Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Jim McManus watch

As friend and family know, Jim McManus' article in the Atlantic, "Fortune's Smile" is to blame for my current obsession with poker of the Texas Hold `Em variety. McManus later lengthened that excellent article to a not-quite-as-good book, "Positively Fifth Street", which I thought flawed by the dual story line of McManus' play in the World Series of Poker and his report of the probable murder of casino heir, Ted Binion. The book is still a more than worthwhile read, especially if you're interested in the current fascination with poker, which, as a gambling buddy of mine likes to put it, is becoming "this generation's Bridge."

McManus is reportedly now working on a history of poker, according to this article I found in D magazine. The story mostly concerns the sniping and maneuvering between billionaire Andy Beal and the so-called "Corporation" as both sides try to get an advantage in Beal's proposed $40 million "Big Game."

If you've followed the Binion murder trial story, you probably know that his live-in girlfriend and her boyfriend were recently retried and found innocent, at least of Binion's murder, this time around. Although as a writer Steve Miller makes an excellent former Las Vegas City Councilman, his article on the $5,000 "chocolate chip" and its possible role in Binion's death, is a fascinating read.

The Ten Geekiest Hobbies

I should be concerned -- but am not -- that two of my hobbies are listed. :-) Furry/Plushy sex, however, is not one of them.

Fred is...

A very long Googlism. I think my favorite is, " Fred is always convinced that his parents are about to give him a cat when obstacles suddenly arise." Story of my life. I also like the listing for my niece, Electra.

Fred is...

A very long Googlism. I think my favorite is, " Fred is always convinced that his parents are about to give him a cat when obstacles suddenly arise." Story of my life. I also like the listing for my neice, Electra.

Monday, November 29, 2004

TRIO Cable Channel may be off air soon

Thanks to my brother, Lee, a cable channel I don't even receive, TRIO, is high on my list of favorites. I suspect if I got TRIO directly my TiVo would be getting a regular work-out, but Lee has been good enough to provide me with tapes of such oddities as the Johnny Staccato series and Peckinpah's warped movie, "Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia" and in return I burn him a DVD of whatever he's sent when I make myself a copy.

Unfortunately, TRIO is probably not much longer for this world, according to Mark Evanier. The channel's primary outlet, DirecTV, is dropping it at the end of December, and the oft-cited "industry sources" say that TRIO will probably not survive into 2005.

As much as cable was supposed to broaden our choices -- and I suppose it has to some extent when you look at the days of three dominant channels and local UHF programming -- it's sad that no one still seems able to come up with a viable strategy to serve fringe markets. For example, any fan worth the name could come up with a schedule that would be better than what the SF Channel currently offers. The SF Channel had much more diversity in its in its early days and should be so much better than it is now , but programs unwatchable junk at least 60 percent of its air time, and re-runs the same series ad infinitum.

I had never even heard of Johnny Staccato prior to TRIO, yet John Cassavettes over-the-top series turned into one of Peg's and my favorites. I suspect there are many things floating out in the TV wasteland that would only appeal to a very small audience. With TRIO going, the chances of finding those things becomes a little harder.

The Future of TiVo

When not worrying about global warming and nuclear catastrophe, I worry about what I'm going to do if TiVo goes under (actually, I probably spend more time worrying about that than the other two put together). But, as Mark Evanier says, the demise of the company doesn't mean the demise of the technology, just that those of us who laid out the $299 for a TiVo "lifetime subscription" rather than monthly fees will probably end up paying those fees to someone else:

TiVo technicians have quietly leaked word to the electronics community that if they crash and burn, the company will release the source codes that will make it easy for someone else to offer a TiVo Data Subscription Service.

TiVo in some ways reminds me of Apple, an innovative company that never was able to capitalize on its innovation... until the iPod, at least.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Dylan to be on 60 Minutes December 5th

The New York Post reports that Dylan spoke to reporter Ed Bradley for 90 minutes about "his career, fame, troubled relationship with the media and his affiliation with his dad."

Segment to air December 5th.

I'm back, btw. :-)

Monday, November 15, 2004

On holiday

fhb is going on hiatus while I work on some other projects. Although I may come back earlier, I'm currently planning on restarting the blog in early January, 2005, so, if you're a reader, check in then.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Resistance is Futile - the 6th Movement

Warning: this one is not workplace-friendly. Music, btw, is from "Let it Be" by Laibach

Patience during the reign of witches

A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt......If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake.

-- Thomas Jefferson, from a letter he sent in 1798 after the passage of the Sedition Act

This Jefferson quote has been making the blog rounds over the past several days. I saw it again this morning on John Perry Barlow's blog, where a commentor has the interesting - and insightful question, "...The identity of the letter's recipient would be [a] revealing fact, as well."

A Google search revealed that Jefferson had addressed the letter to a John Taylor of Virginia, a politician and writer who served in the Virginia house of delegates and in the United States Senate. A little more searching uncovered the letter itself, which is as fascinating and as timely in its entirety (after you get past the detailed description of a mould board in the opening paragraphs :-)) as the "reign of witches" excerpt. Consider this:

"It is the old practice of despots to use a part of the people to keep the rest in order, and those who have once got an ascendency and possessed themselves of all the resources of the nation, their revenues and offices, have immense means for retaining their advantages. But our present situation is not a natural one."

or this...

"Time alone would bring round an order of things more correspondent to the sentiments of our constituents; but are there not events impending which will do it within a few months? The invasion of England, the public and authentic avowal of sentiments hostile to the leading principles of our Constitution, the prospect of a war in which we shall stand alone, land-tax, stamp-tax, increase of public debt, &c."

Substitute "Iraq" for "England" and you have a fairly close correspondence to our present situation; the prospect of a war in which we shall stand alone, increase of public debt.

Best to read the full letter for yourself, especially my Southern friends, as Jefferson eerily -- or perhaps not so eerily in 1798 - predicts the damage that secession will have upon the United States.

As Jefferson closes his letter, "better luck, therefore, to us all..."

Common ground for the Boy Scout and the renegade

"... We both represent aspects of the American psyche that need each other, the jock and the intellectual, the Boy Scout and the renegade, the guardian and the wild card. We both love this great and terrible country, even as we fear one another's excessive influence on it, and part of what we love is the creative fever that arises from our division. As we need each other, however unwillingly, so America needs us both.

Perhaps it's just the bargaining phase of grief, but I can see that one of the things I must do to feel less a stranger in my own land is to have more conversations like the one I had with Dale. Indeed, as I've said repeatedly before, we must do our collective best to shatter the fetters of intolerance and live more in the necessary amnesty of interdependence. We need to quit scaring each other. Both sides are convinced that the other is trying to impose his culture on us, whether by law or by Internet. Fear of the Other, whether Bush or bin Laden, whether terror without or terror within, has been murdering reason and civility in America. We need to look one another in the eyes and see the human being behind the enemy. If we're not going to start shooting each other over the next 4 years, we will need to do that a lot...."

Post-election commentary from John Perry Barlow, writer, gentleman rancher, and one-time Grateful Dead lyricist.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Cease fire

So, yes, okay, fine. I'm a terrible person -- barely a person at all, really, and certainly not a real American -- because I voted for the losing candidate on Tuesday. If you insist -- and you do -- I will rethink my fundamental beliefs from scratch because they are shared by only 47 percent of the electorate...

... I mean, look at it this way. (If you don't mind, that is.) It's true that people on my side of the divide want to live in a society where women are free to choose abortion and where gay relationships have full civil equality with straight ones. And you want to live in a society where the opposite is true. These are some of those conflicting values everyone is talking about. But at least my values -- as deplorable as I'm sure they are -- don't involve any direct imposition on you. We don't want to force you to have an abortion or to marry someone of the same gender, whereas you do want to close out those possibilities for us. ...

Yes. More from Michael Kinsley's Washington Post column here. You'll have to sign up. But it's free, and if you agree with those excerpts, as I do, you'll want to read the rest.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

if I looking for frog

Here's the story...

A child in New York City loses his pet frog, "Hopkin Green Frog," What to do? Put out a hand-drawn flier- "PS: I'll find my frog/Who took my frog/Who found my frog" in an attempt to recover Hopkin.

From that start, a group of artists created a Photoshop slideshow of the search for Hopkin. Funny and touching, and currently my favorite site of 2004.

Resistance is futile Part the 5th

Well, that didn't take long.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Resistance is futile - Part 4

Four more years.

What he said

Iggy pretty much has my feelings down on the reliability of Blogger.

Blogger was out of service most of yesterday, proving the old adage that you get what you pay for. I've been working with Typepad on another project, and have been pretty impressed with the hosting service. Some bells-`n-whistles that Blogger doesn't have, but I'm surprised that there doesn't seem to be a spell-checker, meaning I end up using something like Word and then pasting the copy into the Typepad compose window.

Typepad hosting costs ranges between $4.95 and $14.95 per month, not an attractive alternative for something I view as essentially a hobby and personal journal. I have this thing about making money, rather than spending it... except about poker, of course. But, I've been considering getting hosted at GoDaddy, the company I use for my domain registration/renewal anyway and moving my site from Adelphia. A GoDaddy Web site would run me about $45 a year, is probably tax deductible, and means that I could set up a Blog area, use something like Movable Type or WordPress, or even simply Dreamweaver, which I already know and use, and not be dependent on a slow, unreliable host. Blogger support claims that many of the problems will go away when they complete their move to Google's servers, and who knows, perhaps they will.

Decisions, decisions. In any case, it took me years - and a career change - to finally build my own site and become master of my domain. It's not dark yet for Blogger. But it's getting there.

Resistance is futile - Part 3

A reader’s guide to expatriating.

On the other hand, Jill and Leigh, you could just move to New Hampshire. :-)

Resistance is futile - Part 2

An actual email spam received after the election...

From: "Mia Wang"
Date: November 3, 2004 9:28:10 AM EST
To: Taylor
Subject: Bush Gets Re-elected
Reply-To: "Mia Wang"
With 4 more years of Bush coming you need some prozac. Get it here.

Trust me, it'll make you feel better.

Don't those singers dislike playing carelessly?
Did Roy love working on the top of the mountain?
I didn't dislike cooking at home.
tomorrow i will wash my hair and go to the salon

via BoingBoing. Tomorrow I will wash my hair.

Monday, November 01, 2004

From "The Cincinnati Enquirer"

Visual poetry

The Visual Poetry Google hack, "translates any text into a series of images by looking up the words on Google image search and projecting the most relevant results as a slide show."

In honor of my friend Jill's love of John Lennon, I tried this (you'll need to scroll down a bit to see the results).

On your vote (throwing away thereof)

I deliberately have tried to keep fhb non-political, although it's obvious which side I fall on. I've made my decision on what I'll do tomorrow, but in the perfect world, I'd follow Kris Lachowski's sentiments, eloquently stated in this on-line comic strip. There's more than one way of throwing away your vote -- for example, by not voting your conscience.

Aside from Kris' message, it's interesting to see how much he's absorbed Scott McCloud's style. Many of the panels could have come from "Understanding Comics", a perfect intermix of art and text delivering content together much more effectively than either could by itself. It's why I love comics. There's a handful of work that could not have produced any way except in the comics medium.

Ironically, McCloud feels the same way that I do...

Two words, Kris: Run-offs. (Or is that one word?)
... and tomorrow conscience takes a back seat to pragmatism.

"Queen of the Sky" fired

From a 10/30 posting at the "Diary of an ex-Flight Attendant" blog.

1.) Yes, you read correctly... Queen of Sky was fired yesterday (actually effective Monday). Big blunder on Delta's part, if you ask me (see #2)

2.) Q of S has hired a PR firm, as she has received so many interview requests.

3.) A BIG lawsuit is coming for Delta Air Lines.

4.) Q of S is going to send her resume to Richard Branson this week.

5.) Q of S hopes Delta doesn't go bankrupt, because all of her friends still work there.

6.) Q of S and her PR firm are working on T-shirts to support her cause. Also, Q of S is thinking about going on a "laptop signing" tour :) But that does not mean, as one of her fans suggested, that she will be sitting on top of your lap as she signs :O

The air war heats up, with Delta firing the QotS on Friday, October 29th, purportedly (according to the QotS, as is all the following information) for posting photos of herself in uniform. The photos are now back up on the QotS blog, including the much-discussed "cleavage" shot.

The QotS does not use permalinks, and there are many photos on the site, so expect a slow load.