Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Why Don Zimmer is a class act:

The next day, Zimmer apologized to the world, and in his book, he tells how Martínez sent word he wanted to apologize.

"I said, 'What does he have to apologize for?' " writes Zimmer, now the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' senior adviser. "I was the guy who charged him and threw the punch. To the people who said Pedro beat up an old man I said, 'No, an old man was dumb enough to try and beat up on Pedro.' "
QuickTime goes High Definition:

"The DVD Forum has ratified the H.264 Avanced Video Codec(AVC) - which Apple will ship in it's QuickTime software later this year - to be included in the next generation High Definition(HD) DVD format.

"Apple first displayed H.264 at NAB earlier this year. MacCentral described H.264—or MPEG-4—as 'an advanced HD video codec that, unlike other codecs, is scalable, allowing content creators to write content for everything from 3G phones to HD, and everything in between.'

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

"A film that bases itself on a big lie and a big misrepresentation can only sustain itself by a dizzying succession of smaller falsehoods, beefed up by wilder and (if possible) yet more-contradictory claims. President Bush is accused of taking too many lazy vacations. (What is that about, by the way? Isn't he supposed to be an unceasing planner for future aggressive wars?) But the shot of him "relaxing at Camp David" shows him side by side with Tony Blair. I say "shows," even though this photograph is on-screen so briefly that if you sneeze or blink, you won't recognize the other figure. A meeting with the prime minister of the United Kingdom, or at least with this prime minister, is not a goof-off."

Christopher Hitchens with his must-read review of Michael Moore's "film."

Bad news for Miramax:

"Walt Disney Co.-owned Miramax Films could lay off as much as 20 percent of its workforce in a series of cost-cutting measures, it was reported Friday.

"The layoffs are being weighed as Miramax's co-founders, Harvey and Bob Weinstein, are under increasing pressure to save money at their New York-based movie company, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing people familiar with the plans.

"The Weinsteins have run through most of a $700 million annual production and marketing budget, nearly four months before the end of the company's fiscal year on Sept. 30, The Times reported."

Monday, June 21, 2004

Vaunted Viacom bigwig Sumner Redstone's troubles may just be starting:

"Mel Karmazin’s legacy is that he kept Viacom’s numbers from falling apart despite the company’s outdated business model. Now his departure will stop masking Viacom’s real weaknesses, and Redstone and company will have to face them head on. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe they’ll call in the geeks."


The NY Times weighs in on Bill Clinton's memoir: "The book, which weighs in at more than 950 pages, is sloppy, self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull — the sound of one man prattling away, not for the reader, but for himself and some distant recording angel of history."

Ouch.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Apropos all the mania about James Joyce and the recent Blooms day, I think Edmund Wilson—over 80 years ago—got it exactly right, not just about Ulysses, but about Joyce himself:

"Since I have read it, the texture of other novelists seems intolerably loose and careless; when I come suddenly unawares upon a page that I have written myself I quake like a guilty thing surprised. The only question now is whether Joyce will ever write a tragic masterpiece to set beside this comic one. There is a rumor that he will write no more—that he claims to have nothing left to say—and it is true that there is a paleness about parts of his work which suggests a rather limited emotional experience. His imagination is all intensive; he has but little vitality to give away. His minor characters, though carefully differentiated, are sometimes too drily differentiated, insufficiently animated with life, and he sometimes gives the impression of eking out his picture with the data of a too laborious note-taking. At his worst he recalls Flaubert at his worst—in L'Education Sentimentale. But if he repeats Flaubert's vices—as not a few have done—he also repeats his triumphs—which almost nobody has done."

While we're at it, Allen also nicely points out some aspects of the Catholic Church's real position on stem cell research which you won't likely be reading about in the New York Times:

—Pacholczyk organized his presentation in terms of what he called 10 “myths” in the debate over stem cells. They are:

—1. Stem cells can only come from embryos.

—In fact, Pacholczyk said, stem cells can be taken from umbilical cords, the placenta, amniotic fluid, adult tissues and organs such as bone marrow, fat from liposuction, regions of the nose, and even from cadavers up to 20 hours after death.

—2. The Catholic church is against stem cell research.

—There are four categories of stem cells, Pacholczyk said: embryonic stem cells, embryonic germ cells, umbilical cord stem cells, and adult stem cells. Given that germ cells can come from miscarriages that involve no deliberate interruption of pregnancy, Pacholczyk said the church opposes the use of only one of these four categories, that is, embryonic stem cells. In other words, the Catholic Church approves three of the four possible types of stem cell research.

—3. Embryonic research has the greatest promise.

—Up to now, no human being has ever been cured of a disease using embryonic stem cells, Pacholczyk said. Adult stem cells, on the other hand, have cured thousands. Pacholczyk gave the example of the use of cells from the hipbone to repair scar tissue on the heart after heart attacks. Research using adult cells is 20 to 30 years ahead, he said, and holds greater promise.
John Allen, from Rome:

"Resentment was compounded by perceptions of anti-American bias during the build-up to the war in Iraq. With Vatican Radio suggesting that the Bush administration wanted to expand American oil interests, and even the secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, asking out loud if the Americans had “learned anything from Vietnam,” some conservatives began to see the Vatican as just another European talk shop."

No kidding, you don't say?

Thursday, June 17, 2004

I've enjoyed reading Mark Steyn in the past. But he has been known to play fast and loose with the facts. Dan Kennedy has caught up with him.
Why Germany's Gerhard Schroeder is in trouble (and deserves to be):

"The analysts in the conference unanimously pointed to one major factor when explaining the sagging German economy: labor unions and government have regulated and taxed capitalists within an inch of their lives. Mr. Schroeder has publicly advocated reforms, but the actual steps he has taken have been inconsequential. At the same time, he has revealed his emotional attachment to big government by pressuring central European countries that are joining the EU to adopt Germany's high-tax/low-growth policies.

"This pressure is a nasty reminder for Germans of a lost opportunity. When the country was reunited, the SPD foisted the German regulatory state on East Germany. The result has been economic catastrophe for that former communist country. The other former communist states that had to come of age without a "big brother" have outperformed East Germany to an astonishing degree. GDP growth in Poland over the last year was almost 7 percent. The unemployment rate in former East Germany is almost 18.4 percent."

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

I hope this is so:

"With broadband penetration increasing, and those users consuming more of the Internet—including audio and video—advertising have been following those audiences online and creating more demand for streaming media inventory.

"On the supply side, sites are incorporating a variety of traditional and newly launched ad unit formats and approaches, including pre-roll ads, ads running inside subscription streams, Java video ads that are not tied directly to a requested stream and between-the-page ad units."

More at AccuStream.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Christopher Hitchens, superb as always:

"Yes, but what about the ticking bomb? Listen: There's always going to be a ticking bomb somewhere. Some of these will go off, and it's just as likely to be in my part of Washington, D.C., as anywhere else. But we shall be fighting a war against jihad for decades to come. And the jihadists will continue to make big mistakes based on their mad theory. And they are not superhuman: They can be infiltrated, bribed, and turned. You don't have to tell them what time of day it is, or where they are, or when the next meal will be served. (Though it must be served.) But you must not bring in that pig or that electrode. That way lies madness and corruption and the extraction of junk confessions. So even if law and principle didn't enter into the question, we sure as hell know what doesn't work. The cranky Puritan voice of Sir Edmund Compton comes back to me down the corridor of the years: If it gives anyone pleasure, then you are doing it wrong and doing wrong into the bargain."

Monday, June 14, 2004

"A recent report on media player market share sales for client and enterprise applications by research firm Frost & Sullivan showed Apple moving into second position with 36.8% of the market. That puts Apple above Real Media, which controls 24.9% and nipping at the heels of Microsoft and its share of 38.2%. Frost & Sullivan industry analyst Mukul Krishna said almost everyone has all three players on their computer, not wanting to be locked into just one format."

Read more.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

"Four-fifths of spam now emanates from computers contaminated with Trojan horse infections, according to a study by network management firm Sandvine out this week. Trojans and worms with backdoor components such as Migmaf and SoBig have turned infected Windows PCs into drones in vast networks of compromised zombie PCs."

Read more.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

A former Microsoft insider on why Windows is failing:

"Andrews was surprised to learn recently that Jim Allchin, Microsoft group vice president of platforms, didn’t realize that many users don’t buy new computers because of how hard it is to move all their data and applications. “He was totally oblivious to this,” Andrews says. “It’s a couple-day process. His head was in the clouds.”

Apple, on the other hand, has built a friendly and reliable operating system, OS X (as in the Roman numeral), in part by building on free components from the open-source software community. With open-source software, individuals and companies can build on each other’s work and redistribute enhanced products for profit as long as they make their new source code available to the developer community. There is a special energy associated with products that are built by communities of people and companies working together. It’s optimization of global resources. Open source is where the software industry’s momentum is right now.

I just rid myself of my Windows computer, switching my work to the Mac and OS X because of the reliability it has shown as I’ve added peripherals and other software. I know I won’t waste as much time making the technology simply work. In most ways, OS X is superior to Windows XP."

Monday, June 07, 2004

Dan Kennedy gets my vote for quote of the week:

"If you were getting it then, you'd probably be getting it today, too. And if—like, I suspect, most of us—you weren't getting any then, things probably wouldn't be much different in 2004."

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Self-promotion department: My feature of Everyman is finally available for purchase as DVD from CustomFlix. Mark Shea likes it. So does FilmThreat.