Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Apparently, even book editors are being outsourced these days...

Apparently Newspaper Editors Don't Do a Lot, Either
Following in a great but unfortunate tradition, the NY Observer has a new reporter poking around publishing who has recast the old editors-don't-edit misconception into the new jargon of outsourcing: "Much the same way that telemarketers and programmers have migrated to Bangalore, the once-venerated job of book editing is beginning to be shunted from tweedy three-martini fellows in publishing houses to a fleet of laptop-armed freelancers, at home in their sweat pants." As you can see, deep and revealing insights about our business abound.

More, via the Observer.

Friday, December 10, 2004

I last met David Brudnoy at a party prior to the Boston Film Festival two summers ago. He looked cheerful as ever as he made the rounds, chatting with local filmmakers. I told him I was helping my dad put together his memoirs of the Boston newspaper business as he knew it over the decades after World War II. Brudnoy smiled, nodding, and said, "Tell your dad I said hello. And good luck on that book. He knows where all the bodies are buried."

Brudnoy will be missed in this city.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

He was a good boss. Peggy Noonan, with some thoughtful insights, on the end of the Dan Rather era....

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

We could all be paying fees for watching streaming media of any kind in the near future, if Acacia has its way:

Due to its seemingly esoteric nature, major news outlets have reported on Acacia’s DMT patent claims only fleetingly. What’s surprising is how many trade organizations have continued to ignore this important and complex issue.

While this summer saw a flurry of major media outlet coverage of Acacia’s attempts to license its DMT patents—especially to universities and colleges—the rest of the year saw little to no reporting on this hot-button issue. This is somewhat understandable when you take into account the esoteric nature of Acacia’s patents; they may have far-reaching implications, but too few people understand the inner workings of digital media transmission to justify regular mainstream media coverage.
Read more on the latest by Geoff Daily.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Thursday, November 25, 2004

LONDON - "Baywatch," the sun-bleached saga of Californian life guards, was voted the worst-ever U.S. television import in a British survey released Thursday.
There must be hope for the world yet....

More good news for Apple:
According to a survey of iPod users by financial analysis firm Piper Jaffray, Macs are basking in the reflected glory of the iPod, with some who own the music player saying they have already or are intending to ditch their PCs for Macs.

The research found that 6 percent of iPod users have made the switch. An additional 7 percent said they are planning to dump their old PC for an Apple machine, according to the survey.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Monday, November 22, 2004

Think your job’s bad? Try dragging a bedspread around tick-ridden thickets, pausing regularly in the 100-degree heat not to squeegee the sweat from your brow but to tweeze dozens of the tiny pests into a collection jar. Reconsidering your career choice? Imagine training for years as a veterinarian, only to find yourself engaged in labwork designed to make the tail-wagging puppies in your charge sick, knowing all the while that when the study is over, the pooches will be euthanized.
Yes, it's time once again for Popular Science's list of the worst jobs in science.

Friday, November 19, 2004

As has been pointed out before (and no doubt will be again), the GOP isn't called "The Stupid Party" for nothing....

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Jay Fitzgerald has the right take on the hyped meeting between George Steinbrenner and Pedro Martinez.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Monday, November 15, 2004

Friday, November 12, 2004

No Kidding Dept.
First, Georgia's education chief tried to take the word "evolution" out of the state's science curriculum. Now a suburban Atlanta county is in federal court over textbook stickers that call evolution "a theory, not a fact." Some here worry that Georgia is making itself look like a bunch of rubes or, worse, discrediting its own students.

"People want to project the image that Georgia is a modern state, that we're in the 21st century. Then something like this happens," said Emory University molecular biologist Carlos Moreno.

Sounds like the "Intelligent Design" team is having, "success"?

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Happy Veterans' Day to all the men and women of our armed forces. Glenn Reynolds has a great missive from the inside.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Absolutely priceless. Jonah Goldberg on Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd:
As we all know, one's a whining self-parody of a hysterical liberal who lets feminine emotion and fear defeat reason and fact in almost every column. The other used to date Michael Douglas. But both of them have been writing a string of columns insisting that the Bushies ran a campaign of "divisiveness," "primitivism," and "fear." To be fair, and to everyone's surprise, Krugman's post-drubbing column wasn't a whine-fest so much as a cri de coeur about how his whininess was justified all along. The column read like a quickly dashed-off buck-up memo about how Democrats should keep fighting. Conveniently Krugman is now going into hiding for a few months to work on an economics textbook. (Nothing like telling the troops to tough it out in the trenches as you head to the bunker.) Thank goodness Dowd has picked up the slack. Her columns of late aren't the clever highbrow snarks they once were; once she knew how to sweeten the bile. Now her op-ed page real estate hits your desk like a bucket of vomit with some Body Shop potpourri sprinkled across the surface.
Uh-oh. Yahoo is going Hollywood. (Say it ain't so!) Could this be the beginning of the end?

Monday, November 08, 2004

Big plans on the Flash front.
Phil Hall's Encyclopedia of Underground Movies is now out in stores. In addition to this independent producer, he profiles a lot of the movie-makers working in the past decade since Firewire made low-budget, high-resolution features a reality.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Just did my civic duty. Ward 7 Precinct 2 voters in Newton, Massachusetts go to a Middle School at the edge of the Massachusetts Turnpike.

I walked right in, no lines, to get to the table with my street, etc. Got my ballot, filled it out (no hole punching this time!) and returned to a second table where I waited for one minute behind a gentleman before reporting my ballot and dropping it in the box.

An old guy manning the table with my monitor was looking around at the largely empty auditorium and said, straight-faced, "Huge turnout."

Huge? Welcome to Newton....

I wonder how the "Intelligent Design" crowd is going to handle this:
Researchers in the laboratories of Detlev Arendt and Jochen Wittbrodt have discovered that the lightsensitive cells of our eyes, the rods and cones, are of unexpected evolutionary origin ­ they come from an ancient population of light-sensitive cells that were initially located in the brain.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Saturday, October 30, 2004

David Hogberg explains why he thinks Andrew Sullivan and Christopher Hitchens are being dangerously silly.
Face it: the so-called "Famous Monsters of Filmland" may have scared us as children, but they were mostly misunderstood creatures who weren't malicious or intentionally monstrous. Now, however, we are forced to confront real-life monsters who will truly make it difficult to get to sleep this Halloween (being so close to Election Day and all).
If you want a great Halloween/Campaign Season chuckle, check this out.

Happy 35th Birthday to the Internet!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

So, XM offers live breaking news, but you're stuck with what they pick for you. Apple gives you all the storage space you want, a cocoon against the outside world, and a mostly useless color screen. Is it just me, or is it obvious that these companies should get together? What I really want is a wireless iPod that can suck down live updates or a MyFi that lets me play every track that XM has ever broadcast. Instead, I'm forced to choose between immediacy and control—or forced to spend $700 to have both. I'll save my money and hope they solve my dilemma for me.
Slate's Paul Butin on the iPod and how it stacks up against the new MyFi player from XM.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Friday, October 22, 2004

One of the last great predictions of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, that the very fabric of space-time can be "dragged" by mass, has been confirmed with higher accuracy (although the team behind the more comprehensive Gravity Probe B experiment is skeptical of this team's results).

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Interview with Macromedia CEO Robert Burgess on the company's interest in PDAs and other non-PC tools.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

And now silence. French celebrity philosopher Jacques Derrida has gone off into the great gap in the sky. Like many students who had to read his intentionally obtuse tracts, I found him tedious. The real shame though is that his work was force-fed to students in literature classes—not philosophy classes where he belonged, and where his work actually does have some meaning (the groundlessness on which post-Kantian philosophies are ultimately based).


Thursday, September 30, 2004

Michael Ledeen on the latest news from Iran:
Several members of the Revolutionary Guards have been killed. Depending on your point of view the catalyst for these clashes was either appeals from outside Iran, or the continued collapse of the mullahs (banks closed, salaries unpaid, teachers locked out of schools, etc.) or the incredible tempo of executions, notably of young people, on charges that seem preposterous. It is clear that opponents of the regime are increasingly armed, there are gunfights in the streets of several cities, and the clashes are going on all over the country.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The stupidity continues...

Barb Nicolosi on pie-in-the-sky Christians who want to convert Hollywood.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Richard the Second is now listed in the Poor Yorick Shakespeare catalogue. You never know where you can find your work on the web....

Update: Yikes! And one reviewer even likes it!!

Monday, September 27, 2004

As I get older, I realize that there are certain kinds of Catholics out there—for example, the ones who think that if you follow all of the church's prescriptions, then you are automatically immunized from...stupidity.

Barb Nicolosi does a great job of explaining why that just isn't so.
This is cool:
Sonic Solutions (Nasdaq:SNIC) announced today that Adobe Systems Incorporated has licensed Sonic AuthorScript(R), the world's leading CD and DVD formatting and burning engine, for use within its new Adobe(R) Photoshop(R) Elements 3.0 software for Windows. By incorporating AuthorScript, Adobe has added key functions to Photoshop Elements 3.0, such as the ability to create photo slideshows on Video-CDs that can be played in most set-top DVD players and the archiving of photos to CD-ROMS and DVD-ROMs.

The Web after ten years: Center for the Digital Future Identifies the 10 Major Trends Emerging in the Internet’s First Decade of Public Use.

Friday, September 24, 2004

I must say, I'm delighted that Everyman is selling. Not a lot, to be sure (let's face it, how many independent movie fans are there out there for productions performed in what is essentially Middle English?). But it's steady. I'm receiving a lot of hits on the production page, mostly from students and teachers, and a few every month decide to get the DVD.

So, thank you to all of you patrons of the struggling artist!
Things aren't so hot these days at Miramax.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

What I was saying below re: Buchanan's rants: Julia Gorin gets it.
Others have gotten in trouble for pointing this out, but let's give up the charade. When a member of the enlightened classes, or Pat Buchanan, makes reference to a "neocon," what he's saying is "yid." That's right, "neoconservative," particularly in its shortened form, when employed by a nonconservative (or by Buchananites) and therefore meant derogatorily, is the modern, albeit more specific, word for "kike" that the left can say—and it has been doing so liberally (no pun intended) ever since American conservatism became yet something else that Jews have managed to benefit from—the conquered, final frontier of that famous Jewish manipulation.

Niall Kennedy has a report on The State of Online Journalism.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Jonah Goldberg's not the only one who thinks Andrew Sullivan has gone way too wishy-washy on Iraq.
Ann Althouse says Aguirre the Wrath of God is one of her favorite films! A fellow traveler! At last! At last!
William Safire, on why CBS needs to track down the source of the forgeries:
Conservatives should stop slavering over Dan Rather's scalp, and liberals should stop pretending that noble ends justify fake-evidence means. Both should focus on the lesson of the early 70's: from third-rate burglaries to fourth-rate forgeries, nobody gets away with trying to corrupt American elections.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

Yep. The Iraqis are playing baseball.
(note to Harvey Weinstein: my agent is Susan Schulman, and all rights for this script are available.)
A while back...meaning about 13 years ago...I started writing a romantic road comedy about some thirty-somethings heading up to the White Mountains of New Hampshire for a Memorial Day wedding and all the misadventures that befall them on the way. One of the subplots involved a couple of black-belt brothers, one of whom falls like a ton for a cute Jewish girl on her way to visit an obscure rabbi who has an out-of-print book she wants (I know, I know, I'm way past the 25-words-or-less pitch limit for Hollywood, but bear with me).

Anyway, the black belt hero flattens a couple of thugs when he catches them vandalizing a synagogue—and at the time I thought this scenario a little hoky, as well as far fetched in these civilized days. I mean, vandalizing synagogues in New Hampshire?

Well, comes now this report, showing that, in my own hack way, I, prescient? Not that I'm happy about it. But I guess I don't need to rewrite this script as much as I always thought I did.

Go figure.
It's remarkable to me that in this month's Special Issue of Scientific American on the work of Einstein, the feature article on the Cosmological Constant and the development of cosmology using Einstein's field equations for General Relativity, the authors mention the contributions of Belgian physicist Georges Lemaitre...without ever once giving him credit.

Just one example of how far Lemaitre has dropped off the radar screen. Admittedly, scientists make poor historians by their own admission. Yet, if you're going to point out, as Krauss and Turner do, that Willem de Sitter's model of the universe was "shown to have accelerating expansion," then is it too much to expect them to mention who first pointed this out?
Teresa Nielsen Hayden, excellent teacher as well as editor for Tor Books, has more good advice for writers:

Certain words and phrases are like little genetic markers for scammers. Here’s a non-exhaustive list, non-exhaustively explained:

1. “Giving new writers a chance.” Also: “Helping new writers.”

While agents and publishers frequently do just this thing, they don’t talk about it in those terms. For them, it’s always a specific new book, a specific new author. Making judgements about which book and which writer they’re going to work with is the heart of their job. When you hear someone talking in an indiscriminately general fashion about giving a chance to new writers, there’s something wrong.

Same goes for “helping new writers.” There might be legitimate projects aimed at helping new writers as a class, but the business they’re in isn’t agenting or publishing.

2. “Traditional publishing.”

This term came in with PublishAmerica. It’s their little way of suggesting that they’re a conventional publishing house, which they aren’t. Publishing houses refer to what they do as “publishing.”

Read the whole thing.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Current polls show the National Guard 'story' not only doesn't seem to be hurting Bush, it may be helping...whereupon Jonah Goldberg offers this excellent advice:
If this is the trend when the Guard story is in the news, maybe Bush should start bragging about going to hooker and cocaine parties while he was dodging physicals in Alabama.

Is it bandwidth or storage that really matters?
There have been a number of recent debates/discussions about the viability of full IP-based, download or stream based delivery of video that reaches consumer televisions. There's clearly enormous momentum and energy behind leveraging the open Internet, commodity bandwidth, etc. to deliver media. Two key industry insiders — Mark Cuban, founder of and HDNet, and James Murdoch, current CEO of Sky in the UK — have advocated that storage trumps bandwidth in the delivered media world.

At the core of this belief is an underlying belief in the importance of high-definition (HD) video media, which on a raw storage and bandwidth basis consumes an enormous amount. The argument is that a) given that consumers want high-quality media, and b) that storage is getting cheaper than bandwidth, that storage will trump bandwidth as the vehicle for content.

I question the first and core assumption....

An excellent debate. More here.
What's next for the iPod?
In what may prove to be the next big thing for the iPod, weblogger Adam Curry has released the source code to an application which allows users to automatically download MP3 audio files from weblogs and other web sites to their iPod.

Read more.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

From CBS News:
The Kerry campaign was slow in countering the Swift Boat charges, the allegations persisted and Kerry’s bad August ensued.

Kerry led most polls leading into August. By the second week of September, President Bush had come back and now has a four-to-seven point lead over Kerry, depending on the poll.
I'm just not sure that I buy this argument. I'm sure the Swift Vets are hurting Kerry, but deeper down I think the real reason he's slipping is that as August progressed and people came home from their summer vacations and got back to work, they started really looking at Kerry and don't like what they see.

From a letter to John Ellis:
If CBS were to acknowledge the documents to be a forgery, then they could not claim ethical responsibility to protect their sources. Once implicated, the sources might further implicate those who encouraged them. Where would this lead?

Has any reporter ever gone to jail for protecting the source of a forged document? A document which the reporter himself acknolwedges to be false?

CBS will continue to maintain authenticity. They have no alternative. They have been very clearly advised on this by their attorneys.

The risk calculations are much different than for an ordinary news fraud. The business cost to CBS of acknowledging forgery could ultimately be much larger than mere damage to the brand. Think Arthur Andersen.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Jonah Goldberg on Dan Rather:

Well, if you agree with Rather, maybe you should give just a smidgen more slack to George W. Bush about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Bush's sources were more solid by several orders of magnitude than Rather's, and yet it is "obvious" to so many that Bush lied while Rather deserves the benefit of the doubt. George W. Bush had the head of the CIA, the intelligence agencies of all our allies, the Clinton administration, the United Nations, and most of the establishment media generally backing his understanding of the threat from Iraq. Dan Rather had a couple shoddy Xeroxes — not all of which were examined thoroughly or at all. He interviewed a partisan — Ben Barnes — a huge backer of Kerry whose story has changed several times. But because many who hate Bush believe he lied, they are willing to believe any lies that confirm what they already know to be true.

You might say the same to me, since I'm one of those people who've seen Dan Rather as a joke for a very long time. Fair enough. The difference is that I have better evidence on my side.

Bad news for Apple Computer:

The Beatles' company, Apple Corps., is involved in a legal battle with Jobs' Apple Computer, claiming the hardware manufacturer is in breach of a 1991 agreement that that forbids it from using the trademark for any application "whose principle content is music." The two companies have been involved in a number of court battles over the years involving the use of the Apple trademark.

Word among the legal community is that an out of court settlement could be imminent and that it will massively dwarf the $26.5 million paid to the Fab Four's company in 1991 in a row over trademark use.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Think about this, from Chris Suellentrop at Slate:

Nothing Kerry said in Cincinnati could compensate for the blunder he made the day before when he stood before cameras on the tarmac of the Cincinnati airport and expressed his sorrow for the 1,000th American casualty in Iraq. "More than 1,000 of America's sons and daughters have now given their lives on behalf of their country, on behalf of freedom, in the war on terror," Kerry said. The war on terror? Oops. The mistake was part of the natural reversion to the mean of the Kerry candidacy. After the successful day and a half of campaigning that followed his conversation with President Clinton, the usual Kerry—the New Old Kerry—was back. Kerry took no questions after making his mystifying "war on terror" comment. Crowley called out, "Senator, you've been saying that it's 'wrong war, wrong place, wrong time.' What does that mean about these deaths?" but Kerry, in a typical maneuver, just walked away. It's been more than five weeks since Kerry last took questions at a press conference, or an "avail," as it's called.
Who. Is. Handling. This. Guy?

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Apparently Pat Buchanan's new book continues his rants about the supposedly nefarious influence of Jews—er, excuse me, I mean neocons on the Grand Old Party:

I'm reviewing it for TCS. I wondered what his source was for the following passage, on pp. 53-54: "In 1996, Irving Kristol had written: 'With the end of the Cold War, what we really need is an obvious ideological and threatening enemy, one worthy of our mettle, one that can unite us in opposition.' On 9/11 opportunity had knocked. The neoconservatives had a new 'enemy. . . worthy of our mettle' . . ."

So I looked up the Irving Kristol essay in question. I think what Kristol is actually saying is that attempts to understand American foreign policy are doomed to end in frustration since that policy will never be coherent absent such a threat. But whatever Kristol meant--and whatever else he has written--we have reason to doubt that this comment was entirely serious. Here are the lines immediately following the passage Buchanan quotes: "Isn't that what the most successful movie of the year, 'Independence Day,' is telling us? Where are our aliens when we most need them?"

Update: from Slate's Timothy Noah:

Let's turn to page 42 of Where the Right Went Wrong. In a passage introducing the group of Iraq hawks who called themselves "the Vulcans," Buchanan observes that the best known members

were Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle. Perle's depiction of his delight at first meeting the future president reads like Fagin relating his initial encounter with the young Oliver Twist.

Question: can you be this kind of Jew baiter and not expect to be called an anti-Semite?

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

"Tell 'em we're coming," it read on the front of the shirts...
"And hell is coming with us . . . ."

No, it's not John Kerry's new campaign slogan (although maybe it should be?).

It's the Red Sox.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Victor Davis Hanson on threats of the future:

It would be naïve of us to think that a Venezuela, a Saudi Arabia, or an Iran will ever unite with us to stop such terror, when the direct result of such uncertainty is an enhanced position for their regimes and cash windfalls in the tens of billions of dollars. We should assume instead that within a year or two we may well see a series of coordinated attacks on Russian or Middle Eastern petroleum facilities and tankers, as well as efforts to knock out or flip over a large exporting country; and we should plan right now for that eventuality. Greater fuel efficiency of our cars coupled with careful drilling in the Arctic is the obvious compromise, along with more nuclear power and continued work on hybrid fuels.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Why Yankees Manager Joe Torre is a class act:

Someone mentioned to Torre in the dugout yesterday that the Yankees, by losing 9 of their previous 15 games, had given the Red Sox life. Torre interrupted this fellow in midthought to set the record straight.

"They gave themselves life," he said. "We won five of seven on our trip and lost ground. They are a good team. I said that when they were 10 games behind us."

Friday, August 27, 2004

Why Real networks is oh-so hip. Not.

"Real is waging a grassroots battle where there is no grass. Apple is not Microsoft (MSFT). There is no sense of outrage among consumers. While it's tempting to cast Steve Jobs as a scheming, egomaniacal villain, the fact is that most people love Apple and its hip products. And shameless price cutting, even if it's just a short-term sales promotion, feels like the last refuge of a failed marketing strategy. It does nothing to enhance the company's prickly brand image, something that Real needs to improve as digital music gradually moves into the mainstream. "At the end of the day, starting a price war is going to bite RealNetworks on the ass," Peacock predicts. "Why would you want to Wal-Mart (WMT) your brand?"

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Superb crack-pot update in this missive from mathematical physicist John Baez:

"After [Roger Penrose's] talk, all the questions were actually harangues from people propounding idiosyncratic theories of their own, and the question period was drawn to an abrupt halt in the middle of one woman's rant about fractal cosmology. But I bumped into the saddest example when I was having a chat with some colleagues at a local pub. A fellow with long curly grey locks and round horn-rimmed glasses sat down beside me. I'd seen him around the conference, so I said hello. He asked me if I'd like to hear about his theory; at this point my internal alarm bells started ringing. I told him I was busy, but said I'd take a look at his manuscript later.

"It turned out to describe an idea I'd never even dreamt of before: a heliocentric cosmology in which the planets move along circular orbits with epicycles a la Ptolemy! And his evidence comes from a neolithic Irish tomb called Newgrange. This tomb may have been aligned to let in the sun on the winter solstice, but some people doubt this, because it seems the alignment would have been slightly off back in 3200 BC when Newgrange was built. However, it's slightly off only if you work out the precession of the equinox using standard astronomy. If you use his theory, it lines up perfectly! Pretty cute. The only problem is that his paper contains no evidence for this claim. Instead, it's only a short note sketching the idea, followed by lengthy attachments containing his correspondence with the Dublin police. In these, he complained that people were trying to block his patent on a refrigerator that produces no waste heat. They were constantly flying airplanes over his house, and playing pranks like boiling water in his teakettle when he was away, trying to drive him insane."

Friday, August 20, 2004

The long wait is officially over. Richard the Second is now available on DVD at Amazon.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Dan Kennedy on Nomar and why it's basically a good thing he's gone:

"Nomar was a great, great player, and he may be once again. But for whatever reason - and I'm certainly not holding management blameless - his situation in Boston had become untenable. Keep an eye on the off-season and see what he signs for. I'll bet it's for a lot less than the $60 million he turned down from the Sox - or even the $48 million "market correction" offer they later made."

Friday, July 30, 2004

The New Republic on Kerry:

"To Kerry supporters who argue otherwise, is it really necessary to point out that Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt never saw combat before going on to become America's greatest wartime strategists? Or that the very men who dispatched Kerry to Vietnam were themselves decorated veterans? To be sure, politicians who have served in war have an essential understanding of the horrors of war. But what does it tell us about their strategic wisdom or their fitness to be commander-in-chief? In truth, very little."

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Real Harmony and Apple's dilemma:

"Apple may yet decide to challenge Harmony in court, but it should carefully think through the consequences: Harmony may actually prove beneficial to Apple and the industry as a whole."

Article here.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

"The recent Markman Order may be the first step towards invalidating some of Acacia’s DMT patent claims, but the case still has a long way to go."

Acacia's lawsuit strategy on streaming media may not be as sound as it thought.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Latest Publisher's Lunch on why science fiction books are hard to film:

"It took almost 44 years to bring Isaac Asimov's I, ROBOT to the screen and "the story bears little resemblance to Asimov's work," so the LA Times looks at how "Hollywood loves science fiction movies, but it's seriously conflicted about science fiction books." They say only two of the 51 novels to win the Hugo Award have been turned into movies.

One case study cited is the tortured path of the classic ENDER'S GAME, which has sold over 5 million copies worldwide. Optioned several times, right now it's in development at Warner Bros., with Wolfgang Peterson attached to direct. Author Orson Scott Card says, "The problems that have plagued 'Ender's Game' are the same that have plagued other award-winning science fiction books. Science fiction is set in a world contrary to our reality, so you have to have an explanation. And explanation time on screen is unbelievably dull."

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."


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.

Friday, May 28, 2004

John Allen writes in today's Word from Rome:

On May 27, Cardinal Bernard Law, the former archbishop of Boston who resigned over his handling of sex abuse allegations, was named Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome. The nomination means that Law, 72, will now reside and work in Rome.

I reported that such a move was under consideration in "The Word from Rome" on Feb. 13.

Each of the four major partriarchal basilicas in Rome has a cardinal-archpriest who is the administrator of the facility. Typically it is a quasi-honorary post given at the end of someone's career.

In Law's case, the dynamics were different.

No kidding.

In effect, this amounts to a recognition that Law cannot play a public role in the church in the United States, nor could he head a major Vatican agency given both his age and his baggage. This appointment allows him to be part of the Roman scene, continuing to serve as a member of the seven congregations and two councils to which he already belongs, and performing whatever other informal functions might be asked of him.

I seem to recall earlier news reports that he might actually do something more expected of a bishop who has uttlerly failed his flock, such as spend the rest of his life in a monastery praying and meditating on the concept of atonement.

As I wrote on Feb. 13: "I suspect that Rome is in some ways a more comfortable environment for Law than the States; he is not stalked by TV cameras here, and, rightly or wrongly,


many Roman observers regard him with sympathy, believing Law was unfairly made the scapegoat of the American sex abuse crisis."

Back here at ground zero, for some strange reason, Catholics view this as a slap in the face, and not for the first time begin to wonder is there really any difference between the Vatican and, say, the board of Citibank?

In all seriousness, this scandal has brought home to even orthodox Catholics the sense that the clergy who run the Church really do set themselves apart (in not the best sense of the phrase) from those they are supposed to serve.
And this man—who apparently has so much disdain for the nature of the American people—wanted to be elected to lead it?

The Boston Herald on Al Gore.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

The Boston Globe's hard-hitting OpEd columnist Jeff Jacoby apparently hit too hard today with his tough piece lambasting Mass. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy for his "anti-American slander" speech in the Senate two weeks ago. The Globe buried Jacoby's excellent column with a two-line notation in the print edition that it could be found on the Globe's web page.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

This would be cool:

"Industry analysts have speculated that Apple might ultimately broaden the uses for an iPod beyond playing music, such as for watching movies.

Already, third-party providers sell accessories that let iPod users transfer pictures from digital cameras to the iPod and use it as a voice recorder."

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Amy Welborn does a job on, "evolution" of Dan Brown's vaunted "factual basis" for the Da Vinci Code.

Friday, May 14, 2004

For the complete ramifications of the Boston Globe's disgraceful running of the story on alleged US Military rapes in Iraq , check out Dan Kennedys' commentary.

Liberal bias? No...not here:

"The other day, while taking a break by the Al-Hamra Hotel pool, fringed with the usual cast of tattooed defence contractors, I was accosted by an American magazine journalist of serious accomplishment and impeccable liberal credentials.

"She had been disturbed by my argument that Iraqis were better off than they had been under Saddam and I was now — there was no choice about this — going to have to justify my bizarre and dangerous views. I’ll spare you most of the details because you know the script — no WMD, no ‘imminent threat’ (though the point was to deal with Saddam before such a threat could emerge), a diversion from the hunt for bin Laden, enraging the Arab world. Etcetera.

"But then she came to the point. Not only had she ‘known’ the Iraq war would fail but she considered it essential that it did so because this would ensure that the ‘evil’ George W. Bush would no longer be running her country. Her editors back on the East Coast were giggling, she said, over what a disaster Iraq had turned out to be. ‘Lots of us talk about how awful it would be if this worked out.’ Startled by her candour, I asked whether thousands more dead Iraqis would be a good thing.

"She nodded and mumbled something about Bush needing to go. By this logic, I ventured, another September 11 on, say, September 11 would be perfect for pushing up John Kerry’s poll numbers. ‘Well, that’s different — that would be Americans,’ she said, haltingly. ‘I guess I’m a bit of an isolationist.’ That’s one way of putting it.

"The moral degeneracy of these sentiments didn’t really hit me until later when I dined at the home of Abu Salah, a father of six who took over as the Daily Telegraph’s chief driver in Baghdad when his predecessor was killed a year ago."

Read more.
(Link thanks to Glenn Reynolds.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Dan Kennedy, on the nightmare that will be the Democratic Convention in Boston:

"You could look it up (I don't feel like it), but Media Log has predicted on at least several occasions that this July's Democratic National Convention will be a five-alarm disaster for anyone who lives in, works in, or even thinks about Boston.

"Yet now that Anthony Flint is reporting in today's Boston Globe that operations to shut down I-93 each day will begin as early as 4 p.m., I'm ready to make a counterintuitive prediction. I now think everyone has been so thoroughly freaked out by months of apocalyptic scenarios (can I take just a little bit of credit?) that everyone is going to take the week off and the locals are going to barricade themselves inside their homes."

Friday, May 07, 2004

"Music labels are dragging their feet in licensing their songs to Apple Computer because they fear its long-promised European music download site will dominate the online business, industry insiders say.

"The five main record labels are understood to be scared that Apple, which makes the iPod digital music player, will become as successful in Europe as it has in the US, where it has 70 per cent of the legal download business. That could let it dictate which stars or records succeed or fail by deciding which to promote on its site."

Sheesh. Even when Apple starts winning, it can't win.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Oh, brother. The travails of Bill Clinton, author. From the latest Publisher's Lunch newsletter:

Today's wave of Bill Clinton stories comes by way of previews of a June Vanity Fair interview. The poor thing says, "I am literally hardly sleeping. I am working around the clock. I am killing myself because I want (my memoirs) done. ... Hard enough to live my life the first time. The second time has really been tough."

A classic NY Post version says, "The publisher of Bill Clinton's forthcoming memoir is 'despairing' that the ex-president hasn't churned out enough pages - and that the book is too full of self-justification and blaming of others, a new report claims." They quote the VF piece as saying that the "Prose is fine; there's just not enough of it. And what has been composed, says an editor who's been briefed on the manuscript, veers too often into trademark blame and self-justification."

They say the interview indicates, "Only within recent weeks did he begin jotting down memories of 1998, when he faced impeachment over of his affair with Monica Lewinsky." Editor Robert Gottlieb is said to have been sleeping over in Chappaqua to help get the book finished.

Man, it's tough being a writer...
Holbert basically sums up Kerry's problem (and the Democrats').

Friday, April 30, 2004

"Now comes a document from the files of the Iraqi secret police, or Mukhabarat, dated March 28, 1992, and headed routinely, "In the Name of Allah, the Merciful and Compassionate." It is a straightforward listing of contacts and "assets," quite unsensational until it comes to the "Saudi front," where we find the name "Osama bin Ladin/he is well-known Saudi businessman, founder of Saudi opposition in Afghanistan, had connection with Syrian division." Of course, this is not a smoking gun."

The always riveting Christopher Hitchens.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Could this actually happen? The Village Voice thinks so:

"With growing issues over his wealth (which makes fellow plutocrat Bush seem a charity case by comparison), the miasma over his medals and ribbons (or ribbons and medals), his uninspiring record in the Senate (yes war, no war), and wishy-washy efforts to mimic Bill Clinton's triangulation gimmickry (the protractor factor), Kerry sinks day by day. The pros all know that the candidate who starts each morning by having to explain himself is a goner.

"What to do? Look for the Dem biggies, whoever they are these days, to sit down with the rich and arrogant presumptive nominee and try to persuade him to take a hike. "


Friday, April 23, 2004

Slow motion is killing the movies. I enjoyed all three of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings adaptations, but one of my pet peeves about his style is his over-reliance on slow motion. It was annoying here and there in Fellowship of the Ring, grating in the last hour of Two Towers, and had me ready to throw tomatoes at the screen by the climactic scene on Mount Doom in the last film.

Now, speaking as a professional video editor, I know there are places in a project or movie where a. you may have no choice but to slow down some footage (because there's so little available) or b. the dramatic pace of the situation would benefit from it. But to my mind, changing the pace in the quicker direction is more effective than slowing it down (I always liked Laurence Olivier's simple recommendation to one actor who was agonizing over a scene on stage: "Darling, try twice the pace.").

But to use it as consistently and thoughtlessly as so many directors do in today's market —whether for TV or cinema—is to vitiate the energy of the story on screen.

Mel Gibson falls prey to the same tendency (although not as badly as Jackson) in The Passion of the Christ.

Some day, I think moviegoers are going to look back on this tedious fashion the way we currently do about the tendency of old Hollywood movies to rely on montages.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

MPEG-4 is dead. Microsoft wins yet another battle in the digital media wars.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

The April/May issue of Art New England has a nice article on the forthcoming DVD release of my production of Richard the Second (unfortunately not online).

Friday, April 16, 2004

Charles Cooper discusses the stupidity behind Real CEO Rob Glaser's ham-fisted threat to Apple.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Is this another sign that Real is in eclipse?

And for a sample of what users think of the Realplayer itself? Here.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

I've always suspected Boston Globe Sports writer Dan Shaughnessy has a vested interest in the so-called Curse of the Bambino. And the latest news from Publisher's Lunch newsletter does nothing to dispel that notion:

"Boston Globe sports columnist and author of The Curse of the Bambino Dan Shaughnessy's book on the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, focusing on the 2004 season and offering a new take on the legendary contest, to Susan Canavan at Houghton Mifflin, for publication in spring 2005...."

Gee, I wonder what the "new take" will be? (And what was Shaughnessy's?)

Thursday, March 04, 2004

The real secret behind Apple's killer G5s. Steven Den Beste has an excellent entry on what's going on behind the scenes with Apple, Microsoft and IBM. And being an engineer, he zeros on on what many techie and computer journals miss.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I seem to recall that years ago William F. Buckley started an informal Committee
to Horsewhip Drew Pearson.

Now, I have no recollection of who Pearson was, or what he did to get Buckley that
worked up. But I always liked the name of that committee.

I think it's time some conscientious conservatives started a Committee to Horsewhip Anne Coulter.

I don't read her. Never did. But Mark Steyn I have enjoyed--until now. I'd like to think he'd retract Coulter's nonsense reported by Dan Kennedy if someone could reach him.

Jim Likeks:

—You want to know why we invaded Iraq in 2003? Go back and read the papers in 1992. And you’ll find this quote:

"If they’re such whizzes at foreign policy, why is Saddam Hussein thumbing his nose at the rest of the world?"

Albert. Gore. Junior.—

Thursday, February 12, 2004

I would love to know how these copies of my first novel ended up here—at almost twice the original cost.....
AWOL. Bush from the National Guard 32 years ago? Er, no. The media's ability to get their facts straight.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Anthony Lane on Joe Eszterhas's "shy and blushing" Hollywood memoir:

He sold his first screenplay, "F.I.S.T.," in 1974, and since then the Eszterhas style has bestrewn the world with gems: "Flashdance," "Jagged Edge," "Basic Instinct," "Sliver," "Showgirls," and "Jade." If that list makes you want to hide in the attic, you should hear some of his ideas that never came to fruition: a script entitled "Foreplay"; a remake of "The Red Shoes," based on the story of Mariah Carey and Tommy Mottola; and a film about Jesus Christ, to be developed with Paul Verhoeven. Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

Monday, February 02, 2004

William Safire recalls a time when U.S. Intelligence made James Bond look like a banker:

The technology topping the Soviets' wish list was for computer control systems to automate the operation of the new trans-Siberian gas pipeline. When we turned down their overt purchase order, the K.G.B. sent a covert agent into a Canadian company to steal the software; tipped off by Farewell, we added what geeks call a "Trojan Horse" to the pirated product.

"The pipeline software that was to run the pumps, turbines and valves was programmed to go haywire," writes Reed, "to reset pump speeds and valve settings to produce pressures far beyond those acceptable to the pipeline joints and welds. The result was the most monumental non-nuclear explosion and fire ever seen from space."


Friday, January 23, 2004

The beloved Bob Keeshan, aka Captain Kangaroo, has passed away at age 76.

"[His] series first aired in October 1955 and continued until 1985, making it the longest running children's series in network history."

Read more. I grew up with him. And with all due respect to Mr. Rogers, the Captain had a better sense of humor and imagination.
Here's bad news for those of us who stream original content on the Web:

"California-based holding company Acacia Research claims they hold patents on streaming, downloading and just about every form of digital audio and video distribution out there—including pushing MP3s from peer-to-peer groups, streaming newscasts from Internet radio sites and delivering movies through cable networks.

Read more here. If Acacia gets its way, Apple, Real and even Microsoft could be liable.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Apple Computer's i-Movie continues to make an impression in the world of independent filmmaking....

At the Hollywood level, Final Cut Pro debuts as a feature editor with Cold Mountain. Who's onboard next, I wonder.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

John Podhoretz:

One of the most peculiar elements of the anti-immigrant intellectual movement is just how many of its members are themselves immigrants - John O'Sullivan, John Derbyshire and Peter Brimelow from England, and George Borjas from Cuba. I once found myself in an argument with a few of these gentlemen at a conference and realized that I was the only person speaking with an American accent.

I how wonder how the editors at National Review are going to respond to this.

I think Podhoretz is right.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

The most experienced swordsman on the silver screen? Errol Flynn? Douglas Fairbanks?

(He's still alive.)