there are 24 posts from November 2007

November 29, 2007


Artbasel The Times Travel section covers Art Basel Miami Beach and the satellite fairs that will invade Miami next week. There’s so much going on that the director of Art Miami advises visitors to “make a spreadsheet and write in what shows they want to see and hours and locations in order to plot their course.” If you’re not familiar with the spectacle that’s Miami Basel, it’s not your typical open studio weekend. For proof, check out the list of event sponsors. (Think NetJets, Cartier & UBS.)

If you’re one of the lucky tens of thousands who’ll be there, make sure to visit the Aqua Wynwood satellite fair and stop by Traywick Contemporary. Lots of great work’s been packed up and shipped for your visual pleasure; tell the wonderful gallerist I sent you.

November 28, 2007

so long, series 1

Our beloved Tivo Series 1 kicked the bucket this week, dying a wheezing, whining, hard-drive clicking death after more than seven years of reliable service.*

Normally I’m not the type to mourn the passing of a device – after all, how many have I willingly tossed recycled in the same period?  But there’s something to be said for that simple, well-designed box that changed the way we watch television.  It paused while we went for popcorn, treated us to the entire back catalog of Sports Night, reliably delivered hundreds if not thousands of hours of season passes week after week, and kept us sane and entertained during countless 3am feedings.

Rest in peace, old friend. The house may be quieter without the constant whine of your tired, old, underpowered and undersized hard drive, but trust us – we’ll miss you.

* Don’t panic, though, we have a Series 2 in the living room; the Series 1 was the luxurious second Tivo that lately was responsible for recording endless episodes of Arthur and Mickey’s Clubhouse. Sorry, kids.

November 28, 2007

an excuse to get to new york

Martin Puryear
Originally uploaded by Anile P

As if I needed another excuse for a trip to New York, there’s the Puryear exhibition at MoMA.  Tyler Green’s been doing a series of posts at Modern Art Notes putting Puryear in perspective; today’s post is about the  connection between Puryear’s sculpture and minimalist painting. I’m an unabashed fan of minimalism (surprise!) and loved this sentence in Green’s post:  “Of course to this day Puryear’s sculptures are reductive, almost tidy in their banishment of anything even potentially, remotely extraneous.”

November 27, 2007

short attention span theater

Note to self:  you have a very short attention span, as measured in the meantime between overhauls of your blog’s look and feel.  Short story:  I fell in love with one of the new themes that Walt had put together for TypePad, and just had to apply it here.  Oh, and I’m sure there will be all sorts of Google weirdness with the flipping back and forth with the content on /unfiltered and now here back on /filtered, but we’ll suffer through. I know everyone liked the new look (so did I!) but there’s something comfortable and familiar about two-column right.

Anyway, we’re back here for now.

November 27, 2007

kindle motivations

So while the tech types commence with the time honored tradition of eating of their young, a couple of notes on why I want a Kindle.  Maybe not this Kindle, but a Kindle.

  • My house has too much crap in it. Six years ago or so I ripped my whole CD collection, and on the rare occurrence when I actually buy a CD now, it gets ripped and then stored.  We used to have furniture dedicated to storing CDs – no more.
  • The books I keep on the shelf I keep for a reason.  I love books. Addicted to them, almost. About a year ago I went through a massive purge of the collection I’d been hoarding since the mid-80s and kept maybe 20% of them, tops.  I kept the favorites, the ones that changed how I see the world, and the great editions. These fill the shelves at home; the rest of them found new homes.
  • Most of the books I’m reading now don’t actually deserve to a permanent home on the shelves. This is sad, but true. I’m still reading great books, but after going through the experience of selling / donating the vast majority of my collection I’m much pickier about what ends up in our home permanently. And there are still too many for the shelves we have.
  • All the other media I consume is getting lighter. You can make all the value judgments around this that you want, but the experience of buying and consuming all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies is exactly the same as buying and consuming the latest Britney single or the latest espisode of Weeds: click, download, play. I’m spoiled by that experience and I want the same with books.

So those are all the rational reasons.  The slightly less rational reason is that a Kindle will let me hide my habits.  Kindle will let me buy and read books without having to worry about where they’re gonna get shelved after the fact…or how they’ll be perceived while I’m reading them.  Just imagine – I could finally indulge my long-standing curiosity about romance novels and devour 10 or 12 of them in a row without having a single one show up in my bookshelf or in my bookbag. On the outside, it looks like I’m catching up on the latest in linguistic pshychology, while on the inside I’m enjoying the latest bodice-ripper from J.R. Ward. And no one but me – and Amazon, and all of the trusted third parties my purchase history is shared with – has to know.

November 27, 2007

it's january 2009 that matters, after all

Slate’s Mickey Kaus on the cop out of covering candidate “electability.”

“Who’s electable” is a Neutral Story Line–it seemingly doesn’t require reporters and publications to take stands or sides. You can write dozens of “Is Hillary Electable?” stories without letting on what you think about, say, government-guaranteed health care. It’s harder to write “Will Hillary be a Good President?” without doing that.

November 27, 2007

first world problem

From Katherine Boehret’s review of the Wildpad:

The pad, from WildCharge Inc. in Scottsdale, Ariz. (, eliminates the messy tangle of wires that many people struggle with each time they want to charge their portable devices. But more to the point, it turns charging a gadget into something that happens in the background rather than an active task. And it spares you from that nagging question: Did I remember to plug my phone or iPod or BlackBerry in before going to sleep?

Thank GOD charging my phone is now something that happens in the background. I can’t tell you how much mental energy I’ve wasted over the years on that incredibly active task.

November 21, 2007

black friday reading material

I’m sure you’ll all be safely ensconsed at home this Friday, protesting the materialist, commercialized nature of the holidays, self-righteously snickering at all the fools who woke up at the crack of dawn to drive their gas-guzzling SUVs to the local big box retailer to take advantage of a measly 10% discount on the brightly colored made-with-petroleum painted-with-lead crap made by slave labor in China.

But if around noontime you get tired of re-reading your well-thumbed copies of Tom Frank or Lizabeth Cohen or Kalle Lasn, you may want to pick up the copy of the Restoration Hardware gift catalog that most likely landed in your mailbox this week. It’s the best catalog of the year (it’s obviously less expensive than what Neiman’s pitching, and it’s less pretentious then the one from Design Within Reach), and it’s chock full of great toys, games and stocking stuffers like a wooden box Clue, or a Jokes on You Prank Kit or a pair of Marshmallow Roasters. (And even though this is all online, the paper catalog (relax, you can recycle it!) is worth getting your hands on. It’s really a thing of beauty.)

Don’t worry – after you drool over the nice Scrabble set and possibly order a few prank kits for your nieces or nephews, you can pick up your Frank or Cohen or Lasn again and step back into your usual Black Friday spirit before your friends come over for a few games of Guitar Hero or Wii Tennis.  No one will have to know.

November 19, 2007

no country for charlie rose

From this weekend’s “Adventures with Tivo,” Charlie Rose had Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin and the Coen brothers on to discuss No Country for Old Men. Worth the time, even though it’s, you know, Charlie Rose.

November 19, 2007


Holy cow, futurefeedforward lives! My inbox told me that “Socal Skyfires Torch Subprime Skytellites.”

The airborne fires, some of which have burned for more than nine days, are fueled by thermobaric clouds of atomized landfill and other condensing nano-particulates disbursed into the upper atmosphere by disposal units commonly used in the county’s tethered, low-earth-orbit neighborhoods. The roiling clouds of burning waste-vapor have been described by local witnesses as both “apocalyptic” and “breathtaking.” “I mean, I’ve seen the entire rainbow in those fires,” notes William Lennox, 43, a Plato Verde dentist and father of two. “The heat is incredible, and the smell, but the colors are really what gets you. The sky is literally burning, but the colors are just amazing.”

They’re also working on a novel.

November 19, 2007

dashing kindle

Anil writes the blog post I wanted to write[1] about Kindle.[2]

[1] But didn’t get to it today; how the hell did he?
[2] NB: this post is filed under “Books” and not “Business” or “Software.”

November 16, 2007

redacted as tour of modern media environment

A.O. Scott on Brian DePalma’s new movie, “Redacted.”

An unrivaled master of showy cinematic technique, he has made a film whose governing conceit is that it is not a film at all but rather a palimpsest of found video culled from consumer-grade camcorders, surveillance cameras, cellphones and Web sites. (There are also snippets from a French documentary, a mischievous parody complete with portentous music and solemn narration.) “Redacted” takes us on a tour not only of the battlefield, but also of the modern media environment, where no moment goes unrecorded and where everyone is, at least potentially, a filmmaker.

I’m not planning on seeing “Redacted” in the theater for a variety of reasons (“I don’t get out much and I’d rather spend babysitter money on ‘No Country for Old Men’” being the leading contender), but I wish there were  way to experience this tour of “the modern media environment” in that actual environment.

November 16, 2007

knapp on bonds

Chronicle sports columnist Gwen Knapp on the Bonds indictment:

If Bonds is guilty, the best outcome would be a plea agreement, requiring him to say aloud what really happened. The BALCO prosecution started with the mission of cleaning up sports, and a long jail term can’t match the effect of a confession from a superstar.

November 14, 2007

the note could not be saved

Small Macintosh OS X Leopard hint, first in a series of one, because I usually don’t do this kind of thing. If you have a local mail folder named “notes” you need to rename it before Mail will let you save a new note you create.  Otherwise you will get an error message that reads “The note could not be saved.” May legions of Leopard users find this blog post through the wonders of Google and save themselves just a little bit of time.

November 08, 2007

what else do you need to know?

Michael is enjoying his brand new pair of Keen sneakers, which he bought from Zappos.  Michael is enjoying a triple grande latte, which he bought from the Starbucks at the corner of 4th and Brannan. Michael is comfortably clad in a pair of Levi 501 blue jeans, which he bought at the Levi’s store in Union Square in San Francisco.  Michael is typing on a 13” white Apple MacBook, which was purchased for him through CDW’s remarkable online store.

November 08, 2007

self service super computing

Derek Gottfrid of the New York Times describes how he used Amazon’s EC2 and S3 to generate PDF versions of 11 million articles.

“I then began some rough calculations and determined that if I used only four machines, it could take some time to generate all 11 million article PDFs. But thanks to the swell people at Amazon, I got access to a few more machines and churned through all 11 million articles in just under 24 hours using 100 EC2 instances, and generated another 1.5TB of data to store in S3.”

November 08, 2007

museum dashboard

Via Modern Art Notes comes the Indianapolis Museum of Art Dashboard, which gives a view into some of the metrics the museum tracks about its operations. Attendance as a percentage of population, percentage of attendance from museum members, number of pieces on loan to other institutions, percentage of Indianapolis third graders that have visited the museum this year, etc.

November 08, 2007

jennifer love hewitt and cory doctorow

You know it will be a good day when The Cold Inclusive posts more in the ongoing adventures of Jennifer Love Hewitt.  Today our protagonist is being interviewed alongside Cory Doctorow:

CD: I guess it depends on the kind of profit and how they’re profiting by it. I don’t get upset if a carpenter sells a bookcase to someone and makes money because that person needs somewhere to put my book. Even though that carpenter is benefiting from my labor.

JLH: You did not just say that. Cory honey, if you want to change people’s mind about something, you have to use examples from this planet to illustrate your point.

November 08, 2007

eod is back

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said this over the past dozen odd years I’d have enough to money buy a sandwich, a bag of chips and maybe a chocolate chip cookie, but hooray! An Entirely Other Day is back.

November 07, 2007

quote of the day

From Todd Thompson, Citi’s ousted head of wealth management, on the fish tank in his office that was dubbed the Todd Mahal (the office, not the fish tank):  “If that gives me a little bit of a leg up with three or four Chinese billionaires, I think I’ve paid for the goldfish bowl.”

November 07, 2007

karl long on virgin america

Karl Long gushes about the experience of flying Virgin America. I don’t really care about linux-powered seat back terminals that let you chat with the person three seats over (though the drink ordering feature sounds pretty nice), but this bit was refreshing…

Even more extraordinary, the person sitting in the seat in front of me and my buddy was a one of Virgin America’s pilots. We had a very good chat with him, talking about the planes and the business, and asked some questions about the reward program. I asked about signing up for the rewards program after the fact and how to get credit for this trip and he said we could just use our boarding cards, then he gave us his business card with his email “in case we had any problems”, wow.

November 06, 2007

taking pictures of taking pictures

There’s this fantastic chapter in White Noise where Jack and Murray take a drive to visit The Most Photographed Barn in America.

There were 40 cars and a tour bus in the makeshift lot.  We walked along a cowpath to the slightly elevated spot set aside for viewing and photographing. All the people had cameras; some had tripods, telephoto lenses, filter kits.  A man in a booth sold postcards and slides – pictures of the barn taken from the elevated spot.

(Some genius, I wish it had been me, at a reading in San Francisco a few years back, made the argument to DeLillo that he is the master of the serial comma. This is true.)

“No one sees the barn,” he said finally.

A long silence followed.

“Once you’ve seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn.”

The Most Photographed Barn in America found its way into my head tonight on the Bay Bridge while listening to Episode #110 of This American Life, titled “Mapping.”  The setup for the episode was that maps are lenses about how we look at the world, and each act would be about one of our senses – sight, sound, smell, etc. Act One (sight) featured this fascinating gentleman named Dennis Wood who makes maps of his neighborhood in Raleigh, North Carolina. Maps of the streets, maps of the sewers and power lines…

…a map of how light falls on the ground through the leaves of trees; a map of where all the Halloween pumpkins are each year; and a map of all the graffiti in the neighborhood and of who was mentioned most often in the neighborhood newspaper.

These aren’t normal maps like you think about maps – GPS coordinates defined in an XML file and overlaid on to a spinning 3D satellite-photographed zoomable view of our big blue ball. These are maps of just those things -- the pumpkins, the patterns of power lines, the light of street lamps – without the context of roads. Or borders, or even a grid. (TAL has posted scans of some of them.) As Wood put it (paraphrasing here), he’s writing a novel about his neighborhood through his maps.

Stewart Butterfield showed off some amazing new Flickr mapping functionality at Web2 a couple of weeks ago. With what they’re building you could theoretically pick any place in the world – a city, a neighborhood, a street corner, a building, and literally view that place through the lenses of the people who had photographed that place…filtered by interestingness, by date, by person, etc. Flickr users are building a map of the world where the lens is literal.

About the barn, Murray says…

“Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender.  We see only what the others see.  The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future. We’ve agreed to be part of a collective perception. It literally colors our vision. A religious experience in a way, like all tourism.”

Another silence ensued.

“They are taking pictures of taking pictures,” he said.

And here’s what hit me tonight passing the cranes at the Port of Oakland: with all of its data, Flickr knows what, exactly, is – quite literally – the most photographed barn in America. Where everyone is taking pictures of taking pictures.

I really need to get out more, don’t I.

November 05, 2007

strike day

Must watch: Ze Frank, strike day.  (Related, this overheard.)

November 05, 2007

for friends only

Can’t a glass wall just be a glass wall?  Penelope Green trots out Sherry Turkle in her Times piece on peekabo architecture.

“There is real confusion about intimacy and solitude,” said Professor Turkle, who for more than two decades has been studying computers and the people who love them. “Are we alone in these buildings, facing the anonymity of the city, or are we connected to the city? What do we show and what do we hide?

“That mirrors what happens when we’re on the computer, on our networks in Facebook. We are no longer able to distinguish when we are together and nurtured and when we are alone and isolated. I can be in intimate contact with 300 people on e-mail, but when I look up from my computer I feel bereft. I haven’t heard a voice, touched a hand, for hours or days. I think people are no longer certain where the self resides.”