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January 23, 2009

also there should be an overt ezra pound reference

Jocular hilarity (hilarious jocularity?) from the Yahoo! Container of Headlines:
• Pound not so sterling, Britain also officially in recession

I say, what what, that's a little cheekier than usual from the few remaining copy editors driving their little Headline Corral.  It's like they think that England and the jewels in her crown have a sense of humor or something.

(Also, that comma should either be a colon or a semicolon, but we are in the middle of a recession.)

And I shouldn't let the opportunity pass, when mentioning the United Kingdom and sense of humor, to remember NonStopShoebox to all you people.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:36 PM

January 22, 2009

rent a green box, you fools, you fools

As noticed by Boing Boing, here is a novel entrepreneurial solution to a mundane but significant problem -- RentaGreenBox.

Basically, in lieu of a mountain of cardboard boxes that you will ultimately dispose of, they will rent you collection of containers that are manufactured from repurposed waste materials, which they will then pick up from you once you're moved in.

Dunno how many times you've had to move/help friends move in the past few, but the first time I actually went to the rental center to purchase cardboard boxes (which I would never have room to keep) and saw the price tag, I was alarmed.

The only criticism I would offer (other that the idea has not reached NYC) is that the price point still seems a little steep (though lower than buying boxes outright).  Since one of the novelties of the concept is that the containers are for rent and not for sale, why not put in a tiered pricing system -- one price to rent, and a higher price to keep the containers?  Why not both offer the opportunity to retain these cool-looking things and also incentivize the behavior of renting vs. owning?

Still, an overall cool idea, that probably was begun back in the dark days of the Bush Administration, which will not stop me from citing it as a Way That Things Are Different Now.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:46 PM

my mom

Turned out to be a day in which there was a lot to remark upon and not a whole lot of time to do it, so hopefully tomorrow is boring and I remember what I was thinking.

In the meantime, today is the birthday of one of my newer readers.  So, if you see my mom, be nice to her.

In fact, if you see my mom, be nice to her, whether it's her birthday or not.  Yeah, I'm talking to you, college students and assorted faculty.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:23 PM

the new yorker is not neato

So I saw a link to what looked like a very neato feature in The New Yorker.  "Gosh," I thought to myself, "I didn't know that The New Yorker had started opening its content to the prying eyes of a billion websurfers.  It truly is a brand new day."

Naturally, I went to go read this neato feature and found that it is still hidden behind a wall of subscription.  It is not a brand new day.  It is still 2000, and you are still stalking your high school friends by giving Classmates.com your credit card number.

So is this feature in The New Yorker actually neato?  Search me.  Maybe I'll shoplift a copy from a subway newsstand and let you know later.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:23 AM

January 21, 2009

let's all scatter and concentrate

An unintended pleasant consequence of the new administration occupying the White House is one that I've been complaining about for years but had recently forgotten until just now -- the reallocation of the bandwidth of our attention.  As in, now that the government is 75% less conspiring with business interests to take away all our money and any rights we have that might prevent the taking away of our money, we are freed up to worry about more than just constant watchdogging of Washington.  In fact, now that Obama has "got this" we can start agitating on issues that are not directly related to our governance and the abuse thereof. For instance, maybe some portion of us can get together and politely request that Russia stop permitting the murder of her critics, the lawyers that represent them and the journalists that write about it:
MOSCOW — A prominent Russian lawyer who spent the better part of a decade pursuing contentious human rights and social justice cases was killed on Monday in a brazen daylight assassination in central Moscow, officials said.

The lawyer, Stanislav Markelov, had just left a news conference where he announced that he would continue to fight against the early release from jail of Yuri D. Budanov, a former Russian tank commander imprisoned for murdering a young Chechen woman.

Now, I'm not saying that we all need to crowdswarm the issue until it is rectified.  In fact, what I am saying is, now that we all have a marked increase in freedom to care about issues that do not directly or immediately impact us, we can clique up and start really caring about them in little ad-hocracies that can come and go as they please.

And one of these ad-hocracies could be a devoted to putting international pressure on Russia to deal with the fallout of the toxic Chechen conflict in a way more constructive than disappearing survivors alleging war crimes and hinting at another Chechen conflict.

Just a small suggestion.

(I'm pretty sure that the first I heard of the term "ad-hocracy" was in Sterling's State of the World, 2009, but I am notoriously forgetful and poorly read.)

Posted by mrbrent at 3:23 PM

jessica alba is correct!

It seems so day-before-yesterday to write bad things about Bill O'Reilly, specifically because of this bit of video.  Yeah, we're all still trying to figure out how we should be in an Obama Administration world (I nominate "politely truculent"), and whether it's still fun and/or useful to say mean-but-true things about the as-yet-influential insane people of the world like Bill O'Reilly or if instead the New Now is to ignore him, not even intentionally, as the taste of irrelevance backs up in his throat and he wonders if it's something he ate or if he has a headcold coming up but no! his whole steaming lump of smugness has been not so much a virtue but a vice and no amount of loofahs or ratings victories in the 55+ demo will ever let him sleep the sleep of the man at peace.

But, dude, once you've lost Jessica Alba, the bottom is not far behind.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:38 PM

today's new york times

Attention newspaper speculators:  again you did not foil me.  Truly, you did a very good job, buying every New York Times from every newsstand in the corner of Ditmas Park in which I live, and every newsstand in America, as far as I can tell, but you forgot the coin-op boxes!  Again!  Not that I've yet had a chance to read my beloved Dining In/Dining Out section, or any other section for that matter, but at least I have something to look forward to.

Also, speculators, as a man with thousands of comic books in his possession, let me advise you: if you plan on selling your multiple copies of newspapers for profits, you need to either do so right now, to some fool like me that really wants to read today's paper, or forty years from now.  Next week, when you wonder how much they're worth?  They won't be worth a thing, because you were not the only speculator.

So, if you are hoarding for posterity?  Good on you, and what an excellent day it was.  If you are hoarding for profit?  Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!

Posted by mrbrent at 10:13 AM

January 20, 2009

forty-four

Fun random link:

Right here, baby.  Much better than a rickroll.

Cheers, everybody.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:19 PM

bush administration: a pre-look back

This probably won't be the last time that I write about them, but in case you were wondering with that portion of your mind not thinking about the Inauguration:

Dick Cheney refuses not to go out on a mysterious note.  George Bush decides that it's never too late to try to get into heaven as he plumb forgets to pardon all those shitbirds he was going to pardon.  Everyone else that currently works for the Bush Administration (for the next ninety minutes) -- already no one remembers their names, because all the big dogs like Karl Rove left before the taint of the last eight years became so pervasive that they'd never make another dime in that town.  Dana Perino!  I remembered one.

This is the first time in generations that we will get to see the dustbin of history evoked so vividly and in real time.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:11 AM

jumping the "snark"

Dunno if it's because of the Inauguration today, but I have a feeling that "snark" is a word that I won't be using so much anymore.

Check that -- it's not because of the Inauguration.  I plan on continuing with the snark, just not using the actual word anymore.  I think it has played out, at least in my own personal vocabulary.  So when some smart guy comes up with the new word that means "how old people communicate", gimme a ring.

Yeah, definitely not because of the Inauguration.  Oh, there will be tears today, but there will also be wisecracks.  In between crying.

Posted by mrbrent at 7:21 AM

January 19, 2009

the obama anti-roast

Personally, I watched the AFC Championship in a nondescript bar somewhere on the island of Manhattan last night.  It was a lively scene (and those Pittsburgh Steelers, well, they are going to the Super Bowl), but it was a bit of a shock when Katie Couric came on during the half, and we were all, "Katie Couric is not very football at all."

And she was reporting on what the whole rest of America that was not watching football in that nondescript bar had done with their days -- watch the big concert from the Lincoln Memorial that is somehow related to the Obama presidency.  Which concert was apparently moving and heart-felt and Springsteen-y, so much so that earnestness and hope has been beaten into everyone's hearts permanently and finally, and now everyone can move into the meat of the Inauguration appropriately sincere and crying like babies.

So, comparatively, having watched the Steelers instead, I'm feeling pretty ill-equipped for the next two days, in the sense of the swollen heart.

But, come to think, Pepsi ("Hope!") and "Two And A Half Men" (Yes We Can!") ads, both riffing on the Obama campaign, fill me with a football-appropriate level of rage, as the systemized commodification of Obama's groundswell of support is a contemptible idea, dragging the actual hopes and dreams of a couple hundred million people through the commercial gutter.

So you guys keep up the "honestly moved by events", and I'll watch the flanks with cynicism and idiot snark.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:23 AM

January 18, 2009

how fun are plane ditchings?

W/r/t immediately previous post: a friend of mine expressed dismay at the volume of jokes that went back and forth on the web minutes after Flight 1549 landed in the Hudson River.  It did seem a little macabre, in light of the fact that even a successful plane crash has got to be the most horrifying and traumatizing thing you'd ever want to live through.

But there's a strong current of "nothing's sacred" these days -- I think if the ditching of the plane had gone worse, there would have been less cracking wise, and when it became evident that they lost no one, everyone chimed in with a light joke.  And now days later we're all hungover with pride and admiration, so I'm sure that heroes can take a joke.

I will say, for the record, that the FB status is a queasy place to reference current events more serious than, say, a basketball game.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:40 AM

jeffrey stiles

I don't know if this is refreshing because it's a valid point or because it's a return to life-giving snark, but I couldn't agree with Ryan Tate more: Flight 1549 co-pilot Jeffrey Stiles is a hero too.  And, more importantly, a hero who's getting screwed out of his rightful fifteen minutes/VitaminWater endorsement by that fameball Capt. Sulleyheimer (or whatever his name is).  From reading two day's worth of accounts, you get the impression that the co-pilot was sleeping one off in the hold, or giving a mustache ride to a flight attendant, as the Captain saved the plane by punching his feet through the floor of the cockpit and stopping the plane like Fred Flintstone.

But no.  Those big planes don't fly themselves, and Capt. Sullenberger's tense shoulders don't rub themselves either.  Plus: gizmos!  First Officer Stiles figured out which one of those buttons was the "Float" button (or at least pushed it when the Captain told him to), so get him on GMA and give him the key to Yonkers forthwith.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:27 AM

stop presses: axelrod can't im

This Politico story is certainly newsy, in the sense of, "Hey, I didn't know that," but it's also a little too eager to amp up the hysteria.  You see, White House lawyers have warned the incoming administration that they should ixnay with the MIay, as IM (and its poor relation GChat) might be too real 2 B forgotten:
...the bar on instant messaging is particular to the White House.  Legal and security experts say it is dictated by the fear of embarrassment if IMs were to be disclosed.  The Presidential Records Act requires White House documents to become public five years after a president leaves office, and most lawyers think it would apply to any instant messages discussing government business.

"People have to be conscious that when you put something on paper you think it through," said former Clinton White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum.  With IM, he said, "you think you're talking but you're really writing."

Maybe I'm too full of kool-aid right now, but maybe this administration will finally be the one to say that they actually don't have anything to hide, as long as the eventual reader is prepared for some swear words and some name-calling.  Naive, yes -- and I understand why counsel from the Clinton White House would be wary, as the Clinton Administration was trolled unmercifully for unrelated, actionable material (like perfury traps!).  And the Bush White House continued the tradition, because they wanted to get down to the heavy lifting of breaking laws without the worry of possible prosecution by some do-gooder US Attorney who didn't know the score.

But in my ideal White House, in the White House that was germinated by Martin Sheen and everyone else on the first three seasons of "The West Wing", interoffice communications should be treated like you have nothing to hide, unless you have something to hide.

The article also contains copious moaning over how hard it will be to do business without instant messaging, which I will not insult you by quoting.  If you can't do business with just a ballpoint pen, a telephone, some scrap paper and your mouth, then you shouldn't be doing business.  There's no crying in the White House!  Especially to Politico, if you know what I mean).

Posted by mrbrent at 9:41 AM

but in the end i do write about that drivel

And as far as that weird little flu (referenced in the immediately previous post) goes, the night that it evinced itself, I did watch President Bush's "I like the door hitting me in the ass" speech.  The only thing that I thought about it was, "Thank God I feel no compunction at all to write about this drivel."

Little did I know that it would turn me into a complainy, mildly uncomfortable man for thirty-six hours -- another small achievement that the president can try to bury all his failures under.

(A round-up of folks who bothered themselves to have an opinion is here.  The only image worth remembering is that tiny room, with its twenty or thirty people, standing to applaud him, bereft of pomp or majesty.  It was claustrophobic and appropriate.)

Posted by mrbrent at 12:51 AM