Archive for March, 2003

Peter Arnett Ousted

March 31, 2003

Long-time media correspondent Peter Arnett was fired from his jobs at NBC, MSNBC, and National Geographic for giving an interview on Iraq state television. In the interview, he essentially gave aid and comfort to the enemy by parroting Iraq’s propaganda that the war is going badly and that civilian casualties will force America to back down. He also praised the Iraqi Ministry of Information for its liberality towards journalists.

Of course, many are trumpeting this as a blow to free speech but it seems like a pretty clear-cut case of the three networks wanting to avoid any appearance of helping the enemy. Arnett says in the linked article that he’s “embarassed” but it rings hollow.

Interesting Pictures

March 29, 2003

David Crawford’s Stop Motion Studies are interesting photographic compositions, as long as you don’t read the pomo captions he’s attached to make them sound significant in addition to interesting:

The Stop Motion Studies extend my long standing interest in narrative and, in particular, look at the subway as a stage upon which social dynamics and individual behavior are increasingly mediated by digital technology. As one of the most vibrant and egalitarian networks in our cities, subways bring people from a wide range of social and cultural backgrounds into close contact with each other. This process plays a significant role in shaping both the character of a city as well as our individual identities.

Please also note the lack of superlative qualifiers in the first sentence and the failure to use a more powerful adjective than “interesting.” The pictures are interesting, though completely devoid of meaning.

Surprisingly, Crawford “has received numerous grants, honors, and awards from organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.” The quote above was probably taken directly from his grant proposal.

An Apology

March 28, 2003

Man, what a week! I took Monday and Tuesday off to clean our house (shampoo the carpets, do the traditional spring cleaning), worked a half-day on Wednesday (went to a company-sponsored spring training game in the afternoon), and have been sick ever since. Bleh.

So I haven’t done much surfing and don’t have much to share. I’ve watched plenty of war coverage, Saturday Night Live reruns, and read a bunch. I’m currently reading The Inmates Are Running the Asylum by Alan Cooper, Mister Rogers Parenting Book, and The Deming Management Method.by Mary Walton.

I’m still getting back into the swing of things…

A couple of months ago

March 20, 2003

A couple of months ago I learned that Craigslist had a Phoenix subdomain. Craigslist is more than classified ads and more than bulletin boards, but along those lines. Apparently, there’s also a best of Craigslist page that is regularly updated with the weirdest and most interesting—unfortunately, there’s not one specific to Phoenix.

Iraqi Blog

March 19, 2003

Where is Raed? is a blog maintained by someone living in Baghdad, Iraq. That’s a blog I’ll be following for awhile.

Wal-Mart Goodness

March 18, 2003

Fortune.com has an article about Wal-Mart up entitled “One Nation Under Wal-Mart”.

I have always admired Wal-Mart for its ruthless application of reason to retail. While other companies used higher margins to fatten their bottom lines, Wal-Mart focused on passing the margins on to its customers and using its dizzying volume to make up the difference. It then negotiated ever-lower prices and streamlined its operations to eliminate every penny of waste it could control. My in-laws once had an opportunity to work with Wal-Mart but decided against it when they saw the terms that Wal-Mart demanded—they just couldn’t meet them and make a profit.

Slowly but surely it has entered new markets and dominated them by sheer force of will:

Only ten years after launching its food business amid much guffawing, Wal-Mart is the world’s biggest grocer, driving down prices an average of 13% in the markets it enters, according to a UBS Warburg study. The effect has been seismic: Kroger has gone on a cost-cutting drive to narrow the price gap, Albertsons has abandoned some markets entirely, and an army of consultants now advise grocers on how to grapple with the 800-pound gorilla. When Wal-Mart moves, it adheres to the Powell doctrine of overwhelming force.

The article offers a blizzard of statistics to show Wal-Mart’s impressive growth and dominance, but I liked its conclusion best for such a demonstration:

It’s more than a little reminiscent of another fledgling republic that became a superpower and discovered to its shock that much of the world saw it as an imperial bully. Admired and resented, imitated and vilifed, envied and feared: One Nation, Under Wal-Mart.

Dual Monitor Goodness

March 18, 2003

Dual Monitor Goodness

At right is a picture of a blessed event at my work: the installation of a second video card to my Dell computer. This blessed event allows me to use the second monitor that has been inert for weeks now in eager anticipation of said event. Bill’s woefully small cubicle is now awash in dual monitor goodness.

Other things to note in picture on right: 1) IBM’s old THINK motto perched on side wall of cubicle, obtained from father who once worked for Control Data, 2) frame perched atop second monitor that reads “You are my sunshine” and contains a picture of the sun—makes me laugh everytime I see it, which is constantly, 3) my PowerBook G4—Thor to his friends—barely visible by my left shoulder, 4) a blank frame on my cubicle wall placed in a sort of “I don’t have a computer science degree to proudly display” irony, 5) that white thing in the center of my ear is Dagny—my iPod, and 6) I am reading a free trial issue of Inside Web Development magazine and a “special” offer of $127 a year—the camera didn’t capture the scuttling of said ‘zine shortly after.

Google Growth

March 17, 2003

Here’s yet another article about Google that seeks to understand why it’s a success, this time from Fast Company: “How Google Grows…and Grows…and Grows”.

It’s really not much of a mystery why Google is so popular that it’s name has become synonymous with search: it returns good results quickly and resists bloat as much as possible. People like that. Of course, I did read the article the whole way, but it was just for the juicy tidbits that journalists love throwing in as filler and I voraciously devour. Honest.

I just discovered Cox&Forkum, a

March 15, 2003

I just discovered Cox&Forkum, a site for editorial cartoons by Cox and Allen Forkum. The cartoons are currently about the war with Iraq—isn’t everything focused on that right now?—but that would probably change as time goes on.

You may know of Allen Forkum as the artist behind the new covers of Ayn Rand‘s books.

[UPDATE (9/11/03): Larry reminded me that Nick Gaetano is the artist for Ayn Rand’s books. Looking back over my memory, Allen Forkum was the cartoonist for a long-defunct Objectivist publication called Reality. Incidentally, those bums never refunded my subscription when they went under.]

World of Ends

March 13, 2003

Arnold Kling has responded to Doc Searls’s and David Weinberger’s essay “World of Ends” in his TechCentralStation article “Geeks and Suits.”

I first encountered Kling in his book Under the Radar and his Corante blog “The Bottom Line” before moving on to his more economically-oriented EconLog.

“World of Ends” is a very Cluetrain-like manifesto—not surprising given that its two authors were Cluetrain authors as well—but addresses itself to a different group of people. They say that it’s supposed to be directed to executives, but I’m not sure that they’d get the inspired wisdom it’s suposed to deliver. [NOTE: inspired wisdom in the last sentence is supposed to be derogatory and sarcastic. If only there was markup for that.]

Kling does an excellent job of attacking their essay’s salient deficiencies. I concur with him. I don’t think I really have anything substantial to add to his criticism, though I think he’s a mite generous in leveling it.