# 04 Jun 2006, 08:43PM: MC Masala on The End of Cody's on Telegraph:
My old job is passing away.
Starting July 10, no Cody's patron will drift toward the cookbooks in the middle of the afternoon, when the smells of baking from Bay King next door make him hungry. Neither Christopher Hitchens nor Dave Eggers will speak at 7:30 p.m. on the second floor, packing the house.
# 07 Jun 2006, 02:15PM: Snapshot:
On my desk right now, I have a mug of tea, a pencil, a pen, a Sharpie, some business cards, a box of paper clips, two sticky-note pads, an empty snack bowl, and a plastic straw still encased in its wrapper. The rest is phone and computer hardware. The papers, CDs, tissues, and books rest on a shelf above and to the right of me.
# 08 Jun 2006, 09:05AM: In Which A Twilight Zone Episode Is Emulated:
So, evidently, if you show up for a party at a major record label in an eight-year-old Napster t-shirt, some employees of the label do not take that in the playful and ironic spirit in which it is intended.
Last night I found out that simply knowing the many ways in which intellectual property is broken, especially in commercial music, and knowing what Creative Commons is, makes me a radical.
An EMI person kind of proudly said, "I've never downloaded a file." I asked whether she had ever used e-mail, and she elucidated, "I've never downloaded music." I pointed out that I download music legally, such as from Salon's Audiofile. Both of us had never actually used Napster, it came out. She said she had an iPod that someone else had loaded for her ("Like Bush!" I said, but I think she didn't hear me), and she asked him to make sure that it was all legal and paid for, and wasn't sure if she had to register it somehow.
I mentioned that this is one reason I like Creative Commons music, and she'd never heard of CC. When I tried to explain it to her, and she asked how those artists make any money, I mentioned the merch/tour proofit center, and I paraphrased The Problem With Music and Courtney Love Does the Math. She doubted. We got separated before reaching any kind of conclusion, and she said she wished we could continue our conversation. But I don't remember her name and we didn't get each other's cards.
Much funnier than this: I met a woman named Laurie Jakobsen, and her name and face were familiar. I wondered aloud how I might know her, and she said she was in PR so lots of people know her whom she doesn't know. I empathized, since I used to teach. Then, thinking she might be in the tech world, I asked whether she'd be at the anti-DRM protest at the Apple Store later in June. She gave me an odd look and responded in the negative. We didn't talk much more after that.
Turns out Laurie Jakobsen works at a music licensing firm and used to be a VP at Sony. I'm still wondering where I saw her before.
# 08 Jun 2006, 12:42PM: That's Edutainment:
Sometimes the TV spreadsheet magazines in the Sunday newspaper have summaries of what happened in the soap operas over the previous week. When I see one of those, I scan each summary for a mention of some technology that did not exist when soaps started broadcasting sixty years ago. Now we have cell phones, email, DNA tests, GPS locators, and so on. Usually it's about one mention per show per week. I'm not counting the exorcisms. Old-school soapiness meets the information age. The margins, the borders, the friction makes it interesting.
I used to watch shows on Saturday morning that featured the song-and-dance clips from Bollywood movies. I eventually realized that I was looking for the weird cross-genre or cross-cultural hybrids. Any movie can toss a man and a woman together in a field, or on a beach, or in a ruined temple. But children dancing with a cartoon Osama bin Laden? A straightjacket-bound hero popping, locking, and rapping under bright interrogation lights? That's the stuff.
It turns out I really wanted Indians filking "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" in Hindi. Here's the video. It only makes sense as a pure hybrid of sixties style and Bollywood tropes. It is wonderful.
# 08 Jun 2006, 02:05PM: Bollywood Samples:
In case you've never seen a really amusing Bollywood dance number, here are a few good videos off YouTube.
"Jan Pehechan-Ho", a sixties classic, made famous by Ghost World. The aesthetic also reminds me of the Adam West Batman TV series.
"Yeh Ladka Hai Deewana" from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, an opening song in which two college buddies argue and then make up. Their friends make for backup dancers. I believe at one point the setting suddenly changes to a beach with volleyball. Silly, frothy, light.
"It's the Time To Disco" from Kal Ho Naa Ho. It starts out pretty standard, a woman singing in a nightclub, and then it turns into 1970s homage. And then blonde women become props.
"Radha Kaise Na Jale" from Lagaan - the story of Radha and Krishna, and an allusion to the relationship between the two Indian leads. Classical dance where you can tell what the moves mean - rare.
"Chaiya Chaiya" from Dil Se.... This song also served as the opening and closing theme for The Inside Man, the 2006 Spike Lee film.
And, as always, MP3s for many classics live at Bollywood For The Skeptical.
# 10 Jun 2006, 09:12AM: Art Today:
MoCCA Art Festival, today and tomorrow, featuring the Overcompensating guy, the Goats guy, R Stevens from Diesel Sweeties, and Ryan North of Qwantz. Sarah alerted Leonard and me, Adam's coming along, it'll be a party!
If I'm lucky, I can trick them into coming to the Scholastic store with me. I wonder how many Gordon Kormans they have that I don't?
Anyway, I'll get North to sign Your sense of disenchantment, which hangs on our wall right near the front door. It hangs alongside the US Constitution, a "REMEMBER YOU ARE MORTAL" banner, and a USSR org chart showing all the ostensibly powerful committees and Soviets. Across from that wall: Jon Stewart and a unicorn.
# 10 Jun 2006, 07:24PM: More Art:
MoCCA - hard to find, but once we found it, hard to get away without finding moths in our wallets.
Leonard and I played rather prominent extras in Episode 12 of Uncle Morty's Dub Shack, which IATV broadcast early this morning. You can watch the fantastic "Dand Nayak" episode on YouTube and read Leonard's thoughts on the matter.
I wore a safety vest that I once found in a BART station. Leonard wore a Free Software Foundation bowling shirt and a baseball cap some prop person put on him. Does this make us more believable as Battle Of The Bands audience members?
If you're wondering why we even knew they needed extras, it's because they know me from the time I interviewed two UMDS guys for Salon. Also, Ryan North knows me because for his birthday Sarah and I sent him a red apron.
# 11 Jun 2006, 08:52AM: MC Masala on Being From Elsewhere:
One always feels like a country rube in a new place.
Paradoxically, my new colleague said, everyone knows someone from Sunnyvale, but no one actually is from Sunnyvale.
We kicked this idea around near the office kitchen, arranging ourselves in the automatic hacky-sack circle of spontaneous conversation.
Does Sunnyvale really exist?
How many Sunnyvalians have to leave Sunnyvale to ensure that any random New Yorker knows someone from there? When does a person stop being from Sunnyvale?
# 11 Jun 2006, 07:16PM: Sunday Politics/Church Lecture:
On my brother-in-law-in-law's blog, some people got to wrangling over the LDS church's position on a proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage. Some proponents of it played the religion card ("The prophet speaks, I obey," said one). My response:
See, policy we can debate. Even values we can debate. But once epistemology enters the picture, there's no way to be polite. "Your method of deciding what's true is wrong" or "I believe God is telling me the inerrant truth" has no place in civil discourse, yet religion's influence in politics means we have to deal with it all the time.
Once people have beliefs that we hold dear, that we specifically guard against change no matter what we learn or hear, how can we know they're true?
Critical thinking is our immune system against nonsense and fallacy. HIV kills the immune system - that's its dark genius. When your beliefs tell you that doubt is a moral danger, there is no way to have any kind of productive discussion, because you won't let yourself be changed.
# 13 Jun 2006, 09:35AM: Old Religion, New Tradition:
U.S. Muslims Confront Taboo on Nursing Homes. One community leader is building a nursing home attached to a mosque, to make the transition easier. Good for him.
# 13 Jun 2006, 10:32AM: Love, Marriage, and Google PageRank:
Broadsheet linked to me - neato!
# 13 Jun 2006, 12:09PM: "the flautists and piccoleers become angry":
Today in history: Leonard interviews someone for fake in a post so hilarious that it was one of the first entries in his Best Of category.
# 13 Jun 2006, 11:44PM: Very Imogen-Heap-Hide-&-Seek Vibe:
I am writing a column right now that is basically whimsacorical day, three years later. Mostly the last few paragraphs.
# 14 Jun 2006, 10:31AM: Realization:
Santos doesn't need Cregg for "institutional memory" in his administration! Lyman has far more political experience, and administrative experience too. Isn't Lyman going to be his freaking chief of staff or something? It is completely fine and not at all a betrayal or duty-shirking for Cregg to go head that charitable foundation. She already knows she'll get more done there.
# 15 Jun 2006, 01:05AM: Lessons Of The Month:
It's all about the competitive advantage, the unique value proposition, the ineffable you. What makes you stand out? What can you offer that no one else can?
Tangentially related lesson: there exist software resellers, who resell software for a living, who are less competent at purchasing software than random businesspeople and ordinary customers.
And: A few completely uninterrupted hours plus rockin' tunes from the eighties and nineties make for flippin' awesome productivity on scutwork.
# 16 Jun 2006, 11:47AM: "more than just pity and politics":
My friend Camille Acey has been insider-blogging about the concert/music industry and it is as though she is writing just for me. Camille runs Remarkable Booking, sort of a boutique booking agency for musicians, and so she shares her concerns about the sorts of niche topics that make economics dilettantes like me go squee:
And Camille inspires me to go see more live stuff:
...Nonetheless, this is a very exciting time in the music industry. An overwhelming amount of great new music and a ton of music bubbling up from independent outlets. As a person in the touring industry, I think the next big things that need to happen are:
1) emergence of a crop young new bands with great live shows....We need an indie rock Bob Fosse, we need an indie rock PT Barnum. We need a new Grace Jones and David Byrne. More personalities. Build it and they will come.
2) a big insidious propaganda campaign that re-popularizes the live concert experience.
I'm part of the latter now!
The title's from an acerbic comment on the Dixie Chicks' tour rerouting.
# 18 Jun 2006, 09:28PM: MC Masala on Gaming For Experience Points:
First: Jon Carroll mentions, in passing, Columnist Epiphany Syndrome. At least once a month I end up acting like David Brooks or Thomas Friedman and extrapolating an entire worldview, or at least 750 words' worth of one, from half a data point.
Back to the show. I played Dungeons & Dragons for the first time -- and enjoyed it.
In poker, you play the cards you're dealt; in D&D, you play the statistics you've rolled. Vera [my character] had great dexterity but very little strength or stamina. I found myself avoiding risk, creeping around walls and up trees, scurrying to tell my findings to the team. A game of D&D gives me more explicit lessons about teamwork and initiative than 100 seminars.
"Roll for initiative" comes up when the dungeon master springs an attack on you. You roll the die to find out whether it completely surprises you or you can take the initiative to defend yourself. Vera surprised me. As weak and inexperienced as she was, she got and used initiative frequently.
I realized that I'm even more risk-averse than she is and vowed to change.
# 18 Jun 2006, 11:27PM: Relief:
A few Life's Little Victories.
The hymn is one you already know! And can sing!
A person whose political and social stances you didn't know turns out to be queer-friendly!
Great pizza and a cold, cold shower after helping someone move!
You blink, shake your head, and get some perspective on the irrelevance of a nonproductive argument in an Internet discussion group!
# 18 Jun 2006, 11:51PM: Go Robin Einhorn!:
Yay yay yay! Professor Robin L. Einhorn, who jumpstarted my interest in taxes and economic history in the first place, has published her big new book on the effect of slaveowners' tax avoidance on the structure of the US Constitution and government. American Taxation, American Slavery is going to be awesome! This follows her earlier work Property Rules.
E-dawg, Einhorn's latest is the book I've been meaning to recommend to you. Everyone else: for more tax geekitude and hilarity, read my thoughts from three years ago, and for the tasting menu for U of Chicago Press, read assorted excerpts.
# 19 Jun 2006, 10:59AM: Carthago Delenda Est, Charlie Brown!:
Seven years ago, Leonard predicted my LA-disliking New Yorker attitudes.
LOOK AT ME IM RICH
Anyone know of a really good compact shredder?
Update: Ooops. As Seth reminds me, it's Carthago, not Carthaga.
# 20 Jun 2006, 01:33PM: It Could Be Worse:
From the often-worth-reading Coding Horror: fear of mustard and pickles.
# (2) 21 Jun 2006, 05:49PM: Bah/Argh:
I am looking for an impossible thing, I think. I want to switch to a cell phone service that has pretty good reception in Manhattan and Astoria, that does not have an indelible reputation for horrifyingly bad customer service, and that I can trust to not collude with unconstitutional power trips by government officials to invade my privacy without warrant, cause, etc. AT&T and Cingular fail, Verizon fails the privacy requirement too, and I've never heard glorious things about Sprint, Verizon, or Nextel. Is there such a service? Could and should someone start one?
# 25 Jun 2006, 10:26PM: MC Masala on Magical Thinking and Superstition:
I share my weird superstitions.
But how comfortable are you naming a child after a living relative, or picking up a tails-up penny, or giving knives or scissors as wedding gifts, or swallowing a watermelon seed?
# 26 Jun 2006, 11:59AM: Tunnel:
Now that I have read A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Malkiel, I can understand Daniel Davies on beta and his lyrical allusions to what Gladwell would call the black swan. A Davies bonus: calling something "risk aversion" when it's "pessimism."
# 26 Jun 2006, 04:07PM: Hey Catholics:
Zed linked to something hilarious re: Catholicism and that Dan Brown novel. Brendan already knows about this LiveJournal, but Claudia might not.
# 26 Jun 2006, 04:23PM: Stories and Wages:
Do you remember that great Vampire Domestication PowerPoint? The creator has a bunch of free short stories for you to peruse. "Mayfly" is creepy.
Also: EFF is looking for a Staff Technologist to join Seth and Meetup is seeking a UI Developer. Man, either of those jobs would be awesome - not for me, though.
# 26 Jun 2006, 09:46PM: Leftovers:
Some leftover chunks of text:
I get irrational if I'm trying to go to sleep alone. I need a light on, and music, and no windows open, even if it's dadblamed hot. Otherwise ninjas with grappling hooks will steal the KitchenAid, right?
Ritual self-deprecation is like knocking on wood. Self-confidence, like praising your own child, is taboo.
If you swallow a watermelon seed, a melon will grow in your tummy. Quit your individual computer programs before hitting Start to shut down Windows and your PC. If you're a good little child all year, a magical man on a big sled will sneak into your house as you sleep helplessly, to give you gifts.
A darker-than-intended sonnet that's been sloshing around my head for weeks if not months, finally put down on paper in front of Lincoln's statue in Union Square:
Like ivy on a plaited trellis wall,
We climb up cities -- but we build them too.
If ivy could create more height to crawl,
We'd drown in it -- the poison of kudzu.
Like limbs, each building serves as human's tool,
Each skeleton bound to a certain cause.
Offices, flats, the classrooms of a school.
Architectures force behavior more than laws.
The scaffolding you ride past in your car
Grows up, makes cities, makes you who you are.
I visited Hiroshima. The bank
Stayed standing, there, even after the blast.
The workers died, the neighborhood went blank.
All flesh was grass; that skeleton held fast.
An electronic pulse, a neutron bomb --
What fossils will the humans leave behind?
A signature, a bone, a bust, and calm?
We used up Earth and left an orange rind.
Will ivy grow on that bank's granite wall?
Our blood and treasure, slaves in cancer's thrall.
Cogito, Ergo Sumana by Sumana Harihareswara is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by emailing the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.