there are 28 posts from September 2009

September 28, 2009

waffle house!

I hope he’s getting paid for all of these mentions.

September 28, 2009

rock and roll = barium

Sasha Frere-Jones on Sunn O))). Warning: EXCESSIVE SIMILE ALERT, but they’re all so good.

The median sound for Sunn O))) is a low chord, pitched below standard tuning, that blows through the crowd like a humid wind and stays in your body like that liquid they make you drink before you go through the CAT-scan machine. Standing in front of the stage on Tuesday night felt like a teen-age dare. How long could I stand to have my organs palpated? How could I tear myself away? Would the volume loosen up kinked muscles? Sterilize me? … After the show was over, my head felt like a bag of blueberry muffins that had been left under a bench for three days. I walked down Vanderbilt Avenue towards my house, sweaty and bereft of the ability to echolocate.

I don’t think I’ve ever been able to echolocate, and I haven’t had the pleasure (?) of seeing Sunn O))). But still, I get what he means.

September 28, 2009

the fishers on collecting

Kenneth Baker in the Chronicle re. the collecting habits of Donald and Doris Fisher.

They learned as they went, he told me in conversation, seeking the advice of people they respected, but always buying only artworks that they personally saw and felt committed to. As for disagreements over what to buy, Mr. Fisher said that whenever either of them felt strongly about a work, they would acquire it and then discover whether the passage of time would bring a change of heart.

Now the timing of the gift to SFMOMA makes perfect sense. And thank God the collection is going there; I love this city, but it’s not big enough (in citizens, visitors, supporters, collectors, etc.) to support another contemporary art museum. We need a stronger center of gravity…

September 23, 2009

that was a close call

The New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg argues that we should stop performing executions with lethal injections, given the recently demonstrated issues with finding veins:

Perhaps this is an area where we could learn from our Chinese friends. Their method of execution, I’m convinced, is the kindest of all: a pistol shot to the back of the head. It’s quick, it’s inexpensive, and it’s not as messy as you might assume. No one knows for sure how it feels, obviously, but I expect that because the bullet instantly destroys the brain stem, the pain, if there is any, is minimal. You’d feel the blow, I imagine, like getting slapped on the back really hard or tackled unexpectedly from behind, but it’d but just wham, lights out.

Coming across this in my trusty Google Reader, the post offended my delicate liberal sensibilities, and led me down a deep dark path of despair: I was starting to worry a little about Hertzberg and wonder just what the hell was happening to my steady media diet of opinion I already agree with. Until I reached the end…

On the other hand, it might be better still to get out of the capital punishment business altogether.

…and all became right the world again. Whew. That was close.

September 23, 2009

dan hill's life on mars

Dan Hill’s post at City of Sound about the dust storm is the perfect complement to Tom Coates’ gallery on Flickr.

At first it seemed like a very odd sunrise. Then we realised the red wasn’t a sunrise red, but something duller, earthier. A kind of powdered mineral deep orangey-red, like vermillion or cadmium perhaps with a dash of ochre … or like dust from the parched interior of Australia, in fact.

Complete with personal photos inside and outside his house; worth reading in full.

September 21, 2009

finally, it's arrived

The Ulimate Productivity Blog. Yes!

September 19, 2009

yes, me too.

Edward Vielmetti: What I would be doing if I were being incredibly attentive to your email.

September 19, 2009

nelson's new way

I’ve found a new way of writing web applications and couldn’t be happier. HTML pages are all static, nothing generated server side. Everything dynamic is done via Javascript in the browser.

Worth reading in full.

September 18, 2009

even dead fish show emotion once in a while

A group of scientists at the University of Santa Barbara conducted an experiment where they put a dead 3.8 pound salmon in an fMRI machine, showed it pictures of people in social situations “with a specified emotional valence” and asked the fish what emotion the person in the photo was experiencing.

The result? The dead fish’s brain lit up.


The lesson? Remember to correct for chance. I love the understated tone of the discussion on their poster.


Via Language Log.

September 18, 2009

cyclops-leveling is the new block-rocking

Bob Lefsetz does a rundown of the top selling records. Coming in at number 48, Darius Rucker’s “Learn to Live.”

A Hootie record.  Serviceable songs delivered in a heartfelt manner.  This still works in country, but not in pop.  In pop you’ve got to dress up like an alien, use computers and have beats that would level a cyclops.  But it’s the country artists who have careers, who people want to see on the road.  And if you still think country is twang, you haven’t listened in eons.

September 18, 2009

andrew frank at gartner on google's ad exchange

Worth reading in full; I loved these bits most.

Agency buyers and ad networks, which often find themselves in “co-opetition,” are highly motivated and empowered to put considerable price pressure on additional intermediaries, especially if their name is Google. In its AdSense search business, Google has the advantage of opaque pricing and weak competition; in display exchanges, transparency reigns, and Google has plenty of competition. Agency buyers and ad networks, already feeling squeezed, have in common buying power and experience, which will drive exchange margins to a minimum. On the other side, publishers, especially those who consider themselves “premium,” are feeling even more squeezed, and are talking with agencies about private exchanges for their own networks that could minimize price friction in the value chain. Such developments will drive Google out toward the long tails of sites and advertisers, where display tends to lack the performance qualities of search.

Of course, as Frank points out, “many have lost betting against Google.”

September 17, 2009

wool scarves are the new sunglasses?

Two art related bits from this morning’s skim, both from New York Magazine…

First, Ten things we learned from Chelsea’s refreshed galleries, including “wool scarves are the new sunglasses” (who knew!), red dots sometimes mean “not for sale” (as opposed to “sold,” clever marketing), and this tidbit…

Artwork has shrunk. Lots of artists are doing work they — or their dealers — hope collectors will pick up, cash-and-carry, like candy bars at the supermarket checkout line.

And Who keeps stealing Bernie Madoff’s art? Did the educators strike again? Or did someone just pick it up, cash and carry (sans cash), like a candy bar at the supermarket checkout line?

September 17, 2009

because you can't spell innovation without t.o.s.

So Sarah Lacy tees off on the startups that demo’d at TechCrunch50 this week:

Not enough passion, not enough swinging for the fences, not enough trying to change the world. There were too many people building safe businesses, too many companies just trying to make existing things slightly better, and too many people wanting to be the next, not the next Google.

I wasn’t there, and I only half-heartedly followed along in blogotwitland, so I’ll take Sarah’s word for it – she’s smart, she’s great writer, and she does a good video interview.

But! I think there’s one company – Udorse -- that is pushing the boundaries in an area where we haven’t seen much innovation lately…the all-important terms of service.

First, some background: Udorse is a “visual endorsement engine” that lets you tag photos of you and your friends with endorsements of the products in those photos. Here’s Robin Wauters’ Techcrunch description of the demo (or you can just go watch it):

Udorse co-founder Geoffrey Lewis picked a photo of him and a friend who works as a fahion designer. Endorsing in this case is done by selecting an item – the dress she’s wearing – and identifying it with a description and associated brand name, with the extra ability to add links and commentary to the highlighted item. Every time someone sees the photo and clicks the associated Udorse icon or link, they are able to gather more information about the product or directly be referred to the website where it can be bought.

I know. So good, right? It gets better, though. The real innovation lies in their terms of service. Most of the TOS is the typical stuff about your account and limitations of liability and content ownership and all the things that no one ever reads.

But check out section C, titled “Udorsement Rules.”

By Udorsing a photo (a “Udorsed Photo”), you represent and warrant that (1) you have the written consent of each and every identifiable natural person in the Udorsed Photo to use such person’s likeness in the manner contemplated by the Service and this Agreement, and each such person has released you from any liability that may arise in relation to such use; …

I know. “Written consent.” So good, right?

Wait – before you roll your eyes, think of the opportunity they’re creating: if Udorse takes off, there’s a huge need for a marketplace of third party developers of workflow solutions that help you quickly and easily get consent from all your friends in your Udorsed photographs!

In the meantime, I’ve Udorsed a photo of this TastyKake truck, since it’s not a natural person.


Seriously, I really do love TastyKakes of most varieties.

September 16, 2009

on my list: see the flaming lips

One of the things that’s on my list to do before I have a coronary from eating one too many bacon-wrapped waffle dogs is catching a Flaming Lips show. Especially after seeing this pic from Ryan Muir

flaming lips

Also, if anyone’s up for sponsoring my “pre-bacon-wrapped waffle dog coronary” list, gimme a shout.

September 14, 2009

the future of our republic hinges on this issue

Tim Goodman asks in his liveblog of the Jay Leno show this very important question:

Does Obama have the executive power to kill this show right now?

For love of country, I surely hope so.

September 14, 2009

sfj on atp (planes are the best)

Sasha Frere-Jones’ ongoing blog coverage at The New Yorker of the upstate New York indie rock festival All Tomorrow’s Parties was the perfect antidote to a weekend filled with VMA madness. I followed along only as a jealous fanboy should; here are a few highlights…

I loved the post about Steve Albini’s band Shellac

“Wingwalker” is either about a woman who entertained people by walking on the wings of biplanes, or about someone who imagines himself to be that wingwalker, or a plane. (The repeated phrase, “I’m a plane,” allows Albini and Weston to imitate planes with their arms stretched out. Symmetry can be fun.) This version of “Wingwalker” included several ad-libbed endorsements of planes: “Planes weigh more than houses and they fucking fly!” Albini yelled. “Planes are the best.”

His photo of the stage setup made me want to buy a kit and start drumming again.


Who wouldn’t want a schedule package baked into the form of a View-Master?

Barry asked Kii to incorporate the View-Master into the original art, but it was my idea to have the reels as time cards, and to have the book and envelope program look like a View-Master pack. In a perfect world, we would have provided everyone with their own ATP View-Master and done 3-D shoots with all the bands.

Mmmm, 3-D. And finally, advice from SFJ on how ATP can serve as a model…

ATP isn’t just a model for music festivals—it’s a business model for everybody in the arts. Keep your costs low, spend on what counts, keep major corporations out of it, treat everybody decently, and have the confidence and patience to let these strategies work.

September 14, 2009

no such thing as scarcity

Natasha Vargas-Cooper got a book deal out of her most excellent blog Footnotes of Mad Men (congrats!), and, predictably, the comment thread at The Awl is full of great action, including this bit from Choire:

I think most hating on book deals – though there’s still plenty of valid book-deal-hating to do, believe me, and I intend to do some of it someday soon – has to do with the idea of scarcity. There isn’t such a thing, really. Right now, in this world? Absolutely anyone can sell a book, if they want to put up with the pain in the ass of producing said book, which, ugh, is a pain in the ass.

That lack of scarcity line – especially in the context of book production – is gonna stick with me for a while.

September 14, 2009


Today and Tomorrow consistently ends up with starred posts in reader; this one I couldn’t help but reblog. Dust is a project by Ujin Lee and Tom Edwards, more information and photos at

September 14, 2009

don't click that link


There are times when the headline is better than the story, when clicking through will only lead to disappointment. This is one of those times.

September 11, 2009

triggers three, maybe four of the seven deadly sins

The new Leica X1, aka “the $2200 object of desire,” via

September 11, 2009

support the freedom of banging act

Pianist Jeremy Denk writes up his own health bill. Here’s a representative section…

a) for each mention of Glenn Gould at the post-concert reception, or at any question-and-answer session, the pianist is permitted three (3) massage sessions, and such aroma- and gastro- therapy as he may require, in addition, to be covered under the Groupies for the Assistance of Pianists Agency;

I’d vote for this bill. Then again, we’ve already established that I’m not senatorial material.

September 08, 2009

brad feld on apple + exchange

Earlier this year I blogged about Google licensing ActiveSync technology from Microsoft to support GoogleSync; so today’s post from Brad Feld re. why Microsoft licensed the same tech to Apple for Snow Leopard caught my eye.

Here’s the relevant bits: it’s about getting people to upgrade from Exchange 2003 to 2007, and locking them in to the Microsoft platform for a few more years…

As a result, the only thing that motivated us to upgrade to Exchange 2007 is Apple Snow Leopard integration of Exchange ActiveSync.  If this is the reason, it’s a smart strategic move on Microsoft’s part.  As part of our Exchange 2007 upgrade, we are buying a two year “upgrade insurance” package so we’ll get an upgrade to Exchange 2010 for free.  Microsoft defers any discussion around switching to Google Apps for us for at least three more years. 

Brad wonders if there is a deep master plan at work here…but I don’t think there is – I think this is merely “incrementalism” at work. There are opportunities (a) to make incremental dollars licensing ActiveSync technology to otherwise competing technology providers, and (b) to drive incremental upgrade and service contract dollars from customers who otherwise would consider a switch to a Google apps or Zimbra solution. Any optics benefit re. playing nicely with others is just icing.

September 06, 2009


There’s no way I could come close to being able to do this. And I’m pretty sure this is why I’m not a U.S. Senator.

September 04, 2009

i miss the wizard

TypePad asked me: If you could see any historic baseball player play in person, who would it be?

I miss seeing Ozzie Smith do backflips before games.

Submitted by High Heels on the Field.

September 03, 2009

small hack

This is about two years behind the zeitgeist of productivity porn, but because sharing is caring I wrote up a little thing for Minimal Mac about how I’m using Quicksilver + AppleScript.

September 02, 2009

and the jonze spin begins

The New York Times covers the Where the Wild Things Are in this Sunday’s Magazine. Overall the piece feels like Jonze’s publicity machine cranking up the “they gave us $80 million to make the movie but those studio types are boring corporate suits and it won’t be our fault when it tanks at the box office” story line.

And though I’d love to be proven wrong, it sounds like the movie is gonna tank.*

Most kids’ movies are brightly, mouthwateringly colorful; Jonze favored a mushy-vegetable palate of greens and browns. Most kids’ movies have a clearly defined plot and an unambiguous moral lesson; Jonze’s film has about as much plot as an episode of “Jackass.” Most kids’ movies crackle with one-liners; in “Where the Wild Things Are,” the characters talk over one another and spend a lot of time stumbling over their own words as they try to articulate their feelings.

Jonze puts it this way…

“It’s like the studio was expecting a boy, and I gave birth to a girl. And now they’re learning to love and accept their daughter.”

You know the next chapter of the saga will be the piece in November about how Where the Wild Things Are bombed because the studio just didn’t spend enough to market the daughter they thought would be a son; with the subplot being that the blogger / Twitter buzz that they were counting on just couldn’t push it to a $100 mm opening weekend…never mind the fact that the thing was just too damned sad for anyone under the age of about 35.

* For point of reference, G.I. Joe has done $265 million in worldwide box office.

September 01, 2009

for once in my life, i'm not early adopting

So yeah, I think I’ll hang back on that Snow Leopard thing for a bit. I’ve bought it, of course, but I’ll wait until all my super early adopter friends with their five machines and their Macports and their virtualenvs and their tricked out Quicksilver installs get things working right. Then I’ll pull the trigger.

Until then, you can call me laggard boy.

September 01, 2009

cloud gate

Part of the Polar Panoramas group at Flickr. Via Bad at Sports.