August 6, 2008
Or not? Is there a connection I should know about between the electronics enthusiasts on Newegg.com and laundry hampers? Are you about to make a joke about geeks who don’t attend to personal cleanliness? Is that fair? Is that’s even what’s going on here, or was there just an overstock on laundry hampers? So many questions.
July 22, 2008
In the 5th century B.C.
an Indian philosopher Gautama
teaches “All is emptiness”
and “There is no self.”
In the 20th century A.D.
Barbie agrees, but wonders how a man
with such a belly could pose,
smiling, and without a shirt.
May 1, 2008
When people talk about microblogging they usually mention twitter. That has a distancing effect on me, because I don’t take twitter all that seriously. (Quick explanation: microblogging is blogging, but with more frequent updates of very little text – less than 200 characters.)
So, I hear “microblogging”, and I think, “that thing I can’t relate to.” Or, when I’m feeling darker, I think, “that thing that serves as yet another indicator of the degeneration of our society’s communications and eventually, society itself.” (Kind of like this comment and the one below it on flickr’s Atrocious Apostrophe’s [sic] group.)
But I can be slow sometimes, it’s true. No, really. Yesterday, while perusing my many RSS feeds, I saw the word “microblogging”, had one of my above thoughts, and then resumed surfing. Saw a link I liked, and clicked the delicious add-on button in my Firefox browser. (Quick explanation: delicious lets you save Web sites and share them with other people who use delicious.)
And as I began to enter text in the notes field of the “add bookmark” popup, I finally realized:
I’m a microblogger, too.
**Update: Russell Buckley of MobHappy writes an interesting roundup of the Web 2.0 Expo that I attended last week. He muses on twitter’s version of microblogging, and, incidentally, includes a spot-on critique of conferencing techniques that I, too, find to be not useful at all.
April 27, 2008
I LOVED “Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle” – watched it five times. Not only were the jokes hilarious, the entire movie flowed like a well-choreographed dance. Guantanamo Bay was, unsurprisingly for a sequel, lame. The experience revealed two disconnects that I feel like noting.
1) A.O. Scott’s review in the New York Times leaves you wondering if he liked it or not, but clear that he saw something of substance in it. The movie was not good (though not unenjoyable), and it lacked substance. That indicates to me that Mr. Scott hedged, reluctant to dismiss the film outright for fear of being uncool, or perhaps to compensate for his publication’s having neglected the brilliance of White Castle (lackluster “review” — or, rather, plot summary — here). Or both. Disconnect #1.
2) When Neil Patrick Harris first appeared on the screen at the Harvard Square theater, I hooted, confident that I’d trigger a hearty response in the pleasantly energetic audience. But no. Silence. I’ll admit that I first thought this told me something about the uptightness of Harvard students, who appeared to predominate. But then it dawned on me that if my memories of Doogie Howser are hazy, theirs don’t exist. That NPH currently appears in the sitcom, “How I Met Your Mother,” is unremarkable, according to my 17-year-old cousin (and aforementioned silence). Disconnect #2.
So “Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay” has college-age humor, cameos for thirtysomethings, and an ancestral mystique that gets it top-level press. All the right ingredients to get us in the theater door and help the movie do what sequels do best: Make more money without having to make more ideas.
March 31, 2008
A few weeks ago I stayed with friends in Santa Monica. I covered a lot of ground in a short period of time.
This travel-log cata-logs the shops, restaurants, parks, and other things I encountered, some of which you might want to encounter too, if you live there or visit.
March 25, 2008
John read this passage about the Dalai Lama in The Times of London in an article entitled, “Defiant people yearn for the ‘political monk in Gucci shoes'”:
When he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 he described himself as “a simple monk from faraway Tibet”. His existence as a symbol of the struggle for freedom have won him a huge following in the West. But his position is complicated; he has been described as “a very political old monk shuffling around in Gucci shoes”.
John then wrote the following letter to The Times:
Interesting that the journalist does not mention that the person credited with the “monk in Gucci shoes” remark is none other than the proprietor of The Times, Rupert Murdoch. Mr Murdoch is hardly the most objective commentator given his considerable efforts to curry favour with the Chinese leadership while trying to expand his media empire into China.
I feel the journalist is being a little disingenuous with this omission, especially as the quote is used in the title of the piece…
— John Grant, Cambridge, MA
The BBC attributed the quote in question to Mr. Murdoch back in 1999. What’s striking about the Times reporter’s omission is that this remark did not pass quietly into obscurity. It’s still a favorite for watchers of the media mogul and his Buddhist nemesis.
What’s also striking — and amusing — is that both Murdoch and the reporter in his employ attribute the quote to nameless, faceless others (albeit in the way that a child closes her eyes and thinks no one can see her):
Murdoch, 1999: “I have heard cynics who say he’s a very political old monk shuffling around in Gucci shoes.” (I can’t source the original Vanity Fair interview where Murdoch reportedly said this because, as with much of our cultural heritage, it’s buried in some paid archive management service.)
Reporter, 2008: “…he has been described as ‘a very political old monk shuffling around in Gucci shoes'”.
Murdoch is known to strongly influence the coverage of the media properties he owns. But it’s always a little shocking to see that influence in action. Nice catch, John.