Thoughts, comments, images and reflections from the people who bring you BeansAboutIt [dot] com.


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Saturday, November 17, 2001
12:01 PM      

What, again?
I think it was Mullah Muhammed Omar who was plastered all over the headlines a day or so ago, saying they would "Bury the US". You'd think he'd have found more original Rhetoric. After all Krushchev couldn't back his threat, and uh, Mr. Omar, you're no Nikita Krushchev... Interestingly, Krushchev's own son Sergei became a US citizen a couple of years ago.

Caesar Bush?
Was I asleep? I didn't hear a peep out of anyone about the executive order. Maybe that's because it's still not considered polite to talk politics. Did the story rise above a murmer on the TV news? I've had trouble finding much about it in the newspapers, either.

William Safire:

"Misadvised by a frustrated and panic-stricken attorney general, a president of the United States has just assumed what amounts to dictatorial power to jail or execute aliens. Intimidated by terrorists and inflamed by a passion for rough justice, we are letting George W. Bush get away with the replacement of the American rule of law with military kangaroo courts."

[crappy NYT link requires registration to read] reports bipartisan fire

ACLU press release

I'm afraid we'll hear a lot more like this before these four years are over. [That is, unless people really do start watching what they say.] I went searching for additional news on the Bush order, and stumbled across another order Mr. Bush issued recently. I wonder what he's trying to cover up.


News about Microsoft that doesn't rhyme with antitrust: Early reviews of Xbox are mixed. With only four games, most of which are no better than PS2, this new game console may be off to a slow start. On the other hand, two of the guys at my office have already bought theirs.

[ link | e-me ]

Thursday, November 15, 2001
11:26 AM      

Denise told me this morning, that the religious workers being held by the Taliban have been released safely. I breathed a sigh of relief. So many of these stories have bad endings.

Why were the missionaries taken into custody, in the first place? It's about truth and power, my friend.

[ link | e-me ]

Wednesday, November 14, 2001
11:26 PM      

It's no wonder Classical music, and even Jazz is suffering. We've become jingle-ized. I was sitting at my desk this afternoon, when suddenly, inexplicably, the song started playing loudly in my head: "If it ain't eggs, it ain't breakfast... I love eggs... mmmm, If it ain't eggs, it ain't breakfast; I love eggs..." It's a far cry from "Eine Kleine Nachtmuzik" or "Giant Steps" or even, say one of the arias from "Carmen."

Nope, these simple, mindless songs leach into the little crevices in my head, taking up the space formerly occupied by more complex tunes and useful information. Pop songs from the '70s that I hated, used to spring into my head while I was in the shower. This is the same phenomenon, only worse.

You can have fun with this: Try humming one of those goofy songs around someone you work with. You don't have to do it loudly, just enough to give them the unconscious hint. You don't have to do much, a minute or two will do. If the song's recognizable,they'll lock in. Keep an ear open: in a few minutes, they'll be humming or singing the tune you programmed.


It was well underway, before I had a clue that anything was going on. By then, they had him. There were three or four big guys scuffling with another, much smaller guy on the sidewalk. I was standing and looking out the window from a B52 bus that was about to pull off from the stop at Dekalb and Fulton.

The big guys had to be fast; they had all caught up to this guy less than 50 yards from the door of their shop, where jeans and tee shirts, among other things, are sold. One of the chasers had a bundle of clothes that he had apparently pulled away from the guy they were struggling with. Any one of the chasers dwarfed him, yet he was putting up a spirited fight.

Still, there was no getting away. One of the guys seemed to levitate the apparent shoplifter, simply by extending his arms straight out and rotating his shoulders up slightly. The would-be escapee's feet dangled uselessly in the air, making him look like an animated rag doll.

The burly security man carried his quarry back to the store without assistance. When they got to the store, the captive was launched unceremoniously through the door-- tossed like a sack of potatoes. He collapsed to the floor. It was clear that he would be detained for the police. The burly guy reached down and scooped the smaller guy up in one fluid motion, then spirited his captive away toward a dressing room in the back.

As the bus pulled off, I watched one of the chasers walk toward the front door of the store. He was already in crowd control mode. The expression on his face seemed to read "We're in charge. Everything's under control. Don't mess with us."


William Gibson's "Mona Lisa Overdrive" is a really good book. I'm most of the way through it, and the story gets stronger and stronger. I had to work in the early parts - his style of dialog and narration isn't always the easiest to follow, but it pays dividends in the later chapters.

Gibson's books are where a lot of popular notions about "cyberspace" come from. He coined the term.

I carry the book with me, and I don't think I've ever had as many people go out of their way to acknowledge the book when they see it. There's that knowing smile, and pepole saying "That really is a good book." Occasionally, people were intrigued by the title. Once or twice, I'd explained what the book was about, and they commented "not my cup of tea," but the book clearly has won a lot of fans.

Try an experiment of your own: grab your favorite book and carry it out in the open during your travels for a couple of days. You may find yourself connecting with a number of kindred spirits.

Happy reading to you!

[ link | e-me ]

Monday, November 12, 2001
10:34 PM      

I'm not going to dwell on the details of this latest disaster in Queens. I'm sure there are people out there who believe in signs, and this is just fodder for them. I found myself quickly saturated on the saturation TV coverage. So much time, so little information. There are only so many times you can watch the same burning buildings, the same sound bites about fishing the tail section out of the water, the same proclaimations by various officials...

In The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe talks about how the pilots in the early space program were fully aware that they were sitting on top of a massive bomb every time they went up on a space flight. They knew they were putting their lives at risk. There used to be little kiosks at airports, where you could buy insurance just before you got on a flight to somewhere. I suspect that the airlines began to discourage those kiosks, because their presence suggested a level of risk that passengers might not be comfortable with.

We've witnessed things like this before: the flight that mysteriously blew up over Long Island Sound, the Alaska Air jet that apparently lost its rear stabilizer when its jack screw stripped, the commuter plane that probably developed wing ice and nose-dived into the ground, the Colgate helicopter that lost its tail rotor and crashed under the 59th Street Bridge... This won't be the last such catastrophe.

In the next day or so, I expect to hear someone talking about how statistically, you're more likely to die in a car accident than a plane crash. Still, there seems to be something different about being a passenger or getting behind the wheel of a car, even if it's just the delusion that I have control and I'm a better than average driver-- that somehow I'll recognize and avoid that dangerous situation and beat the odds. A friend of mine called the phenomenon "terminal uniqueness." I guess it's not just teenagers who suffer from it.

This city has taken a number of hits since September 11. Yet, in an odd way, it all fits with the city's larger-than-life-ness. We've got more than our share of people, so it makes sense to have more than our share of drama.

A friend of mine named Steve, had moved to San Francisco a number of years ago, and told me about how life was different out there, because people knew that there could be a big quake at any time. Living in a city that had been destroyed once, and that had at least one catastropic quake since that, made people appreciate life more, but they don't live in constant fear.

I think about that now. New York culture may begin to develop an attitude more similar to San Francisco culture, or maybe it's London or Israel, each with their own looming terrorist threat. There comes a time when, perhaps, you don't become numb, but you do adjust. You focus on what you're doing, where you're going, what you believe in, instead of what might happen to you. In the end, no matter what, they're going to stick you in a box in the ground and throw dirt in your face.


There are probably a number of de-facto citadels that have formed since September 11: little enclaves that have erected barriers and more complex security rituals. This weekend, Denise and I noticed that the hospital on De Kalb Avenue has closed off the horseshoe driveway that circles past its front door. Two tall chain link gates block what was once a beautiful piece of landscaping.

I imagine the architects all over the world are reassessing what can be done with the facades and entryways of major buildings. Majestic, open plazas will just get covered over with giant concrete planters and "Jersey barriers." A new aesthetic is called for.

Mr Gehry may well be revising the design for the new Guggenheim museum downtown. The current design floats like a cloud on stilts , and provides access to the river by allowing people to pass under the structure. Beautiful, but perhaps too risky a design in this day and age.

The Wall Street area is one such citadel. At Broad and Beaver, people pull up to a makeshift gate, and speak to a guard, who checks to see if you're on a list. If you clear the list, you pull past the gate and off to the side, and wait, while another officer with a bomb-sniffing dog, circles your vehicle. If it's a truck, or it has a large cargo area, that too is opened and subjected to a good sniff. If you pass the test, you get back in the vehicle and drive between the two concrete barriers placed in the road to create the smallest possible aperture for vehicles to pass through. There's usually a police car or two parked next to this second aperture.

The ritual catches the attention of many in the area. You can watch people stop and watch. It's not the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, but it is an intriguing ritual nonetheless.


I'm changing my hosting service. I started working on a little project involving PHP, and ran into a bunch of problems with my current host's scripting support. Until now, a host was a host, was a host. Let's just say I've become enlightened.

So far, the process has been pretty painless. I found a site that allows me to search for hosts by criteria, browsed the results, scribbled notes and compared, and voila - new hosting service picked out in a couple of hours. I filled out and online form, and presto- disk space and an IP address over the weekend. FTP is no big deal; I just need to figure out how to get the domain re-pointed, and we're off...

Funny thing is, it's more exciting this time. As soon as I got an FTP connection, I was jazzed. When I typed the IP address into my browser and saw the simple text "New Site" appear on screen, it was like a jolt of coffee. I think it's because this time, there's more at stake than simply showing up on the web. There's something about the power of fulfilling a more complex objective. Unlike the previous times, I know there are people watching. I've seen the server logs. There's the understanging that I've just acquired new powers. Like a magician working out a new spell


I don't expect a lot from TV, even though I watch a bit of it. Every so often, though, I see moments of magic -- what I think people thought would be the mainstay of the medium before it became "the vast wasteland."

Spike Lee was on The Actor's Studio. There seemed to be a glint in the corner of his right eye - behind his glasses. I thought for a second, that it was just an odd reflection. Now, it was growing, spilling down his cheek. Spike Lee was crying on TV. Now, the tears were streaming from both of his eyes, but his voice was steady. He was profoundly moved, and he was OK about that.

Spike had been recounting how his film "X" had been in financial trouble - the studio had been withholding funds, so he made calls to Bill Cosby, Magic Johnson, Oprah Winfrey, Janet Jackson, Michael Jordan, and others. Each of them wrote a check, knowing that there was a good chance that they might not get their money back. Those acts of generosity, solidarity, and faith inspired convinced the studio to get back in the game, and got the film completed. Powerful stuff.

Most of the times that I have seen Spike in interviews, his comments have been edited to support the presenter's (often critical) point of view about his work. This was a rare opportunity to get a broader sense of Spike Lee, the person.

Spike believes in his work. He's clear about his art form. He opens up the opportunity for discourse on the subjects he tackles in his films, but he doesn't offer easy solutions. There was a moment in the show, where he commented on how critics often attack him, rather than critiquing his films. It was wonderfully ironic, when he indicated that one of the criticisms of Do the Right Thing, was that it doesn't offer a solution to racism.

There's a lot more. If The Actor's Studio shows are available on video, this is one I would purchase.

[ link | e-me ]
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