profile building

Happy Thanksgiving.

Even though I am pessimistic at times, I still think that there is lots of good in the world. Let’s try to focus on that for the next few days and then come back to work on Monday ready to change things for the better, even if it’s just in our own little ways.

Now for the bad news.

Here’s a piece from today’s New York Times. It’s taken from an op-ed piece.

You say all this is happening because we support Israel. I know we need to do more to bring peace, but I don’t think that nurse was shot, or that Bali bomb was made “holy,” because we support Israel. I think it has to do with the rise within your midst of a deeply intolerant strain of Islam that is not simply a reaction to Israel, but is a response to your failing states, squandered oil wealth, broken ideologies (Nasserism) and generations of autocracy and illiteracy. Armed and angry, this harsh fundamentalism now seems to totally intimidate Muslim moderates.

From my perspective, that seems to be right on the mark.

Continuing this theme, Salman Rushdie also has an op-ed piece in today’s NYT. Here’s a quote:

If the moderate voices of Islam cannot or will not insist on the modernization of their culture — and of their faith as well — then it may be these so-called “Rushdies” who have to do it for them. For every such individual who is vilified and oppressed, two more, ten more, a thousand more will spring up. They will spring up because you can’t keep people’s minds, feelings and needs in jail forever, no matter how brutal your inquisitions. The Islamic world today is being held prisoner, not by Western but by Islamic captors, who are fighting to keep closed a world that a badly outnumbered few are trying to open. As long as the majority remains silent, this will be a tough war to win. But in the end, or so we must hope, someone will kick down that prison door.

To read the entire Rushdie piece, just click here.

This should be of particular interest to anyone thinking about our government’s new department of Total Information Awareness (see some of my past postings on the subject if you’re interested in learning about it). Just imagine if the government could tap into your TIVO to know what you liked to watch, tie that in with your credit card buying patterns, and then cross-reference your travel itineraries. If, for instance, we ever had another situation as we did in Nazi Germany, where homosexuals were rounded up and sent to death camps, it would be fairly easy for this kind of information to be used to draw a roadmap to your door. It would even tell the authorities when you were home. All they would have to do it to search the TIVO databases for men who watch Queer as Folk and then cross-reference it men who buy moisturizer and other skin care products.

OK, maybe I’m paranoid, but I don’t like the idea of someone having access to the list of books I’ve checked out of the library, the organizations I’ve donated money to, and the things I’ve got on my Amazon wish list.

What if, for instance, we get a President one day who gets it into his head that he has to eliminate everyone who collects and trades celebrity bone shards and eyelashes. (I’ve been waiting for a week to work that link in. I know it doesn’t quite fit, but I’m getting ready to take a few days off. Sorry.)

The article which prompted this little rant (you could call it a rantlette) ran in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. You might be able to find it here.

Here’s a clip from the article in case you can’t link. It’s by Jeffrey Zaslow.

Basil Iwanyk is not a neo-Nazi. Lukas Karlsson isn’t a shadowy stalker. David S. Cohen is not Korean.

But all of them live with a machine that seems intent on giving them such labels. It’s their TiVo, the digital videorecorder that records some programs it just assumes its owner will like, based on shows the viewer has chosen to record. A phone call the machine makes to TiVo, Inc., in San Jose, Calif., once a day provides key information. As these men learned, when TiVo thinks it has you pegged, there’s just one way to change its “mind”: outfox it.

Mr. Iwanyk, 32 years old, first suspected that his TiVo thought he was gay, since it inexplicably kept recording programs with gay themes. A film studio executive in Los Angeles and the self-described “straightest guy on earth,” he tried to tame TiVo’s gay fixation by recording war movies and other “guy stuff.”

“The problem was, I overcompensated,” he says. “It started giving me documentaries on Joseph Goebbels and Adolf Eichmann. It stopped thinking I was gay and decided I was a crazy guy reminiscing about the Third Reich.”

(Thanks to Dave Miller for pointing me toward the WSJ article and to Doug Skinner for directing me a few weeks ago to the very disturbing Bone Trade site.)

beer with tubs

(I wrote this a few days ago, but didn’t get around to posting it until now. Sorry again.)

I feel like having a beer tonight, but I did that last night. I had a few big “black and tans” (Bass and Guinness!) with Tubbs. Sidetrack’s has a beer special from 10:00 to close, Monday through Thursday, and we took full advantage of it. 20 oz beers are $2.75.

So, we had a few beers and split some sweet potato fries and talked about our adventures. I told Tubbs all about Italy and he told me all about London, where he just spent two weeks with his girlfriend, the barrister. (She’s an attorney in London. The word for that is “barrister,” right?) It was fun, but I probably drank too much. I was all dehydrated today. My tongue felt like a dehydrated apricot. (I tired drinking water, but it never made it to my throat. It just kept getting sucked up by my tongue.)

Tubbs teaches performance art (if you can believe that) at a large Midwestern university. He recently gave his class a project. They were to create a piece of performance art. Well, on the day the project was due, they handed him a note, telling him to go to a certain dorm room. When he got there, he found the door locked and knew that instant that he wasn’t ever getting in. A series of notes came out to him from under the door, the final one of which asked for his signature under a statement that read, “I have witnessed art.” I loved that.

I think he said he stood there for an hour. Apparently they were performing something inside the room that he couldn’t quite hear. Later, like the next class, they presented him with photo documentation of the performance that was taking place on the other side of the door from him.

I could go on and on about Tubbs, and one day I will. I promise. (Remind me to tell you the story about he was chased naked through an art gallery, hog-tied, and branded!) Tubbs is a great guy.

saudi stuff

A few days ago, in the New York Times:

Mr. Lieberman said Saudi Arabia must be held to the same standards as the former Taliban government of Afghanistan or the government in Iraq. “Either they have to change or the relationship that we have with Saudi Arabia is going to change dramatically,” he said. “For too many generations, certainly years, they have pacified and accommodated themselves to the most extreme fanatical elements of Islam.”

That quote was from Senator Joseph Lieberman. I agree with it. I’ve heard mentioned, somewhere in blogdom, that one of the reasons we may be so anxious to control Iraq is so that we can afford to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for their past actions. At present, given the amount of oil that we get from them, we cannot. It’s an interesting thought.

various and assorted

Futurist Ray Kurzweil plans to live forever. Story. Interview.

Necrocam: A film, I believe from Holland, that considers the placement of a webcam in a coffin to show the disintegration of a human body. I haven’t watched it yet. I’m waiting till the Holidays.

buy nothing

I liked this letter from AdBusters so much I thought that I’d share it. I don’t know if I agree with the concept of Buy Nothing Day, but I think their marketing approach deserved kudos. It’s brilliant.

Maybe I do agree with a Buy Nothing Day, a day when people could contemplate what it means to consume, etc. I’d rather have a Don’t Drive Day though, or a Don’t Leave the Home Day. I would argue that buying isn’t in itself a bad thing. I think that, for instance, buying a blanket for a poor family is probably a good thing, as is the buying of food for your family. Mindless consumerism, however, is a different issue. It’s not that you buy, it’s what you buy, and the fact that for many people buying has become an obsession on the order of religion.

Hey Jammers:

It’s a countdown to Buy Nothing Day (Nov. 29) and the buzz is wild – already the hits on our website are breaking last year’s records.

This year we’re taking irony to the max and aiming to put the Burping Pig uncommercial on CNN’s “most prestigious” financial news program, Lou Dobbs Moneyline. But this is also CNN’s most-expensive 30-second spot. It’ll cost us $18,420 ($21,670 less a 15 percent discount).

Thanks to you, we’re almost there: we’ve already received $13,000, which includes an amazing donation of five grand. But we still have over $5,000 to go, so if you have a bit of extra cash, send it our way.

To donate, contact Dave Niddrie at , or visit our website:
http://www.adbusters.org/campaigns/bnd/toolbox/vote/2002donate.html

This is the cutting edge of social marketing. We’re using mainstream tools to broadcast a message of dissent. At its best, it’s mind-twirling, hard core meme warfare – a calculated strategy to reach the largest audience possible and wake them from their consumer trance.

This is our big plan right now, tell us about yours. Visit the Contacts page and tell other jammers what you’re doing and where: http://adbusters.org/campaigns/bnd/toolbox/contacts.jhtml

Cheers, and happy jammin’,

Adbusters
Staff & Volunteers

living on-line

The SIMS is moving on-line. Here’s a Newsweek feature all about it. Pretty interesting stuff.

And a quote:

Since The Sims, which was released in 2000, is already the best-selling PC game ever, many are predicting that The Sims Online will shoot to the top of the online-gaming charts as well. “It’s the metaverse meets chat meets IM, and no one has done that before,” says Electronic Arts president John Riccitiello, who sounds cautiously optimistic one month before the game’s Dec. 17 launch. “A decade from now, tens of millions of people will be subscribing to games like The Sims Online. But right now, that’s premature.

I like the idea that we will all have cyber selves in the future. This is just a step toward that. I was thinking it might be neat to set up a store in this Sims Country that sells Crimewave. I could have a little me too. He could post this blog. Pretty neat.

real family

Of course in the Sims World you wouldn’t get all the joy and pain that comes hand in hand with family holidays like Thanksgiving. Speaking of Thanksgiving, I need to go out and pack the car now.

I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday, wherever you are.

And, Matt and Dan, I am especially thinking of you both this holiday and of all the Thanksgivings we spent together at my parents’ house. I miss those trips. They were good times.

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