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»  January 24, 2011

Politics  

Elide In: I have to say, that with all of the words spilled in this Glenn Greenwald post at Salon about Joe Lieberman that it's somewhat surprising that the Gore mentioned in the post is Tipper.

It was, after all, then-VP and presidential candidate Al Gore who chose Joe Lieberman as his running mate in 2000. That act more than anything else gave Lieberman the national slimelight he's craved ever since. He was the 2000 template for Sarah Palin: the running mate who eclipses the losing presidential candidate who picked them.

It wasn't just Lieberman's mendacity during the recount battle that cost Gore the election. There was a large contingent of Democratic voters who sincerely disliked Lieberman for reasons that—while they might not have been apparent to everyone in 2000—have certainly been on display for most of the decade and more since.

It may have been a can of worms that Greenwald wasn't interested in opening. I've certainly run across any number of commenters at sites over the years who've claimed that Lieberman "turned to the right" only after 9/11 or after he'd been rejected by the Connecticut Democrats in 2006, as if pettiness and spite were somehow excuses. Maybe Greenwald just ran out of steam; he certainly had a lot of material to choose from. But I'd make the point that the fact that Lieberman was the choice of the elders to be that "heartbeat away" from the country's levers, combined with the praise Greenwald mentions probably reveals a lot about where the real soul of the Democratic Party is and why it seems moribund and toothless.

 

Politics  

Rahm Place, Rahm Time: The Illinois Apellate Court has overturned a decision that would have let former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel run for mayor of Chicago on the grounds that he moved his family to DC two years ago, rented out his Chicago home, and therefore hasn't been a resident of the city for a year, a requirement for the post.

That, I think, is indicative of one reason the Obama administration has had such a rough couple of years. Whether or not Emanuel is actually eligible to run for mayor is something the state Supreme Court is likely to decide, but it was a no-brainer to anticipate this potential bump in the road. The past two years have been a very bumpy ride for the administration, but it's been all the worse because people like Emanuel failed time and again to predict any of the jolts. They were repeatedly caught off-guard and unprepared for opposition to policy proposals and plans. From the reprise of the fifty-year-old casting of national health coverage as "socialism" to the administration's blissful unawareness of an unemployment level that's seemingly resistant to all of the happy "Road to Recovery" talk, people like Emanuel have acted as if their very ideas were enough to shape the world: creating their own reality where facts don't matter, as one Bush-administration official told journalist Robert Suskind.

Like so many challenges of the past two years, this impediment to Emanuel's run for mayor was completely foreseeable. He may surmount it but there's a good chance it will screw up his plans and in any case it could have been sidestepped neatly if he'd simply re-established some sort of obvious residence in the city a year ago, presumably when he was thinking about running for the office.

Planning ahead is one of those attributes that's supposed to be useful in civic leaders, no?

 


»  January 21, 2011

Flash  

Devolution: Far be it for me to rank on the lucrative world of HTML5 development but the monomaniacal intensity needed to produce graphics in Canvas seems like such a step back to, like, the '80s.

I thought the whole idea of programs like Illustrator and Freehand was so that people could create graphics intuitively. I mean, I could have been writing PostScript code all those years, drawing stars or whatever, and certainly there were times when it was advantageous to create graphics programmatically, but from nigh on the beginning of the vector graphics era there were tools to speed the process that don't seem to have any equivalent in today's online world.

 


»  January 18, 2011

Director  

Digitized Decade 2: I See Stephane Comeau!:

[click to enlarge]
Director Advisory Council 2001

It's the latest game sweeping the nation! This three-photo panorama was taken at the first event I attended with my then-new digital camera, ten years ago today. It's a meeting room in Macromedia HQ where a number of Director developers were given a close-up look at Shockwave 3D (then nicknamed "Tron") which would be released at the Macromedia User Conference the following spring. Name as many developers as you can!

Here's a preliminary agenda for the upcoming Tron Beta Seminar here at Macromedia January 18th and 19th (1 week away!). So far we've got 46 attendees, with room for 53. Submit requests for attendance directly to me. Hope to see you here. (Note the special opportunity for showing your own stuff to the group Thursday evening)

Thursday January 18th

Time Session / Speaker

9:30am Hello and Introductions / James Khazar
Coffee & doughnuts

10:00 Tron Basics Seminar
Terry Schussler
Terry's a great teacher and he'll
be giving us a good part of a day
with a high-level overview of what
it takes to get cool stuff built
with Tron. Lunch in there somewhere.

5:30 Q&A / Terry & Engineering
Your chance to ask the experts
about Tron

6:00 Snacks and Show&Tell
to Several of our partners and your
when- fellow developers have a chance
ever to show off some cool stuff.
>>> If you'd like to participate,
>>> let me know directly.

Friday January 19th

Time Session / Speaker

9:30am Good Morning Mixer
Bagels

10:00 3D Max Optimizations and Workflow
Jeff Abouaf, our resident 3D Max
expert will show you the tricks
and gotchas of bringing your
3D Max models into Tron.

11:00 3D Behaviors
Kraig Mentor, Director Engineer
and author of the new 3D behavior
set talks about their use and
other lingo goodies.

12:00 Tron Tips
Tom Higgins, QA staffer and
3D aficionado demonstrates his
vast knowledge of Tron.

12:30 Lunch & Demos
How's Pizza sound?
See some cool short demos.

2:00 Multiuser Server
David Simmons, the Godfather of
MUS, shows off the new features.

2:30 QA Scenario Test
Christophe Leske and Buzz Kettles
walk you through our Zoombot
case study.

3:00 Sapient's Real World Experience
aka Human Code, they've developed
some complete projects for us with
and will take you through their
experiences with Tron.

3:30 Engineering Team Managers Tell All
Meet the Director Team managers

4:00 Marketing and Promotional News
Find out how we plan to make Tron
the biggest thing to hit the web
since browsers and how we can help
promote your Tron infused site.

4:30 Q&A part duex
Last chance to put your questions
directly to the team

5:30 End of Day

The Digitized Decade is a look back at the first year of our entry into consumer digital photography.

 


»  January 17, 2011

 


»  January 14, 2011

Politics  

Bringing a Microphone to a Gun Fight: Personally, I think the people who have been blaming hate talk radio, Tea Party shouters, and politicians het up about Kenyan birth certificates and socialism for the string of violence and near-violence of which the Tucson shooting last weekend is just the most recent have it all backward. Those people didn't make Jared Lee Loughner kill three senior citizens, a federal judge a young man, and a little girl. They didn't pull the trigger on the Glock that sent bullets through the brain of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and into a dozen others. They're just not as limited in their opportunities, patience, or skills as Loughner was.

A report by Alix Spiegel on NPR's Morning Edition today delves into a 1999 study of assassins and would-be assassins conducted for the Secret Service by an agent and a psychologist. They studied people both well-known and obscure and came to the conclusion that:

...rather than being politically motivated, many of the assassins and would-be assassins simply felt invisible. In the year before their attacks, most struggled with acute reversals and disappointment in their lives, which, the paper argues, was the true motive. They didn't want to see themselves as nonentities.

...

And one thing [professor Randy] Borum and [psychologist Robert] Fein say about choosing a political figure — as opposed to choosing a show-business celebrity — is that the would-be assassins are able to associate themselves with a broader political movement or goal. That allows them to see themselves as not such a bad person. In this way, Borum says, assassins are basically murderers in search of a cause.

...

"There's nothing crazy about thinking that if I attacked the president or a major public official, I would get a lot of attention. I would get a lot of attention. My goal was notoriety," Fein says. "That's why I bought the weapon."

In the case of politicians, talk radio hosts, and Fox News pundits, they have a weapon that's not going to get them put in jail. The payoff for what they do—in notoriety, money, and freedom—is far greater than any mere physical assassin. Police aren't likely to shoot them. They aren't going to go to jail. If their particular brand of vitriol catches on they get invited on TV and radio, they get book deals, and they might even get their own show or elected to office.

Of course, it didn't really take a study for someone to figure out that assassins just want to have fun. The Secret Service could just have hired Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman, who'd figured it out while writing the musical Assassins a decade earlier and expressed it in the song "Another National Anthem":

[SAM BYCK (attempted to hijack a plane to crash into the White House and kill Richard Nixon)]
I deserve a fucking prize!...

[LYNETTE "SQUEAKY" FROMME (attempted to shoot Gerald Ford)]
I did it so there'd be a trial, and Charlie [Manson] would get to be a witness, and he'd be on TV, and he'd save the world!...

[CHARLES GUITEAU (shot and killed James Garfield)]
Where's my prize?

[BYCK]
I did it to make people listen.

[LEON CZOLGOSZ (shot and killed William McKinley), FROMME]
They promised me a prize...

[JOHN HINCKLEY (shot Ronald Reagan)]
Because she [Jodie Foster] wouldn't take my phone calls-

[ALL (Except Zangara)]
What about my prize?

[GIUSEPPE ZANGARA (attempted to shoot Franklin Roosevelt, killing Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak)]
Because nothing stopped the fire-!

[ALL (Except Byck)]
I want my prize!...

[BYCK]
Nobody would listen!

It's a pretty easy path for the right-wing pundit. The money flows like the hate. But there can only be so many of them on the air at once and not everyone has the gift of the golden tongue. Not everyone who wants the attention can manage to keep it together long enough to make it through their crisis point.
"They experienced failure after failure after failure, and decided that rather than being a 'nobody,' they wanted to be a 'somebody,' " Fein says.

They chose political targets, then, because political targets were a sure way to transform this situation: They would be known.

Married, with two kids, Beck barely held things together; ratings at New Haven's KC101 were sinking, and his salary and responsibilities were being slashed. "Every single minute of every single day was a struggle for me," he says. His worst moment: blacking out at night, then breakfasting the next morning with his kids when "they said, 'Dad, Dad, that was the best one ever, tell us that [nighttime] story again.' I realized that not only could I not remember the story, I didn't even remember tucking them in." Beck took himself to Alcoholics Anonymous. But he credits Tania, his second wife, whom he met three or four years later, for pulling him out of the deep ditch. At her insistence they shopped around for a church and became Mormons.

In the late 1990s (Beck is fuzzy on dates), while filling in as a talk radio host at WABC in New York City, Beck got a lucky call from media agent George Hiltzik, who had been tipped off by the program director. Beck told him he had an offer to do talk radio in Tampa. Hiltzik was impressed with Beck's passion--and his urge to make a lot of money.

—Lacey Rose, "Glenn Beck Inc", Forbes (04.08.10)

Loughner got his prize. It just comes with a bit harsher center than the prizes Rush Limbaugh and Beck take home.

 

What the...?  

Ophiuchus: Great. I've been reading the wrong horoscopes all these years, no wonder I've screwed things up so much. Next they'll be telling us there was supposed to have been a 13th month all along.

 


»  January 7, 2011

What the...?  

Make Or Break Time:

I've told myself
So many times
Not to turn into the type
But I've found
Is it too late?
Has my time come?
Sometimes I think I'm losin' it
Am I the only one?

Understanding, more like demanding
Where do the grey skies end?

So should I stay
Or fly away
The wings that I begin to grow
Will surely let me know
How far I have to go
And I'll be there

Oh yet again
Thought I was right
But as usual
I end up
On the wrong side of the fence
Is it too late?
Has my time come?
Sometimes I think I'm losin' it
Am I the only one?

Understanding, more like demanding
Where do the grey skies end?

So should I stay
Or fly away
The wings that I begin to grow
Will surely let me know
How far I have to go
And I'll be there

—"Fly Away", The Living End, The Living End

 


»  January 1, 2011

What the...?  

Separated At Bacon:

Elvis & Darrel

Peter says my 2011 face sans beard reminds him of Elvis. Me, I don't really see it.