Wednesday, October 30

Stay away from this police doggie..... Also, do we all agree that it's been long enough and we can go back to cynically keeping an eye on our nation's cops (remember Amadou Diallo and Abner Louima)?

Tuesday, October 29

Buy, watch, eat, watch, buy, sleep, buy, watch, work, buy, watch, buy, watch.....

Monday, October 28

You'd better not disagree with, criticize or cross anybody these days--'cause if you do, odds are you're gonna get shot.

Sunday, October 27

According to Wharton marketing professor Peter Fader, by trying to stamp out peer-to-peer music trading, record companies are shooting themselves in the foot. I agree. I’ll be the first to admit that I download *scads* of music online, mostly using WinMX and Kazaa Lite. By doing this, I have been introduced to a number of new artists over the past 2-3 years, whom I *love*, and wouldn’t have discovered through the traditional channels (because, as we all know, FM radio sucks—internet radio is a little better). Some of these include Solex, Lemon Jelly, Clem Snide, Thievery Corporation, Yo La Tengo, Pavement, Money Mark, Coldplay, Kasey Chambers and more.

I have bought (and plan to buy) many more CDs than I would have if I had not downloaded all this music. The simple reason is, downloading alone does not satisfy you. It introduces you to good (and bad) music but a) it’s tough to acquire a whole album with all the tracks at the same loudness level/bitrate, and b) an average bitrate of 96-128Kbps only satisfies the ear for so long. CDs, at 196Kbps and up, are far superior in quality to MP3s. Long story short, I am a more avid music buyer because of file sharing. Let this post serve as Opensewer’s unabashed promotion and support of online file sharing.

Friday, October 25

Everybody and their poodle loves The Sopranos. I've always been skeptical of a show that pairs realistic mafia depictions with levity, but recently I saw a few episodes and got a sense of why critics love it so much. I can't deny it is a smart, cleverly crafted series -- and one of the few TV shows that deploys artistry behind the camera.

That said, it makes me uncomfortable -- and not in the real-art-is-meant-to-be-disturbing way. I get the feeling most people who love The Sopranos love its surface (funny, action-packed show about criminals), and don't bother questioning its so-called subtext (we're all basically alike, the average hit-man is just as confused as you are in this willy-nilly modern world of ours, and ain't that a laugh riot).

I dunno, maybe it is. Maybe I should just stick to my own favorite show, learn to love the mob and stop worrying about all you sophisticated whack-jobs out there who think life-like murderers are cute.

Thursday, October 24

"Not far away, at the R.J. Reynolds and Brown & Williamson booths, the booth operators and their retail clients smoke around card tables. People at the R.J. Reynolds booth are sent out for beer at the Budweiser booth. People inside the Budweiser booth are sent out for cigarettes at the Brown & Williamson booth. A small closed-loop economy forms before my eyes. All needs are met."

Step inside the National Association of Convenience Stores Show.

Wednesday, October 23

Following-up my last post about cheating little and paying big…when I was in Budapest in 1996, I rode the Metro there a LOT. A British guy I had met earlier in Prague told me that you could ride all you wanted without paying—they only did spot checks and nobody ever got caught. Being a student, I immediately elected this “don’t pay” method of payment upon my arrival.

Well, sure enough I got caught, and I had to pay. Funny thing is, Metro tickets were only around 80 Florints then (I think), which is about 32 cents. My fine was 3,000 Florints, or around $12, or nearly 38 times the cost of a ticket! Anyway, this is what Martha’s going through right now. Penalties must be steep or they won’t discourage anything. Be sure your sins will find you out, cha-ching.

Pity for Martha: "The systematic demolition of Martha Stewart appears to be taking place amid a general sense of media schadenfreude, which is German for taking malicious pleasure in the misfortune of others, especially famous others who seem all too easily successful and wealthy and talented." To me, the situation seems like a lot of other things in life: cheat a little, and you'll pay for it big.

Monday, October 21

This web page, which ranks an all-time top ten of good and evil people, taught me some scary stuff this morning. It also led me to an old article I had read by the author of a book who describes some of the exploits of one of the people on the list from the first page.

Standard stuff for evil--pain and suffering ignored, the sick treated in unsanitary conditions, while meeting and memorializing oppresive dictators and receiving million dollar gifts from convicted felons. Sounds like typical fare one of the top ten evil, right?

But for one of the top ten good? Of all time? Soon to be a Saint, Mother Teresa...

Yes, it's old news to some of us, but with her sainthood approaching soon, it's still worth considering.

Is there a lost generation of young men in Japan? One million boys hiding in their rooms? (Yeah, I got this from Metafilter...)

Sunday, October 20

"Provigil" (I find that name hilarious), made by Cephalon Inc., is a drug that keeps you awake. From the New York Times:

...growing sales of Provigil are also raising questions about the company's promotion of the drug and about society's use of it. Already, some doctors say, Provigil is showing signs of becoming a lifestyle drug for a sleep-deprived 24/7 society, used by people who need to pull all-nighters for work or school or who just want to sleep less so they can work or play more. (Login required; user name: opensewer; password: iswatching.)

Uh, mmm hmm. This can't be all that good.
So now the Pentagon is allocating monies to train thousands of Iraqi opponents of Saddam Hussein. Is history repeating itself? Years back we trained Bin Laden & Associates to fight against the Soviets, and look what happened there...

Friday, October 18

C.I.A. director George Tenet has estimated that the current risk of a terror strike on the U.S. is similar to what is was just before the 9/11/01 attacks (NYT; user name: opensewer; password: iswatching). Yup, and we're going to remain at risk until the resource-use and standard of living disparities between the first world and third world are reduced.
Little victories: About a week ago, Household International Inc. agreed to pay up to $484 million to settle charges that it deceived low-income borrowers into paying high interest rates. We’ve discussed the rapid rise of predatory lending before on OS—so, our question is: Is this a sign of a genuine turnaround in the industry, or is it merely a minor obstacle to be overcome by one unscrupulous lender? (I.e., the “cost of doing business?”) When you think about it, $484 million isn’t really all that much to pay for a lender with revenues of almost $10 billion in 2001…

Thursday, October 17

Re: The D.C. Sniper. An observation of mine that may or may not have been made by others, and which may or may not be significant: None of the shootings have occurred in the city proper--only in suburban areas (link to interactive map, Flash required). Why? Perhaps better mobility/easier escape? I wonder if there are other intentions in the killer's choice of locations...
Ambitious plans to halve world hunger by 2015 are facing failure, says a report from the United Nations.

Friday, October 11

Thursday, October 10

Shame on me for not posting this earlier, but last Friday Jason and I spent an invigorating evening with The Guerilla Girls here at Cornell. Never heard of them? Shame on you. The Guerilla Girls were established in 1985 and are a group of women artists, writers, performers and film makers who fight discrimination. If you've never seen them, at least visit their website to see what they're all about, and make sure to visit the DateBook to see if they'll soon be gracing your town with a performance.
It's amazing to hear over and over again how the words of one reflect the thoughts of many. Speak up people, you got a voice too, don'tcha?

Monday, October 7

Yes, you are surrounded by hidden cameras everywhere you go, and our civic space is haunted by the electronic lens, but there are ways you can fight the evil eyes.

Saturday, October 5

Go to sleep America...relax...you don't need to worry about what's going on in the world...think about the TV show Friends...don't strain yourself...think about The Real World Las Vegas...just relax...a life of leisure is what you deserve...think about Burberry...don't worry about it, everything will work out... digital cameras... Thomas Kinkade... George Foreman Grill... "Lower Prices...Always..." American Idol... Baby Gap... The Osbournes... Metafilter...
The blind shall see...
Violence killed 1.6 million people in 2000, matching tuberculosis and surpassing malaria in their death tolls, according to a new World Health Organization report.

Wednesday, October 2

"'Nothing was learned from this,' (retired Lieutenant General Paul Van Riper) says. 'A culture not willing to think hard and test itself does not augur well for the future.' The exercise, he says, was rigged almost from the outset."

So America prepares itself for war...by cheating?