When we bought a Dyson vacuum a number of years ago, it came
with a user’s manual as well as a brief history lesson on how Dysons came to
be. One of the things that stuck with me was that James Dyson had pitched his
design to several major players in the vacuum world, only to be rejected.
he finally broke through on his own, one of the vacuum executives noted that
his company should have just bought the patented design and dismantled the
damned thing. In other words, something that worked well had become a headache
because it would force other people in the business to think differently.
Journalism and vacuums have very little in common, other
than the fact that they both suck. However, when it comes to this bit of news,
it’s clear the owners of these businesses have a lot more in common than that.
EveryBlock, the brainchild of a journalism grad named Adrian
Holovaty, grew from an idea of layering data into a searchable, map-based
mash-up. Holovaty’s earlier project, chicagocrime.org, used police and crime
data to show people how certain areas stacked up in terms of police calls, fire
calls and more. The upgraded approach
that earned EveryBlock a $1.1million Knight grant took this a step further,
augmenting the site with links that showed people news stories associated with
their neighborhood, issues pertaining to their area and so forth.
The merits of EveryBlock are, as everything is, up for
debate. I had heard from people I knew in the company that the data wasn’t
always as perfect as it could be or that some of the details tended to get
glossed over in the rush to keep growing the product. However, whatever
shortcomings were attached to the project, Holovaty clearly tapped a nerve that
needed tapping. As giant metro newspapers had struggled, often outstripping
their usefulness, Holovaty went small, believing there was value in each flake
of gold and that if he piled enough of them together, a richness would emerge.
Whether it was going to be the “next big thing” or not, we’ll never know.
That said, the most depressing commentary on the issue, and
the most telling as well, comes from this piece on Poynter, which quotes Senior
VP Vivian Schiller:
I asked Schiller about the questions
many are raising online — why not turn over EveryBlock to another operator or
give supporters a chance to keep it going? She answered: “I understand that the
Everyblock community is disappointed. So are we. We looked at various options
to keep this going, but none of them were viable. It was a tough call to make.”
The answer underlying this is pretty
easy to see: we couldn’t make money on the deal using our traditional media
model/lizard brain approach to money making, so we’re killing this thing. Sure,
we could hand it over or sell it or something, but if we did that and someone
ELSE figured out a way to make money, we’d look like the bunch of idiots we
Could Holovaty (or someone like him)
have pulled off a Steve-Jobs-Rides-Back-To-Apple-And-Saves-Its-Ass move with
EveryBlock? I don’t know, but it was probably worth the try.
Could NBC have tried to think outside
of its “MUST CAN HAZ IMMEEEDEEATE CASH” model and tried to learn something?
Probably not without a lobotomy and a few high colonics in the ol’ C-Suite.
Might this thing have died on its own
somewhere along the way anyway? Anything is possible. Even the best, most
perfectly, bulletproof products for a time (read: NetScape) make a sharp, ugly
turn and die.
The point is we’re never going to know
the answer to these things because when a major entity is faced with something
that might be good and that forces them to think, their first and only answer
seems to be: “buy it and dismantle the damned thing.”
After a welcome disruption by members of CodePink who denounced him and got ejected from the hearing, Brennan said that there is a “misimpression” and a “misunderstanding” about “the care we take” and--he added obscenely--“the agony we go through” in deciding who to kill. (Compare his “agony” to the agony of the families of the innocent people he’s killed with his drones.)
“We only take such actions as a last resort to save lives when there's no other alternative,” he said.
Well, then, what about his drone killing of 16-year-old Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki, the son of Anwar Al-Awlaki? Was that really a last resort to save lives? Unfortunatley, I didn’t hear a Senator ask that question.
Nor was Brennan reassuring on full disclosure, responding with classic doublespeak: “We need to optimize transparency and at the same time optimize secrecy.”
Obama's record on civil liberties is absymal, and as happy as I am to have him in charge on domestic policy, he really is no better than Bush on this stuff and in some cases he's worse, screaming about leftist communist marxist Kenyans notwithstanding. And the justifications of power for why it accepts no oversight sound the same regardless of who's mouthing them. An entrenched power structure protects itself, first last and always. Understand that, and everything else makes all kinds of sense.
Here's Code Pink telling Brennan to get bent, and more power to them:
This witness was entitled to be heard, sure, DiFi. So were all the people pointing out that we are in fact killing people, and heaven forbid we spend six seconds asking him about them.
It's so terribly inconvenient when people interrupt one another. Clear the room, so the grown-ups can talk.
We begin by worrying we aren’t good enough, smart enough or talented enough to get what we want, then we voluntarily live in this paralyzing mental framework, rather than confront our own role in this paralysis. Just the possibility of failing turns into a dutiful self-fulfilling prophecy. We begin to believe that these personal restrictions are, in fact, the fixed limitations of the world. We go on to live our lives, all the while wondering what we can change and how we can change it, and we calculate and re-calculate when we will be ready to do the thing s we want to do. And we dream. If only. If only. One day. Some day.
I wanted to be an Olympic figure skater, you see. I was I think five, maybe nine, so stop laughing.
We were watching the Winter Olympics, and the things those girls could do blew my mind, and I wanted to do that. I twirled around the house. I talked about it constantly. And my parents said to me, if you want to do that, you can do that. You can be anything you want to be. Anything at all.
But you have to get up every single day at 4 a.m and train for three hours before school, and then train for three hours after school and spend every night and weekend, and spend all the money you would otherwise have for college on skates and trips and lessons and ice time, and that is all you will do for the next five years of your life. Maybe the next ten years. Maybe for the rest of your life.
Those girls are thirteen, fourteen, fifteen. You have to start yesterday. So is this all you want to do? Is that how bad you want it? Is that how sure you are?
On the surface, doesn't that seem like an awful thing to tell a child? Way to harsh my buzz, Mom.
But in retrospect, it was the best possible thing anyone could have ever said to me. I don't know who it was that came up with the reductive, lazy, insulting concept that all you need to do is dream about what you're going to do and it'll just happen, but I want to punch that person right out. You don't have to just dream. You don't have to just imagine yourself doing a triple lutz. You don't just have to believe in yourself. You have to work your ass off.
You have to have time and money and freedom to do what you dream about doing, and if you don't have those three things you have to work even harder to get them so that THEN you can start where everybody else has already been for three years and work harder than them. And on top of that then you have to be incredibly fortunate. If it's something physical you dream of, you have to be physically suited to it and stay uninjured, which sometimes is taking care of yourself and sometimes is just dumb-ass luck and not getting broadsided by a truck on the freeway.
That sounds like condemnation, but it's not. It's the most loving, positive thing. You want something? Make a plan. Step one in almost any plan is "get a shitload of money somehow" because have you seen this country of ours lately, but sit down, write a list. Pick something off of it. Do it. Then do another thing. Then another.
Then you're into it, and it has to work.
Planning is so much better than dreaming. Planning lets you see the cracks in the impossible, figure out ways over the walls in your way. Planning is what gets you past the limitations. Planning is what pulls you out of the panic, and believe me, I still get the panic every time I start something new, that says OHMYFUCKINGGODIAMNOTGOINGTOBEABLETODOTHIS. I get that panic DAILY, and the only thing that stops it is a physical sketch on paper of what needs to get done immediately, what can wait until tomorrow, and what we don't need to worry about until it's actually on fire.
And planning gets you to see what you really want bad enough to do all those things. Dreaming shows you the good stuff, the endgame. The gold medal, the applause, the win. But planning shows you the work, the shape of the days it will take you to get where you need to be. A dream is insurmountable. A plan gets you past the dream.
Had I wanted to be a figure skater bad enough, it might have been possible, with enough of a plan. Had I gotten up, every day, at 4 a.m. and trained for three hours before school, and then trained for three hours after school, and scrounged the money, and spent it all, and disciplined my diet, and stayed uninjured, and done nothing but that every day for five years or ten years or the rest of my life, it might have been possible.
That wasn't what I wanted bad enough. There was something I wanted bad enough, but I hadn't found it yet. When I did find it, it slammed into me like a wrecking ball and I mortgaged every inch of myself to get it. I have boxes, in storage, full of plans, on thousands of legal pads and notebooks and scraps of calendar pages. To this day, I stay up at night running scenarios, bothering people with them, thinking what if I move this here, what if I do that there. It's not a dream. I can see it.
I barely remember the figure skaters. I barely remember how I once felt about them.
And that means light blogging from me and, sorry Kevin, no pulp fiction post today. It's Muses Thursday, which is the day half of New Orleans comes to my house, so it's time to shake the cobwebs off and commence tidying.
I have a love hate relationship with Downton Abbey. Parts of it are really good and parts of it are deeply silly. Like everyone else, I adore Maggie Smith as the feisty, funny, and spunky Dowager but then there's the dour Mr. Bates who was Lord Pompous Ass's batman (servant, not caped crusader) when the stiff upper lipped loser was in His Majesty's Army.
In one of the most preposterous but still dull plot lines, Bates has been unjustly convicted of murdering his harridan ex-wife. In writer/producer Julian Fellowes' fantasy world, the people upstairs deeply care about the dull and ponderous Bates. In the real world, they wouldn't have given a toss.
Jail appears to have had a salutary effect on Master Bates' health. In the last episode, he was scampering about the prison yard like a thoroughbred in pursuit of his nemesis. One problem: a major plot line back in Season-1 centered on the downstairs staff's belief that Bates' limp should disqualify him as Lord Windbag's valet. Oopsie.
A friend of mine only recently started watching Downton and he described it as Upstairs Downstairs with better production values. I quite agreed but added something: "Up Down had better scripts."
Okay, Downtonites, feel free to stone me for my apostasy but don't forget that I solved The Case Of The Missing Limp and without a society doctor to mess things up either...
The GOP's attempt to slap a new label on the same old can of dog food was accelerated Tuesday by House Majority Malaka, Eric Cantor. The weaselly looking pol made a "major" speech wherein he stole lines from old Obama speeches and pretended to give a rat's ass about the poor:
Next thing you know Cantor will break into song and do the old soft shoe. I have a pretty good idea just what song he'll sing:
Perhaps Cantor will try some additional pandering to black voters by covering the Rev. Al Green:
There's also the possibility that the ferret faced winger will try to curry favor with baby boomers who smoked way too much pot in college, man:
I suppose I should apologize to Athenae for saying that Cantor looks like a ferret. He does, however, remind me of the original ferret face, teevee's Frank Burns. Now that I think of it, he resembles Rat Fink. Cantor *is* a rat bastard, after all:
And people running around like, oh it'll get better, it'll get better. No, it ain't gone get no better until things change. I can give you example after example of that, but I don't want to use any local names to give you examples. Things won't get better until there's a change in some areas and stuff. And you know what his platform was? Change. We're gone change. We're all … aw it's OK …. for … and … y'all can get pissed off at me or not. You can go tell the principal, you can call the superintendent and tell her. I don't believe in queers, I don't like queers. I don't … I don't hate them as a person but what they do is wrong, it's an abomination against God. I don't like being around queers.
Grisham will have to attend mandatory sensitivity classes and meet with the assistant superintendent once a month.
The board has also removed him from his 5th period psychology class, and he will be given a different assignment.
Some people were pleased with the Board's decision; others think the punishment should have been tougher.
"I think it's fair because I'm a big supporter of Mr. Grisham. I've known him for years," said Lee Barclay. "He's taught my children. My son played football under him. He's a good Christian man; he just misspoke that day."
Are we now defining "misspoke" as "oh shit, somebody overheard me?" Are we now defining it as "I thought I was in a room full of friendlies but apparently everybody isn't down with my smug bigoted shit?" Because otherwise I don't see how this is an accident. It's not like he tripped and fell into a big pile of I Hate Queers. Hey, who left that box of Abominations Against God here, right where somebody could run into it with his mouth? I was aiming for Love is the Answer but somehow my dart landed on Gays Are Gross instead.
(I didn't know anybody younger than my grandparents still said "queers" as a pejorative, by the way. I'm poking 40 with a short stick and even homophobes my age mainly use queer as a Scrabble word.)
Call it wrong, but don't call it a mistake, because that implies innocence. Misspeaking is saying ten when you meant twenty, or calling someone Bill when his name is Bob. It's not saying you don't like queers when what you really mean is OH SHIT SOMEBODY WAS RECORDING ME HAVE I MENTIONED MY HEART IS PURE?
Grisham told the TimesDaily on Wednesday afternoon he misspoke.“I misspoke in a debate-type situation,” he said. “I have no hatred toward anyone or any group. People that know my heart, they know that.”
Oh, it was a DEBATE! In that case, hey, he was just playing the part of an ignorant-ass neck. He was trying to teach his students a valuable lesson, perhaps about how difficult it is to live in a world where gay people exist. And if we'd just talk to all these people that KNOW YOUR HEART, why, then we'd see that you have no hatred against people you think are abominations against God.
Silly us. When we said you were just a bigoted asshole who needs a crash course in how the world works here in the 21st century or at least some lessons in how to keep your cakehole pasted shut, we must have misspoke.
Call me an oddball, but my favorite current weird news story is the whole Richard III skeleton found in a Leicester car park (Britspeak for parking lot) saga. It's got it all: death, royals, and DNA. The pro-Plantagenet press corps is busy bashing the Tudor-ites who, in turn, are dissing the Windsors. I made that last bit up.
It's always fun when historical myth turns out to be true as it has in this case. Of course, it has also brought on a bit of revisionism as well: was poor Richard as bad as Shakespeare made him out to be? Probably not, the Bard was sucking up to the Tudors and it would have been hard for *anyone* to be as big a monster as Henry VIII.
My interest in Richard III stems from a very good high school English teacher, Miss Jackson, who had a way of teaching Shakespeare that held the interest of a group of hormonally crazed California teenagers. Not an easy feat.
The Guardian has been all over the story. Here's the master link. The latest story is about the re-creation of Richard's face. I prefer to think of the face of the great actor who played him in the modernized version of Shakespeare's Richard III that hit stage and screen in the 1990's, Ian McKellen. He is, alas, better known for wearing a ZZ Top-style beard whilst playing Gandalf but here he is playing the King as Fascist dictator:
I've written often, during my unsuccessful attempts to have a baby, about the pressure women feel to become mothers, but what I've learned from friends who do have children is that the bullshit doesn't end when you've finally given birth. Okay, you think, I've produced the heir or heiress to the throne, I'm done getting grilled at parties by my great-aunts about the contents of my uterus, right?
When we learned our second bundle would be a boy, I admit I was silently relieved. “This I can do,” I thought. “I know boys.”
Yet strangers – and some people close to us - had a much different reaction.
“Another boy (insert shock/ pity/ confusion here)?! So, when will you go for a third?”
“You/ your husband must want/ need a girl.”
“But you have to have a girl!”
Some days, it was all I could do to not let loose on someone. We “have to have” a girl? Our family won’t be “complete” without a girl? “Clearly,” I thought, “you people need to work on your priorities.” And, by the way, are you planning to help us with the three kids you are convinced we need??
Right? I've come to understand that the people who are overwhelmingly anxious that you breed are a) usually the people whose own children act like monkeys on acid all time, like way to be a recruiting poster there, or b) live hundreds of miles away from you and really just want to cuddle a baby at Christmas and then hand it back to you when it starts screaming.
(I've often considered a rental service for women of childbearing age, so that we can present the adorable offspring at the appropriate time so as to placate the family, without having to deal with kidlets when the family isn't around.)
I will never understand why we have to be so judgy about this shit. If you have one child oh, what a tragedy, breedbreedbreed for the Reich. Make like the Duggars and people call your vagina a clown car. Part of supporting reproductive rights is supporting the idea that nobody gets to tell anybody else how or when to have children, a point which is lost on these busybodies.
They want you to have a baby, and then, when you DO have a baby, they want you to have more babies, or different babies, or something. If you have girls, what about a brother for them? If you have boys, why don't you give them a baby sister, like another human being is a live doll for them to dress up. A friend with two kids who once stated she wasn't interested in more was then accused of "not wanting the perfect family."
She's much nicer than I am, so she didn't respond, "Where exactly do you get off saying my family isn't perfect ALREADY? By the by, your spawn is over there at the buffet filling your hat with bean dip, so let's hope the Gifted and Talented Program has a money-back guarantee."
My Krewe du Vieux sub-krewe had an anti-Roger Goodell theme this year: Spank Delays The Game but we did not pull the plug on the Super Bowl. I suspect the powers that be from Mayor Landrieu to Entergy to the folks who run the Super Dome will blame the people who put on the half-time show: shit always runs down hill, after all. In short, spank someone other than Spank:
Photo by Ride Hamilton
I'm pretty sure that Richard Thompson is in the clear too:
Good morning, everyone - well, I've pretty much stayed away from the subject of Bushmasters and the nuts who love them - mostly because it's too blah blah blah predictable to parody. But, I guess it's time to mine some tinfoil out of Freepistan.
First up - Ooops - too late - we already shot him!
All I can say is unbelievable. Well that and I hope they have cops tagging his rear end 24/7
posted on Tuesday, January 08, 2013 10:38:24 PM
Huh? Just for excercising his First AND Second Amendment rights at the same time? It's a twofer!
I blame the media a lot. They are in over drive to take away guns
and they go on and on which will cause the copycats to become perplexed
into possibly going off.
posted on Tuesday, January 08, 2013 10:48:10 PM
by Christie at the beach
(I like Newt. Our nation's foundation is under attack.)
Yeah! The media! We should all shoot the messen...........huh?
The libtards want this guy on the loose so he CAN go out and kill little kids.
Then they’ll REALLY have a case for going after LAW-ABIDING gun owners.
Don’t worry, none of them are thinking about doing away with gun-free zones. They WANT MORE VICTIMS!
posted on Tuesday, January 08, 2013 10:53:01 PM
(BHO: 50% black, 50% white, 100% RED)
I personally can't wait until another grade school full of kids are gunned down. I live for that shit.
And of course, the Freeperatis' answer to the horror of gun vlolence?
So what would be wrong with a little 1800's justice on this sorry SOB?
Just plug the rotten little craphead and plant him on boot hill.
posted on Wednesday, January 09, 2013 4:02:32 AM
(Fish or cut bait ...Got ammo, Godspeed!)
Why, that's an excellent idea! In fact, the Posse Comitatus and I just came back from his apartment after filling him full of more holes than a James Cameron movie plot. That'll teach him!
Got a few bystanders as well, but you know - omelet, eggs.....
I read a few news stories about this, and apparently he did not
have guns at his apartment. They found guns at his parent’s home, where
they arrested him. It wasn’t clear to me whether the guns were owned by
his parents or him. I think the fact that they found nothing threatening
in his apartment, in conjunction with whatever conversations they had
with him and his parents, were what led to his release. I’m not saying I
agree with that decision, but it does appear to be a little different
story than at the surface.
OK Freeperati - who can my posse and I blame for this senseless violence?
This was likely a false flag op to help push the anti-gun
narrative. He could have been a government plant to make people get all
emotional about the nut with all them guns.... Why else release him
without even psych evaluations?
posted on Wednesday, January 09, 2013 6:03:45 AM
(When did we amend the Constitution for a 2nd Federal Prohibition?)
Whoopee! I'm off the (Sandy) hook! Damn that Soros and has false-flag black ops!
I said: "False flag".
More rootin' tootin' shootin fun after the magazine speed-swap.
I'll do this for you: In the case of Taco Bell, I should have made myself a peanut butter sandwich at home and taken it to work. I have plenty of shoes. The fancy soap smelled like coffee and cinnamon and cream, but I have lots of soap like that, because I hoard soap that smells like that.
Could have lived without the movie. There are a thousand movies I haven't watched that are online for free and also some books in my house I haven't read if I needed to kill a couple of hours.
The parking garage was just me being lazy and vain. It was a block away from a meeting I was late to, and I should have left earlier and double-checked the address, and left myself time to drive around until I found a free/cheap space. I also could have taken the train, but it was pissing it down outside and when you're trying to impress people you don't want to show up looking like a wet cat dragging a ginormous dripping umbrella. Even a cab would have been cheaper.
The magazine subscription and the bagels were even dumber. We have piles of magazines thanks to friends' children selling subscriptions for school, and I can bake my own bread if I have a carb craving, even my own cheese bread.
Even the big purchases I make on a regular basis, you could take issue with. Mortgage payment? Why the hell don't I rent somewhere, and cheaper? Car payment? Realistically, the Saturn of Love maybe could have limped through another winter, or we could have bought a cheaper car. Groceries? Do I really need a bottle of wine, that frozen pizza, this week?
The ferrets are a huge expense and serve no useful purpose whatsoever, beyond companionship and therapy and reasons to get up in the morning. Get right down to it, I'm pretty sure Mr. A and I could live cheaper separately. Maybe we should split up. Get our own places. I'll take Riot, he can take Bucky and we'll have joint custody of Claire.
Do you see where I'm going with this?
I am not, thank whatever gods there be, presently on TANF or other assistance. People like me, who are not on assistance, we spend money at fast-food restaurants and movie theaters and clothing stores and all kinds of other places. And then we act all shocked and appalled when other people do the same because HURR DURR OUR TAX DOLLARS. As if people suddenly stop wanting a cheeseburger or something after they lose their jobs or get thwacked with medical bills or any of the thousands of other ways you wind up needing TANF. As if they stop being people like us, and should wait in line patiently for their bread and beets.
And let's get past the morality of this somewhat: The only way to ensure that somebody WON'T ever spend OUR TAX DOLLARS on something we consider stupid even once is to create some kind of Virtuous Expense Agency that delivers each family a box of what we consider them to need each week and then monitors that family's usage of the same.
Need would be decided, I imagine, by editorial boards of the greatest newspapers in America or some other group of smuggy scolds in no danger of missing a meal, so as to provide maximum punishment to make the rest of us feel good. And then we would need to make sure nobody was trading things on some kind of black market, or selling unwanted things for cash to get a cheeseburger anyway, so an enforcement angle would have to be designed, along with appropriate punishments.
Because that wouldn't be wildly expensive, intrusive, creepy and pointless at all, or an example of the kind of government overreach that conservatives pretend to hate.
Easier to just hold in our minds that people want cheeseburgers and movies and clothing, no matter how poor they are, and go about trying to make a world in which nobody needs to be on public assistance, so that we can go back to worrying about our own stupid spending habits instead of everybody else's. Thirty-one dollars to park, seriously? That meeting was like an hour long.
I am old enough to remember when Rod Stewart was the darling of the music critics and the Faces were the best rock and roll bar band in the world. That, of course, makes me older than the fricking hills. Here's Rod, Woody, Ronnie, Ian and Kenny in their heyday: