effort to conceal their revulsion.

A few months ago, Iain and I were having lunch at Panera Bread; we'd just picked up our food at the counter and I was walking to a table with my tray, which had on it a turkey sandwich, an apple, and a drink. The place was busy, and as I wound my way between tables toward empty seating, I noticed people staring at me. Like, everyone. This is not something that typically happens to me, so I thought I must have something on my face, or on my shirt, or snot hanging out of my nose...something.

I left the table and went to the restroom, where I looked at myself in the mirror. Nothing seemed out of place; my face and shirt were free of anything that didn't belong there, and my hair wasn't in some sort of shocking disarray. I noticed nothing unusual at all. I shrugged, and went back to the table.

Again, the staring.

I was quite genuinely mystified, and feeling really paranoid, until I passed a table and heard a woman not-really-whisper to her companion: "Well, there goes my appetite. Yuck."

I froze. I felt this ping in my gut as the reason for the staring became evident, as the realization washed over me that the thing I'd been missing in the mirror, the horror, was just me. In my entirety. In my enormity.

I wanted to turn to her and do something remarkable, to say something funny, to waggle my fat fingers at her and give her goggle-eyes and chant at her, "Ooga booga!" But I had been rendered numb by her casual cruelty, so unexpected.

I turned and looked at her. I don't know what the look on my face was. Hurt? Shock? Anger? Confusion? She looked momentarily startled, maybe even apologetic, an expression which was quickly replaced with a steely look of disdain. She averted her eyes and threw her napkin onto the table, as if to underline her disgust. How can I be expected to eat in your presence?

I turned back around and sat down to eat my lunch, and swallowed back tears with every bite, trying not to crumble.

There are days when it doesn't get to me and days when it does.

I don't hate myself for being fat, and I don't hate my body, and I don't let my being fat stop me from living a full life, and I am, genuinely, happy.

But I am hated by other people. Openly and brazenly. And I am unhappy about that.

I am especially unhappy about it because there are people with fewer resources, a weaker or nonexistent support system, and/or a crushing self-hatred who are subjected to the same thing. Who never have days when it doesn't get to them. Who have chosen to live their lives behind closed doors, because the world is too difficult, too cruel, to bear.

I could write yet another post about how being fat is not always a choice, about the intersection of fat and disability, about the intersection of fat and surviving sexual assault, about the intersection of fat and poverty, about access to fresh foods, about how there exist plenty of healthful fat people, about the changing parameters of obesity, about the correlation between HFCS subsidies and obesity, etc. etc. etc.

But, ultimately, none of that matters when it comes down to the basic fucking decency of treating fat people with dignity, irrespective of their particular reasons for being fat.

The author of this piece is comprehensively ignorant about granting to fat people the basic dignity and agency that any human being should be granted. That's beyond being "an insensitive jerk." That's being an asshole so thoroughly cloistered in privilege that you can blithely engage in the most vile dehumanization and then wax cluelessly about the possibility you were "insensitive."

Privileged white assholes used to (and sometimes still do) write articles about being disgusted by seeing two people of color (or—horrors!—a white person and a person of color) making out, too. Privileged straight assholes used to (and sometimes still do) write articles about being disgusted by seeing two people of the same sex making out, too. Privileged able-bodied assholes used to (and sometimes still do) write articles about being disgusted by seeing two people with physical and/or mental disabilities making out, too.

That shit isn't just dehumanizing: It's borderline eliminationist. When we acknowledge that ethnicity, sexuality, disability, and body size can be in total or in part inherited traits, to express revulsion at expressions of sexuality is to implicitly express revulsion at the potential for reproduction, and thus the creation of more of "those people."

Add in concern trolling about having to pay for "their" healthcare, and you've got a stinking heap of "the world would be better off without fatties" on your hands.

This is considered acceptable public discourse.

In response, let us recall, to the fact that two fat fictional characters on a television show no one is required to watch, might be depicted showing one another physical affection.

I could write about this all fucking day, but ultimately all I really want to offer in response is this picture of my nonfictional fat self kissing my nonfictional fat husband:


Did the world fucking end? No? Shocking.

I'm sure there are thin bigots barfing all over the world right now, at the site of two fat people (not even) making out. And when they're done, they can kiss my fat ass.

Fat people should not be expected to hide evidence of their humanity, in deference to other people's bigotry.

It's shameful that remains a radical statement.

In the past...