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November 30, 2007

williamsburg is crimey!

I am a former resident of the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.  I lived there for a decade plus a few, so, while I'm not one of the hardy types who starting moving there in the 80s, I am one of the sullen but lucky few who got there before it became more expensive/loathsome than living in Manhattan.

I still have a (dwindling) number of friends who still live there, and it is for them that I bring to your attention the fact that >a href="http://gawker.com/news/mean-streets/brooklyn-crime-hipsters-are-a-great-source-of-cash-328445.php">petty street crime is back!  And Williamsburg's got it1  So please take care, well, it looks like any time around the clock.  You know, try not to get mugged on your morning commute, etc.

For the record, my lifetime crime stats in Williamsburg are one burglary, two automotive break-ins, one stolen vehicle (not mine!) and two attempted muggings defused by not quite understanding that they were trying to mug me.

And for those of you that have never been to Williamsburg, it's now basically like having to walk through an endless array of American Apparel ads, while passing clowny-assed people who think that American Apparel ads are cool.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:03 PM

November 29, 2007

getcha sci fi on

You're probably not reading enough sci-fi these days, so I'm going to share with you this link to a list of ten writers of the sci fi of the past 10 years that you should read.  (Yes, it's that Marc Andreessen.)

I've only read Charles Stross so far, but intend to sample all the others on the list in case there is a quiz later.

Wait.  Now that I think of it, you're probably dismissive of the sci-fi as a valid genre of literature -- in fact, you're probably dismissive of genre fiction in general, because it's icky, and people to whom you are not attracted to are the ones you see reading genre fiction on the beach.

Well, dude been going to the wrong beach.  Get your shit correct and grab you some books with pulp in them.

[List via Bruce Sterling, whose beach you might want to look into.]

Posted by mrbrent at 5:53 PM

November 28, 2007

the internets have spoken: mr splashy pants

So yesterday I sent this link around to those friends and family I thought would be amused by it.  It was a nothing, a bauble.  Something amusing at a glance; chuckle a bit and then quickly forget it.

But now, a day later, I see that it is now the most popular link on the planet, as outlets from The Independent to Gawker to our friend Cardhouse have written this sucker up.  So while this may be further evidence of the looming novelty deficit we are living through, I still urge you to make sure that Mr. Splashy Pants remains that whale's name.

The link again: right here.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:04 AM

November 27, 2007

you'd think i'd have less to say about facebook

Here's a nice chance for you to educate yourself on these social networking services all the kids are using -- an article from author/Boing Boinger Cory Doctorow.  It's entitled "How Your Creepy Ex-Co-Workers Will Kill Facebook", which is a little misleading (and gives away the kicker) -- it starts out as an examination of the commercial social networking phenomena (from AOL up to current times) from an individual well versed in the Internet.  Soon after, however, the piece degrades into a geometric progression of the suckitude of the Facebook, proving that gravity still works.  Starting with:
Facebook is no paragon of virtue.  It bears the hallmarks of the kind of pump-and-dump service that sees us as sticky, monetizable eyeballs in need of pimping. The clue is in the steady stream of emails you get from Facebook: "So-and-so has sent you a message."  Yeah, what is it? Facebook isn't telling -- you have to visit Facebook to find out, generate a banner impression, and read and write your messages using the halt-and-lame Facebook interface, which lags even end-of-lifed email clients like Eudora for composing, reading, filtering, archiving and searching.

Which is a base-level (and fair) critique of the design and intended use of Facebook -- revenue-generating time-waster.  And the sins chronicled by Doctorow increase in magnitude, ending with the one referenced in the title of the piece:

For every long-lost chum who reaches out to me on Facebook, there's a guy who beat me up on a weekly basis through the whole seventh grade but now wants to be my buddy; or the crazy person who was fun in college but is now kind of sad; or the creepy ex-co-worker who I'd cross the street to avoid but who now wants to know, "Am I your friend?" yes or no, this instant, please.

Which is another, more bone-chilling criticism that maybe I can vouch for depending on who is reading this, and also an argument for a fluid, brain-managed concept of "friendship" that is not subject to a rigid stratification imposed by a robot.

So why do we still use the Facebook?  Um, we're lonely?

Posted by mrbrent at 11:04 AM

November 26, 2007

bottom line: people now e-bad

This Wired piece on cyber-bullying could be filed under some 21st century version of "Life In These United States" (oh wait, they have that already -- the "Web"), were it not set partially outside of these United States, and also if it were not so fucking tragic.  For example, there's this:
Two years ago a college girl in South Korea was harassed after her tiny dog defecated on the floor of a subway car, and she ignored passengers' requests to clean it up.  Someone on the train snapped her photo and posted it online.  She was quickly dubbed Dog Poop Girl, and within days a cyberposse had discovered her name and was digging up information about her and her family.  The public humiliation reportedly led her to withdraw from her university, and the pictures of her and the feces are still online today.

Ah, crazy humanity!

But also this:

Sarah Wells makes an unlikely cyber-vigilante.  But the middle-aged mother in Virginia was outraged when she read a Saint Charles Journal article on Megan Meier, a 13-year-old Missouri girl driven to suicide by relentless online bullying.  The fact that the bullying appeared to be instigated by the mother of one of Megan's friends through a fake MySpace account enraged Wells all the more.

Ah, fucking humanity!

Sure, there's also a light investigation of the madness of e-crowds in the piece, but mostly it's depressing that it didn't take very long after the popularization of the Internet for someone to figure out how to hit someone else in the face with it.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:40 PM

November 25, 2007

my mt updating technique is stoppable

This is more of a note to self, maybe a message in a bottle: I just spent a good portion of the afternoon trying to update the publishing platform that generates this whole kibosh.  It was 99% successful.  Unfortunately, that last 1% is the 1% that makes the whole thing work, so I cut bait and reverted to the outdated version.

If any of you smart guys have a spare minute or so, please drop a line.

In the meantime, read this bit of nonsense, wonder about false equivalency as the basest misdirection from utter mistruths, and then also wonder why some folk get paid to share their thoughts.

Posted by mrbrent at 6:03 PM