Joho the BlogOctober 2004 - Joho the Blog

October 31, 2004

The 2-step tonic for political depression

I’ve not made any bones about it: This campaign has left me beaten down and depressed. Am I the only one?

So, here’s my tonic. It comes in two parts: Part 1: Get out the vote. Part 2: Get out and vote.

If we get out the vote, we win. We could even win big.

And while democracy does not consist merely of pulling a lever in a voting booth, pulling that lever is so important that people have died to give us that right. That’s what I remember every time I vote, and this will not be the first time I get choked up in a voting booth.

I’m depressed so I spend more time thinking about how bad it’s going to be if Bush wins. But occasionally I am granted a moment of thinking how good four – eight! – years of Kerry can be. I believe we will see a type of strong leadership – principled, realistic and unmarred by meanness – that this country has not seen in a generation.

I gotta go call some strangers…

You can, too. Kerry supporters can sign up here to call from their houses. Bush supporters can go google it on their own; I’m not that much of a liberal.


When your wifi card doesn’t work…

When your wifi card doesn’t work under XP, after spending three hours futzing with drivers, I suggest you try this:

Control Panel > Administrative tools > Services. Look for Wireless Zero Configuration. Click on it. If it’s stopped, start it. If there’s no start or stop button, double click on it and change “Startup type” to “Automatic.”

Or you could get a Mac which, because it is a closed environment, tends to be easier to live with.


Doom the Movie (not Doom the Presidential Prediction)

1. The Doom movie is in pre-production in Prague. Andrzej Bartkowiak (Cradle 2 the Grave, Romeo Must Die) is directing and Karl Urban (“What business does an elf, man, and a dwarf have in the Ridder-Mark? Speak quickly”, LOTR 2) will play the lead. The script is not the same as the script of Doom 3, which is the same as the script of Doom 1. which is the same as Die Hards 1-7, Rambo’s 1-12, and every psychopathically sympathy-free mow-’em-down tale ever told … and I say that as a fan.

The writer, 26-year-old Dave Callaham, has no other screenwriting credits. He gives away a bit of the “plot”:

In the movie he [the space marine] is reunited with his sister, a scientist on the based named Samantha (to be played by Die Another Day villainess Rosamund Pike). They were separated after an accident that killed their parents and Callaham says, “They are a little estranged” However, strange things are afoot on the base as alien monsters begin to appear and both brother and sister have to put aside their differences in order to survive. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will also appear as Sarge, the head space marine…

In the interview, Callaham says that Id agreed to let him put in some real “character development.” That’s code for “I really want to make a Doom movie that will not only betray your vision, but will totally suck.”

The interview got slashdotted. And here’s a 145MB video about the history of Doom. I have not downloaded it.

2. The December issue of Computer Gaming World runs a “Duke Nukem Timeline” that points out: “Rovers Spirit and Opportunity were proposed, authorized, announced, designed, launched, and successfully landed on Mars in less time.” Yeah, but did NASA have to worry about pixel shading? I don’t think so. Ok, well, actually the NASA imaging software probably did, but, Duke Nukem is going to totally kick NASA’s ass!

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October 30, 2004

Our moon

Liz points us to a beautiful sequence of photos of the lunar eclipse, taken by Amy Desiree Goldstein.


Rebecca on WikiNews

Rebecca MacKinnon, who knows a little bit about journalism, has a terrific post on the proposed WikiNews.

Overall, I think it’s an interesting experiment that is likely to turn into something other than is planned. What worries me most is their insistence on maintaining a neutral point of view, a policy that I believe mirrors the weakness of journalism that blogs redress. (Joi has additional concerns, as does the award-winning Dan Gillmor.)


The award-winning Dan Gillmor

Dan has won the 2004 World Technology Award for Media & Journalism. So deserved. Not only is We the Media the seminal statement of how the Net is transforming journalism, Dan has been walking the walk before most of us could crawl.

Congratulations, Dan.

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Two urgent questions

1. When the network newscasters announce who won Florida, what little self-effacing phrase will they use to introduce it? “We’re ready to announce a winner in Florida, and believe me, this time we’ve checked our numbers and counted them twice…”? “We are calling Florida for Bush/Kerry, although with Florida the only thing you can expect is the unexpected…”? What’s it going to be?

2. If one were to serve a house drink on Election Night, what should it be?

a. Suggest existing appropriate drinks for Bush supporters and for Kerry supporters.

b. Create your own drink and describe what’s in it. E.g., for pessimistic Kerry supporters, you might suggest the Bush Oblivion (“take three a day for the next four years”) . Or, Kerry supporters might drink Iraq Invasions: Mix together wild turkey and WMDs; if no WMDs can be found, substitute zero-proof beer. Bush supporters might prefer the Shock and Awe.


October 29, 2004

Steve Johnson’s new book

Steve talks about his new book, Everything Bad Is Good for You. (Love the title). A snippet:

It’s just me trying to marshal all the evidence I can to persuade the reader of a single long-term trend: popular culture on average has been steadily growing more complex and cognitively challenging over the past thirty years. The dumbing-down, instant gratification society assumption has it completely wrong. Popular entertainment is making us smarter and more engaged, not catering to our base instincts.

Steve is one of my very favorite writers. He leads you through some complex topic and just as you’re pleased with yourself for having understood so much, he turns you around and shows you some truth you hadn’t noticed about where you’ve just been. Despite the powerful Writers Envy his work induces in me, I’m very much looking forward to his new book, which he thinks he’ll be done revising in a few months.


Gonzo endorsement and dancing in the voting booths

If you haven’t read Hunter S. Thompson’s surprisingly enthusiastic endorsement of Kerry, drop a tab and go on over to Rolling Stone

Fittingly, I got to this through John Perry Barlow’s inspired rational madness: How to Overthrow the Government.


100,000 Iraqi dead

The first scientific study of the human cost of the Iraq war suggests that at least 100,000 civilians have lost their lives since their country was invaded in March 2003.

More than half of those who died were women and children killed in air strikes, researchers say.

This is a newspaper’s summary of a study in the prestigious UK medical journal, The Lancet.

From the article itself:

The major causes of death before the invasion were myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular accidents, and other chronic disorders whereas after the invasion violence was the primary cause of death. Violent deaths were widespread, reported in 15 of 33 clusters, and were mainly attributed to coalition forces. Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children. The risk of death from violence in the period after the invasion was 58 times higher (95% CI 8ยท1-419) than in the period before the war.

…Making conservative assumptions, we think that about 100,000 excess deaths, or more have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most violent deaths.

Is this proof that we should not have started this war? Of course not. But it should keep us from ever thinking that war is an easy answer to a hard question.

(You can read the whole article here. It requires a free registration.)

Fuck it. You know, I try to be reasonable. But it’s hard to maintain the cool stoniness of reason when you’re surrounded by a 100,000 corpses — women and children and men — even if your country is directly responsible “only” for most of them.

We have an administration that uses this war to win an election, yet it forbids us from seeing photographs of our honored dead. Then it crows that the Democrats will lose because we’re “reality-based.” A hundred thousand corpses around us is a lot of reality to ignore. Reality is going to catch up with us, and it iis going to hurt 100,000 times more when it does.

What have we become?


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