Archive for July, 2009

A strange dialogue takes place in America on a daily basis.  It’s not quite about race, but around it.  The various TV and radio personalities spew their ratings fueled rants.  The White House plops out carefully crafted press statements.  Blogs and the internet spill forth with anonymous dumps of hatred.

All these things have something in common – it’s not really discussion.  It’s broadcating.  It’s monologuing.

Like so many tough issues we don’t discuss this stuff in a real way in our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces.  One real problem with that is that it’s hard to shift ones view through consumption of a broadcast… typically one tunes into the broadcast they already agree with.  Through dialogue, real in person dialogue, one has to put ones value statements to the test.  Hear them outloud, mash them with others, rebuke, rebut, reform.

It’s hard for me to decipher if it’s a failing of our new modes of communication or our modes of communication are the result of our lack of desire to connect.  Maybe a bit of both.  Either way, the discussion about racial issues isn’t moving along very quickly.

Sure, I have a view about where we are in tolerance and inclusion as a society.  Rather than dump that here… talk to me sometime so we can share our views.

Read Full Post »

I have so much to say about this theater experience.

For now… just go see it if you are in LA.

My impressions coming soon…  they will involve CONSEQUENCES, justifying your beliefs, ENVIRONMENT, RELIGION, NON-RELIGION, family and WAY MORE…

Read Full Post »

So, Fox always pushes it (or so they think)… and now they have More To Love.

It’s the Bachelor, only average waist size.


Not so strangely, the show is just as sexist as other reality competition shows.  The stereotypes are fast at work within the first 10 minutes of this show.

A) The main guy is BORING.   he’s out of shape, a real estate dude and BORING.

B) The main guy is boring and UNATTRACTIVE.

C) The main guy is boring and unattractive and yet in a POSITION OF POWER (keys to fame and fortune for the contestants).

So, the dynamic of competition (American social+reality TV competition) is in place.

Will this be successful?

No.  There are some obvious advertising relationships….. but….. the cliche set up + less marketable people makes sure this is nothing more than a novelty.

Oh, and by the way boring and unattractive people, regardless of size, are BORING and UNATTRACTIVE.

What’s more fun to consider is how this was sold into management.  Who pitched this?  How did they pitch this?

This is very different than Biggest Loser.  Biggest Loser has obvious advertisers that are aspirational and it is not condescending.

Face it, as much as reality TV is supposedly about real people, it’s not about real people.  Real people have warts, sweat on camera, hate, snort, fart, snore…. basically they make bad television.  We all want HEROES and LOVERS and MYTH and ASPIRATION… coming through our TV sets…. or do we?

So anything that claims to be Real People when it clearly isn’t and it doesn’t present a better myth is going to fail sooner…….. rather than later.

Read Full Post »

Check out this TED talk from Jim Fallon.

My take: pretty dicey stuff to kinda just throw out there. Definitely needs a longer talk!

Probably not likely that you can “spot bad news” reliably in the family tree using these methods.  Also, by the mere suggestion of “bad news” you alter the course of things.

and is this something we actually want to do?  This is a question not only in murder and violence, but for all of genetic profiling.

Jim Fallon weighs in on the TED page in a comment:

I’m with my family right now on vacation in Cabo and they are asking me the same question; if I thought one of them had the requisite genetic, developmental, brain trauma, exposure to 3D violence and it began to show prodromally, that is before the pathological behavior would be expressed (especially in their teens), would I tell them? We have the same potential problem with Alzheimer’s disease. And they all say they want to know, but when I say everything is OK, they say “but how do we know you’re just not protecting us from the truth?” How do you get around THAT problem?

Read Full Post »

Yeah, baby.  Got my new DELL Studio XPS working with my Blackberry Storm.  A little bit of futzing and now I’m blogging from verizon 3g.

Note: Dell Studio XPS from Best Buy does not have Bluetooth enabled.  You have to use USB.  Doesn’t matter that’s really the only way to go with tethering as BT drains the battery…

Here’s how to do this:

Get barry from Net Direct.

(there’s an ubuntu binary package, they link to the repository.  just add it to synaptic and you can get all of barry)

once you get barry installed.  edit /etc/ppp/peers/barry-verizon.

just change the top part for user and password:

user “<yournumber>@vzw3g.com”

password “vzw”

and at the bottom with the pty line:

pty “/usr/sbin/pppob -P <devicepassword>”

If you didn’t set a password in your Options > security on your storm, you need to do that.

save your edits.

connect your blackberry.  when it prompts for mass mode, if it does. select YES.

go to command line and type: btools -l   if your Storm is listed, great.  if not, something is wrong.

if it’s connected, now you can connect to the interwebs:

sudo pppd call barry-verizon

This should work on all ubuntu 9.04 installs, not just DELL studio laptops.  I point out the DELL thing only because sometimes people search that way and sometimes there are weird things that you look for by model…

Speeds are really good with tethering this.

Also, I have to point out that the DELL XPS laptop is great with ubuntu.  Easy install.  only thing I’m futzing with is hibernate.  Everything else works out of the box.

Read Full Post »

Ben Mezrich has a winner in The Accidental Billionaires.  It’s just a flat out fun read.  Bought it from bookstore at sometime past 5pm, finished it by 9:30, while squeezing in dinner and what not.  It reads fast and furious because it is FUN and Of The Moment.  Mezrich’s last couple of books I’ve read had that same movie like pace to them.

I can’t claim it’s accurate to every detail and Mezrich flat out notes that he’s constructed most of the narrative from lots of different pieces and created the dialogue.  So if you’re looking for some business analysis of Facebook, gotta got to WSJ or something like this.  This is a wild tale of ivy league, ambition and college tomfoolery cum mega dollars.

What’s so fun is that we’re still seeing this story play out!  Facebook is only 5 years old and still an unfinished tale.

If you’ve ever read books about Harvard and Ivy League education/campus life the context of the story won’t shock you.  If you have no idea what goes on and actually powers the lives of college kids, well, you might be a little rattled.  No, not all student loans and 529s go into the books… and, yes, a great deal of the world’s most successful media and Internet companies are driven by some pretty basic goals of 20 year olds.

I did find some of the details of the story enlightening but not surprising.  First off, I guess I didn’t really know that Mark Z was initially inspired by HotOrNot.com.  Pretty funny.  No one ever gives that site credit enough for pushing web 2.0 forward.  It’s pretty interesting to see how connected the main folks are to the same ol same ol in Silicon Valley.  The characters are what you expect if you’ve followed any of the backstory in the news.  Very few surprises – no shocker in the eventual ‘reality bites’ part of becoming a business and entering the world of valuations and legal locomotion.  In fact, I found the documentary, StartUp.com, a bit more shocking in it showed the breakdown of friendship in a very raw, visual format.  Reading about such things doesn’t seem as painful as seeing it in the eyes of friends falling away.

One complaint, and it only applies if you actually know web programming.  The “hacking” descriptions are pretty lame.  Scraping the Harvard internal websites for student photos isn’t that big of a hack.  At least from Mezrich’s descriptions it was some pretty straightforward perl script scrapes and some very lightweight password guessing.  Oh and some basic physical network connection stuff.  This is not the stuff of legendary hackers.  It’s pretty standard tasks for anyone working on the web nowadays… aggregating content in its various forms.

I suppose if there’s a bigger topic in this book it would be the role that universities play in new media.  Think about how much commerce comes out of university systems that never leads to direct compensation.  Without access to bandwidth, computers and a big network of connected people, many big Internet ventures simply wouldn’t exist.  Oh, and we must not forget the sheer amount of “free time” at college –  that is, time that isn’t structured for students.  Whether this needs to change or not, I can’t really say.  I’m pretty sure it’s always been this way.

One note of caution… probably not a great gift for a high school senior ready to ship off to school.  This is certainly an adventure that might inspire others to head off to school not for a life of the mind but instead to find the pot of gold. 🙂

Read Full Post »

Ron Currie Jr delivers a really fun, clever read in Everything Matters! The book cover sells the book as more of comedy than than the sci fi/philosophy/absurdist mystery it is.  The essential question of the book – does anything we do matter?

The premise is set up with the unavoidable apocalypse that only the main character, Junior, knows about.  He has always known when humanity will end.  The book covers how Junior navigates life – from birth to the apocalypse – knowing that it will all be over and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.  In the end, Junior is left with a choice… hide his knowledge from everyone and live with this lonely knowledge or reveal his secret and suffer a different set consequences.

Currie uses a variety of viewpoints and literary devices to give the story context and arc.  I particularly liked the subtle countdown, sort of a reverse page numbering used when the omniscient narrator/being giving Junior his knowledge talks.  It leaves you with a sense of “uh oh” i know this is going to end… which is part of the point of the story.  We know the ending and we know exactly when it ends and the countdown gives the reader the sense of just how far we’ll get into the characters lives before it all ends… and the dread was real for me.

The prose moves your brain right along.  Reading it in one longish sitting is possible and fun.  Currie develops the main character reasonably well.  The secondary characters aren’t always developed much further than some basic behavior patterns.  The book does move along a large time horizon though – making character vignettes rather difficult.

Generally a good reading experience… so…. do we get anywhere with the big question: does it all matter?

No. I didn’t.  And I didn’t expect to.  Does it all matter is a personal question.  I presume the answers I get from this book are the personal perspectives of the author.  Ultimately it is an optimistic view that family, love, connection matters – even at the expense of intellectual honesty.  Ah, isn’t that a secondary big question?!  Is it “better” to keep certain facades intact to make life bearable/enjoyable versus really chasing and embracing truth, no matter its ugly consequences?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »