February 28, 2006

Only In America, Dammit

I met Mark Cuban at a dot com conference back in the days when people believed that Sean Fanning could walk on water. It was the Webnoize conference in Century City, I forget the year. My job was to scout out any real players in the DRM and online music sales business and try to get them interested in a web analytics product. We already had the technology that Doubleclick was using to monetize their clicks and analyze their money, and we were building that into a full suite. I figured that anybody who was serious about making money would want to have such a tool - but I thought a lot of things back then. Of all of the people who were saying things with conviction that was born of experience, Cuban stood out. Hilary Rosen, the Diva of the MPAA knew what she was talking about too, but people weren't supposed to like such a wet blanket. I couldn't understand all the praise heaped on the guy from Grand Royal, whatever that was. I later found out he was related to the Beastie Boys. Whoop. Charlie Rose was there as was a cat who argued in support of digital watermarks. They too knew what they were talking about. As I approached with my intelligent question, Cuban vaguely suggested that no amount of analytical software is going to help people know what they should have known before the money was invested, or some such. I left dejected, but at least I discovered that the guys at Reciprocal were going broke too.

Sometime later, I found Cuban on Kudlow & Kramer demonstrating his genius. He was arguing seriously about the return of dividends as a stockholder incentive. It was perfectly clear at the time that it was a mindblowing idea. Back in the day when I used to be a road warrior and watched Squawk Box I recall only one older woman with an underproduced video about dividend reinvestment. It was clearly something that the popular capitalists didn't care about. Then again we all know the exuberance was irrational - or at least I did, and bore the scars of scorn telling people they were not motely, just fools.

So all in all, my appreciation for Cuban's savvy hadn't been disappointed. Just a week or so I think he nailed what's wrong with the theatre business. And so of all the people who made money during the craze, I think he's one of the least crazy. But today I'm scratching my head and there is piss and vinegar under my fingernails. So my head is burning with a question like WTF in response to his charity challenge:

Howie, if you can get Mr Trump to pull a rubber glove completely over his head and blow it up on your show, not only will I watch it, I will donate 1 million dollars to the charity of your choice.

This is just one more face-slapping indication that I am hanging with the wrong crowd.

When I was a kid and pretty much an honor student in prep school, I encountered the mind-numbing personna of Regis Philbin. On a boring summer morning, I watched his television show for an entire hour and realized that I had absolutely no idea who he was or who any of the people he was talking about were. It was as if he lived in an entirely different city. Many people have talked about Los Angeles in any number of ways, but I was shocked. Since then I've always marvelled at the amount of money spent on foolishness, namely in the form of television entertainment. It makes for a somewhat witty but ultimately pointless sort of complaint. Let's try it out, see if you get the gist.

The amount of time and money spent by the Bush Administration researching the provenance of the sale of P&O to Dubai Ports was less than was spent filming the 'Marsha Marsha Marsha' episode of the Brady Bunch.

See? Think of anything that's of significant importance, especially life of death matters, and you will find ultimately that some asshat-Americans have spent more money on potato chips. Mister Frito and Mister Lay don't need to give a shit. Their business model works. I used to also do this with political issues when arguing among conspiracy theorists who complained about their tax money being spent on this or that boondoggle. This one shows off the geek in my so bear with me a moment. Let's say that you're on a rampage about $500 toilet seats, and you want to throw in your extended two cents about government fraud, waste and abuse. So you expend 700 words writing a flame in a public forum that I really don't want to read but do anyway. I would calculate that the government spent a total of 3 million on that particular fraud which works out to about .004% of their annual budget. The complainer spent about .01% of one year of his life complaining about it online. The complainer could have done us all a favor, shutup and worked another hour of overtime and it calculates that he would have made ten times the fraction of his taxes spent on toilet seats working instead of complaining. I had the formulae in a spreadsheet.

Like most Americans I'd rather complain than make money. But unlike most Americans I make good money while I'm complaining. (Don't tell anyone I'm blogging at work). Still, I don't see how anybody could fault me by asking WTF when it comes to Cuban's excess. Why invest in stupidity? Easy. He can afford it. And who are we to say Mark Cuban ought to do anything serious - after all, he's in the entertainment business, and he can go talk to Trump or Howie Mandel anytime he likes. If I had his millions, I'd probably do something just as ridiculous. Surely he sees some value in that million, or maybe not. Who knows?

I have the feeling that given the right code, which I'm going to dedicate myself to even more in the face of this capitalist insanity, I could corner Cuban or some other wealthy guy interested in funding the improbable, I could have my Steve Jobs - John Scully moment. I could ask him if he wants to change the world. But that means I've got to have my code done.

Only in America are we inspired by such foolishness, because only in America do so many fools have so much money to burn.

Posted by mbowen at 05:25 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 24, 2006

The Paradox of Race Relations: Circa 2006

antonio_h.jpgHey, whassup my niggas? Awww, why you leave me hangin'? Whatdya mean I can't say that? That ain't right. Can't I say nigga? Huh? Can I? Please? I just want to be down. C'mon homies. You know we're all the same underneath. No? That's wrong and you know it. OK be that way. You know what? You all are just racist. Yeah I said it. You think you're better than me but you ain't. Forget you then. Dumb niggas.

No I don't mean it. I mean it in a Damon Wayans kinda way. I want to be a dumb nigga. I mean I want to be free. You don't know what it's like to be me. Everybody expects me to be something that I'm not. But nobody expects anything from you. You don't realize how good you got it. You don't have to care about anything, you can just keep it real. It's true that life is just about money and bitches. I understand, I'm down with that.

Oh so it's still like that. Ok that's fucked up. See, now you done made an enemy. I'm hanging with Dick Cheney now. I'ma show you I'm the wrong nigga to fuck with. Yeah, straight gangsta. Watch your back, bitches. It's on. I hate you niggas.

Posted by mbowen at 07:34 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 22, 2006

Lorem Ipsum

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. In congue enim eget felis. Maecenas placerat. Nullam ante lacus, iaculis sed, porta ut, vehicula non, libero. Praesent ante ante, hendrerit sed, sodales varius, adipiscing quis, odio. Etiam gravida lacinia erat. Nulla at diam. Etiam commodo. Morbi at urna. Aenean vel dui. Donec eu pede. Fusce lacus risus, luctus nec, dictum vitae, sagittis quis, metus. Duis commodo faucibus lorem. Sed eu ligula non erat sodales mattis. Duis imperdiet, ligula eu placerat tempor, justo mauris tristique urna, at sodales est ante vitae ipsum. Sed pretium. Suspendisse consequat fringilla arcu. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Vivamus eu nunc.

Have you ever had the sneaking suspicion that you've seen that dummy text before? In fact you probably have. It's called the 'Lorem Ipsum', and it is actually a real text with a real history.

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

Now you know. (plus you know how empty my head is today).

Posted by mbowen at 06:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 20, 2006

Mmm Delicious

I've decided to spew off a deliberately redundant set of paths through my browsing via Delicious. I am finding that Google Desktop does not suffice and I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired of not having the sniglets of information that I am able to remember but not recall.

I'm also a bit frustrated that I haven't been able to independently find word cloud parsers other than at this T-shirt shop, which I think would be very useful if I were to want to blink-o-analyze a website or two. So if you'd like to confound yourself to an even greater extent than you do based upon what I post, you can now look at the things I observe without posting. Then scratch your head and wonder how I ever get 40 hours of work done in a week.

Posted by mbowen at 10:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 19, 2006

Cheney Ballistics

I never expected the amount of detail to come out of the BDS meme of 'Cheneygate' but it just goes to show how our democracy has the capacity to flush out birdbrains. It came as no surprise that Whittington would speak up and embarrass all of those who saw 'a pattern'. But this amount of detail surprised even me.

Consequently, from the links directly above at: Essential shotgun patterning - by Dr Matt Draisma, it is more than safe to conclude that Vice President Cheney could rightfully expect a shot pattern with about 70% of his shot within a 30 inch diameter, which matches up extremely well with Whittington's injury diagram in pdf.

Seventy-percent of the 262 pellets in a typical factory load of 7 1/2 shot would be 183 pellets. The report of approximately 200 pellets having hit Whittington at about 30 yards is wholly consistent with the minimum standards one might expect under the circumstances.

So there were actually people from the Left who believed that Cheney was closer to his friend and shot him out of spite or something and they went to the lengths of doing a Mythbuster scenario on the reported 30 yard distance. Astounding. That's hate.

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February 04, 2006

The Dog Whisperer

Yesterday, something hit me like a ton of bricks. It was about Americans and their dogs.

Now I'm not the kind of person that goes around looking for things that are wrong with Americans, but I did grow up black. That means I've had the 'natural' opportunity to look at things like an outsider and smirk. As a critical tool, the outsider looking in can be very powerful. It can also be overused, but listening to this dude talk about who we are as Americans was something from straight genius. His name is Cesar Millan, and you've got to absorb him.

He said that if you ask a person from the Third World about their dog, they say it's a dog. You ask an American and they say it's their baby.

Here in the United States, we often refer to our dogs as our children, our brothers and sisters, and even our soulmates! So if they ever display severe aggression towards another animal, we’re shocked, sad, or may even feel betrayed. We think of that dog as a “bad seed.”

That's so wrong, and this man is so right. He says he doesn't even speak much to dogs - that people talk to their dogs as if they were people. He said that in Europe, people regularly bring their dogs into cafes and restaurants and they never fight with other dogs. Why? Because Europeans know how to treat their dogs like dogs. Who is the dog and who is the master is clear, whereas here most Americans don't know who's the boss. He said America is run by dogs and children. Funny, I was just cartooning about the children part. Now I'm encouraged.

Catch his show on the National Geographic Channel. This is better than Dr. Phil

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February 01, 2006

Wednesday Meme Blogging

What is your reaction to waking up and seeing snow?
I must be still asleep. I live in Southern California.

What’s your favorite dessert to order out? to make at home?
Chocolate Mousse when I'm out to dinner, apple pie ala mode at the crib.

Do you file your taxes early or late?
Early. Mr. Bowen doesn't f*k with the Feds.

Do you usually get a big refund? If so, what do you do with it?
I usually use my refund to pay back taxes. Not that it ever gets to my own hands.

How do you handle your bills? Are you really organized, really laid back or somewhat in between. Describe.
Whenever I get paid, I handle all the big bills right away. I get zero interest on money laying around in the bank. I'm pretty lazy when it comes to my expenses though. Twice a quarter I get anal, and do them to the penny. In the meantime I have a shoebox full of reciepts.

How important is money in terms of your happiness?
Money and computers are the only logical things in my life. Everything else is stochastic. Money is indeed how I keep score. However I think like Boyd. Reducing my needs to zero is just as fun as being rich.

What did your parents teach you about money?
Not much. But my dad gave me a dollar a day for doing my chores. I saved up enough to buy a mini-bike. I still remember that it cost $136.

What do you wish your parents had taught you about money?
I find it difficult to imagine that they knew much more than I did. So, basically everything. Their idea of investing went no further than buying savings bonds.

What are your plans for the weekend?
I'm going shopping for a bicycle or a new pair of eyeglasses. I haven't decided which yet.

Posted by mbowen at 07:37 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 23, 2006

Jamie Foxx

So I got the following in the mail off the Kwaku Network. For those of you who don't know, the Kwaku Network is the spontaneous unofficial underground communications network for blackfolks on the email. Don't say I told you so, because it doesn't really exist. Smile and wave boys, smile and wave.

NBC is not doing any marketing & publicity on Jamie's Music Special on NBC because he stood his ground and didn't have any white guest (performers) to perform with as they requested. To make it even worse he had two controversial guest stars that do not fit the "NBC profile" on his show. Tune in to find out who they are. They are purposely putting his show up against the second week of American Idol in hopes that it will fail. This will give them the excuse to never give another black person a music special because "it doesn't work". Let's show them that it does work, and that we support each other. Tivo Idol, and watch Jamie. I saw the taping, it is a good show.

J Foxx making history on NBC. This is the first time NBC has ever aired an entire young urban African American cast on music special. We need to show support. This was not an easy sell for Jamie and he stood his ground to make it happen the way he saw fit.

PST on NBC. PLEASE MAKE IT A POINT WATCH! There will be surprise special

For what it's worth I have only been impressed with Jamie Foxx in one dimension, which is that he can sing. He's only done one movie role that I thought was worthwhile and that was in "On Any Sunday". It should be said that I didn't see 'Ray', so what do I know. But Collateral didn't impress me at all. All he did was play an ordinary scared guy, which must... well, let me not get into it BUT, I would say that the only thing special about Foxx's work in Collateral was that he defied the trend of vulgar hiphop idiocy we have come to expect from entertainers of his age and hue. But it appears that he intends to make up for that on Wednesday.

Call me Danny Glover, but I'm getting too old for this shit. Jamie Foxx isn't making history, he's making noise, which on a good day might be called entertainment. Why oh why did I ever stop being a snob?

Posted by mbowen at 04:30 PM | Comments (34) | TrackBack

January 22, 2006

Google Video: First Looks

I've been fascinated by Google Video for a couple weeks now. Finding stuff isn't so difficult, but I still am getting a handle on what to expect and how the service might be improved. It's certain to get better as time goes by, but it's already very interesting.

Finger Breakdancing
At first, this guy looks like a total dweeb, and then you realize after a few minutes how little you've done with your own fingers. My guess is that he's either a magician or a pianist. I think that's pretty awe inspiring - gives a new level of respectability to the phrase 'playing with yourself'.

The very first Google Video I watched was of Dick Wolf. I watched each of the pieces of the interview and I learned more about television and the entertainment business in those few hours than in a lifetime before.

One of my favorite shows on BBC is Top Gear, and it turns out that a good number of their shows are online at Google Video. Since I'm something of a gearhead it's with great pleasure that I can follow them in a kind of trans-media fashion. For example, there's the Wikipedia entry on them. Then there are GVs of some of their most interesting cars, like the Pagani Zonda F or the Murcielago.

Posted by mbowen at 04:20 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 20, 2006

The Meme of Fours

It started with CalTechGirl.

Four jobs you've had in your life:
Lifeguard. Window Washer. Parade Boy. Cookie Baker.

Four movies you could [and do] watch over and over:
The Fifth Element, Heat, Ronin, Ran

Four places you've lived:
Brooklyn. Boston. Atlanta. South Pasadena.

Four fiction books you can't live without:
I never re-read fiction. Ever. Well, except for Einstein's Monsters by Martin Amis and Parliament of Whores by PJ ORourke, and Watchmen by Alan Moore and.. Cryptonomicon.

Four non-fiction books you consider essential:
Oxford Concise Dictionary. Prentice Hall Guide to English Literature. An Incomplete Education (Jones & Wilson). Norton Anthology of African American Literature.

Four TV shows you love to watch:
The Sheild, 24, Hustle, MXC (bonus 4 favorite shows of all time: Hill Street Blues, Moonlighting, Speed Racer, Felix the Cat)

Four places you've been on vacation:
Puerto Vallarta. Sydney. Kauai. Martha's Vineyard.

Four websitesblogs you visit daily:
Drezner. Baldilocks. Booker Rising. Dean's World.

Four of your favorite foods:
Eggs Benedict, Unagi, Soft Shell Crab, Cherry Garcia Ice Cream

Four places you'd rather be:
Polynesia. The Midlands (UK). Beijing. an alternate universe where SC won the Rose Bowl...

Four albums you can't live without:
Exodus (Marley). Beyond Words (McFerrin). Hallucination Engine (Material). Mondschein (Barenboim (Beethoven))

Posted by mbowen at 01:57 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 06, 2006

Friday Meme Blogging

1. What time did you get up this morning?

2. Diamonds or pearls?

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?

4. What is your favorite TV show?
The Sheild

5. What did you have for breakfast?

6. What is your middle name?
David Cobb

7. What is your favorite food?

8. What is your favorite chip flavor?
Sour Cream & Onion

9. What is your favorite CD at the moment?
Give a Monkey a Brain & He'll Swear He's the Center of the Universe

10. What kind of car do you drive?
BMW 740iL

11. Favorite sandwich?
Pastrami Reuben on Rye

12. What characteristic do you despise?

13. Favorite item of clothing?
Baldassarini full length coat.

14. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation?
Dubai. Whatever.

15. Favorite brand of clothing?

16. Where would you retire to?
Some Island with broadband.

17. Favorite time of the day?
3pm, if I can sleep.

18. What was your most memorable birthday?

19. Where were you born?
On base.

20. Favorite sport to watch?
English Premier League

21. Who won't send this back to you?

22. Person you expect to send it back first?

23. What fabric softner do you use?
Fabric softener?

24. Coke or Pepsi?

25. Morning person or a night owl?
night owl

26. What size shoe do you wear?

27. Do you have any pets?
Don't tell my wife.

28. Any new and exciting news you want to share with family and friends?
You're not on the mailing list, so stop being so nosy.

29. What did you want to be when you were little?

30. Favorite Drink?
Rye & Ginger

31. Favorite dessert?
Chocolate Mousse

32. Favorite color?

33. Favorite hobby?
Pontification & Theorizing and saying I told you so.

Thanks to Sixhertz of Pain

Posted by mbowen at 07:39 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 04, 2006

Where Do All the Companies Go?

I haven't been in the stock market for five years. 2001 basically killed me. So I haven't logged into eTrade or any of my other brokers for quite some time. Just updating Yahoo, I looked at what used to be some of my eBusiness portfolio and half of the companies aren't there.

Once upon a time, you could say 'Viant' and/or 'Scient', and be considered in the know. My money was on Loudcloud, Mark Andreeson's post-Netscape company. We used to believe, those of us arms distance away from the Dotcom madness, that at least Loudcloud knew what they were talking about. They did, I suppose. Well enough to get bought out by Perot Systems. But whatever happened to those other two guys?

Speaking of which, remember Black Rocket? That was the product by the other company I was sure knew its head from its ass, Genuity. Of course Genuity used to be GTE Internetworking which used to be Bolt, Beranek & Newman, at least that's how they marketed themselves. Somehow BBN remains and all the Genuity tykes were kicked to the curb. Which is as it should be, I reckon. At least I'm glad that BBN survived.

I think of them also in the context of some interesting follow-up on the latest FISA evasion news. It turns out that some time ago, the precursor to the NSA used a proprietary in Florida to do some of this kind of domestic wiretapping. That was back in the old days when big name corporations like RCA and ITT were more closely connected to the intelligence businesses than they are today.

Can a one billion dollar organization disappear? In today's global marketplace, I think the answer is hell yes. Though none of my dotcom investments had anything like that kind of money, I am constantly amazed by how fluid money is in the American economy. Somedays I think I shoulda gotten an MBA. It's still a possibility.

Posted by mbowen at 11:40 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 29, 2005

My Gripe with the Religious Right

I think that a sizeable percentage of the Christian Right are under the false impression that America is on the verge of moral collapse, and that were it not for their tireless and tiresome efforts, gay men who are pro-abortion would take over the nation and Tony Kushner would replace Shakespeare in the schools. Such people are deluded, paranoid and over-exposed. I think they will discover this as soon as Karl Rove's memoirs are published, but no time soon. In the meantime, amid legitimate complaints about media bias, we are suffering the reactionary anti-bias.

One of the reasons I find this astounding is due to the credibility given to Mel Gibson, of all people, in telling the story of Christ. If people actually believe that Christianity without movies and television is a failed religion, then perhaps we ought to get rid of all these new Christians and start Christianity over again.

Religion is not supposed to be fought in the media, nor in the legislature, but in the mind and in the heart. Unfortunately for us, too many Christians know no other way. Not that the Republican Party minds one bit, because the Democrats are too stupid to make appeals to Christians.

Posted by mbowen at 09:07 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

December 27, 2005

Appliance World

There's only a very small difference between men and women. ah but vive la difference!
-- French Proverb, according to Pepe Le Peu

I just clicked on a banner ad for a Hyundai automobile. I didn't know it was a Hyundai. It looked luxurious. I'm sure you've made similar mistakes in the past few years. A lot of cars look like Mercedes. Jaguars look more pedestrian than ever. BMW goes into bizarre sharklike directions to distinguish their latest models. I hear that Chinese cars are on their way across the Pacific. (There has got to be a joke in there somewhere). What's going on here?

Not much I think. It's only something we in the advanced consumer class take a great deal of notice in. We are reading extraordinary arcane tea leaves, and we're very good at it. I am brought to mind of a dinner I bought for a cat from Finland in Long Beach a few years back. He told me he was raised on potatoes and soup, basically. So he always loved to come to the US whenever he could, so he could eat at our French and Thai restaurants. I told him that we are very addicted to money and spending, that's why we're an economic superpower. He couldn't believe it when I told him that the waiter in the restaurant would respect me more if I paid with a gold colored piece of plastic instead of a blue colored one. But it's true. We're like that.

Steve Jobs is still ranting about Objective C and the Next Cube computing club has finally called it quits. The PC is only about 20 years old and that's why Gerard is still having nightmares. But already an iPod is an iPod, unless it's a Rio or just some attachement feature in a Treo. There are fashionable computers and fashionable flash music players. That means the basic problem has been solved and now it's all about marketing. We do all the marketing over here in the US, we let our flunkies overseas do the building. That's OK. Without marketing, they're all appliances anyway. I mean, really is there a difference between a Dell desktop and a Compaq? Neither of those two companies do anything but assemble components built elsewhere and market them slickly. It's what America does best.

Marketing is an extraordinarily difficult thing. I really learned that back in 1999 and 2000 when I had one of those crazy Silicon Valley titles and wore blue shirts. Marketing is the art of convincing people that there is value in making a selection between rough commodities. It is the science of putting words in people's mouths and ideas in their heads. It's about selling concepts that contain products. Products are entiities that combine technologies. A good marketer makes people like products before they even exist. That we are capable of such magical mojo is testament to our greatness as a society, or of our credulousness, one. Still, if anybody could be a VP of Marketing, we'd all live in Lido Village.

But what's so special about Lido Village?

I would hope that I maintain a critical distance from certain marketing campaigns such that I can't be bamboozled as a consumer. But the scale of the enterprise of buying and selling is so vast that it's difficult to comprehend. There are whole economies of information out there that are difficult to parse. It's a full-time job just keeping up. And of course there's the whole economy above our heads. I mean, how could a guy like me tell the difference between a good yacht and a cheap one? For the man who cashes his paycheck at the liquor store, how could he ever distinguish between Schwab and Merrill Lynch? And yet there is marketing that I want too, because I like people like me and I want to know what they do. I'd like to know that I can be enticed by something that's good for me. And like other folks keeping up with the Joneses, I occasionally like to make jokes about people who buy goods from certain stores beneath my tastes.

But what if there was no marketing? What if we were only to get functional satisfaction from our consumables? What if products were only utilitarian, like the breakfast sludge eaten by the crew of the Neb in The Matrix? What if there were no sleek and sharklike, nor hooptie, nor mega tired, but only simply functional automobiles? What if everything simply worked and delivered no other kind of pleasure.. kind of like toothbrushes used to be? Blah. Might as well be Soviet, methinks. Furthermore, as loathe as we might be to admit it, there is an extra charge in knowing that there may someday be a new product that liberates us from the clunker we have now. That's why people are shelling out 600 bucks for a vacuum cleaner.

It's an interesting sport to check out the minute differences between products like cigarettes or shoes. There's really not a whole lot of difference between Nikes and Reeboks, but... hey, most of the time it's worth it.

Posted by mbowen at 09:23 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 18, 2005

Music Snobbery

I had one of those rare moments when just one look at a black person takes me into a different dimension.

So I'm taking F8 now F9 into Joe's Crab Shack for a birthday luncheon and we pull into the parking lot. And there is homeboy with his date in his brand new Mustang, sitting in the driveway about to head out. And he looks at me, as I pull up in the fly 740iL as if he cannot believe that there are other black people on the planet who know about this place, much less can roll up in with a sweet whip. I saw all that in a split second. Shock & envy. Two seconds later he burns rubber and is gone. Tsk. I knew it.

So as we sing happy birthday we get through the 'traditional' go round, and then we are suprised (now it's us) by another group across the room by the Stevie Wonder version. Everybody knows it, but only the brothers in the crowd sing the long harmony in the second part. And then it all grinds to a halt because.. well the verse hasn't been adapted, only the chorus. Since my favorite pastime with the kids is drilling them on extended common sense, we continue our trivia questions. Boy, who is studying geology wants me to ask he questions about plate tectonics and shear faults. I don't know jack about that and ask him about the largest fresh water lakes. He nails that so I switch gears and ask him to describe the process of filling up a car with gas. Hmm. That's a new twist - describe a process instead of 'name 6'...

So now it's wifey and sister's turn. Name 6 record labels. They come up with some wack ones I never heard of so I give it up. So now I turn the tables and get deeply into the polymorphous thing called Black Culture. Name three record labels that Stevie Wonder recorded on. Yeah boy. Now wait. I expected that everyone would get Motown. Easy. But I expected most self-respecting black people to know Stevie's big private record label. But neither sister nor wifey knew. Damn! My response? I coulda married a white girl!

Only I was half wrong when I said the third was 'Black Bull'. It turns out the Black Bull was not a label but a publishing company which in combination with Jobete own, I guess, most of the Stevie Wonder catalog. Now not being in the music business, I don't know a whole lot of this, but I did grow up in the generation of people who stared at albums as they spun at 33 1/3. So I knew answers to questions like what was Parliament's label (hint, they shared it with the Doobie Brothers). Or was that Funkadelic? Not entirely sure. But I damned sure knew the first names of the Brothers Johnson and I knew which group recorded on T-Neck Records (speaking of brothers). That my wife and her sister were completely stumped on these matters, they attributed to the fact that I was a DJ and obsessive. Sister says she just wasn't that old and was too po' to afford all them records. Yeah right. They didn't know which Eagles album Heartache Tonight was on. Actually, they didn't know it was the Eagles till I told them.

What is my marriage coming to? These are the things I expect people who claim black culture to know. But I guess sometimes there's no accounting for taste. Which brings me to the second semi-serious point of this post, which is that today's music ain't nothing to fall in love to. And I even got Pops to admit that the only people talking 'bout love, my brother is the preacher. And it seems, nobody's interested in learning, but the teacher. Wait a minute. I've heard that somewhere before. Do you know where? No really.

If you want to fall in love to the music being written today, you need to turn to a country station. And that's what Pops actually admitted. It's true. I'm going to listen to some more starting... hmm next year. I'm still on my Cobblers Hiphop mission, and now we have 12, so the charting begins.

Posted by mbowen at 09:56 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 05, 2005

The Meme of Seven

Seven things to do before I die.

Sail the Chesapeake Bay, South Pacific and Intercoastal Waterway.
Write at least one novel.
Play my favorite Thelonius Monk songs on piano
Bounce grandchildren in my huge house on Thanksgiving
Drive >175 MPH
Master one martial art.
Buy a Breitling Montbrilliant.

Seven things I cannot do.

Listen to Glide by Pleasure without bobbing my head
Watch Million Dollar Baby without tears
Ride a wheelie for more than 30 feet
Understand my Ex
Tear myself away from this damned computer
Stay out of a good fight
Suffer through chick flicks.

Seven things that attract me to my best friend

His utter lack of pretense
His barbecue legacy
Our mutual bald black heads
His goddamned huge ass house, dammit. (not jealous)
His deep understanding of the hiphop aesthetic
His ability to hold 6 conversations at once.
His algorithms.

Seven Books I Love

Mastering Regular Expressions
Speech & Power
Basin And Range
Iron John

Seven Things I Say Most Often

"Yeah yeah, let me finish this first. I'll be there in a minute."
"It occurs to me that..."
"Yes, dear"
"Bowen here."
"You know what?"

Seven Movies I'd watch over and over.

"Spy Game"
"The Transporter"
"The Fifth Element"
"The Matrix"
"Deep Cover"

Seven meme targets

I don't know who takes my memes seriously. Fill in your own blank.

Posted by mbowen at 05:45 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 09, 2005

Patton & The Butterfly Effect

I am watching, for the first time in life, the film 'Patton'. As you might imagine, I find myself falling in love with the guy as portrayed by George C. Scott.

Roughly in the middle of the film, the general visits the rear and passes through the medical tent. He cracks a joke with one injured soldier and pins a medal on the pillow of another who is severly wounded. Finally he finds a man who is uninjured crying his eyes out. Patton slaps him for cowardice and orders him to the front.

This incident nearly wrecked Patton's career and had he been relieved of duty, it is almost certain that the US invasion of Europe would have been significantly different. Patton was our son of a bitch, and through the Ardennes Offensive, produced one of the greatest military victories in history.

In Scott's portrayal of Patton, I sensed a man who understood his limits, and who personified a warrior's code. It was his ability to humble himself and his reverence for the accomplishments of those he led which speak of his greatness to me. There is more on Patton that I'm getting on the Tivo this week and I find myself rather astonished by the various psychological explanations of his behavior and ambition.

What I am confronting in this matter along the lines of what I've been speaking about vis a vis identity politics and the lost history of the Digital Divide is the lack of accountability that colors the perceptions of the public. Somewhere I wrote in this blog that much is probably attributed to War that was merely concurrent. And yet war determines much that non-combattants must live with, for better or worse. How soldiers fight and die is always absolute, but how we explain it, that's forever in flux.

And so it is amazing that an impolitic slap, like a butterfly's wing, might have sent history down another of the infinite forking garden paths. It's the characteristic slap we remember amidst the death of more easily explainable tens of thousands. That is a stunning thing to me.

Parallel to this and aside, I am pleased to be learning a great deal more about my childhood hero, Muhammad Ali. Larry Kolb's book is quite a revelation. It once again proves what the extraordinary individual can do.

Posted by mbowen at 08:55 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 08, 2005

Looking for Boobs?

I notice that a lot of folks are coming by this week for the comics, especially one I did a while ago on Intelligent Design. Check out all of the comics. (Beware, there's more than 600). The idea for the Cobb Comics is here, that can help you decipher who the characters are...

Posted by mbowen at 02:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 28, 2005

A Conversation With Myself Circa 1994

Getting tired of political battles, I've begun to look at culture and was looking for some old hiphop music reviews I may have written in the good old SCAA days. Instead I found one half of a socratic dialog.

(from the archives May 1994)

mellow mike (mbo...@panix.com) ever so cleverly scribbled: : somewhat less tho' than a manifesto...

: the deal begins here.
: after world war two, america got rich. we transformed our
: simple minded society to the modern thang. consider the
: autobiography of an ex-colored man as i speak of pre-war
: self sufficiency. a black man, pre-war self sufficient was
: much like the woman who calls herself miss abagail, 106 years
: old if you are watching the stand. i also think of characters
: from sula and the color purple as well as those who lived past
: those times to become ernest j. gaines characters. this is all
: a rural thang. bottom line was that blacks in the south had all
: of the skills necessary as farmers and workers to be completely
: self sufficient. all that was needed was the basic civil rights
: enforcement that we generally got, and boo ya. equality.

: most everywhere else the industrialization of america created
: new classes of people. when we speak of the middle class today
: we speak of people with access to skill sets as employees which
: will get them what they need to survive in the city. segregation
: in the cities is much more easily and rigidly enforced (like
: redlining, etc) than where people settle and live on land for
: generations. to make things short, to be middle class you need
: access to kaplans so that you can score on the sat so that
: you can get to the right college so that you can get the
: right job so that you can get the right mortgage... definitely
: modern, not organic. so self-suffiency (even as mr. grossman
: knows) has everything to do with one's abilities to shop for
: the right politics, books etc. (well that's more post-modern)
: my drift is that what america has become for the most part
: as an industrial nation post ww2 has created a floating set
: of middle class values.

: those particular middle class values *follow* the economic
: plan. only particular cultural groups of 'minorities' can or
: will ignore mainstream middle class values as their 'moral'
: center, largely because in one way or another adapting these
: 'values' will have no real effect on their economic position.
: as a cultural person i am either too rich or too poor to care
: about middle-class values. it is not generally a moral choice
: although i think it should be.

i am particularly hip to all this because of my particular history but that is another long story. in short, i did the gifted child thang, the urban youth thang, the prep school thang, the teamster thang, the wannabe thang... i traveled a mix of classes and cultures and recognized the thresholds of middle-class identity from political economic, social and regligious perspectives. most importantly i recognize how much america *wants to be* middle class. the very idea of a mainstream is that. 'what makes this country great is it's large middle class'.

now take black folk.
despised and all that, the historical quest for equality, achievement
and excellence takes on the twist of things racial. considering
the educational perspective of 'raising up' the race, or individual
members of the race, you see extra efforts being made. but these
energies could be spent on anything. the question is, what is the goal?
that depends entirely on the social context. the difficulty is that
in order for white supremacy to work, whatever that achieved goal is
for black folks, it must remain subsidiary to that of white.

the history of this country amply demonstrates that there is no
consistant standard of social standing for blacks. *apart* from the
fact of the changing mainstream, blacks who achieve middle class goals
in whatever economic environment are still not socially equal. one
need only consider the 'white advantages' thread. these persist
over time.

there from a black perspective, is reason to question the validity
of middle-class goals, and a black reason to read thorstien veblen and
other critics of the american middle class. richard wright took his
cue from h.l. mencken. xxx inherently took that role early in
life, then tossed even that context in a search for africa.

what then, if one accepts being black, is an appropriate measure of
success? why should it automatically be inclusion in the middle class?
certainly the white person who asks from the perspective of someone
whose family has always encouraged them to be those very middle class
things must be puzzled when asking 'what do black people want'?
certainly it must be disconcerting to xenophobic patriots to see
african americans attracted to brazilian blacks in their religious
traditions. voodoo is not mainstream.

if blacks truly consider themselves capable of anything, then there is
no reason that they should choose, given their abilities, american
middle class values over any other except for the social forces which
would invalidate their alternative choices. the african american who
remains in an existential battle *proving* herself (as we all
are subject to from time to time) to be worthy is damaged by those
social forces.

so, what is an appropriate goal? and what is the context of your
evaluations of value choices that you have? i see the contrast (as
a dialectic thinker for this particular flavor of intellect) between
the modern and the organic. the modern is given values and validated
externally by powers beyond his individual control. his identity is a
gift of the system and his values are those of the system in which he
participates. his moral concern is for the fairness of the system: its
ability to deliver the most benefits to the greatest number of people.

the organic on the other hand identifies with a system of his own
creation into which he fits by his own design. his moral concern is with
his integrity which then redefines the system around him. that's the
nits and grits of it.

the american middle class, primarily economically defined, is maintained
by its institutions. it is large and powerful and individuals within it
at present have a wide variety of choices. so wide, that in fact it can
seem to be organic. we even have 'youth culture'! but its constraints
are the national interest of the united states which then must engage
in certain activities which preserve that system. the incredible irony
is that these activities which serve and preserve the middle class are
hidden from the middle class under the pretext of national interest. this
dilutes democracy substantially.

organics which find their values not supported by these mainstream
institutions must deal with the consequences of thier choices. and since
they are organics more concerned with their own personal integrity than
that of any system of institutions, they feel the weight of these choices
moreso than moderns who by and large go with the mainstream flow.

it has been clear that in american history, the particulars of citizens
of african descent has bee relegated to the margins and institutions which
support and define the mainstream have only very recently been supportive
and defining of blacks. blacks, by their own need to survive have often
been organics although perhaps not so explicitly aware of this dialectic in
non-racial terms.

to recoup black history implies organic purposes, although there is value
in teaching black history to any and all. most americans swallow the
post-ww2 modernity and thus expect all institutions to be inclusive for
the sake of mainstream middle class institutions with integrity. it is
a very middle class thing not so much to integrate institutions with
'minority' presence but to expect that these institutions will thus change &
accomodate. but now we see, as i bring it down to cases such as these
the difficulty in accomplishing such tasks. (this is why i refrain from
using the 'd-word') i am not so much concerned with the state of the
integrated intstitution (except as it promotes democratic stability)
-- or perhaps i am conflicted. nevertheless, blacks must represent
themselves as 'credibly black' when they expect that their presence
modifies the institution for the better, yet the very act of this expectation
sits them squarly as a modern and as middle-class. which are both
positions which are in america, historically anti-black!

'so what are you african or american?' that's where that question comes
from. when i previously asked the question of 'influence vs control'
this is more of what i was trying to get at. modern vs organic. i suspect
that my generation is largely both though most of us who were around in
the 60s started fully organic by default. in black collective memory
there are those forced to be organic against the massiveness of modern
america, and some of those organics we truly treasure.

to be middle class, requires a principled rejection of the organic
perspective. those who have black history ingrained in them sense the
conflict in racial terms vis a vis integration, crossover etc etc.
the question of 'buying in' has replaced that of 'selling out' because
as time goes by, we forget or ignore the organics among us. the modern
surroundings help one to forget the power of the organic integrity. to
be bourgeios and expect bourgeois brotherhood from americans is to
use the modern power and privilege. but it also forces one to follow
and support the mainstream system.

i draw these out to make one aware of the *moral* distinction. without
the moral context it doesn't really matter which road you choose. but
i challenge any african american who seeks to self-identify as black
to consider their options wisely. what does your blackness *mean* as
a modern, middle-class american and is that everything blackness can
be? what is your moral authority as a modern, middle class american of
african descent? what is your moral standing? on what principles do you
separate yourself from the mainstream? how does the recovery of
black history affect you? what does black cultural expression mean to
you as a modern, middle-class american? how do your political alliances
square with that of the american political majority and how are you
reconciled to this? how does your spiritual and religious life put you
in harmony and conflict with the mainstream? are you forgetting something?

are you forgetting something?
did you ever know?

Posted by mbowen at 09:23 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 25, 2005

Frapprs Represent!

Spence has found a gem of an application. It's called Frappr, and it allows any to create a pinboard on a map of the USA. There's clearly some Google Maps stuff under it. He's created one here for black bloggers.

Excellent! The site will probably be slashdotted within the week.

Posted by mbowen at 05:32 PM | TrackBack

October 20, 2005

Lust, 1971

Search your feelings. You know it to be true!

Posted by mbowen at 09:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Black Dragon Fighting Society

OK this guy is the ultimate badass. Check it:

Count Dante personally went to Muhammad Ali's (Cassius Clay) house on the south side of Chicago and challenged the Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the world. Count Dante' also challenged the World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion and the World Heavyweight Judo Champion. Count Dante personally entered the contest and defeated all the comers. The December 1970 issue of Mr. America magazine praised Count Dante for his attempts to update the science of self-defense. In the same article, featured in the August 1971 issue of Official Karate magazine, Count Dante proved the inferiority of the traditional martial arts as they were being practiced at that time. In this book, "The Worlds Deadliest Fighting Secrets", the Count elaborated on the shortcomings of all the present day defense systems. In both this book and his "Karate is for Sissies" article, Count Dante stressed the weakness of the martial arts systems as concerns their use and practicality on the street, and stressed that the self-defense arts should become FIGHTING ARTS. This book and article completely changed the structure, attitude, and application of the martial arts, and since that time most top martial arts leaders and publications have stressed the STREET APPLICATION of their arts and articles much as if they had conceived the idea themselves.

What makes this guy particularly interesting is this comment:

" ...Special note: Proper emphasis on courage, aggressiveness, and actual training hall and street application of effective fighting techniques, is the most serious lacking segment in modern day karate and kung fu schools... most karate schools place little emphasis on courage or "guts fighting" and aggressiveness and usually even frown on it. They also do not permit body contact in their self-defence and sparring practice. This makes for a safe training hall but does little to help develop the body to withstand strike punishment and actually hinders the student when they are forced to use it on the street."

Fascinating. Are we really learning practical matters in our strip mall Karate Dojos? This is the other side of the coin that I will be exploring today when I talk about higher education.

Posted by mbowen at 11:35 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 16, 2005

Thoughtless Crap for Fun

I am:
"You listen to a lot of AM talk radio, don't you?"

Are You A Republican?
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August 21, 2005


School supplies, a GED instruction kit, pencils, pens. Church fans. Cereal, a roller bag, personal hygene products, water bottles, toothbrushes, crayons, coloring books, a medicine kit, a t-shirt, a self-lathering battery powered razor, knee high stockings. A Kroger frisbee, lotion, notepads, a refigerator magnet, a socket protector, Listerine oral strips, a spanish language exercise video, a Fifth Third beachball, and shampoo samples.

These are some fraction of the goodies my sister got from the Black Family Reunion in Cincinnati this weekend. Oh and of course some baller bands (for ovarian cancer awareness).

Posted by mbowen at 06:41 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 11, 2005

Dance With My Father

What is a reasonable expectation of marriage? Several weeks ago the subject of gay marriage came up and the Angle Man threw me a curveball. Angle Man is an overachieving striver from the bowels of NYC. He has a knack for playing the system up to the limit in a way that's a little bit scary for a guy like me. The curveball he basically threw was that if gay marriage became some kind of law then the first thing he'd do would be marry his father.

It all had to do with money in a way that I couldn't quite figure out, but it basically allowed him to sidestep some capital gains or inheritance law. According to the Angle Man, there are ways that spouses can inherit money that aren't taxed as other kinds of gifts. At a certain level of capital this becomes very significant.

Now I have heard some extraordinarily biting criticisms of white male hegemony, but none so scathing as those delivered by some of my womanist friends. Forget reproductive rights, these black feminists are all about power. Nothing gets under their skin like the idea of rich white men worshipping rich white men, especially the good looking ones that get on television. The idea that they could marry each other legally and find yet more ways to make each other richer just rocks the black feminist world which already reeks of resentment by the treatment black women get by straight white males.

The enemy of my enemy? I just thought I'd throw that out there. When it comes to class, race and gender whom do you think is going to make the most economic advantage of gay marriage? You know damned well.

Posted by mbowen at 10:51 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 07, 2005

Two African Americas: Separate and Unequal

In one day I get two emails. This one..

Byron Allen isn't all business.

The media mogul — who is aggressively trying to purchase West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Paxson Communications Corp., a group of about 60 broadcast TV stations, for $2.2 billion — took the time this summer to do something for his mom: He bought her a gated $5-million house in the Hollywood Hills.

The former comedian, 44, purchased the four-bedroom, 4,000-square-foot home so his mother, Carolyn Folks, could live closer to him. Folks had been living in Allen's Century City condo since he bought a $3.8-million Hollywood Hills house for himself in February 2004.

And this one..

Original Poetry and Theater of Oppression Saturday, August 20, 2 p.m. at Southern California Library

Young people from South Los Angeles will present original poetry and theater at a special event on Saturday, August 6. The event is the culmination of poetry and Theater of Oppression workshops where youth developed and shared creative work about what it is like to grow up in South L.A. in their own voices. The event will take place at the Southern California Library, 6120 S. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, at 2 p.m. Admission is free and refreshments will be offered. All are welcome. For more information, call 323-759-6063 or check the web at www.socallib.org.

I wonder how this integration thing is going to work out...

Posted by mbowen at 09:47 AM | TrackBack

August 04, 2005

Writin' is Fightin': Cobb Edition

"All you are ever told in this country about being black is that it is a terrible, terrible thing to be. Now, in order to survive this, you have to really dig down into yourself and re-create yourself, really, according to no image which yet exists in America. You have to impose, in fact - this may sound very strange - you have to decide who you are, and force the world to deal with you, not with its idea of you."
--James Baldwin

Somebody called the 'Dismal Scientist' (certainly not the first) writes below my cartoon:

As a so-called "Negro" myself, I must say that I find you almost compelling as a blogger. Surely, you believe in "Good" and "Evil"--and therein lies the problem. You would be absolutely compelling if you abandoned "positions". You see, this world is all there is. It is neither Good or Evil, Left or Right--Democrat or Republican.

The world is simply what it is. Now, we men have the prerogrative to impose an interpretation on it--think of those who actually believe God exiss--and some stories are indeed more compelling than others.

Hang in there my Negro Blogger---I am pulling for you.

My immediate reaction is this:

I am compelled, like Celie in 'The Color Purple', to increase my literacy and name the things I see with my own eyes. I don't make excuses for calling them as I see them, and of course I am not beyond having a little fun.

This blog has its mission and I hope will stand as some sort of a testament to this short period in American History. Sooner or later, people are going to look at America of 2005 and say 'good' or 'evil'. Well that's just hindsight and half memory. I'm here. I'm now. I'm watching and I'm naming.

Nobody gets the privilege of putting words in my mouth retrospectively. Nobody gets to say what 'Negroes' of the blogosphere were doing way back in 2005 without checking in here. Nobody gets to say 'black people were on the ass-end of the digital divide througout history'. I was emailing in 1984 at Xerox back in the days they made millions selling typewriters. I was at the Well, Cafe Utne, the Drum and everywhere else, and I was not quiet in the corner.

I'm going to continue being a loudmouth in various ways because I'm a writer - perception and articulation. That's what my writing life is all about, from this black man's perspective. All of which is to say is that I have a position in this world and I dictate what that position is. I don't care who believes I have a right to or not. If I say I'm Right and Republican, that's what I am. If I say I am humble and human, then I'm that too.

The voice persists. Deal with it.

But that is a writer's answer and it is not the only answer I have. Out of the blue as I posted the quote, keeping in very clear focus the writer's goodwill towards me, it occurred to me that the writer might very well be Roland Fryer. It's just a hunch and a wild guess based on the interview I saw a few weeks back with the head Freakonomist on the Charlie Rose show. And you know what? I agree. From an economic point of view, there is no good or evil, democrat or republican. People vote with their choices every day. And it is only when you are completely clear about that, that you can see what people do without bias.

I acknowledge the reality of the world and people's choices. I am not in the business of political struggle as a moralist, rather as someone exercising my choice to be a willing and thoughtful participant in the mediating forces of democracy. I like being a citizen in a country under civilian rule. I am not doing the Lucifer Jones thing here - I am assessing and abetting the opportunity for the expansion of African American political power and responsibility in the best tradition of the Black Nationalist movement. (Although now that I think about it, it's probably fair to say that Thabo Mbeki has been something of a disappointment.)

Whether or not my mystery friend is Fryer, I think I understand the import of his point. It is my full intent to be reality based. I am not seeing things as I wish they were. And I hope that anyone with the patience would set me straight when I contradict myself in that or any regard. Nobody has time for hypocrites or mice.

Posted by mbowen at 12:38 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 21, 2005

Too Fabulous

I was cruising through the 'hood the other day for a reason I cannot remember, and I saw something that let me know I had been gone too long to be on top of things. This shot was taken at Crenshaw and Florence going southbound into Inglewood. Check out this car. These must be 25 inch wheels at least. I know that big wheels are the thing, but I never thought I'd see the day when low-riders have turned into high-riders.

This hooptie is way above sea level. It's a T-Top Oldsmobile and it was riding up at almost SUV height. What you can't see is the big letters stenciled into the red stripe on the bottom of homeboy's door panel which reads "Shittin' on 'em". Have I missed something here? Probly not.

Posted by mbowen at 10:21 PM | TrackBack

July 15, 2005

Harry Potter Death Pool

Chances are that only a few people will guess exactly under which circumstances the next Harry Potter character will die. Who is the easy question, relatively speaking.

In order to ratchet up the drama, I think there have got has got to be a narrow set of characters whose death will highlight the central themes of the series, but I don't think Rowling would kill off one of the three.

My first guess was McGonigal. As head of the Griffindor house, that would be a major change, but not so much of a direct influence on Harry. So what would be the best way to throw Harry's life into chaos without destroying him or the series?

Snape has got to live. He's out. Dumbledore? Now that's a good selection, but almost too obvious. Still, I think Dumbledore is a great candidate for death, because he would be the last defense against Voldemort. Harry, now becomes the focus or more intense scrutiny, he would be called to duty outside of normal school challenges.

Another good candidate to die would be Lucius Malfoy. This would spark up the evil in his son, Harry's antagonist. That would make for great doings on campus.

But you know, my number one candidate has got to be Hagrid. He's been babysitting the trio all this time. If they are going to be teens, they're going to have to get out from under his big hairy wings and fly on their own. That works by keeping Dumbledore in the picture as antagonist to Voldemort who can get stronger. Plus it gives Snape, Malfoy and the rest of Harry's antagonists a bit more of an edge. It could force Harry closer to Serius Black which could have interesting implications in his coming of age. It's got to be Hagrid.

So there it is.

Posted by mbowen at 04:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Orkut: Death by Brazilian Friend

Noted in passing, the entire buzz and interest in Orkut is officially dead, at least in my neck of the woods.

The last time I checked, there were a boatload of Brazilians trying to add me as a friend. And although they may very well have matched my profile, I didn't want them as friends. Back a year or so ago I wrote:

I think Michel Foucault said something relatively profound about the nature of families and sex that had something to do with mobility. Nobody really finds anything close to the ideal mate because the ideal mate is always far away. You have sex with 50 people during your single years? Do the math, it's just a tiny fraction of the number of people you know, few of which are really good for your. But I interpret. If you're single, or remember the desparation, you know what I'm talking about. Too much parsing, too little soul satisfaction. The wider you cast your net, the weirder the fish you dredge up.

This last observation about weird fish (and often smelly boots) is the problem I've had with Friendster. I expect the same thing to be replicated at Orkut, but I expect Orkut to scale. That means once there's ten million people in it, I'll find 10 good friends that I couldn't find on my own. Maybe.

The good thing about Orkut is that it possesses both kinds of profiles. In fact, if I were trolling for the mother lode of demographic.... Hey that's why Google has been hiring. Damn. And I don't remember any 'we wont share' disclaimers when I signed up.

Oh well.

And so there had been almost nobody I've met worth meeting online through Orkut. In other words the computer has not been good about bringing people to me, I'm much better in seeking and finding them. Those it brought I didn't want. Furthermore, I think many of us will come to recognize that we don't really want any more friends. Social networks aren't persistent, and so Orkuts will rise and fall.

Orkut is dead. Long live public parks.

Posted by mbowen at 12:56 PM | TrackBack

June 28, 2005

I Believe the Word is Exoneration

Doing research among the blog entries for my manuscript, I found this old post on Michael Jackson and I am reminded that:

Jackson is a good guy who has donated many millions to black charities over the years, quietly and consistently. So there are a number of good reasons for him to have black political support. But even if he didn't do any of that, I have learned something about Jackson today that makes me respect him a great deal - for which if he did nothing else in his entire life this would be good enough. We are mostly aware that Jackson owns most of the Beatles' songs. What I didn't know was that he owns most of Elvis' recordings too. Most symbolic of all, he purchased the rights to Little Richard's music. He gave that all back to Little Richard, so now he won't die broke. Whether that is materially too little too late or not, it is a trenchant symbol of respect for black culture we probably didn't know Jacko had. That may count for a great deal from where I stand, but it doesn't mean squat in a court of law.

What I've been hearing is basically another species of "you're not guilty, but you're guilty". Having stayed away from the back and forth that generally surrounds these kinds of trials, I'm pretty safe in saying that I'm prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. He may be a weirdo, but as far as the law is concerned, he's cleaner than Martha Stewart.

I suspect that a lot of people see a scattering of rat turd evidence in the trial and testimony, but if Sneddon was incapable of finding the actual rat, I don't see why we should. Were Sneddon's charges too trumped up to get a conviction?

A Cobbian Retrospective:

  • Michael Jackson, Secular Sex & The War on Terror
  • Weapons of Ass Destruction
  • The Man in the Mirror
  • Michael Jackson: Going Down
  • Posted by mbowen at 07:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    June 16, 2005

    The Virgin Pagoism Problem

    We've decided to get M11 a cellphone for his fifth grade graduation. And in doing so demonstrate our appreciation for his maturity and tie another leash around him. And now to the Dad question. How much is this going to cost me?

    Virgin Mobile has a pay-as-you-go system that looks attractive for a low priced entry. We can get him a $25 phone without a contract. Seems nice. There are two plans, but which to choose? Plan A costs 25 cents a minute for the first ten minutes a day and 10 cents a minute for the rest of the day. Plan B costs 10 cents a minute all day plus 35 cents a day.

    It sounds like a fairly simple math problem, however I am at a loss to understand how to put it into a function and determine the crossover point. I know how to develop a simulation in Excel, but having done so, I still don't know how to characterize the breakpoint at which one plan cost more than the other. Virgin, in their ad says that the breakpoint is at 200 minutes per month, and they are truthful in their advertising, but I'm distrustful of the number and I want to know the scheme under which they developed the revenue model.

    Here is my spreadsheet which allows you to enter a factor (the bolded number) which drives a 30 day simulation of daily calls. You can see that Plan A is cheaper if you call just a little bit, but you can also see that there are months where you could call less than 200 minutes and Plan A would still be more expensive than Plan B.
    Download file

    Clearly, M11 is going on Plan B to start. He'll make a mountain of calls when he first gets it and then he'll slow down. When he slows down to a trickle, we can switch to Plan A. Virgin's pricing is unique - I like it. I can also clearly see that this plan is way more affordable than that of Boost Mobile which is a straight .25/minute and .15/minute on nights and weekends.

    The 'nights and weekends' pricing schedule was clearly developed around demand schedules of the first pricing revolution started by MCI in the 80s. I've got to believe that the capacity of the cell network has far outstripped that of those days. That's why Cingular has introduced 'Rollover' and other interesting pricing schemes. The simple excuse that business use during the weekdays creates a supply constraint thus prices must rise simply doesn't cut it.

    Eric Schmidt of Google has suggested that the alternate content that phone carriers can charge for, like ringtones, sms, photomail, video content, gps, themes and games are so profitable that they can more than pay for voice carriage. Voice could be free just to get people on the platform of subscription services. Already Sprint has such a rebate system in place that most of the handsets are free. Clearly any digital system capable of delivering video games, has umpteen times the bandwidth required for monaural duplex voice.

    Me myself, I've got the Treo 650 on Sprint PCS. I get unlimited SMS, internet, email pop client and all the Palm goodies, and 1000 minutes for about 65 bucks a month. So I'm not complaining at all considering that finally all of that works. Lots of folks have griped that Sprint has disabled some of the bluetooth and wi-fi capabilities of the Treo, but I don't mind. It's just a leash.

    In the meantime, pay as little as possible for voice. Hope the spreadsheet helps. Now, what's the formula?

    Posted by mbowen at 08:35 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Thursday Brain Spew

    Twin Otter Realtime Synthetic Aperature Radar
    I don't particularly feel like killing any homies in San Andreas tonight so I decided to go googling instead. My endless fascination with our nation's nuclear infrastructure took me to find our gaseous diffusion plants and a few national labs. Brookhaven seems to be in the nicest neighborhood, but Sandia has the monster computers. Or at least they always used to back in the days I used to monitor the supercomputer showdowns.

    But the cool thing I found at the Sandia site was a description that makes be believe that I could understand radar imaging. Awesome stuff that. Plus, I needed to be reminded that there are people who do have computers that actually crunch huge datasets without going off into zombieland - which is the current state of affairs on the crappy segmented IBM Regatta I'm babysitting (without enough access to run 'top').

    Curse of the Obstetric Fistula
    The other day's NYT had a fascinating story about a medical condition, known as an obstetric fistula, that in every way seems to fit the curse of women throughout history. How many times have I come across the concept that menstruating women were considered unclean in ancient cultures, or that a 'barren' woman was unfit and cast out of the village? There's no doubt in my mind that this condition could be the source of a great deal of pain as well as a cultural disposition to exile women from society. It's not hard to imagine a time when the underlying cause of such horrid symptoms was not understood. I never heard of such a thing until this week. Yike.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:01 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    May 04, 2005

    Malcolm Gladwell's Hair

    gladwell.jpgSomewhere in the fourth or fifth chapter of his [damned good] book 'Blink', Malcolm lets the cat out of the bag. He's a brudda. I'm reading it now and am resisting the temptation to thin slice it. But I know a good thing when I read it.

    I recorded his interview with Charlie Rose about a month ago and the first thing I notice about this guy is the way that his hair shoots up and accentuates his forehead. As he went on to explain the premise of 'Blink' about the congnitive engine of our first impressions, I was working out what it was about him that struck me as different. It was the hair, it was the bearing, it was the suit.

    Then he told Charlie that he was from Canada. Aha! I knew there was something about this guy that made him different from the run of the mill American intellectuals. He's sharp, dammit, he's sharp as a tack. And since he's got this bearing of intellectuality I'm saying that the hair is his Blink signal. It makes him look a little bit like a mad scientist, not quite as mad as Beakman, but close. I like his style, and more importantly I like his concept.

    So over the course of the last few weeks on the road, I've been doing a lot more reading and this time out I picked up Gladwell's book. I've been meaning to get around to it and the other one about distributed collective decision making, since that's what I do for a living - build systems that aid in business decision making. Last night I read the sentence, his moms is from Jamaica. What a surprise.

    And now suddenly, especially in Googling an image for this blog entry, I see in a series of other pictures that which had not been evident in my first impressions. Negrosity! Funny how that works. What's interesting is that he was discussing his results from Harvard's Racial Implicit Assumption Test which I have taken several times without chagrin. To the extent that this is a brief and light meditation on race, Gladwell's book (and not his appearance) adds yet another drop of reason onto the pile of evidence about Class Three Racism - the background bigotry of American culture. In short, first impressions are significantly determined by a large number of associations which the brain manifests subconsciously. I don't believe that raises it to a significant political level, but the associations and sublime reactions are real nonetheless.

    What's fascinating is that I hadn't taken Gladwell's hair as seriously as he had. I had read the following paragraph before and considered him a rather thoughtful guy with that experience. I was not surprised at how he had taken it in stride, neither then nor now.

    Believe it or not, it's because I decided, a few years ago, to grow my hair long. If you look at the author photo on my last book, "The Tipping Point," you'll see that it used to be cut very short and conservatively. But, on a whim, I let it grow wild, as it had been when I was teenager. Immediately, in very small but significant ways, my life changed. I started getting speeding tickets all the time--and I had never gotten any before. I started getting pulled out of airport security lines for special attention. And one day, while walking along 14th Street in downtown Manhattan, a police van pulled up on the sidewalk, and three officers jumped out. They were looking, it turned out, for a rapist, and the rapist, they said, looked a lot like me. They pulled out the sketch and the description. I looked at it, and pointed out to them as nicely as I could that in fact the rapist looked nothing at all like me. He was much taller, and much heavier, and about fifteen years younger (and, I added, in a largely futile attempt at humor, not nearly as good-looking.) All we had in common was a large head of curly hair. After twenty minutes or so, the officers finally agreed with me, and let me go. On a scale of things, I realize this was a trivial misunderstanding. African-Americans in the United State suffer indignities far worse than this all the time. But what struck me was how even more subtle and absurd the stereotyping was in my case: this wasn't about something really obvious like skin color, or age, or height, or weight. It was just about hair. Something about the first impression created by my hair derailed every other consideration in the hunt for the rapist, and the impression formed in those first two seconds exerted a powerful hold over the officers' thinking over the next twenty minutes. That episode on the street got me thinking about the weird power of first impressions.

    One of the reasons I have been very specific about not calling people racist when I was a race man is because very few people actually are. Nevertheless we all swim in the same soup they piss in, and few of us are unaffected. Stay tuned for the actual review of the book.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:07 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

    April 18, 2005

    Boggle Brain

    You only use 10% of your brain at any one time. That's a good thing. You don't want the part of your brain that helps you solve math equations working when you should be using the part of your brain that moves your fingers out of the way of a sewing machine needle.

    My brother sent me a puzzle the other day. It turns out that there are 93 English words that can be made from the letters in the word 'planets'. I found 64 in about 7 minutes. As I did it, I swear that I could feel my wordsearch brain working.

    It was actually the same part of my brain that I could feel working when I played 'Bespelled'. I kind of twist and turn the words in a kind of backwards permutation. I'm sure this is the Scrabble and the Boggle brain as well. What I cannot explain is how I was able to do this and only making one repetition, the word 'at'. Although I haven't tried, I'd bet that I can't come up with any more. I think that's the same part of the brain telling me that I have exhausted that possibility.

    Speaking of this, there's another part of my brain that I think is highly specialized. That's my photo repeat brain. If you give me a stack of 500 pictures that has one duplicate in it. I can parse through them serially and tell you when I get to that duplicate. I have no idea how I can do this, but I'm sure that the how has something to do with being a photographer's son and having that task.

    Oh wait a minute. I only used plurals a few times, so I probably could beat 64.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    April 10, 2005

    Tiger's Chip

    I just saw the most incredible golf shot ever. Tiger's chip off the backside of the par three 16 for birdie was certainly the most awesome and dramatic moment of the Masters. How could anything get any more spine tingling?

    Posted by mbowen at 03:44 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Two Scary Stories

    Protien Wisdom is trolling for a scary plot. Here it is. Al Quaeda infects Columbian cocaine with smallpox.

    It's actually a very simple scenario which doesn't take a whole lot of doing. The actual intel necessary doesn't seem to be insurmountable. What makes the story interesting is that it strikes countries that are currently off the map with regard to MSM coverage of the WOT. We already know that narco-nations are highly sophisticated in moving the world's supply of cocaine and heroin products. We already know that they have access into every city in the US and all over the world. We already know that they are capable of mind-boggling logistics. We know that SARS freaked everybody out when less than 500 people died.

    So there it is.

    The second scary story is a series of pulse bombs strategically placed by a psychotic insider at Citibank IT. Imagine all of Citibank's computer records erased. Trillions disappear overnight. The FDIC goes broke. China liquidates its American bond holdings. The full faith and credit of the US is damaged to the extent that the loonies who hate us for no good reason at all are emboldened. We are forced into a standoff daring the EU from constraining our trade as German, British and French banks buy up ours like the Japanese did with American real estate in the 80s. Red & Blue Americans start gunfights in the streets.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:24 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    April 01, 2005


    And as a last April Fools Day check out World Jump Day in which it is proposed that 600 million earthlings jumping simultaneously will: 'stop global warming, extend daytime hours and create a more homogenous climate'. Hoo brother.

    A friend Bob nicely debunked this with a little bit of scientific reasoning.

    As usual, we tend to overestimate ourselves. The mass of the earth is calculated at 6.0 x 10E24 kg. The total mass of 6 billion humans, assuming an average of, say, 65k each, is about 65x(6x10E09)=3.9x10E11. Dividing that number by the mass of the earth shows that the mass of the entire human population is about 6.5 x 10E-14 the mass of the planet. One divided by a 10 with 14 zeroes after it is a number so infinitesimally small that it is hard to even imagine, let alone describe. Probably something like the ratio between a human and a single gut bacterium. Or put another way, I imagine that the ejecta spewed from Mt. St. Helens in a few seconds probably weighed more than the entire human population.

    So what I'm going to attempt to do from now on, especially when I hear about global warming is to get some estimates of the weights of spew that we're really talking about when we mumble about pollution. See, the Earth's atmosphere weighs 5.0 x 10E18 kg. So if we spewed out the equivalent of the weight of the entire human population in air pollution on a daily basis, it would take 350 years for that spew to equal 1% of the atmosphere. This assumes of course that all that spew remains airborne and doesn't react with anything.

    The planet is fine.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:26 PM | TrackBack

    The League of Grieving Parents

    Robert & Mary Schindler are creating of The League of Grieving Parents.

    Founded in the aftermath of the death of Terri Shiavo, The League of Grieving Parents is a support group and legal defense fund. It's co-founders, Fred Goldman, Marc Klass and Robert Levy are seeking nominees. I've been able to obtain the guidlines that we at Cobb have obtained this morning from an anonymous emailer. (It's great to be a popular blogger.)

    1. LGP nominees must be able to summon a nationally televised press conference wherein they cry openly. Crying at a televised funeral or trial is not sufficient. No entries will be accepted in which nominees are caught grieving in a crowd. They must be front and center in full frame of the camera.

    2. LGP children may not be the victim of Acts of God or phenomena for which attorneys may not generally be involved. In general, children must be the victim of stalkers, kidnappers, rapists, celebrities, carjackers, foreign nationals, family members or gangbangers. Victims of tsunamis, hunger, AIDS or any disease generally associated with the third world are not considered. Special consideration is given however, for cancer and degenerative diseases which allow the child to be interviewed and profiled during their illness.

    3. Media coverage must last longer than one week and include radio, and print. Victims in small towns and municipalities must make appropriate efforts to summon the support of townspeople and put that town on the map by gettin the attention of major media. PBS documentaries don't count. Instant qualification is given for an interview with Larry King or Barbara Walters. Jon Stewart doesn't count.

    4. Bonus consideration will be given to nominees who can get resolutions passed in legislative bodies. These need not be effective or useful policy, but they must state the name of the child in question. A bill that gets a US Senate or Congressional designation is sufficient even if it is not passed.

    5. Parents suspected in the demise of their child may recieve membership under the following circumstances.

    A. Police are involved in an 'ongoing investigation' that does not outlast media attention.
    B. Parents show evidence of shock and anger at such allegations.
    C. Parents are attractive, affluent or white. (Bonus points for all three)
    D. The child is recognizable by first name in the tabloid press.

    The League of Grieving Parents will be setting up an internet portal and an 800 number. The Hallmark corporation will be setting up LGP sections in their nationwide chain where LGP bumper stickers, votive candles (in the wind), yellow ribbons, armbands, commemorative pins and wreaths will be available for sale.

    Posted by mbowen at 06:56 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    March 27, 2005

    Sparks' Right Foot

    I was at a birthday party today, and while kids ran roughshod over our poor friends' house, I got stuck in the daddy room. So I watched more basketball this afternoon than I have pretty much all season. Two complete games plus a double OT. But like most contests, it all came down to a few critical moments. The most critical of all involved a kid named Sparks and his right foot.

    Now it was clear to me that Sparks right foot was not on the line, but that wasn't perfectly clear until they showed the closeup. What they should have had but didn't was a reverse angle of the shot. Since the camera on the replay was above and to the left of Sparks, it appeared that his right foot, which was pointing roughly at 270 degrees, was on the line. But if you tried the experiment yourself, putting your own foot a millimeter behind the line and then shot it from the same angle, it would look clearly on the line.

    If the Wachowski brothers had directed the photography, it would have been clearer, but it took the refs a very long time to decide. They made the right decision, but then Kentucky blew the opportunity. Now I have to listen to my wife, the Michigan State alum. Oh well, I'll put my nickel on that team, and that bug eyed kid Shannon Brown. He just looks like a walking ball of desire.

    Posted by mbowen at 05:38 PM | TrackBack

    March 26, 2005

    Quiet, Too Quiet

    It turns out that, thinking about Eco in the GM post today that there might be a serious downside. The BBC reports on the perfect enviro-cycle.

    The world's first purpose-built hydrogen-powered bike could be fitted with an artificial "vroom" because of worries its silence might be dangerous.

    That's a serious dealbreaker. As a former motorcyclist, I can assure you that the loudness of a motorcycle is a definite safety bonus. Sometimes it's the only thing between you and a brain-dead four wheeler's daze. I used to ride a Suzuki GS550 back in the days when the KZ1000s and Honda 750s ruled the streets. Those guys were plenty loud and people got out of the way, but relatively speaking my bike was in stealth mode. I bolted on a Yoshimura pipe and removed the baffle so I could be heard. It made a big difference.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:23 PM | TrackBack

    March 25, 2005


    What if Terri Schiavo were the Pope?

    At this late moment I still can't get over two facts. The first is the tragic persistence of the Schindler clan. The second is how many ordinarily reasonable people have been tweaked by this triviality. There really hasn't been anything like it since Chandra Levy. Now might be a good time to listen to more interesting chatter, like that of AQ.

    Symbolically, Mrs. Schiavo has something in common with the Pope. They're not over until they're over, and everyone is watching. But what if the Pope himself were stricken with precisely the same medical condition as Schiavo? Could a brain damaged Pope be removed from office? Does the Pope have a DNR order? hmmm.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    March 09, 2005

    24 & Torture

    Kevin Drum notes:

    After Jack finished up a session of home brew torture directed at his girlfriend's almost-but-not-quite ex-husband (don't ask), it turned out that GABNQXH wasn't a bad guy after all. He was telling the truth all along, and after the girlfriend got Jack to ease up GABNQXH cheerfully (under the circumstances, anyway) opened up his laptop and found the information Jack wanted. What's more, this week GABNQXH was a positive sink of help, magically knowing how to open up a secure database before the bad guys neutralized it with a pulse bomb that took out half of LA in the process.

    This is the third or fourth individual that has tortured according to a fairly loose definition of 'I know it when I see it' in this season of 24. In this notable case as well as the one immediately previous, both of the torturees are apparently good guys. The first was a CTU employee who was framed by a double-agent. She got several applications of a stun gun to the neck. The second individual, described above, got 110V of house current to his bare chest.

    In both of these cases, the individuals were bruised, battered and scarred, but hard. And guess what? They turned right around (within an hour of their torture) and assisted the people who tortured them. Now this may be just part of 24's tortured (heh) plot twists, but is it realistic? That's hard to say.

    I'm quite sure there are plenty of ways that you can extract a huge amount of pain from an individual without rendering any permanent damage. Isn't that what torturers know? As well, there are ways that you can deliver a great deal of permanent damage that doesn't show, or at least there used to be. File this in your 'bad old days' file. My father used to tell me that it was common practice for white cops to repeatedly slam telephone books on the heads of black arrestees. It left no marks but could easily deliver a severe concussion. These days, it's relatively simple to get an MRI to show swelling of the brain, but not so then.

    We live with torture. It's a sad fact of life.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:05 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    March 07, 2005

    The 20 Percent Solution

    Andrew Hacker wrote in his book Money that given the opportunity, people believe that all their desires would be fulfilled with only an average of a 20% increase in income. I've always thought that was a surprising finding, but I think it's quite true.

    This morning I have a bit of silly empirical proof. As a time-waster since I have nothing to do but sit around the house and wait for a job to come knocking on my door, I ventured over to HumanForSale.com and entered the real facts about me. According to this first survey:I am worth $2,390,882.00 on HumanForSale.com

    Then I changed my SAT Score, height and a few things about me that I wished were true and got the following score: I am worth $2,615,454.00 on HumanForSale.com

    I believe that this means that I am living up to my class expectations of myself. I did check the difference between black and white. It was zero.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:22 AM | TrackBack

    February 26, 2005

    Pick a Ho, Any Ho

    Since I have a bad attitude, and I'm going to try to maintain this bad attitude for a while to see what it yeilds creatively, I've decided to let you know how little I care about HIV and AIDS.

    Still, it hit my usual prohibitions when my knee jerked at some factoid about HIV and African Americans. My gut reaction was, I don't have HIV and I don't even *know* anybody with HIV, so why do I care about HIV? The fact is that I don't. I don't think about HIV, hell I don't even think about sex. How do you think I get so much blogging done?

    Sooner or later I'll need to see a number however. In the case of HIV alarm, P6 has provided the number I needed to see.

    In the 2001 survey, out of about 5,500 people examined, 32 were HIV-positive. Of that group, 23 were African American. The overall prevalence of HIV was 0.43 percent, up slightly from 0.33 percent a decade earlier.

    On the one hand, that's a disturbingly high rate for a deadly illness, regardless of the selection criteria used to decide who to ask. On the other hand, 32 infections out of 5,500 people means it's not too late for you to be safe.

    Also, "18 to 59" is a pretty broad swath. In this age of focus group marketing I can't think of a demographic defined that broadly. There's a a finer tuned result in the middle of the article.

    It's not disturbingly high, unless you're one of those people who are easily disturbed. Considering the disturbingly high number of juvenile delinquent black auto theives who try to run over cops at 4 in the morning who get shot in the head by the LAPD, maybe HIV infection is distrubingly high. I don't know why such sensitive people aren't disturbed by needle-sharing butt buddies, but then again what do I know?

    Now there are a lot of details to be aware of in the P6 article and commentary, which is why I cite it. The pleasant thing about being an ass is that you can be an intelligent ass. And so as an intelligent ass, I am privileged to make jokes about serious material (stay tuned for more cartoons).

    If I went to meatmarket bars every weekend for a three months, that would put me in contact with about 5500 packages of potential meat product. Out of those 5500 about 32 would be HIV positive. I think I can pick the hos out of that bunch. What guarantee would I have that they weren't the dirty two and two/thirds dozen? Not much, but the odds are pretty good in my favor. Aren't syphillus and gonnorhea more prevalent than HIV anyway? Well that's a damned hard question to answer because the paperpushers at the CDC have decided against a Fisher-Price interface for us layfolks. Somebody show me were HIV/AIDS morbitity stats are published in the same damned table with other STDs and you get a medal from me. Fricken hype and hysteria.

    Just scanning this monstrosity was enough to send my brain into siezures. It's enough to make you think that thetruth.com is probably not such a bad idea after all.

    Aldous Huxley said an intellectual is somebody who has found something more interesting than sex. Athough I doubt that he meant football, he was certainly onto something. In the meantime, I think Nancy Reagan said it best. On the other hand, let's ask ourselves some interestingly provocative questions about our friend the bling rapper. Do rappers have HIV? On the other hand, let's not go there.

    What's the bottom line? Getting information in context about HIV from the CDC is a lot more difficult than keeping your pants on. Unless you're a ho.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:56 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    February 23, 2005

    Everything Worth Having

    'Everything worth having' is a snappy answer to the stupid question 'What do black people want?'.

    In thinking about the role of black public intellectuals and female public intellectuals, I have to ask how much time they spend lambasting 'the opposition'. Call me sheltered but I am convinced of the essential beauty of creation, and I mean man's creation. To paraphrase Devo, it's a beautiful world we live in. And I know the kick line to that is 'for you, but not for me'. The question is whether we use our skills to move in or burn down the house.

    But sometimes the question is not so stupid. And as I look towards discussion and debate over Estrich v Kinsey and the black left vs the black right, I want to keep that in mind. I admire people who challenge for the crown, but not those who say the castle is irredeemable, especially those who cannot build their own when there are still plenty rocks around.

    Posted by mbowen at 03:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    February 18, 2005

    The Greatest Love Songs: Old School Version

    From the "That's why white people are so f'ed up department":

    The spousal unit fixed me eggs this morning, and so at the (very late) breakfast table I decided to read #807 of Entertainment Weekly, which somehow managed to get in my house. On the cover, stars of the new movie 'Sin City' and the 50 Greatest Love Songs of All Time.

    Now I've always said that porno is good and pornography is bad. We need a little porno to remind us of our baser selves. Without it, we become Michael Jackson. So I have no problem with, and in fact am looking forward to a $40 million movie starring Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke. However if such fare is balanced by solid Old School oatmeal, then everything the Wahabbists say about our devolution is true. I have a feeling that the folks at EW have an inkling of this notion despite their otherwise insipid and tawdry material. If you're going to have hookers in leather, you've got to have love songs too.

    So what makes me practically spit up my eggs? This is their top ten.

    1. God Only Knows - The Beach Boys 2. Can't Help Falling in Love - Elvis 3. Something - Beatles 4. A Natural Woman - Aretha 5. Let's Stay Together - Al Green 6. I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston 7. Wild Horses - Rolling Stones 8. Sweet Childe o Mine - Guns n Roses 9. All I want Is You - U2 10. In Your Eyes - Peter Gabriel

    That's not the end of the trauma. The fact is that it gets a lot worse as it moves forward. Let me give you a clue, there is no Luther Vandross, no Earth Wind and Fire and Heatwave's 'Always and Forever' is nowhere to be found.

    In order to make up for this deficit, there is some logic placed into the list. The logic is that there has got to be some soul music in this list or else people will think we're crazy. So they put in Al Green, but not his best, c'mon yall. It's 'Love and Happiness'. Everybody knows that, or everybody is supposed to know that. They put in Etta James, Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. Uhm.. is there anyone under 60 that fell in love to that music? What's annoying is that they pick some good artists, but their emotional resonance is just on the wrong songs. Isn't there anyone at EW who fell in love the way we fell in love?

    OK. The entire list isn't reprehensible. There are a raft of no brainers but man, I gotta get my own 50 out there. I'm not going to put them in any rank because that's not how love works.

    Always and Forever - Heatwave
    Reasons - EWF
    Ribbon in the Sky - Stevie Wonder
    Distant Love - Marvin Gaye
    The Beautiful Ones - Prince
    Love & Happiness - Al Green
    Turn Out The Lights - Teddy Pendergrass
    A House is Not a Home - Luther Vandross
    Wildflow - New Birth
    It Takes a Fool - Spinners
    Mighty Love - Spinners
    Could It Be I'm Falling in Love - Spinners
    My Girl - Temptations
    Cry Together - OJays
    For The Love of You - Isley Brothers
    Don't Say Goodnight - Isley Brothers
    Yearning For Your Love - Gap Band
    I Do Love You - GQ
    Knocks Me Off My Feet - Stevie Wonder
    As - Stevie Wonder
    La La Means I Love You - Delfonics
    You're Still a Young Man - Bloodstone
    Ain't No Sunshine - Bill Withers
    Just The Two of Us - Bill Withers
    Use Me - Bill Withers
    Love Ballad - LTD
    Concentrate on You - LTD
    You Are My Starship - Norman Conners
    Misty Blue - Millie Jackson
    I Get Lonely - Janet Jackson
    Here and Now - Luther Vandross
    There's Nothing Better than Love - Luther Vandross
    You Bring Me Joy - Anita Baker
    Lead me Into Love - Anita Baker

    (damn, I'm tearing up just writing this stuff)

    Your Love Is King - Sade
    By Your Side - Sade
    Kiss of Life - Sade
    No Ordinary Love - Sade
    Unbreak My Heart - Toni Braxton
    Breathe Again - Toni Braxton

    (OK I quit, this is getting too sentimental and I've got things to do) - (Insert more here later)

    From the personal perspective of an individual who, in 1983 wore his hair exactly like Jessie Johnson, there has to be a Prince Section part of which fills up the subsection known as Make-Out Music.
    The Beautiful Ones
    Another Lonely Christmas

    Also Special Mention goes to the last tracks on the Janet Jackson album 'Janet'. You know, the ones with the raindrops...

    Now this list is Old School and not so personal because for me personally, I have to let my greatest mack secret go open source, considering that I don't need it anymore. The absolute, slam dunk romantic neutron bomb is Clifford Brown with Strings. This is for the night at your apartment when you've cooked dinner, you have the candles and flowers out and you're about to hook up the foot massage after the wine. It cannot fail, with American women anyway.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:07 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    February 07, 2005

    Don't Be So Quick To Judge GoDaddy

    The best commercial for the Superbowl was the one with the cat and the butcher knife. Gotta love that.

    Second best belongs to GoDaddy for pushing the goddamned limits. Fox deserves a big kick in their pants for pulling the second spot and I hope GoDaddy gets their money back. It was the only commercial that brought back the irreverance of the dot com revolution commercials. They held up their end. Better yet, they're blogging about the censorship. It's second best, but also most significant.

    Posted by mbowen at 03:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    February 04, 2005

    Black in the 80s

    Oh man VH1 has done it again. If you are not watching 'Black in the 80s', you're missing a great series. It's all in there. Lou Gossett, Spike Lee, Run DMC and all that. Them was my days, brudda!

    BTW. If you ever get a chance to see Eddie Murphy in Boomerang, you get closer to any picture ever to where my head was at as a single man in corporate America. It's still hilarious when I look at it today and think about me and my running buddies talking about women's feet.

    Posted by mbowen at 06:06 PM | TrackBack

    January 30, 2005

    Dichotomies for Dummies

    If perchance we are about to enter the Chinese Century, then perhaps those grumbling about the ascendency of David Sedaris have a point. It is a point which has been made before:

    The classics, and their position of prerogative in the scheme of education to which the higher seminaries of learning cling with such a fond predilection, serve to shape the intellectual attitude and lower the economic efficiency of the new learned generation. They do this not only by holding up an archaic ideal of manhood, but also by the discrimination which they inculcate with respect to the reputable and the disreputable in knowledge. This result is accomplished in two ways: (1) by inspiring an habitual aversion to what is merely useful, as contrasted with what is merely honorific in learning, and so shaping the tastes of the novice that he comes in good faith to find gratification of his tastes solely, or almost solely, in such exercise of the intellect as normally results in no industrial or social gain; and (2) by consuming the learner's time and effort in acquiring knowledge which is of no use,except in so far as this learning has by convention become incorporated into the sum of learning required of the scholar, and has thereby affected the terminology and diction employed in the useful branches of knowledge. Except for this terminological difficulty -- which is itself a consequence of the vogue of the classics of the past -- a knowledge of the ancient languages, for instance, would have no practical bearing for any scientist or any scholar not engaged on work primarily of a linguistic character. Of course, all this has nothing to say as to the cultural value of the classics, nor is there any intention to disparage the discipline of the classics or the bent which their study gives to the student. That bent seems to be of an economically disserviceable kind, but this fact -- somewhat notorious indeed -- need disturb no one who has the good fortune to find comfort and strength in the classical lore. The fact that classical learning acts to derange the learner's workmanlike attitudes should fall lightly upon the apprehension of those who hold workmanship of small account in comparison with the cultivation of decorous ideals: Iam fides et pax et honos pudorque Priscus et neglecta redire virtus Audet.

    Now this may seem hard to believe but I sat and listened yet another screeching oddity on 'This American Life' about a woman who loves a parrot. The same parrot that bites her infant children and squawks at all hours. She has lived with it for 23 years. Anyway, you really have to listen to it to believe it. It's like a slow motion dissection of idiocy.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:46 AM | TrackBack

    January 28, 2005

    Voice Recognition: Berger & Liaw

    Two biomedical engineers at the University of Southern California, Theodore Berger and Jim-Shih Liaw, have designed a new type of voice recognition device that is capable of listening better than any set of human ears. It is a neural network that actually mimics the way the brain interprets speech-- a cybernetics concept. (See robotics-cybernetics .) To learn more, visit: www.usc.edu/ext-relations/news_service/real/real_video.html.

    This is actually old news, but every once in a while I ask myself about the state of the art in voice recognition and I tend to believe that the best stuff is being kept away from the public. So do these guys have a product yet?

    Also, I've been told that this product, The Boom, is by far the best headset on the planet. Sounds convincing.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:46 AM | TrackBack

    January 27, 2005



    Posted by mbowen at 11:37 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    January 23, 2005

    Cranium Cadoo & Zigity

    It has been staring at me from the shelves of toystores for a long time. And it caught my attention several times. It looked cool. In fact, it was on the Christmas list for 2004, and we almost got it. This weekend we gave in, and got Zigity for good measure.


    I've been telling my kids about the multi-mind theory for a while now. And I've started to integrate meditation into their routines. Meditation is for them the mental equivalent of ginger on a sushi plate. Clear the palate of what you were doing, and load up another part of the brain. It makes sense to me that different parts of our thinking and cognitive abilities evolved at different times, and thus that different parts of our brains are acting alone for particular tasks. As well, I've been considering the implications of multiple intelligences since Minksy '88.

    Sure enough, Cranium integrates multiple forms of intelligence in its games. It's a real treat to play these. I recommend them highly.

    Zigity is a card game that's a combination of Uno and Rummy. The object is to get rid of all your cards. First player to do so wins. You get rid of your cards by making spreads. But the cards are encoded so that you spread 4 different ways, instead of just 2 ways as in Rummy. Your spreads go into the discard pile so it doesn't matter how many spreads you get, you just want to get out.

    You can spread based on playing the top discard which is one of four types {Spelling, Math, Puzzle, Matching}. Each of the Zigity cards has an attribute in each of those four dimensions, whereas an Uno deck only has two dimensions, number and color. So each card has a puzzle value (one of three puzzle pieces), a Matching value (one of 4 or 5 musical instruments), a Math value (a number) and a Spelling Value (a letter). There are also action cards, like in Uno which you can play anytime to make an opponent draw more cards, reverse play direction, etc.

    Anyway, Zigity is a great game, it plays quickly and the cards are very unique looking. Cool!

    Cadoo is a bit more involved but also uses the multiple intelligences idea. It involves the best elements of Tic Tac Toe, Treasure Hunt, Charades, Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary and a whole new thing which is making sculptures with grape scented purple clay. A 3D Pictionary with clay. This game is a ball. Both games are great to play with kids. Games go quickly. There's always a winner.

    We used to like playing Break the Safe, but it's really frustrating and exciting before you get good enough to win. After you've beaten Break the Safe, it's not so much fun any longer.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:57 PM | TrackBack

    January 16, 2005

    Self Indulgent Twenty

    I'm such a cool person that you actually want to know what's on my MP3 player, don't you?

    OK here goes.
    1. Goodbye Porkpie Hat - Stanley Clarke
    2. What's Beef - Notorious BIG
    3. Hurts So Good - John Cougar Mellencamp
    4. Hora Debcubitis - Charles Mingus
    5. Veni Creator Spiritus - Paul Schwartz
    6. Work It - Missy Elliot
    7. Away in a Manger - Sounds of Blackness
    8. Invitational - Wynton Marsalis Septet
    9. Tension 2 - Blue Man Group
    8. What is This Thing Called Love - Frank Sinatra
    9. Up On Cripple Creek - The Band
    10. Someday My Prince Will Come - Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea
    11. Casey Jones - Grateful Dead
    12. Volare - Gipsy Kings
    13. Paint - Soul Coughing
    14. The English Motorway System - Black Box Recorder
    15. Superman - Eminem
    16. Symphonie #9 IV Presto Op. 125 - Beethoven
    17. Cowboy Dan - Modest Mouse
    18. Amazing Grace - Five Blind Boys
    19. Jungle Free Bass - Axciom Funk
    20. East of the Sun - Joe Swanson Orchestra

    Damn, I've got good taste, and I only fudged once, for Halloween Sound Effects. I ought to do this more often. I have to put twenty because I'd be embarrassed at any 10. It's cool to find 'Someday..' at Crescat.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:43 AM | TrackBack

    January 14, 2005

    Randy Moss: True American

    I've only heard tell about the act, but I love its spirit. It's this conversation that wins me over. It's perfect.

    The enemies of Randy Moss are pompous, pampered, privileged, pious punks. Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:10 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    January 13, 2005

    Dusik Interlude

    I've been mixing up a storm with my new loop kit, and I came up with a slammin' mix of the intro to 'Dusic' (by Brick, not the 'Dazz Band') mixed with a piece of Orbit's 'The Beat Goes On'. It turns out that there's really not much else I can think to do with it, and it occured to me to leave it alone.

    Then I recalled this is perfectly good music as an interlude. In fact, what this particular beat is perfect for is something to blast as you are taking off in your car and you want people to notice how incredibly cool you are. Of course. Blast & Drive music!

    I'll be doing more of that.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:18 PM | TrackBack

    January 11, 2005

    Saturn Sky

    sky.jpgSaturn has just made their 'Miata'. I can't see how there can be anything but a mad dash to go after this car. It's gorgeous and extra cool. I want one.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:39 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    January 03, 2005

    Fashion Fatties

    beil.jpg Plug your nostrils and put down your drink. You are about to laugh a storm. Check out these photoshopped celebrities. My favorite? Jessica Biel.

    I'm really going to have to learn how to use Photoshop like that. There are so many ideas trapped in my skull, and I do so desparately want to make you laugh. OK, not so desparate that I'd actually change my schedule and buy a book. Anyway. It's time for work. Let me quit wasting time blogging.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:21 PM | TrackBack

    January 01, 2005

    Genetic Genocide

    Why are there no Neanderthals around? They're certainly smarter than chimpanzees. You'd think they would have survived. The answer that scientists seem to agree upon is that we killed them. All of them, down to the last caveman. It's not too difficult to imagine, unfortunately. But it's pretty damned scary when you think of it.
    Homo Sapiens
    are, according to evolutionary biologists, the dominant hominids because we whooped the contenders.

    Picture this. You're out at a bar and this guy is pestering a cute girl. You see her slap him and call him a Neanderthal. He comes on to her again. If you have this overwhelming urge to beat the crap out of him and get the girl, it's only natural (selection).

    Posted by mbowen at 10:04 PM | TrackBack

    December 29, 2004

    Jerry Orbach, RIP

    Jerry Orbach is dead. Damn.

    I have to say that of all the characters on television, Orbach's Lennie Briscoe was one of my all-time favorites. He was for real, and he handled himself. He's the kind of guy I'd like to pal around. You could tell that Orbach enjoyed playing the character and that he was not too far off from Orbach himself. Law & Order may not survive the loss.

    And did you know this?

    Posted by mbowen at 09:40 AM | TrackBack

    December 24, 2004

    Prediction Review: 2004

    A reivew of my predictions. And the big thing I should have said if I really knew anything in bold.

    Tech IPOs will make a comeback. (sorta)
    Linux makes no inroads to the desktop. (yes)
    Halo2 breaks all console videogame records. (yes)
    Microsoft is reborn. People will say Gates has done it again. (not really)
    Microsoft brands a PC. (no)
    Apple ports more Windows software. (no)
    iPod makes it big.

    GOP breaks ranks over spending & civil liberties. (yes)
    Brokered Democratic Convention. Dean/Gephardt/Clark (no)
    Blogs break a major scandal and get tongue wagging approval from skeptics. (yes)
    Term limits lose support. (no)
    Taxation comes back via 'fees'. States use clever rhetoric, fool nobody. (sorta)
    Bush Wins.

    Arts & Culture
    Hiphop sweeps the Grammys (dunno)
    Reality TV shows bite the dirt. (sorta)
    A new cult TV show is born in the tradition of Buffy (actually no)
    Children's fashion gets trashy. (sorta)
    Digital music pervades. RIAA gains a prominent political foe. (yes and no)
    People get sick of Merlot. Shiraz gains even more ground. (dunno)
    Harry Potter 3 is a massive critical success. (yes)

    Chargers leave San Diego (no)
    No Americans medal in Olympic gymnastics despite hype. (no)
    Tiger Woods gets the Grand Slam. (no)
    Venus Williams quits / gets injured. (sorta)
    The Greek Olympics are a big dud. (yes)
    The Fall of Kobe Bryant
    Red Sox Win!

    Assisted Suicide gains support. (no)
    A huge hack/worm gives put computer security in the headlines. (no)
    Americans invent more stupid reasons to hate France. (yes)
    Gay Marriage proposals backfire.

    Single State theory gains ground in Israel/Palestine. (no)
    Most American forces leave Iraq. (hell no)
    Dollar Plunges
    Saddam Captured

    SARS hits US (not even)
    FDA Losing credibility.

    Business & Finance
    Outsourcing backlash gets fierce. (yes)
    Dow 11,000 (very close)
    NASDAQ 2100 (pretty much nailed it)

    and next to another venture of folly.. 2005.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    December 20, 2004

    Feminists Were Right

    But probably not for the reasons any of us thought. Stuart Buck parses the numbers, examining the case for opening doors. Also involved in this chain of evidence were Slithery D, a defunct lawblogger and the ever charming Crescat Sententia. Google it your damned self.

    Posted by mbowen at 03:37 PM | TrackBack

    December 12, 2004


    From a meme generator:

    Three names you go by:
    a. boohab
    b. max
    c. sixoseven

    Three screennames you have:
    What's a screen name?

    Three things you like about yourself:
    a. my family
    b. my hands
    c. my sense of humor

    Three things you dislike about yourself:
    a. my gut
    b. my impatience
    c. my snoring

    Three parts of my heritage:
    a. french
    b. caribe
    c. choctaw

    Three things that scare you:
    a. fanatic mobs
    b. drowning
    c. extortion

    Three everyday essentials:
    a. altoids
    b. cruzer micro 256
    c. pilot g-2 05 black

    Three things you are wearing now:
    a. nike athletic socks
    b. casio g-shock g-3110
    c. 'got root?' t-shirt

    Three of your favorite bands (at the moment):
    a. modest mouse
    b. the bad plus
    c. edvard grieg

    Three of your favorite songs (at the moment):
    a. 'numbers' by kraftwerk
    b. 'the death of tybalt' by prokofiev
    c. 'willow weep for me' as performed by wes montgomery

    Three things you want to try in the next 12 months:
    a. congee broth done right in beijing
    b. krav maga
    c. treo 650

    Three things you want in a relationship:
    a. separate bathrooms
    b. motivational clarity
    c. one absolutely best thing

    Two truths and a lie:
    a. people need love
    b. god is love
    c. love is forever

    Three appealing physical things about the opposite sex:
    a. walk
    b. texture
    c. eyes

    Three things you just can't do:
    a. juggle four balls
    b. lie to myself
    c. stand flaky people

    Three favorite hobbies:
    a. writing
    b. gaming
    c. carousing

    Three things you want to do really badly right now:
    a. martinis
    b. sushi
    c. interrogation

    Three careers you are considering:
    a. bag man
    b. novelist
    c. night club singer

    Three places you want to go on vacation:
    a. Mali
    b. Bali
    c. Denali

    Three kids names:

    Three things you want to do before you die:
    a. tell my great-grandchildren about the bad old days.
    b. give away millions of dollars
    c. play a decent chopin etude

    Posted by mbowen at 05:29 PM | TrackBack

    Christmas Poetry

    we sat down to tv one cold winter's night
    my kids to my left and my wife to my right
    feeling quite generous and ready to dote
    i handed my daughter the tivo remote
    i dozed off a moment then awoke with a start
    a shouted profanity jump stared my heart
    i opened my eyes and what should appear
    but a fat porno santa dry humping a deer

    Hmm. I'll wait until I'm out of a perverse mood before I start composing more poetry. But this was too hilarious to pass up. Actually what happened a couple weeks ago was I was channel surfing and went by the new series 'Drawn Together' in front of F7. Be forewarned...

    Posted by mbowen at 12:38 PM | TrackBack

    December 10, 2004

    Blade Trinity, Gearheads & Cargo Pants

    blade.jpgMy favorite pants are the fatigue green cargo pants that I got from Target a couple months ago. Since I have these, I can delay my decision to purchase that new Treo 650 I've had my eye on. I priced it out yesterday and it's over 750 bucks. Yike. But today I have all kinds of pockets, I can keep all the bulkier low tech gear in multiple pockets. I also have a fairly expensive backpack from Targus with an uncountable number of pockets, flaps and zippers.

    So as I was walking from work the other day with the single strap of the Targus weighing down my right shoulder and me patting myself down to make sure I had everything it made me pause to think how it came to be that in 2004 I'm still carrying 40 pounds of gear.

    Yesterday, I snuck out and saw Blade III. It was OK. The good parts were really good, and rest surely has to be a lot more fun for guys in their 20s than me. Still, it got enough under my skin to ask myself why I'm taking Capoeira instead of Krav Maga. So I think I know the answer.

    It's cool to carry a bunch of high tech gear, no matter how weird i makes you walk.

    Still, what have I got weighing me down that might lighten my load (and give me more room for more gear)? Definitely the laptop can be reduced in size. Chances are that I'll have a nice flat panel to plug it into whenever I work onsite so I don't need a big screen. The transformer isn't going to get any lighter. I wouldn't need all the Cat5 and the 4 port hub if my clients would bother to go wireless. I still carry Quadrille pads and a paper based calendar, but I probably would use a PDA based time tracking system if somebody did the interface nicely for under 50 bucks. I don't know how I can get much better than the data crammed on 20 DVDs in that little ballistic nylon book.

    But right about now I'm really sick of my wallet. I'm considering the possiblity of keeping an alternate wallet. This is where I'm going to do a lot of research and learn - my new company is investing in smart cards big time. As an aside, I would like to believe that I started the geek fashion trend of wearing a USB flash drive on a lanyard around my neck last December. When you see a geek doing so, think of me, thank you. So this is where the confluence can work. I think lanyard fashion can catch on as well as bling.

    Back in 96, the spousal unit had an all areas pass to the Olympic Village in Atlanta. She was a bit more restricted in Sydney, but there was no question that that big old badge & pass she wore around her neck was hella valuable. The trick is to get teenagers and fashionistas to jump on the bandwagon. What it's going to take is a very large and flashy card. People will wear 'em. Watch.

    Right now I use Schnier's Password Safe. So even if you snatched the Cruzer off my lanyard, you're not going to get any of my secrets.

    So I figure a PDA with the camera, 500MB of CF memory and the ability to transfer data back and forth with a standard XP machine, and I'll be good to go. That is, until I get a katana and a pistol with silver bullets.

    UPDATE: I decided to put in the picture. That on my wrist is, what else but a Casio G-Shock.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:46 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    December 08, 2004

    Appointment With Mr. Z

    Not long ago, I wondered aloud what happened to all the New Jacks. Among them are LA Reid and Babyface. It turns out that Reid has done adequately well for himself at Island Records, and now he has Jay-Z working for him. It looks to me like a private kingdom in the public world and a clear triumph for (ahem) uppity negroes.

    Proving yet again that he is the hardest-working retiree in the music industry, the rap star Jay-Z has agreed to become the president of Universal Music Group's Def Jam Recordings label.

    The appointment, announced yesterday, puts Def Jam, the hip-hop label, in the hands of one of rap's biggest-selling artists. Universal, part of Vivendi Universal, will give Jay-Z, who has little corporate experience, the vacant top job at one of its biggest divisions, granting him authority over everything from album production to marketing strategies, and an artist roster that includes stars like LL Cool J and Ludacris.


    Posted by mbowen at 02:18 PM | TrackBack

    December 03, 2004

    Who is Henry Bekkering?

    If you don't know, now you know.

    Damn! This is pure energy. He's on fire. He doesn't just defy gravity, he rips it to shreds. Most of all, he's fast.

    Posted by mbowen at 06:22 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

    December 02, 2004

    Get Your Giftie

    O wad some Power the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as ithers see us!
    It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
    An' foolish notion:
    What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
    An' ev'n devotion!
    -- Robert Burns, 1786

    We see you as a number, of course.

    Posted by mbowen at 04:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    December 01, 2004


    Now here's something I like. It's called Plazes. It answers the question, where ya at?

    Plazes is the first global location-aware interaction and geo-information system, connecting you with the people and Plazes in your area and all over the world. It is the navigation system for your social life.

    Plaze = Location + People

    A Plaze is a physical location with a local network - private or public, wired or unwired. A Plaze constitutes of the information about the actual location like pictures, comments and mapping information, as well as the people currently online at that Plaze.

    This, enabled for broadband wireless is going to enable smartmobbing at a small scale. Crew hookups is what's likely to happen. It will be fairly extraordinary.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:46 AM | TrackBack

    November 17, 2004

    Spellings Nominated

    "..so these two midgets walk into a bar.."

    Posted by mbowen at 12:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Grandbaby Got More Back

    Who is more evolved? Them what got big booties or them what got less? Well it only takes a moment's consideration after reading this NYT article to figure it out:

    Humans were born to run and evolved from ape-like creatures into the way they look today probably because of the need to cover long distances and compete for food, scientists said on Wednesday.


    Among the features that set humans apart from apes to make them good runners are longer legs to take longer strides, shorter forearms to enable the upper body to counterbalance the lower half during running and larger disks which allow for better shock absorption.

    Big buttocks are also important.

    "Have you ever looked at an ape? They have no buns," said Bramble.

    Maybe this explains why women always look better when they are running and why I still love Marion Jones. Speaking of which, did the scandal ever evolve to anything more than a media slam job? No. Shades of Richard Jewell.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:03 AM | TrackBack

    November 13, 2004

    No Blacks in NZ

    Here's an interesting article.

    The recent pop culture fixation on large bottoms has been around since at least 1992, when rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot scored a hit with "Baby Got Back."

    But some credit the recent booty shakin� efforts of shapely stars Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce for the fresh emphasis on bigger and rounder posteriors, coupled with the fashion explosion of the Brazilian-style low-rise jeans.

    Tsk. Those people just don't know. We raise 'em like that. They must think it's collagen injections.

    Posted by mbowen at 05:00 PM | TrackBack

    November 10, 2004

    Unelectable Dot Com

    Go and read the joke just in case you forget all the things people were saying while they're still on the net. Anybody want to take this to the geeky nth degree? There has got to be several gigabytes of wishful thinking and propaganda that still exists on the net.

    Posted by mbowen at 02:33 PM | TrackBack

    November 08, 2004

    Finally, A Real Protester

    From Deutche Welle:

    A train carrying "Castors" of nuclear waste from France to Germany ran over a protestor who had chained himself to the tracks, severing both of his legs. He died of his injuries a short while later, police reported.

    A 23-year old environmental activist paid the ultimate price for his convictions on Sunday. Despite a large security operation, the young man managed to chain himself to the railway tracks near Avricourt, in protest of the latest transport of nuclear waste from a French reprocessing plant in La Hague to a storage facility in Gorleben, Germany.

    A spokeswoman for France's SNCF rail operator said the train's driver noticed a group of people sitting on the tracks, and pulled the emergency brake. "One of the people remained sitting, and his legs were cut off and he has died," the spokeswoman said.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:45 AM | TrackBack

    November 05, 2004

    Man Bites Dog

    In the WSJ:

    A 9-year-old African-American fourth-grader from inner-city Oakland is helping keep alive a dying Asian art form -- Chinese opera. A challenge to even native Chinese speakers, it weaves elements of mime, song and acrobatics.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:38 AM | TrackBack

    November 04, 2004

    Dreams of Durga

    In less than a week, the adventures of Earth will continue. The Halo universe is taking shape in my imagination thanks to the ilovebees story.

    I've known about the viral marketing site for quite some time, but I didn't pay much attention. But the 40 some odd audio clips make a fairly compelling story and humanizes a great deal of the backstory. I've decided to purchase the two Halo books by Nylund (who is probably a hack, but a good hack) to fill out my eventual immersion in all things Halo. For those who are not so gaga to decrypt the fun convolutions of the bee fans, there's Dana's Bee Blog which spells it out in more easily decipherable English.

    The one thing that is clear about this new Halo stuff is that there's a lot of estrogen and progesterone in it, not just testosterone. What do you call feminine macho? Machaca? Well a lot of the bad guys get cut to machaca in the bee narrative, but I won't spoil the adventures of Janissary James, Kamal and the rest of the gang.

    This is going to be great.

    Posted by mbowen at 05:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    October 29, 2004

    Bush Wins the Hiphop Vote

    The hiphop generation understands war. Bush wins the battle.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:41 AM | TrackBack

    October 26, 2004

    Intellectual Spuds

    I am Frylock from Aqua Teen Hunger Force!!

    Which Aqua Teen Hunger Force character are you??

    As a consequence of submitting to the madness that was the dotcom revolutions and having been an original signer of the Cluetrain Manifesto I have adopted one or two strange habits. One of them is having a pop icon mascot.

    My original one was Badtz Maru. I may have had another since, but I forget. Today, I revive the bizarre tradition and adopt Frylock as my new mascot.

    Now you know.

    Posted by mbowen at 02:29 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    October 25, 2004

    St. Ides

    Does St. Ides still make money? I wonder because I just heard the Ice Cube song with it and even though it has been a while, the Pimpjuice controversy is still in mind. The other song was 'One Million Bottlebags' by PE.

    Tempest in a toddy cup.

    Posted by mbowen at 04:02 PM | TrackBack

    October 22, 2004


    The Interociter is right. People for generations will remember where they were when the Sox blasted the grand slam homer in the top of the second inning that all but sealed the fate of the Yankees in this year's pennant race.

    I was at work looking at the TV on the pillar over my shoulder. It was a rainy day. I had my headphones on and was listening to some rock & roll music - I didn't hear the play by play, but I watched the ball fly over the wall. I don't know how loudly I shouted...

    Posted by mbowen at 01:51 PM | TrackBack

    October 19, 2004

    The Hottest

    Jet Noise asks an interesting question within an impossible question. The impossible one has to do with the ten best movies of all time. It's been tried. However he also asks about the hottest love scenes. Given that we're talking mainstream stuff, there's a bit we can say within 'reasonable' limits.

    Without numbering them here's a sampling.

    • Nicolas Cage & Elizabeth Shue: Leaving Las Vegas
    • Al Pacino & Ellen Barkin: Sea of Love
    • Billy Bob Thornton & Halle Berry: Monster's Ball
    • Mickey Rourke & Kim Basinger: 9 1/2 Weeks
    • William Hurt & Kathleen Turner: Body Heat
    • Allen Payne & Jada Pinkett: Jason's Lyric

    That's all I can think of. Not much really.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:36 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    October 17, 2004

    I Know Kung Fu

    Every once in a while something becomes so clear, so devoid of artifice, so direct and elegant that it illuminates what has been fogged. Such reification is precious and we are all indebted to those who have that common touch. So thank your lucky stars for the author of this weblog, Cooking For Engineers.

    It actually makes me want to go shopping for groceries.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:30 AM | TrackBack

    October 13, 2004

    Who's Your Daddy?

    Whenever I hear the word 'patriarchy', I curl into a fetal position and whimper. It has the effect of freaking out the feminist who utters it, and sometimes of wrinkling my pants. But it's better than the alternative which is to wash out her mouth with soap. That'll get you shackled in a dungeon.

    I could probably think of a better and more intellectual reaction, such as this, but I'd rather just roll my eyes and make the universal sign for 'puke'.

    By the way, what do you call a feminist with three children? An Afghan voter. As for the rest of them, I'll just turn the subject to baseball - something else I vaguely understand. I raise my glass to all the Dads in the world. You know who you are.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:38 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Weapons of Ass Destruction

    A fight between Eminem and Michael Jackson is all over the news. Jacko can't handle being dissed on video and is bleating about being 'demeaned'. Such matters are of such consequence that we must rise to our duty to speak out.

    It just so happens, that having loaded up on some old school rap, that I've been thinking about how the rivalry between Kool Moe Dee and LL Cool J amounted to nothing more that pretty good raps. In retrospect, 'Momma Said Knock You Out' is lyrically juvenile and so minimalist that it's hard to remember what was so good about it - ahh, the video. Tupac and Biggie's deuling was more serious, of course, and I am more of the opinion, fwiw, that Snoop or Suge should have taken the bullet instead of Shakur, considering the net loss to the business.

    So what can we expect in this battle?

    Well obviously Em has taken the initiative and Jacko the offense. But was Eminem morally justified in this unilateral action? After all, there is no smoking gun in Jacko's bedroom, perhaps Em should have given the investigators more time. On the other hand, it's hard to argue that the world won't be better off without Michael Jackson. It's true that he was once our ally, but times change. He got away the first time he crossed standards of decency, this time Em is out to finish the job.

    You could have expected the liberals at BET to go invertabrate and pull support from Eminem. So there's clearly not an international mandate here. Eminem is probably not the most intelligent or well-spoken man for the task, and he is a white guy dropping bombs on somebody who ain't. But in these post Amber Alert days, there are new rules in operation.

    The argument is made that if Eminem should have gone after somebody, it should have been R. Kelley. After all, we have evidence of his abuses, and he's getting away with it. Which rather brings us to the ugly and nauseating center of this controversy. Is Michael Jackson really a man capable of raping children? Does he possess, or could he construct a WAD?

    We know he has the technology to add or subtract parts of his body. And he demonstrated his willingness and ability to do so in the past. But the documented existence of the crucial components is in doubt. Certainly people who are paid by Jackson have told us, but how reliable are they? He makes big entrances with his entourage of shills, flacks, and flunkies, but then he hides away in his palaces and travels with doubles so that his whereabouts are always unknown. It's impossible to get close enough to verify.

    Many people are very loyal to this icon but we know those weasels are only in it for the money or they just hate Eminem. But I'm sick of the pretense that he is King, and I am hoping the Eminem takes him down. Heal the world! Do it for the children!

    Posted by mbowen at 08:22 AM | TrackBack

    October 11, 2004

    Conservatives Worry About the Police State Too

    Of course you wouldn't think so listening to some. Here's a useful and informative site. Overcriminalized.

    The origin of modern criminal law can be traced to early feudal times. From its inception, the criminal law expressed both a moral and a practical judgment about the societal consequences of certain activity: to be a crime, the law required that an individual must both cause (or attempt to cause) a wrongful injury and do so with some form of malicious intent. Classically, lawyers capture this insight in two principles: in order to be a crime there must be both an actus reus (a bad act) and a culpable mens rea (a guilty mind). At its roots, the criminal law did not punish merely bad thoughts (intentions to act without any evil deed) or acts that achieved unwittingly wrongful ends but without the intent to do so. The former were for resolution by ecclesiastical authorities and the latter were for amelioration in the tort system. In America today, this classical understanding of criminal law no longer holds.

    The requirement of an actual act of some form is fundamental. As an initial premise, Anglo-American criminal law does not punish thought. For a crime to have been committed there must, typically, be some act done in furtherance of the criminal purpose. The law has now gone far from that model of liability for an act and, in effect, begun to impose criminal liability for the acts of another based upon failures of supervision that are far different from the common law's historical understanding.

    Similarly, the law historically has required that before an individual is deemed a criminal he must have acted with an intent to do wrong. Accidents and mistakes are not considered crimes. Yet contemporary criminal law punishes acts of negligence and even acts which are accidental. In the regulatory context, as Justice Potter Stewart has noted, there is, in effect, a standard of near-absolute liability.

    Liberty is freedom under the law. The bigger the law, the smaller the liberty. Something has got to change. I would hope that this has more than trickle-down thinking at its root. Surely this idea can be narrowly applied to strictly limit business liability with no other consequences for the common man. But given that the Supreme Court is very likely to review the Constitutionality of the Three Strikes and like Federal Sentencing Guidelines, we may be in for some interesting confluences of opinions.

    As for myself, I think that for the most serious crimes, sentencing guidelines make practical sense. But I also believe that Three Strikes is just too radical, and I really cannot stand the politicization of the courts by the executive branch. Taking away the prerogatives of judges to assay the weight of a crime and apply sentences within broad boundaries is just highhanded, if not shady. If you can't trust judges, we're in a world of trouble. I think we should give judges the benefit of the doubt and not hamstring them to the political ambitions of prosecutors. When American justice ceases to be subtle, it ceases to be justice.

    All that said, we should protect whistleblowers and get more people into courts. Accellerate jury duty I say. We should have more contact with the judicial branch as citizens. I think we'll all agree in the end that we have more than enough laws to keep our society stable, but that civil litigation is a bit out of control. It seems more like a lottery to me - a way to clog... but I digress.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    October 03, 2004


    "You can't rise as a class. You have to rise individually. It's what
    many of the civil rights-era people don't understand," he said.
    "They want us to rise together, they keep telling us that we are
    victims. If they keep telling us they are victims, then there is a role
    for them to play."

    -- Alphonso Jackson, HUD Sec'y

    Posted by mbowen at 11:03 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    September 28, 2004

    I Can See My House From Here

    What could possibly be cooler than Terraserver? This: CaliforniaCoastline.org. Just in case you wondered, this is Redondo Beach, where I chill at the crib.

    Posted by mbowen at 06:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    September 24, 2004

    Jerry Orbach

    OK you would have never convinced me in a million years, but it's true. Jerry Orbach who just retired from Law & Order's Lt. Briscoe is the same Jerry Orbach who was the voice of Lumiere in 'Beauty & The Beast'.

    Yes, the little Frenchy candlestick who sings 'Be Our Guest' is Jerry Orbach. Well blow me down.

    Posted by mbowen at 02:27 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    September 10, 2004

    Coop's Chicks

    I just had to put this picture up on my site. It's not often that I talk about sex or relationships. It's just one of those rules. If you're not married to me or thinking about my children, I simply don't care. Dowhachalike.

    But this is the contribution I wanted to make to Tooley's discussion about interracial relationships.

    Posted by mbowen at 05:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    September 01, 2004

    Laughing in Your PJs

    Wherever there is suffering, injustice and oppression, America will
    show up six months late, and bomb the country next to
    where it's happening.

    -- PJ ORourke

    ORourke is hilarious. I've finally come around to his sensibility. Nothing works. We survive. Have a drink and laugh. You gotta love a guy who can say this of NPR:

    "NPR Headline: World to end soon. Poor & minorities hardest hit."

    Posted by mbowen at 06:56 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    August 23, 2004

    Weird Science

    At the UCLA Open House when I was about 12, I stood for a long time contemplating whether or not I should stick my finger into a flask of liquid nitrogen, and then pass it through the HeNe laser that had just burned a hole in a block of steel. Even though I considered myself a coward for not trying I'm pretty sure that I did the right thing.

    They say really smart people never make the same mistake three times. That's because if they goof once, they're sure that it's somebody else's fault. Here you'll find the geek version of the Darwin Awards.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:35 AM | TrackBack

    August 22, 2004

    The World's Ugliest Website

    I'm doing research and looking at new companies to target for my business, and I came across one hideous website that I just had to share with you all.

    Frontier Logistics


    Posted by mbowen at 11:58 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    August 11, 2004

    My Stamp

    I never quite understand what's going on at the Diktat. The irony is so thick that I cannot often penetrate it. But there seemed to be a pretty cool blogmeme happening that I thought I'd join.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:15 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    July 26, 2004

    That's Not Funny

    What actually is funny is the JibJab version of 'This Land is Our Land'.

    What's not funny (but actually could be hilarious) is a photoshopped MLK as Barney the Dinosaur holding hands with a rainbow coalition of ethnics including the JibJab heads singing "I love you, you love me, all Multiculturally". Somebody with skills and time, have at it.

    On the other hand this is funny too.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:12 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


    It takes a little while, but after you read about six articles from Xinhua News Service, you get the taste of government propaganda in your mouth. Man are we lucky. But that does little to dilute the sheer awe inspired by the Three Gorges River Project which is already generating electricity.

    In China, they build things.

    Posted by mbowen at 06:48 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    July 21, 2004

    Second Coming Speculation

    Somebody asked about where Jesus would show up for the Second Coming.

    Well, Jesus would have to show up somewhere that everyone could see. If he was to appear as an ordinary human, there would have to be a way that everyone on the planet would be made aware of his presence. That argues for a story which would travel around the world, presumeably by mass media.

    Nick Berg.

    I'm really not up on the prescriptions most Christians have of the Second Coming. We Episcopalians say 'He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead'. So if Jesus were Episcopalian, then he certainly wouldn't go out like Berg. He'd do something like raise Atlantis from the ocean and teleport people in mid-sentence. He'd be on our cell phones, pagers, PDAs and car radios telling us each about our sins and what's about to come next. He wouldn't bother with one simple human form or our space time continuum, and he damned sure isn't about to be crucified again. It would be the end of the world and the human experiment.

    I have a great deal of faith that the Trinity isn't finished with humanity by a longshot. We still have, by my watch, several thousand generations to go before we take up a reasonably good chunk of our galaxy and therefore more of the Trinity's attention. We have yet to meet the challenges of dealing with alien species, of which there must be plenty.

    On the other hand, what if the truly righteous among us were so few that Jesus has actually had a second, third, fourth and 20 other visits but we were all preoccupied watching Fox?

    Posted by mbowen at 07:36 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    July 19, 2004

    Who Is The Star of This Show?


    Posted by mbowen at 07:40 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    July 16, 2004

    I Love Marion Jones


    Posted by mbowen at 07:17 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

    July 12, 2004

    Worst Books I Ever Read

    Following the meme. I don't read many bad books. That's because I don't use the library. I buy books, and I rarely buy a book I don't think I'd enjoy. But sometimes someone loans me a book, and sometimes I make dumb mistakes. Without getting into the whys and wherefores, here are books I remember hating because they were supposed to be all that, and weren't.

    1. The Isis Papers, by Frances Cress Welsing
    3. Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino
    4. The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, by Henry Miller
    5. The Periodic Table, by Primo Levi
    6. The Reckoning: What Blacks Owe To Each Other, by Randall Robinson
    7. The Women of Brewster Place, by Gloria Naylor

    Most of these books were mostly disappointments, especially Naylor, whom I like and respect as an author. But there is no number two when it comes to bad. The Isis Papers is the Nick Berg video of literature. And so I dedicate a few paras of scortched earth.

    This book is so horrid that it made me ill just thinking about it. It is obscenely retarded, ridiculously hyperbolic and has all the style of the instructions on a package of dog food. I've read cereal boxes with more wit and humor. I've heard more insight into the nature of race from 7 year old children.
    Perhaps the only thing more astounding than the fact that the book was ever published is that there are people who actually believe this garbage. It only underscores how tragic are the dimensions of this uniquely American dilemma.

    I will periodically could come back and add to this review every time I have an opportunity to find a new metaphor for idiotic poison stinkiness. In fact, the Isis Papers is a milestone, a testament to awfulness which will have critics reaching for superlatives for years to come. It will continue to challenge reasonable people with common sense to find ways to describe its slimy gutwrenching putrid foulness. Think of the old woman in the Princess Bride booing Buttercup. Boo

    After I read it, I tried to justify it. I tried to figure out where she was coming from. No good. It sat on my shelf - and I thought, well at least I can tell something about people by judging their reaction to the book on my shelf. Instead, I just got nauseated by seeing it there. I actually felt sorry for the books that were next to it. OK, I say - there has got to be a good use for it. So I cut out the middle of it and made it into a book safe. Then I couldn't think of anything I cared about enough to hide, but not so much that I would put it into the embrace of the Isis Papers.

    In the end there was only one good use I found for this book. I threw it into the trash. With that one motion I felt purified and my house felt cleaner. So I picked it out of the trash and did it again 12 times.

    I would remind thoughtful people, in case you've never seen it -heaven forbid the temptation strikes you - that books don't burn well; whole books that is. If you take the pages out one at a time however, you get good kindling. Just thought you should know.

    Posted by mbowen at 02:33 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

    July 07, 2004

    Dat Ole N Word

    Chuck D said something happened between 1989 and 1992 in hiphop. It was NWA of course. But then Chris Rock said he'll use it if it benefits him, given all the shorts he had to take coming up. Nelson George said something else, George Wolfe said something else. Wynton said something; Stanley Crouch said something.

    Wait a minute. Now I'm confused. How many black people can you get into one documentary? Well I'll tell you who else was in it. Ice Cube, Alvin Poussaint, Donald Bogle, Bryant Gumbel, Talib Kwali, John Sally, Whoopi Goldberg, Sam Jackson, John Singleton, and that was just the last 20 minutes.

    So maybe this is not a story about the N Word so much as it is about this new cable channel, Trio. Where did it come from? Where is it going? My interest is piqued.

    At any rate, no I can't remember the first time some white kid used it against me. I'm sure I stopped counting. The latent effect is nil. But I do have some old handy N-Word resources. All those multivariate black responses to the various questions surrounding the word almost made it interesting enough for me to open my mind. But in the end, I think I agree most with Chris Rock. It's only an interesting subject because saying the word is something whitefolks can't do, and it blows their minds that there is actually something they can't do.


    UPDATE: Re-revisit an old subject. Nicely done at P6 last August.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:06 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    July 06, 2004

    Cobb Is..


    cobb is on the right track
    cobb is a prick
    cobb is such an exaggerated case

    Posted by mbowen at 11:13 AM | TrackBack

    July 05, 2004



    This is just so hilarious I just had to post it.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:18 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    Electromechanical Nostalgia

    I have just found a treasure. The Internet Pinball Database.
    And if you must know...

    Old School New School

    • Bow & Arrow
    • Playboy
    • Six Million Dollar Man
    • Aztec
    • Xenon
    • Goliath
    • Old Chicago
    • Jacks Open

    • Twilight Zone
    • Theatre of Magic
    • Tommy
    • Cyclone
    • Old Chicago
    • Whirlwind
    • Earthshaker

    Posted by mbowen at 01:31 PM | TrackBack

    July 04, 2004

    Spangled Music

    Oh say can you see any music for me? Putting together a CD for the day, I discovered that among those of us independent enough to share music, Hendrix, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey outnumber the USMC Band by a factor of about 20 to 1.

    There's not nearly enough Sousa out there to satisfy anyone, and the quality is dodgy. Thank goodness for the Boston Pops. There seems to be plenty of Ray Charles, and a raft of stuff that says 9/11. There's about 45 people ahead of me in line to get Frank Sinatra's version of America the Beautiful but I did get Elvis.

    There's a bunch of Lee Greenwood & Billy Ray Cyrus and even though I prefer the independence of Johnny Cash I can spare some room for those Americans. I've got a great recording of Taps followed by the Star Spangled Banner when you can clearly hear the click in the vinyl. Nice touch, although unintentional.

    Where on earth is Kate Smith?

    Posted by mbowen at 10:52 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    July 02, 2004

    Farewell Brando

    I know it sounds weird, but I am one of the seven people who have never seen 'On The Waterfront' or 'Streetcar Named Desire'. I have seen a few other Brando films most notably 'Apocalypse Now'. Yet I have to say that I never saw the 'it' about Marlon Brando until I saw him in 'Guys and Dolls'.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:07 PM | TrackBack

    June 24, 2004

    John Conyer's Jazz

    A nice little piece at the WSJ on another side of John Conyers.

    "But," he continued, "although this is an African-American created music, it's available to everybody if you want to get it. I've always argued that white guys can learn to play jazz." Citing baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams, the congressman said, "He was the greatest on that instrument there ever was--and he came out of Detroit! There are African-Americans that can't play jazz. But if you've got it, you can play it. You're never too old. It's never too late."

    Sometimes I wonder who is going to replace these guys when they are gone. Not only the aging CBC members, but the Jazz musicians. So often the answer is Second Worlders.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:45 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    June 15, 2004

    Aretha Franklin

    Aretha Franklin just sang the National Anthem for the opening of the NBA game this evening. It's rather impossible to forget what country you live in when there's a voice like that singing. Wow!

    I'm leaving work. By the time I get home, the Lakers should have brought everybody to their senses.

    Posted by mbowen at 06:09 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

    June 14, 2004

    Lakers Collapse

    The Lakers came within 6 in the final 5 minutes but just sucked. Kobe converted nothing. The Pistons didn't drop the ball and the Lakers couldn't force any turnovers. Jackson was right to make Kobe pass the ball because he wasn't hitting for shit. Trade him and get some depth on the bench. It's perfectly clear that the rest of the Lakers ain't shit. When Rush was sinking baskets, they dominated but now Jackson doesn't seem to be able to put them in.

    Shaq did his job. If I were him I'd be pissed. Where are all the shooters on the Laker team? Can't any of the drive the lane? I haven't been following the team so maybe this is obvious, but where the hell is their power forward? If Karl Malone is lame then put somebody else in and stop passing to Shaq mid post. Walton is the only one that makes that work with any flair and creativity anyway. The rest of the team is just afraid to shoot from the outside or too slow to beat the Piston coverage.

    If I were Larry Brown I would make the next game physically punishing on the Lakers. They will come unglued.

    If I were Phil Jackson, I would make Karl Malone play until he was bloody. Run his ass into the ground and make him get offensive boards. Make Fisher and Kobe shoot the outside and drive and then bring Shaq upcourt. This passing to the baseline was a complete failure. Nobody hit those shots and nobody got the long rebounds. Force the shooting guards to force some fouls instead of playing safe on the perimeter and passing to Shaq. If they can't get Ben Wallace in foul trouble and take out his rebounding it's over.

    Then again what do I know? I know I'm pissed.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:08 AM | TrackBack

    June 13, 2004

    Jamie Foxx

    The spousal unit has subscribed to Entertainment Weekly. It is for that reason alone that I know somebody somewhere in Hollywood is thinking about putting together a Marvin Gaye biopic.

    Jamie Foxx should play it. You would know this if you've ever heard him sing.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:32 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

    May 27, 2004


    alang2000.jpgTerry Gross' interview with William Langewiesche the author of 'The Outlaw Sea' was fascinating today. Among the interesting topics was Alang, the ship graveyard, a massive beach where thousands of poor Indians take apart supertankers by hand.

    I recall Wired's story and pictures as he described it. What a place. There is also a firsthand account with good details here.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:04 PM | TrackBack

    May 23, 2004

    Where Do Babies Come From?

    I'm sure you must have heard by now about the German couple who didn't know they had to have sex in order to get pregnant. If you didn't, here's the scoop.

    As far as I'm concerned they are perfect candidates for the Darwin Awards. But what about the people who are actually getting them into sex therapy? Stop being do-gooders. This couple and their religious sect were doing us all a favor.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:25 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    May 22, 2004

    (Black) Energy

    The second time I went to the UK, I hung out with a bunch of blokes in the midlands. As far as I was concerned it was about as deep into the boondocks as anyone could possibly. A cute village where property never changes hands and if you are unfortunate to land there, it suddenly becomes apparent why 13 year old kids get sopping drunk. It's BORING.

    On the other hand, this lack of cosmopolite diversions makes for excellent chumminess. You have nothing to do but hang out at the pub with your mates and delve into several degrees of honest conversation beyond which you might encounter on this side of the pond. At least that was the impression I got when one bloke told me something about my drinking preferences.

    I was working there to solve a database performance problem, this being the 90s and all. And once I finally nailed it, it was cheers and smiles all round. But before I had gained everyone's full confidence they at least had the courtesy of sharing tea and coffee as was their tradition. I wasn't a big coffee drinker and I told them so, I'd rather sample the kinds of beverages I'd never seen before in the states. And after a few trials of this and that, I settled on Lucozade. This rather freaked out my host, but he couldn't refrain from laughing. You see, in the UK at the time, me ordering a Lucozade was the equivalent of me ordering a fried-chicken and watermelon sandwich.

    After he finished cracking up, he told me what was so funny. I found the whole thing curious and memorable, but I wasn't put off by it in any way. At some point later I recall a similar reference in a Martin Amis novel. Funny that in a country where they sell grape soda with as much alcohol as beers, that they talk shite about Lucozade. Odd thing stereotypes.

    Fast forward to now. About one month ago this week, I finally had one of those energy drinks that people waste their money on. This one was called Monster. I took one drink and I was transported back to Stratford upon Avon. I didn't think much of it until yesterday I had yet another energy drink. This one is called Merlins. Hold on here. What's this? The same damned taste.

    I suppose there are only so many good ideas in the world. The trick is getting the marketing budget.

    Posted by mbowen at 06:15 PM | TrackBack

    May 20, 2004

    Animazione Molto Divertente

    This is hilarious. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:14 AM | TrackBack

    May 19, 2004

    Google Stumbles

    So what is going on here? Has Google run out of server juice? For the third time this week, Orkut has been out of commission. And there are reports that GMail had a bug that lets you have a terabyte of storage instead of a gigabyte.

    I think some of the operators at Google have been wringing their hands in IPO anticipation instead of having them on the switch.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:50 PM | TrackBack

    May 06, 2004

    From the iTunes

    1. JSB: Art of the Fugue - Contrapunctus 9
    2. Duke Ellington: Bakiff
    3. Luke: Birthday Song
    4. Sergio Mendez: Look of Love
    5. James Newton: Fluerette Africaine
    6. Eminem: White America
    7. Jeffery Osborne: That's For Sure
    8. Funkadelic: Who Says A Funk Band Can't Play Rock?
    9. Prince: Sexual Suicide
    10. Stan Getz: One Note Samba
    11. Djavan: Total Abandono
    12: Cecil Taylor: Garden 2
    13. Imani Winds: Quintette - Andante Tranquillo
    14. Nas: Nastradamus
    15. Herbie Hancock: Tones for Joan's Bones
    16. Sly & Robbie: No One Can Stop This Boy
    17. Perri: No Way to Treat a Lady
    18. Mana: Vivir Sin Aire
    19. Nancy Wilson: You've Changed
    20. Kronos Quartet: It Don't Mean a Thing

    Posted by mbowen at 11:46 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    May 04, 2004

    Diebold Silences Critics


    Posted by mbowen at 08:47 AM | TrackBack

    April 29, 2004

    Silitary Code of Conduct

    Bust a gut laughing. Go ahead.

    And remember rule 204: NEVER nail a stuffed bunny to a cross and put it up in front of the Battalion Headquarters sign as an "Easter Desecration."

    Still, I think if I was in this guys company, I would have kicked his ass by now.

    Posted by mbowen at 03:54 PM | TrackBack

    April 28, 2004


    I have nothing to say, but I've been a few places.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:41 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

    April 26, 2004

    Badtz Maru is a Penguin

    Not a crow. There I said it.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:04 AM | TrackBack

    April 23, 2004

    Vivica vs Vanessa

    Busting out laughing. It's Friday and time to. So I'm cruising around and I land on a cool spot which highlights the contrast between Vivica Fox and Vanessa Williams. When she first broke out, there was no bigger scandal (not since the crippling of Teddy Pendergrass) than Vanessa Williams' nasty pictures. But isn't it fascinating how the world has forgot it? Hmm.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:19 AM | TrackBack

    March 28, 2004

    Insult Checks

    OK. Here's a brilliant idea. If only I knew the right people I could make it happen. Since this is CC licensed, you shouldn't make money without my permission.

    Insult Checks

    Did you ever have to pay somebody that you hate? Your check should tell them so. There could be graphics with themes like 'blood money', or 'hush money' etc. A check that conveys the message, I swear to god i wish I never had to deal with you but here's your money. Or 'here's your friggen money now shut the hell up' a very convenient one for paying bets that you lose. A check with an image of a haughty Caiphas tossing 30 pieces of silver to a grovelling Judas would be a great one. Or one with a cigar-chomping fatcat tossing a coin over his shoulder to a frail whimpering wastrel.

    God I want those checks. I have to find a printer.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:10 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    March 26, 2004

    Peak Oil Researchers

    Use the following names to talk about 'Peak Oil'

    • Paul K. Hubbert
    • John Felmy
    • Paul Roberts
    • Chris Skrebowski
    • Joseph J. Romm

    (from Warren Olney)

    Gasoline prices are rising again, with one survey claiming a national record of $1.77 per gallon. Despite predictions of $3 a gallon before the end of this summer, even by todays standards, the energy that drives the worlds economy is dirt cheap. Yet, recent books called Out of Gas and The End of Oil are solemn reminders that that will inevitably come to an end. The question is, how soon? New research predicts that supply may stop meeting demand sooner rather than later, with drastic consequences for civilization and planet Earth. Are those the fantasies of Chicken Little, or does the world face massive economic depression and even energy wars" in the next 30 years? Warren Olney leads a spirited debate among energy reporters, economists, energy trade representatives and a Clinton White House Energy Department official.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:27 PM | TrackBack

    March 25, 2004

    You're Killin' Me

    As everyone who has ever watched the bad guy get his knows, the proper way to kill someone is to push them over an impossibly high cliff. Watch them scream as they go down and splat on the bottom.

    The death penalty is certainly inhumane when handled by clowns. But there have got to be some surefire ways of snuffing people out reliably and swiftly which could give an audience thrills and chills. For my money watching them plunge from a very high spot has got to be tops.

    The only difficulty for such a maneuver has to do with manufacturing an appropriately tough, yet transparent body bag. We in the gallery at ground zero don't want to get splattered and we certainly want to be able to see their face. There has certainly got to be some super baggy that could do the trick. Or perhaps a plexiglass box would suffice. I know. How about one of those huge inflated balls like in that Jacky Chan movie?

    Death by deceleration. Now that's entertainment.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:40 AM | TrackBack

    March 24, 2004

    MLK Sr. a What?

    I want to throw something out there raised by a cat name Bob Parks. He says that he's heard that MLK's parents were Republicans. It's something you'd think people would have heard about before. It makes perfect sense, of course and is only symbolically significant, but there it is.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:23 AM | TrackBack

    March 14, 2004


    It just occurred to me that if religious conservatives were hounding gays to get married in the eyes of God, they'd be a lot more hesitant to agitate for it.

    NPR finally aired the gay man I thought I'd never hear in this, the one who said none of his gay friends were hustling down to city hall, that the whole point of coming out of the closet was to avoid getting pestered about marriage - that marriage is the ultimate conformity and that the gay lifestyle was an alternative to that.

    Thank you.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:49 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    March 09, 2004

    Where Ice Cream Comes From


    Posted by mbowen at 09:40 PM | TrackBack

    Whatevers to That

    Since I have wasted an entirely good day off work not working and blogging instead, I may as well keep bloviating with a list of things that are somewhat interesting but not really:

    • Water on Mars
      Several billion years ago. So what? Here is definitely a case where fiction is far more interesting than truth.
    • Martha Stewart Guilty
      You think she'll go to jail? Hm, in five years maybe she can trade stories with Kobe Bryant. There's got to be a market for consulting the rich and famous as they prepare for life in the big house. Or maybe I already saw that on the Discovery Channel.
    • Congressional Computers Lack Security
      What a shock. This merits a gate suffix? Puhlease.
    • Bush Uses 9/11 Photos
      That's really tacky and I should kick him for it, but whatever. I don't watch TV, it didn't affect me.
    • Howard Stern Booted from Clearchannel
      Boo hoo.
    • Jayson Blair is Published
      Celebrity drives. Ethics is in the trunk. What else is new?

    If there's anything else that has fallen beneath the radar of my elevated sensibilities, whatever to that as well.

    Posted by mbowen at 05:55 PM | TrackBack

    March 08, 2004


    Just another backbiting moment with regard to gay marriage. I still say it's mostly about money and social overreach. Here's an intersting tidbit from Hit & Run.

    Or take the issue of estate taxes. Right now, a wealthy 80-year-old widow can leave all of her property tax-free to a 20-year-old boy toy if she marries him a month before her death. If the same widow wills her property to, say, her niece who has been living with her and providing constant care and companionship for 10 years, the niece will have to pay a huge estate tax. Where is the justice in that?

    On the positive side, perhaps the rage over gay marriage, like that of feminism and contraception, will prompt us to review what it is we actually believe about marriage - and how consistently (or not) our system of laws treats marrieds. I welcome that.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:47 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Loony Libertarians

    I scored 18 on The Libertarian Purity Test. It's amazing to me that there would be anyone who scored more than 50 points. What are such people like?

    Posted by mbowen at 09:31 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

    March 07, 2004

    The Public Restaurant Analogy

    An analogy I'll be using from time to time:

    The US is a strange place. This is the country where any joe with a decent shirt and fifty bucks can go and eat in a restaurant sitting next to a multimillionaire. They move with equal ease, we all understand the rules of a restaurant as a public place. And yet, sitting within a couple yards of each other, they are not likely to speak in a way that will change their lives significantly. You brush against people with solutions to your problems and you never know it. That is so strange.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:57 AM | TrackBack

    March 05, 2004

    Pattern Recognition

    what.jpgDo you know what this is? I'll give you a hint. It could kill you. It's rather amazing that people are capable of giving meaning to weird arbitrary shapes, but I assure you that this is a very important shape. You might recognize it in the context of these other ones, but think about it before you click.

    Amazing huh?

    Posted by mbowen at 01:09 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    March 01, 2004

    Black and White Together

    You remember the 70s. Those were the years where we decided to party over the collective relief that the whole country didn't burn to the ground in 1968. If you were in highschool, like I was, you were probably called to draw a poster of some sort. Posters were big, and especially during the Bicentennial any poster that would get you props had to have the following prop:
    This is panel 14 of a Lois Lane comic, appropriated from this comic blog. As I read it, chuckling, I noticed that something was missing. Suddenly after panel 6, where Lois begins to suffer a few humiliations as a black woman, Superman appears beating up an interracial(!) team of thugs. Somewhere after four panels of the white Lois being dissed by blacks and one panel of the black Lois dissed by whites, the comparisons suddenly stop.

    Is this fair? Is this balanced?

    Posted by mbowen at 08:57 AM | TrackBack

    February 29, 2004

    Only In America

    Stop a moment and give this a bit of noodling. America is the country best suited to handle the decentralization of power. There is something built into our culture that responds well to the increasing amount of capability that comes within our reach from the spoils of empire.

    We have the communication networks, we have the enthusiasm, and we have the wherwithal to make singular creations through collaborations of interest. All that sounds a little theoretical and woolly until you read this.

    The less you know about Hot Rodding, the more impressive a lot of this sounds, and it is from my ignorant perspective that this made me stop and think for a while. You've got to know a lot about a lot to build an automobile, and even more to build one which challenges all that have come before. But this is what these gnarley individuals and small companies have done, with results that speak of art and passion.

    The damned thing does 0.98g on the skid pad! Miraculous.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    February 24, 2004



    The Blogopoly meme has finally penetrated my seriousness.

    Posted by mbowen at 02:45 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    Ender's Game, The Movie

    Whoda thunk? Everyone.

    Any sci-fi nut worth his whuffie has read Ender's Game. I read it just a couple years ago because I got sick of science fiction. No I don't want to explain why right now. But as it stands, this is a classic which is not to be missed, and soon enough it won't be, even by the less literate. This is a good thing.

    There will be a movie. According to these guys, the folks who wrote the screenplay to X Men 2 will be adapting Card's work to the screen. Anyway, this is big news and all the geeks who made LOTR a smash will be back for a big hunking helping. Word is there will be videogames too.

    Two key terms to keep in mind. Ansible and Battle Room. The movie hinges on its ability to make these two concepts look ultra cool as realized for the big screen. OK enough, I'm starting to sound Hollywood.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:00 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

    February 23, 2004

    Five Science Books

    For Ed Felten who says

    On the topic of science and technology, depressingly few books were mentioned at all. The top sci/tech scorer was Hawking's A Brief History of Time, with three mentions. Also mentioned were Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Ridley's Genome, and, oddly, Brockman's Greatest Inventions.

    I have five, almost. The thing is that I have lived almost all of my career out of a small few non-textbooks in science and technology. They were just that good.

    Hare the books I'd recommend today.

    So there.

    Posted by mbowen at 05:07 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    February 21, 2004

    Bane of Baristas

    Everything you know about Starbucks is wrong. Surprise.

    People, please. Here are a few things to keep in mind. We are required to put sleeves on the hot cups and lids on all cups. We could get fired if we don't, because Starbucks could be sued if we don't. We do reserve the right to charge you extra when you ask for a whole fucking tube of caramel. We do reserve the right to hate you immensely if you want a Frappuccino, because those are the bane of every Barista's existence.

    Thanks whiteboy.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:44 AM | TrackBack

    February 19, 2004

    Open Source Macking

    Well those damnable scientists are at it again. They're sharing information and independently confirming their theories with emprical evidence.

    "One potential strategy for competition is competitor derogation -- using tactics to make a rival inferior to oneself," says study author Maryanne Fisher, from York University in Toronto.

    Yes, women who are hot to get a man's attention talk the loudest and longest about other women in the joint. That used to be a mack daddy's trade secret. We've got to stop this science thing soon.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:23 PM | TrackBack

    February 06, 2004

    Sorry Miss Jackson

    I hear that Janet Jackson and her boob have been disinvited to the Grammies. Isn't it the ripper who should be punished and not the ripee? I tell you (sob) it's just an outrage (boo hoo).

    Posted by mbowen at 07:24 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    February 05, 2004

    Free Serfs

    DeLong posits:

    In the first, you are a free and independent peasant living in a village. Your field is your own. Your crops are you own. After working, you huddle before the fire in your peasant hut until you fall asleep. A smallpox epidemic comes. You, your spouse and your children all die.

    In the second, you are a peasant living in a village. Once a year a thug with a spear--Sir Pierre de Bois-Guilbert, say--comes and takes 10% of your crop. He uses his takings to live well in the castle up on the hill. He also employs a troubadour who comes and entertains the peasants nightly in the village square, singing, juggling, and telling stories. He also employs chirurgeons who undertake research into the balance of the four humours. One day, the chirurgeons come with their knives: they cut the arms of you and your family, and insert some cowpox-infested tissue. When the smallpox epidemic comes, you and your family (and the other families in the village) survive.

    In which situation are you "freer"? Do you really care whether you are "freer"?

    I'd complicate this a little by saying there are both kinds of serf living at the same time, each under both circumstances. Peasant A keeps sticking his tongue out at Peasant B saying that the troubadors are corrpting influences and that the chirurgeons don't respond to supply and demand. Peasant B figures out that he can live longer and now in eternal gratitude to Lord Bois-Guilbert, figures that if he can live 10 years longer at 10% crop reduction that he can live 20 years longer with 20%.

    Posted by mbowen at 06:45 AM | TrackBack

    February 04, 2004

    Q & DS9: Keys to Star Trek

    There's some interesting back and forth about the political economies of the Star Trek galaxy over at Matthew Yglesias, Pandagon and TheCorner.

    What nobody has mentioned is what the Q represented. These absolute masters of the galaxy became bored with just about everything. They alone had the power to defeat the Borg and Species 8475. They regard the conflict between the Federation and their enemies as an amusing curiousity.

    The personnage of Q itself posed philosophical questions of various starship captains that involved some questions of morality, but Q's meddling was never quite clumsy or malicious. Q could be seen as a philosopher-king bored with his empire. So the Q become responsible for introducing the Federation and humanity to the Borg. The entrance of the Borg coincided with the exit of Q.

    Unlike previous master races, the Q were never interested in zoological study of humans or other species. So in all of Star Trek, it is presumed that the ultimate of power doesn't corrupt, but makes one irrelevant. Thus it is not power and economy that are at the center of the Star Trek dialectic.

    What is at the center? It's always been race wars in space. The Federation, more than anything were assimilationist. They were essentially a populalist pluralism overseen by a military tribunal. The primary raison d'etre for the Federation was to slowly assimilate species into its multicultural interplanetary stew and beat off any other race of creatures more bellicose than itself in this quest. Very American. Going back to TOS, much was made, though people forget it, of a black female officer on the bridge (Uhura), of an Asian pilot (Sulu) and a Russian whatever Chekov was.

    I think this becomes most clear in the DS9 series which more than any other put the conflicts not only of the human centered Federation in relief but that of the Bejorans who were clearly the Jews of space. The Federation represented the struggle of diplomacy at the edges of known space, and so the existence of the Wormhole put them at that very boundary and showed them struggling with their values even more.

    DS9 continued and detailed the internal struggles of their characters issues with self-realization. I think DS9 lost a lot of the bumpy-faced kid aspects of the cowboy in space attraction of Star Trek in this evolution of diplomacy.

    OK I'm going to shut up now, I'm starting to scare myself.

    Posted by mbowen at 05:13 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

    February 03, 2004

    Top Names


    MARY 2.629 2.629 1
    PATRICIA 1.073 3.702 2
    LINDA 1.035 4.736 3
    BARBARA 0.980 5.716 4
    ELIZABETH 0.937 6.653 5
    JENNIFER 0.932 7.586 6
    MARIA 0.828 8.414 7
    SUSAN 0.794 9.209 8
    MARGARET 0.768 9.976 9
    DOROTHY 0.727 10.703 10
    LISA 0.704 11.407 11
    NANCY 0.669 12.075 12
    KAREN 0.667 12.742 13
    BETTY 0.666 13.408 14
    HELEN 0.663 14.071 15
    SANDRA 0.629 14.700 16
    DONNA 0.583 15.282 17
    CAROL 0.565 15.848 18
    RUTH 0.562 16.410 19
    SHARON 0.522 16.932 20
    MICHELLE 0.519 17.451 21
    LAURA 0.510 17.961 22
    SARAH 0.508 18.469 23
    KIMBERLY 0.504 18.973 24
    DEBORAH 0.494 19.467 25

    Source US Census 2000


    JAMES 3.318 3.318 1
    JOHN 3.271 6.589 2
    ROBERT 3.143 9.732 3
    MICHAEL 2.629 12.361 4
    WILLIAM 2.451 14.812 5
    DAVID 2.363 17.176 6
    RICHARD 1.703 18.878 7
    CHARLES 1.523 20.401 8
    JOSEPH 1.404 21.805 9
    THOMAS 1.380 23.185 10
    CHRISTOPHER 1.035 24.220 11
    DANIEL 0.974 25.194 12
    PAUL 0.948 26.142 13
    MARK 0.938 27.081 14
    DONALD 0.931 28.012 15
    GEORGE 0.927 28.939 16
    KENNETH 0.826 29.766 17
    STEVEN 0.780 30.546 18
    EDWARD 0.779 31.325 19
    BRIAN 0.736 32.061 20
    RONALD 0.725 32.787 21
    ANTHONY 0.721 33.508 22
    KEVIN 0.671 34.179 23
    JASON 0.660 34.839 24
    MATTHEW 0.657 35.496 25

    Last Names
    SMITH 1.006 1.006 1
    JOHNSON 0.810 1.816 2
    WILLIAMS 0.699 2.515 3
    JONES 0.621 3.136 4
    BROWN 0.621 3.757 5
    DAVIS 0.480 4.237 6
    MILLER 0.424 4.660 7
    WILSON 0.339 5.000 8
    MOORE 0.312 5.312 9
    TAYLOR 0.311 5.623 10
    ANDERSON 0.311 5.934 11
    THOMAS 0.311 6.245 12
    JACKSON 0.310 6.554 13
    WHITE 0.279 6.834 14
    HARRIS 0.275 7.109 15
    MARTIN 0.273 7.382 16
    THOMPSON 0.269 7.651 17
    GARCIA 0.254 7.905 18
    MARTINEZ 0.234 8.140 19
    ROBINSON 0.233 8.372 20
    CLARK 0.231 8.603 21
    RODRIGUEZ 0.229 8.832 22
    LEWIS 0.226 9.058 23
    LEE 0.220 9.278 24
    WALKER 0.219 9.497 25

    Posted by mbowen at 02:28 PM | TrackBack

    January 30, 2004

    The Happiest Song in the World

    It has to be 'Do I Do' by Stevie Wonder.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    January 21, 2004

    I'm Just Laughing

    Attention all y'all players and pimps right now in the place to be.
    Mystical's ass got sent to jail now y'all gotta listen to me.
    Think you can outsmart the law and do anything you please.
    Guess who has the biggest laugh when you'll be on your knees.

    Rap your ass, but watch yourself.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:51 AM | TrackBack

    January 19, 2004

    Crazy Uncle Saddam

    gal.08.jpg Uncle Saddam came over for the holiday and got blitzed again. Ever since he lost his job, he's been coming over, raiding the fridge and complaining about how nobody respects him any more. He doesn't realize that nobody really ever did, we just put up with him because Grandma Libby kept telling us it would be more cruel to let him crash. Anyway, I kept telling Libby he was beating his kids, so where was here concern about that? Finally Grandpa Dick got sick of it and went to beat the crap out of Uncle Saddam.

    Naturally when Dick went over and beat the crap out of him Libby had a fit. All she cared about was trying to stop the violence. When Dick knocked over his 'priceless antique' Lladro off the mantlepiece, Libby hit the ceiling again. I like what Dick did in principle but now we've got to pay the note on this bum's house. Half of his kids naturally still love their abusive father. It's a real mess. Of course it turns out that Dick couldn't find the gun that he swore Saddam was threatening everybody with. I mean Libby's got a point now that we have to run Uncle Saddam's house and pay his mortgage until the kids are responsible enough to do it themselves, but of course Saddam pissed away all the money and nobody knows how to get it back - not that it would be enough.

    Some of us are really pissed off at Dieter and Francois, our asshat neighbors who didn't want to march over and kick Saddam's ass. See, he owed them money. Anyway, Libby is saying the neighborhood is going to blazes and because Dick broke down Saddam's door it excuses other people to break into our house. She's afraid of Saddam's kids, like those skinny losers were going to do something scary.

    Some people say that Dick flew off the handle because of the rat who drove his pickup truck through our front window and now he's taking it out on Saddam. But I understand that Dick needs to be out in the neighborhood and show that he's not afraid to walk around in public, even though he's come up with this stupid thing on the fridge telling us to come indoors on 'Orange' days.

    Maybe if we find the guy who drove the pickup through our front window Dick would calm down and give Saddam a break, but what's done is done. He keeps saying that the example of Saddam will show everybody what's up. That's the news from Lake Woebegone..

    Posted by mbowen at 08:27 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    January 18, 2004

    Secularism Gone Wrong

    Incomplete thoughts on a massive subject - originally December 2003

    Television and all forms of marketing are going through nichification. The common complaint is that although there are 500 channels, there is nothing on. Add the qualifier 'for me' and you have it right. The promise of the internet marketing phenomenon was one to one marketing, and it still appears to be the fetish of the entire marketing industry.

    I can only think of one television show that families with children can all sit down and watch together, not that I've looked desparately. That show is America's Funniest Videos. Other than that, I'd bet that families who are guarding their children's virtue end up only watching television shows about families who are guarding their children's virtue. That or something zany, wacky or silly.

    What you find hard to find are a full pipe of cultural productions which are edifying and open, ethical and real. Fundamentalists, although wrong to compete, are right to complain about the corruption of society. Conservatives are wrong to say we've lost something. Liberals are correct to say we've failed to create something. That something is, in the center of our society, a mature and continuous melioration of the ecumenical values of our cultural pluralism.

    'The American Evasion of Philosophy' was the first book by Cornel West that I ever read. In it he gives a rapturous accounting of the men whose moral thinking have given shape and definition to what American political philosophy is, evolving as it has from Enlightenment and European Thought. To sum it up ever so briefly, we don't get bogged down in the mincing of words. At least we didn't until we got Post-Modernized. (Thanks a lot, Michel)

    The greatness of American thought is not some jingo sentiment. When you read the work of Emerson, it resonates deeply. But it doesn't apply to America so much as it does to the world, and we Americans are in a slump because of our inability to recognize how to apply it to the world.

    America is not a new land any longer. So those sentiments and longings are not so much a part of the national culture. We're growing up and getting weary and paranoid. Although we still seek opportunity, we tend to be more opportunistic with each other rather than with the borders of our understanding. Much of America is captive - beyond our reach and locked into the hands of the powerful. There are not huge vast horizons upon which to ply out legendary optimism. We are not recently escaped from captivity, we are not recently arrived. The frontier is crowded.

    Instead of a new frontier with long term prospects upon which to build dreams, we are confronted with what is simply new. New films, new products, new versions, new remixes: News. So a good portion of the spirit of growth and triumph in the American sense of destiny is more of the same. We embrace it, but there is a puny payoff.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:18 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

    January 11, 2004


    In retrospect, Microsoft was totally wrong. I wonder if they ever admitted it.
    I don't think they ever explained why they used these idiotic folders. If you didn't know and cared just a little, I'm talking about Microsoft Front Page Extensions, something which has made about as much impact on the world of web development as Boy George has made on Rock & Roll; for a while it was cool, but really, what were we thinking?

    Imagine you were looking at a web page. That web page would have a URL (http://coolpage.com/brainspew.htm for example). If that page was developed with MS Front Page, somewhere on the website there would be a copy (sometimes two or more) hidden in an invisible folder called _vti_cnf. Why? Who knows, who cares. It didn't set the world on fire whatever it was, and it doubled the amount of junk per website.

    If you find yourself one day archiving your oldest and most treasured websites, I can only hope that you didn't use Front Page.

    Posted by mbowen at 06:52 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    January 04, 2004

    White Cops or Black Cops

    Every once in a while I hear the odd comment, mostly at other blogs, about black on black crime and how blackfolks need to handle that problem as a priority. Most of the time it's some white bigot venting and fuming, but sometimes it's a black person with a similar problem.

    I would suggest as a rhetorical device worthy of the Boohab that such a white person, in order to be consistent, must surely be in favor of hardball affirmative action. For if 'black on black crime' is a black issue that blacks must deal with, certainly white cops and chiefs of police are not the solution.
    So next time you hear somebody running off at the mouth about 'black crime' being a 'black problem', make sure you remind them of all the white cops in the way of the solution.

    BTW if the person is black, ignore them. They're only talking about their friends.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:28 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    January 03, 2004

    Oh Yeah, G-Forces

    Yes, I probably still want to ride in an F14, but I think I can wait until I'm back in top shape.

    Those 20 minutes were the rush of my life. Unfortunately, the ride lasted 80. It was like being on the roller coaster at Six Flags Over Hell. Only without rails. We did barrel rolls, snap rolls, loops, yanks and banks. We dived, rose and dived again, sometimes with a vertical velocity of 10,000 feet per minute. We chased another F-14, and it chased us.

    Playing XBox makes you think you can do these things. Well, can you?

    Posted by mbowen at 06:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    January 02, 2004

    Our Ghetto: Earth

    It just occured to me that there is probably a good reason for us not having been discovered by intelligent alien life. We're off the beaten path.

    These Aussie scientists have outlined some parts of the galaxy which might be suitable for life. What's notable is this:

    According to Charles Lineweaver, writing in Science, there are four ingredients needed to create complex life: the presence of a host star (such as the Sun), enough heavy elements (carbon, oxygen and nitrogen) to form a planet, sufficient time for biological evolution (at least four billion years in the case of Earth) and the absence of life-destroying supernovae (the explosive deaths of massive stars).

    If four billion isn't much time, and you add oh 20,000 years of post-nuclear physics, then it is reasonable that some civilization may very well have discovered wormhole travel.

    What if we're just not near a wormhole and wormhole travel is the only way to exceed the speed of light? Why would anybody bother with sub-light exploration and discovery? If there were wormholes to 300 habitable systems that would certainly enough for anyone's galactic curiousity.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:16 PM | TrackBack

    January 01, 2004

    Driving in America

    Just to jump on the driving thing. First, I have to say that VW owns my brain and it's easy to see why.First the Touareg, now this.

    It's all about accelleration here. Respect the red light, but floor it when it turns green. Compete with all pedestrians for every inch. Peds beware, especially if somebody is trying to make a right turn. Lane changes on the drop of the dime. Parking is impossible so you might as well forget it.

    The most important thing about driving in LA is having a good stereo, because you ain't moving anywhere fast. LA drivers are respectful of pedestrians, but we will snake parking places at the drop of a hat. Almost nobody cheats on the diamond lanes except on onramps.

    Cow path city all grown up. I'll just say this, Boston is the scene of the most extraordinary driving behavior I've ever witnessed. A boxed in driver of a pickup mashing the gas and pushing the car behind him 10 yards backwards up onto the sidewalk. A schoolbus doing 70, with kids, in the breakdown lane.

    They. Drive. Slow.
    except for the motorcycles.

    They. Drive. Fast. and run over the motorcycles.

    Everybody else is normal. I think.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    December 26, 2003


    How do you know you are middle class? You get to the point at which some significant fraction of your dishes are in the processed of getting washed. They will be spread in several places. There will be glasses in the bedrooms and living room. There will be cups, plates, pots and pans in the dishwasher and the rack. Several will be on the stove and others will be in the fridge. There will be a fraction in the sink(s), and a few will be actually cleaned and put away in the cabinet.

    But they will never all be in the cabinet. They won't fit! Try it. Empty the sink, the dishwasher, the rack, the refrigerator and the stove. Clean every pot, pan, plate, fork, spoon and spatula in your house. Now try to put them where they all belong. You will be confronted with an American Middle Class Dilemma, which is that you need a bigger garage.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:18 AM | TrackBack

    December 21, 2003

    Gangsta Hobbit

    Elijah Wood is being marketed as a sex symbol now. That's why you'll see more photographs like this.

    I had to do a double-take at the checkout line when I saw him and his buttboys posing on the cover of some entertainment mag. Wait a minute says me. Aren't those supposed to be hobbits? Where are the big fuzzy feet? Where's the curly hair? Where are the rosy cheeks? Gone! Gone I say. They've all been taking fashion cues from David Spade.

    What on middle earth are we to make of all this? It's such a perversion that I'd rather they have been animated. OK I say that now when I haven't seen the final film. Still, I don't want to see these guys in metrosexual mufti. I realize that they need to get out of being typecast, but do they honestly believe that they'll ever do anything to top this?

    I dunno. Short of a sex change, I suppose this is the best thing they can do. It's part of the devil's deal. I'm not mad at ya Elijah, but stay away from my daughters, you you...

    I made up a comic routine out of this guy. It went something like this. (sue me if you don't laugh I have a real job now.) What's up with Frodo Baggins and why is he walking halfway to hell with a half naked AIDS patient on a leash? I finally figured it out, LOTR is all about gay marriage. There's what? three women in the whole film, the rest are a bunch of hairy guy chasing each other around tarnation in search of a ring. They all want to wear it. They want the respect!

    OK it's much better performed than written, and I probably wouldn't say 'tarnation'. But I like Frodo. And I like my Frodo to stay Frodo, just like in the old days when he was humble and honest and incorruptible. Now he's a walking advertisement for.. something I'm sure the world doesn't need.

    The little bastard is having the time of his life, and I'm testing French fax software.

    Posted by mbowen at 02:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


    Is it just me, or are all the year end slow-motion retrospectives playing that Coldplay song in the background?

    Posted by mbowen at 10:32 AM | TrackBack

    December 19, 2003

    A Hero Ain't Nothing But A Sandwich

    Or a hot dog, as the case may be. One has to ask what the world is coming to every once in a while. This man is a hero to some.

    Where are the Fear Factor heroes, I wonder. Somebody has got to make these guys take themselves less seriously.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    December 18, 2003


    Remember 1998, 1999 when everybody wondered what we would call the years of the new millenium? OK maybe it was just me. Well I think that it's clear that the colloquial way is generally accepted to be the 2ks, especially if you are a techie or a gamer. We're leading the pack anyway so get over yourselves and follow.

    So now we are in 2k3 and next year will be 2k4. If you don't believe me, write 2k3 in the date field of the next check you write. The bank will honor it.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:18 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    French AND Funny

    I studied French in highschool as if I were going to be a French major. Back then, I expected to spend a lot of time in West Africa, like my uncle. Plus, I was pretty good in French.

    This past week, for the first time in my life, I'm actually getting paid for understanding French. I may be particularly attuned to French syntax and logical style, but I find it a great deal more straightforward and expressive language than German. You see this week and last I've been a test engineer debugging a French version of, well I don't want to go there right now.

    That's not the reason I'm writing this entry. It's this guy. That's the funniest, most wholesome comedy I've seen since The Blue Man Group.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:43 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    December 13, 2003

    I Should Live So Long

    Mick Jagger has been knighted.

    What did Groucho Marx say about belonging to a club that would let him in?

    Posted by mbowen at 01:41 AM | TrackBack

    November 25, 2003

    Simplicity Itself

    The Kwaku Network, AfroFuturist stream, is going through some tremors with regard to some advanced cultural production. I don't believe I've seen such dense paragraphs since I read the IBM Redbook for the LU 6.2 standard. Some people would venture to call it post-modern drivel, but I've been accused of that and I wouldn't wish such an angry barb at such high minded people no matter how much they deserve it.

    I'd give you a dose, but the list is private.

    Every once in a while they don't bury the lede in jargon. This is great because it saves precious minutes and several wrinkles in my forehead. A recent one went something like this "Starve the Prison Industrial Complex". See? Simple. I like it. Here's the Old School Version:

    Don't Break The Law!

    And here's my real world story, just in case y'all think I'm channelling Nancy Reagan.

    BTW, sometimes the post-modern boo boo text sounds like nothing so much as Jon Hendricks Boppin' at the Blue Note. The verbal virtuosity is stunning, but it really doesn't mean anything.

    Posted by mbowen at 03:03 PM | TrackBack

    November 08, 2003


    (off the Kwaku Network)

    Question: What is the truest definition of Globalization?

    Answer: Princess Diana's death.

    Question: How come?

    Answer: An English princess with an Egyptian boyfriend
    crashes in a French tunnel, driving a German car with
    a Dutch engine, driven by a Belgian who was drunk on
    Scottish whiskey, followed closely by Italian
    aparazzi, on Japanese motorcycles, treated by an
    American doctor, using Brazilian medicines! And this
    is sent to you by a Canadian, using Bill Gates'
    technology and you are probably reading this on one of
    the IBM clones that use Taiwanese-made chips, and
    Korean-made monitors, assembled by Bangladeshi
    workers in a Singapore plant, transported by lorries
    driven by Indians, hijacked by Indonesians, unloaded
    by Sicilian longshoremen, trucked by Mexican illegal
    aliens, and finally sold to you. That, my friend, is

    Posted by mbowen at 05:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Random Enough?

    Is the random distribution of clothes, as you put them into the washing machine, random enough to generally insure that the spin cycle won't be imbalanced? Does it matter if you are right handed or left handed? Somebody had to work out that problem.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:02 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    November 06, 2003

    So I've Been Told: Founding Father

    Which Founding Father Are You?
    Posted by mbowen at 02:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Manly Man Talk

    Kim Du Toit, rough and tumble South African expatriot and gun nut, bloviates on the pussification of the American Male. He's got a small point, but is obviously living around too many metrosexuals. Either that or he's working for a woman who just kicked his ass about something.

    It's an odd thing for bourgie folks who spend dozens of hours a week behind a keyboard to complain about a lack of manly deeds to perform in manly environments. Last time I checked there were still cement trucks to be driven, hodloads to be ported, and lumber to be jacked. If that's not enough, he could certainly go work on a tuna boat out of Alaska. There are jobs for cops, firefighters, steelworkers, welders, auto mechanics and oil riggers. Hell, he could even be a rodeo clown.

    Instead, Mr. Du Toit carries a gun. Which wouldn't be a bad thing if he were a private investigator or a bail bondsman or a repo man. But he's a philosopher. Oh well. I can understand his frustration. In South Africa, his name might sound very masculine, but over here in the States, he wouldn't have survived the schoolyard.

    UPDATE: According to the Gender Genie, Du Toit's article was written by a whiney bitch female.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:33 AM | TrackBack

    November 03, 2003

    Infinity, Hell & Hope

    A really great thread over at Crooked Timber.

    Is it really possible to beat the devil while in Hell? That depends upon whether or not God has given complete dominion over Hell to Satan. If God has given license to Satan to create a bizarro world, does he do so in compliance with or defiance of the laws of physics? I'm inclined to believe the former, but I also don't believe that would help us out at all.

    I assert this with the assumption that free will as a gift of god allows us to fully contemplate the universe as his creation. That doesn't mean that we will understand it, but it is open to contemplation. This has direct relevance to matters of infinity. If we are perceptive as souls what does that mean vis a vis the observable universe. We can only assume that the human perspective as reified in the laws of physics are a reflection of the gift of free will, but what of physics applies to our eternal souls? The very idea that we could suffer infinitely in Hell begs questions of what life and pain actually are. How does an eternal soul percieve pain or time? Physics, mathematics and philosophy don't necessarily apply to eternal souls the way they do to finite human beings.

    If, we are therefore in Hell and are offered a deal by Satan, the only thing we can be sure of is God's word and God's promise, because the very existence of Hell and the eternal soul is much better explained by God's word than by physics, mathematics and philosophy. God may very well use these tools, then again so did Euclid. The laws of the Euclidian space-time may have been suitable for those days on earth, but how well will Einstein's laws apply to Hell? Until someone could prove that our best theories of physics, mathematics and philosophy are God's own versions, it makes no sense to deal with the Devil using human terms of logic.

    If we accept that we are in Hell because of God's will, then our best bet is that God will have mercy on our souls even while in Hell. Help yourself given your best estimation of physics and pray for intervention. Lean not on your own understanding.

    Posted by mbowen at 02:09 PM | TrackBack

    November 01, 2003

    Instant Capitalism

    Since I've been running Cubegeek, not as busily or thoroughly as I would have liked though, I've kept a money-making idea in the back of my head. Simple merchandizing. Cafepress is the place I thought it was but I didn't realize that there were no up-front costs. Needless to say, this is brilliant. Free storefronts, inventory management, cash registers and accounting. It doesn't get much easier than that.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:56 PM | TrackBack

    October 29, 2003

    1000 Suspects

    Rap star Nelly has been ripped off to the tune of 1 million dollars worth of jewelry. Las Vegas police are searching for suspects. They might start here. On the other hand, maybe it's one of those crazy muslims:

    "What's next, 'Whore Kool-Aid'?" asked Najee Ali, founder and
    director of Project Islamic Hope, the National Alliance for Positive
    Action. "We intend to chase Nelly's Pimp Juice out of our
    communities all around the country.

    It's gettin' hot in here.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:48 AM | TrackBack

    October 28, 2003

    Persistence of Hulk

    The merchandising geniuses have shown a bit of stick-to-itivness on the Hulk meme. From the dad-side view, the boys have forgotten about Hulk. But Halloween seems to be an opportunity that they won't let go. I've already seen Hulk Macaroni & Cheese, and Hulk Freezer Pops deeply discounted at Big Lots. So clearly somebody has taken a cold bath. But Hulk resurrection persists. Beware!

    Posted by mbowen at 10:27 AM | TrackBack

    October 27, 2003

    Science vs Business

    Cringely understands what a number of capitalists don't about this new technology. It will win. If you are trying to make money, don't bet against Microsoft, but if you are trying to make software, don't bet against Linux.

    Posted by mbowen at 04:26 PM | TrackBack

    October 23, 2003

    Reality Slapstick

    If you haven't already, do check out MXC on Spike TV. It has got to be the funniest thing on television this side of Eddie Izzard. The downside is that it's still a very niche show, therefore there are only about 5 sponsors, and the commercial breaks are really awful. Oh yeah, and it's unsophisticated juvenile slapstick.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:06 PM | TrackBack

    October 22, 2003

    Note To Self: DynDNS

    Try what Rafe Colburn did.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    October 21, 2003

    Demand Side Bidding

    It has been many years since I built some information systems for a power company. But Abiola reminded me with some terms I haven't heard in a while -Baseload, Intermediate and Peak. These are standard classifications of power generators that get their own P&L.

    I happen to know that power generators who buy oil or natural gas watch those commodity futures years in advance and plan ahead. The ratio of baseload to intermediate to peak determines the price of power to customers. So it makes sense to me that any customer that is not buying long term power contracts is likely to get screwed. Peakers, in the case of the utility I was working for, were generally small generators that were not always online. They don't get as much maintenance and tend to be flaky. Consequently, the power they generate cost a lot more per MW.

    If and when I start working again, I'll have the nerve to crank up my professional software and work out some models. These days I can't stand to look at the software. This Demand Side Bidding sounds interesting.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:13 PM | TrackBack

    The New Twenty

    I like it.

    Way back in the day, when I worked for Xerox, I got an opportunity to read up on some of the security risks associated with the old paper currency. Xerox Research had been tapped to suggest ways to outsmart their own reproductive technology. The two suggestions they mentioned are now both included on the new twenty dollar bill.

    The first was two color ink. This has been used for a while now. As soon as the '2nd Generation' bills were released, the bottom right number has used ink that is green from one direction and black from another. It's a very cool idea and I understand that it's very difficult to do.

    The other idea of Xerox's was to insert some holographic or reflective material into the bill. This was based on the new technology in the 80s which is now commonplace on credit cards. The new twenty now has a small eagle and shield to the right of the portrait which is sparkly. I think it's the most quickly identifiable of all the security features. Note that there is no perceptible rise in the paper, that's not stamped on there like glitter on a christmas card.

    The paper feels very different. As an ex-bank teller, I'm fairly certain they are using a different stock. It's a lot less crisp and sharp than ordinary new bills. It almost has a 'pre-washed' feel to it. That's good news for tellers, because we hated new bills because they stuck together and we would invariably overpay customers. These don't seem to have that problem. I want to see how the paper feels over time. Since I'm not a teller, I don't particularly like the feel, but I'll get used to it.

    I'm indifferent about the choice of color. I understand the choice of keeping it bland. I think it's very subtle that the width of the manilla color is different on the front and the back and that it fades from one into the other. The little yellow twenties on the back, however cleverly random they appear, are cheesy.

    I do prefer the portrait without a frame. I think relying on that old check of the fine line of the oval portrait frame was probably pretty lame anyway. Jackson's cloak is very well done. That's going to be very hard to reproduce it's a Moire nightmare.

    All in all, I think they did a fine job. And I love the dollar coin too.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:40 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    October 20, 2003

    Doggy Style

    A thought:

    Isn't 'doggy style' sex what we would do if we didn't have porno? Somebody has got to be a doctor out there who knows the answer to this question. The very idea that the 'missionary position' is considered the natural, normal form of coitus suggests to me how deeply cultural we are in modern society.

    This idea got stuck in my head today and I just couldn't wait to blog about it.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:46 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    October 14, 2003

    Low BS Guide

    The Internet Archive allows us to see the glorious history of the 'net. Part of the the most appealing thing about the internet is that we can use it to see people and places that are ignored by the major media. But this only works when the people from those places speak up.

    One of the greatest examples of just that kind of writing was created by a reticent guy named J. Brad Hicks. His Low Bullshit Guide to St. Louis was a brilliant piece of cultural geography. But one day he decided to pull it. Nobody knows why, everybody missed it. But guess what?


    Posted by mbowen at 07:59 AM | TrackBack

    October 13, 2003

    Colorblind Racism

    For the record, Sally Lehrman:

    African Americans with a college diploma find themselves unemployed almost twice as often as whites with the same education. Hispanics must get by on only about half of the individual income that Asian Americans and whites divvy up among the bills.

    And when blacks and Latinos are hospitalized with a heart problem, they are less likely than European Americans to receive catheterization, be sent home with beta blockers, or even be advised to take aspirin to protect their health.

    While many Americans agree that open racial bigotry is generally a thing of the past, stark disparities in daily life persist, as documented by academic researchers, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Institute of Medicine.

    Frustrated with theories plainly unable to explain the problem, sociologists increasingly are relying on a new framework to understand racism and develop solutions. "It's not just Archie Bunker any more," says Troy Duster, a sociology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and New York University who is president-elect of the American Sociological Association.

    Just in the past six months, at least five books including one co-authored by Duster have put forward a fresh analysis of racial injustice. They set aside overt prejudice and individual acts of discrimination, which they assert actually may have little impact in today's world. Instead they pull back the covers on social practices and policies sewn into the fabric of work, school and the medical system that favor whites. Even the most well-intentioned white person, they say, benefits from a legacy of accumulated preferential treatment.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:51 PM | TrackBack

    So I've Been Told


    Posted by mbowen at 01:21 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    October 12, 2003

    Dyson's Utopia

    I'm having a very healthy discussion about a number of things over with the AfroFuturists. It's sending me to the stacks. One of the subjects is a post-fossil fuel world economy. I've been expecting something along the lines of what Freeman Dyson was talking about.

    I've read the article twice since it was published and it still made sense. I'll review it again today, but I absolutely had to have it here at Cobb for future reference.

    Download file

    Posted by mbowen at 12:50 PM | TrackBack

    October 08, 2003

    Wally George: Dead!

    He'd probably want to be buried ass up. The godfather of conservative shockjockadelica has kicked the bucket. Long may he remain dead.

    The poster boy for vulgar television and audience insult has left the building. Pshaw. Long may he not be missed.

    Posted by mbowen at 08:57 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

    October 05, 2003

    Revenge of the Manual

    Over at K5 they have a lovely guide for subtle sabotage. If you are one of those who would rather be programming and get stuck with the onerous task of actually documenting your work, this is for you.

    In every tech's life, there comes a time when management starts to insist on better documentation.

    Perhaps a round of layoffs or outsourcing is imminent. Perhaps the simmering disdain between techs and management has escalated into open hatred. Either way, you are clearly on the way out, and management wants to grease the wheels for your successor.

    You wish to produce documentation that:

    • will impress your management, and facilitate your remaining time in that job.
    • will not substantially help your replacement(s).
    • does not betray obvious signs of sabotage.
    Posted by mbowen at 07:39 AM | TrackBack

    October 03, 2003

    Sowell & Hoffer: Aphorisms A GoGo

    Check this guy out. He's one of Thomas Sowell's most oft-quoted gadflies.

    Here's a cute one that brings to mind last night's episode of ER.

    Those who see their lives as spoiled and wasted crave equality and fraternity more than they do freedom. If they clamor for freedom, it is but freedom to establish equality and uniformity. The passion for equality is partly a passion for anonymity: to be one thread of the many which make up a tunic; one thread not distinguishable from the others. No one can then point us out, measure us against others and expose our inferiority.

    Still, I like the idea of ER shooting an episode such as this.

    Anyway, here's another gem:

    The monstrous evils of the twentieth century have shown us that the greediest money grubbers are gentle doves compared with money-hating wolves like Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler, who in less than three decades killed or maimed nearly a hundred million men, women, and children and brought untold suffering to a large portion of mankind.

    That's a really good one. It is surprising how few people look beneath the surface of their 'evil' and find out what kind of monsters they truly were. So here's another quote to ram that home although it's not by Hoffer:

    There is no safety for honest men but by believing all possible evil of evil men.

    --Edmund Burke

    Of this by Burke, it feels very Old School. I'm sure I said something about that here. Which brings up an interesting contradiction in the set of Sowell's set of quotes. Here he quotes D'Souza.:

    Publicly inconsolable about the fact that racism continues, these activists seem privately terrified that it has abated.

    --Dinesh D'Souza

    So should one be on the lookout for the evil of racism all the time, or is that a special case of evil that is the exception to Burke's rule?

    That's what you get for parsing quotes...

    Posted by mbowen at 02:59 PM | TrackBack

    Ig Nobelity

    This is the kind of stuff television should do so much more of. If not, then do tell a friend with broadband that a webcast of the Ig Nobel award ceremony is available here.

    You might be interested to know, for example, that Beer Froth does indeed decay at an exponential rate, thus revealing that some clever manipulation of the laws of physics are at work in Budweiser commercials.

    But it is the spirit and pageantry of the affair that makes it most worth watching, especially Miss Sweetie Poo.

    Posted by mbowen at 02:12 PM | TrackBack

    October 02, 2003

    Warning Label

    A certain big fat idiot forgot to read the label.

    Are there any activities that I should not perform while using OxyContin for pain relief?

    OxyContin may interfere with your ability to do certain things that require your full attention. You should not drive a car, operate heavy machinery, or do other possibly dangerous activities while taking OxyContin. You should not refer to the race of NFL quarterbacks, answer phonecalls from rednecks while on the air, or pretend to have any intellect, political savvy or taste in clothing while taking OxyContin.

    Side effects include oral flatulence, vomitous speech and nauseated audiences. Use only as directed. See your doctor.

    Posted by mbowen at 02:44 PM | TrackBack

    October 01, 2003

    Keepin' It Real

    Gangsta rapper C-Murder was just, you guessed it, convicted of murder. Life follows Art. I can't tell you how much this upsets me. Boo hoo!

    Posted by mbowen at 08:51 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    XMen, Seriously

    I always thought Storm, of the XMen, had pretty stupid powers. Now I know that I was wrong.

    Posted by mbowen at 06:55 PM | TrackBack

    September 22, 2003

    Apres Nous, le Deluge

    There's a new black Miss America. Yoiks and hazzah.

    Always searching to make the three-hour show more relevant and exciting to counter a decline in viewership that's lasted at least 15 years, the pageant included "American Idol" star Clay Aiken singing "This Is the Night." Television viewers also saw "Bachelorette" sweethearts Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter at a viewing party in Boulder, Colo., where guests offered their opinions of the competition. In an effort to make the contestants seem more "accessible," a new casual-wear competition was added, featuring the women in tank tops and jeans. Tom Bergeron, star of "America's Funniest Home Videos," hosted the show.

    It's difficult to see another American institution hit the crapper, although I won't miss much sleep on this one. As one who did the beauty pageant circuit trolling for babeage in my early twenties, I can attest to the pure sexist shame of it all. However that depends entirely upon how seriously one takes such matters. I like Tom Bergeron (although I really didn't know his name, I just watch his show with the kids). So it can't be a total loss. I'm sure Miss America is just about as wholesome as the Newleywed Game, which is to say coyly full of double-entendre, but a credible distance away from porno. So there's my backhanded compliment.

    Back in the day when it was Vanessa Williams, we were all pretty serious about the pageant weren't we? Also I say hear hear for pageat judge Greta Van Susteren, a born-again beauty who's not afraid to flaunt it. It makes the pleasant and humble midwesterner in all of us smile with delight.

    Still, I couldn't resist the snarky title could I? BTW, does anybody watch the Boston Marathon any longer? When's the last time a non-Kenyan won that one?

    Posted by mbowen at 12:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    September 20, 2003

    Middle Earth Mapquest


    Posted by mbowen at 10:00 PM | TrackBack

    So I've Been Told: On Heinlein

    The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
    You belong in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. You
    value freedom above all else. You would fight
    and die for your family and your home.

    Which Heinlein Book Should You Have Been A Character In?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Posted by mbowen at 03:32 PM | TrackBack

    September 19, 2003

    Hear Ye Hear Ye

    Now if ye people didn't know, today be talk like a pirate day. So watch what I'm saying and try t' do as I do. Why? Because I said so ye scurvy mongrel. Don't you know who ye be dealin' with? Arrr! I be the original Dread Pirate BlackEye, son of Locutus of the House of Crenshaw-West-Blogistan, High Executioner of Horsewipe, and Scourge of ye olde World Wide Webe. I command ye t' be all piratey, ye landlubbin' squirrels.

    Posted by mbowen at 12:09 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    September 16, 2003

    Nappy Man

    "It's rather pointless, I must say," remarked Philip Landau, a 38-year-old lawyer, watching Mr. Blaine lie down and then get up again. "There's not much to watch. It's like watching someone sitting in a box."

    Stunt whore David Blaine is suspended in a plexiglass box over the Thames.

    Posted by mbowen at 02:31 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    September 08, 2003



    yO dis be tha one N only Vicki a.k.a the illest azn babi! I'm from the yay area always laughin it up wid my gurl cutty bang(er) corina. She tha black N Korean one on the left. The one in tha middle is my lil filipina Daryl and of course I'm the one on the right wid the brown shirt! Anyway, I'm Chinese, Vietnamese, Nepali and I gotz sum Polynesian in me as well. I'm sure I'm da only person (besides my bRothEr) dat gotz my nationality N i'm sho damn proud ta be wut I am. Everybody always be askin me and coco wat we are and it gets so annoyin at times but its also kinda flatterin ya feel? I get a lot of different nationalities and its kinda fun ta be lookin like sumthin I ain't but deep inside I kno wat I am N dats all dat matters. I truly h8 dem perps who be tellin ppl dey somethin cuz dey too ahamed of wut dey really are. So fa all ya'll out dere who I'm talkin bOut.. think of yO "People" who made u who u are. So always take claim to what u are and don't complain bOut wat u ain't. God made you the way you are so theres nothing to be asahmed of. Anyway... i'm out! God Bless.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:12 PM | TrackBack

    Hang the Flag Properly

    If you're going to be a blackneck, the least you can do is hang the flag properly.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:16 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    September 06, 2003


    One of these days, I'm going to take several things seriously. This information for example. I have a hard time getting around the fact that I don't take it seriously.

    Posted by mbowen at 03:02 PM | TrackBack

    September 04, 2003

    A Slim Shady Lurkin'

    I laughed today. You should too. This will do it. I promise.

    Posted by mbowen at 06:04 PM | TrackBack

    September 02, 2003

    Math Joke

    I simply couldn't resist this one:

    Q: How many mathematicians does it take to screw in a light bulb?
    A: None. It's left to the reader as an exercise.
    A': One. He gives it to six Californians, thereby reducing the
    problem to an earlier joke.
    A": One. He gives it to five Oregonians, thereby reducing the
    problem to an earlier joke.
    A'": In an earlier article, zeus!bobr writes:

    Q: How many mathematicians does it take to screw in a light bulb?
    A: One. He gives it to six Californians, thereby reducing the
    problem to an earlier joke...

    In earlier work, Wiener [1] has shown that one mathematician
    can change a light bulb.

    If k mathematicians can change a light bulb, and if one more simply
    watches them do it, then k+1 mathematicians will have changed the
    light bulb.

    Therefore, by induction, for all n in the positive integers,
    n mathematicians can change a light bulb.


    [1] Weiner, Matthew P., <11485@ucbvax>, "Re: YALBJ", 1986

    Posted by mbowen at 08:29 PM | TrackBack

    September 01, 2003


    It's true! This stuff comes with its own MTV cliche, apparently owned by Nelly. That's progress. Ladies and gentlemen C. Dolores Tucker is about to have a hissy fit.

    Brand Overview: Pimp Juice is a healthy, non-carbonated energy drink possessing a tropical berry flavor. Pimp Juices artificial coloring gives it a smooth neon green glow, while its 10 % apple juice content adds a natural sweetness to its taste. Providing 100% of the bodys needed vitamin C, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12, Pimp Juice works to increase the drinkers energy supply. In addition, an 8 oz serving of pimp juice contains Taurine, a conditionally essential amino acid that aids the body in its absorption of nutrients needed for optimal mental and physical performance. Pimp Juice acquires its boost from Guarana, an all-natural tropical ingredient. When roasted, its seeds produce stimulating effects similar to caffeine. Pimp Juice also includes 250 mg of D-Ribose and approximately 140 calories per serving. Pimp Juice represents the new and improved energy drink for todays active and health conscious consumer. The use of caffeine has allowed the competition to adequately address the energy needs of their consumers. However, Pimp Juice employs Guarana to match this feature and goes a step further to provide the nutrients needed to maintain this high level of function. Furthermore, Pimp Juice is non-carbonated which makes it ideal for demanding sports and intense workouts.
    Posted by mbowen at 05:31 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    August 29, 2003

    So I've Been Told (2)

    If I were a Springer-Verlag Graduate Text in Mathematics, I would be Frank Warner's Foundations of Differentiable Manifolds and Lie Groups.

    I give a clear, detailed, and careful development of the basic facts on manifold theory and Lie Groups. I include differentiable manifolds, tensors and differentiable forms. Lie groups and homogenous spaces, integration on manifolds, and in addition provide a proof of the de Rham theorem via sheaf cohomology theory, and develop the local theory of elliptic operators culminating in a proof of the Hodge theorem. Those interested in any of the diverse areas of mathematics requiring the notion of a differentiable manifold will find me extremely useful.

    Which Springer GTM would you be? The Springer GTM Test

    I'd once been told that I should find a support group for child prodigies. I don't think I was a child prodigy, but I was really upset that I couldn't have piano lessons at the poor public school I attended. Further, I hated the fact that during the teacher's strike of 1969 when we went on a field trip to Hancock Park, that they wouldn't let me touch the Van de Graff generator.

    I realize that I have spent an inordinate amount of time in my life avoiding being considered a geek. And so I never developed a great deal of resentment for the fact I have no idea about differentiable manifolds. But there are days when I feel as if I have been cheated...

    This isn't so very important is it? Nevermind.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    August 28, 2003

    He Thinks He's Cool But He's Snot

    Have you ever been to Aspen? Paul has, and he's better than you.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:50 AM | TrackBack

    August 27, 2003

    Evil Dreams (In Color)

    I've been thinking about creating a new category here at Cobb to include more creative stuff. For the moment, I think the comic is plenty.

    Every once in a while I have one of those dreams that are profound and scary and weird all at once. An associate told me that he kept a diary of his dreams and that it helped him in all sorts of ways. Not that I need help other than financial, it's still probably a fairly decent idea. All that is a roundabout way of saying, I only wish the things I actually know a lot about made for more interesting and professional reading, but I think that audience is already spoken for. In the meantime I'll ramble.

    The subject is the dark side of color. Yesterday I was at Legoland again and as I was standing in line at the Project X rollercoaster and this horrible droning whine kept assaulting my ears. It sounded orange. So it occured to me that every color has an evil side to it. I daydreamed about a series of evil themes characterized by colors.

    Evil Blue is the disorientation of depression. In the blue prison you are robbed of your ability to shake off slights and annoyances. The slings and arrows stay embedded in your psyche. Your vision is blurred and sounds are slow motion. You are sluggish in a forced catatonia.

    Evil White is little more than total deprivation of reality but with the added twist of recurring hope. This was captured perfectly by the prison of THX 1138. You wander in a nowhere land free of artifacts hoping to find a wall or escape which doesn't exist. All traces of your past are obliterated. You feel no pain, you feel no joy, you end up desecrating your own body to prove you exist. In the white prison there is only a muted echo of your own voice to be heard.

    Evil Green is acid. It is caustic and subtle. It oozes all around you slowly corrupting everything. It is the destruction of trust and the triumph of pervasive rust. It causes your every effort to wither and fade prematurely.

    Evil Yellow is panic. You are constantly screaming and shrieking. Small things are pricking you. You cannot stand still, you are kept off balance. You are exhausted and driven to paranoid distraction.

    Evil Purple is delusion. The purple prison is a house of mirrors and cruel tricks that promises and disappoints at every turn. It is a psychedelic madhouse. You cannot believe the good in front of you, all of your values are eventually perverted. It is beyond Alice's Wonderland.

    Evil Black is total darkness (of course). It is the prison of your own mind without any external clues. You are in fear of the unknown - everything is unknown. Every step can be your last, over an unseen cliff. It is suffering in silence being prodded and poked by creatures or things you cannot identify or prepare for. It is a full feeling world where all of your senses can only deliver you pain but your eyes cannot deliver you to safety.

    Evil Orange is unending annoyance. It is loud and rowdy, overbearing and insipid. It is a bass-booming truck at your wedding. It is life at the DMV, forever. It is being held to account for beans and suffering migrane inducing micromanagement. It's maddening loud mouthed idiots everywhere you turn.

    Evil Brown is foul putrefication. It is the shit-stink world of everything gone spoiled and maggotty. It is rot, nausea and the smell of death's breath. It's sickeningly humid and sticky.

    Evil Red is blood and gore. (of course) It is constant battle and the wounds of war. It is your body dragged through electrified barbed-wire, bleeding eyeballs and severed limbs.

    Evil Grey is the governor of California. (of course).

    Posted by mbowen at 01:19 PM | TrackBack

    August 23, 2003

    Digital Fakery

    Just keeping this link for the archives. Keyword photoshopping.

    Posted by mbowen at 05:39 PM | TrackBack

    August 22, 2003

    Black Eye for the White Guy

    OK. I'm not the only one with imagination. Help write the treatment.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:57 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

    August 21, 2003

    Nigerian Scam

    for the archives.
    this is the hilarious response to the Nigerian Email bank bunco.


    Posted by mbowen at 10:48 AM | TrackBack

    August 15, 2003

    Whale Farts

    They do exist, you know.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:55 AM | TrackBack

    August 12, 2003

    Who You Callin' Hostile!?

    So I take this idiotic test:

    Cynicism Score: 8 If your score is 0 to 3, your Cynicism level is very low. If your score is 4 to 6, your Cynicism level is probably high enough to be of some concern. If your score is 7 or more, your Cynicism level is very high.
    Yeah right. They're just trying to get me to buy their stupid book.
    Anger Score: 5 If your score is 0 to 3, your Anger level is very low. If your score is 4 to 6, your Anger level is probably high enough to deserve your attention. If your score is 7 or higher, your Anger level is very high.
    Shit like this really pisses me off.
    Aggression Score: 9 f your score is 0 to 3, your Aggression level is very low. If your score is 4 to 6, your Aggression level is borderline, and you may want to consider ways to reduce it. If your score is 7 or more, you probably need to take serious steps to reduce your Aggression level.

    I oughta come over there and slap some sense into these monkeys.

    Total Hostility Score: 22
    If your Total Hostility score is 10 or less, some research suggests that your hostility level is below the range where it is likely to place you at risk of developing health problems. Any score higher than 10 may place you in the group whose hostility level is high enough to increase your risk of health problems.

    Sez you, pinhead. You wanna make something out of it, huh? Bring it.

    You can also use the test to rate other people close to youa spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend, for instance to see if their hostility levels may be too high.

    tsk. Sowing the seeds of discontent. Things like this make me wonder what has gone wrong. I mean, do people who live well in Argentina really have as many shrinks per capita as we do in the States? We certainly have deep roots of violent aggression in America, but so do underprivileged people. Yet those people can be happy and peaceful without extensive mental health regimes. This level of introspection, mass marketed, is what's sick if you ask me.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:31 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    So I've Been Told

    Fight Club!

    What movie Do you Belong in?(many different outcomes!)
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

    Posted by mbowen at 12:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    August 11, 2003


    Too many Friendsterfriends? Scale-free network
    theory models generated an overabundance of
    comrades? Try Introvertster:

    Posted by mbowen at 06:06 PM | TrackBack

    What is Genius?

    i think of genius as a frantic state of creativity. what genius is is a polyphonic kind of continual expression and combination of intelligences. an individual possesed of (by) genius has a desparate need to make something happen in a way that combines things that are not obvious to the outside observer. genius always draws on a big pool of knowledge but does so in a way that makes its expression appear spontaneous. a genius develops a cross-functional vocabulary through a galaxy of shortcuts. genius is about the energetic orchestration of rapidly assimilated concepts. genius reinvents a domain in its own idiom, and thus genius defies translations. intellect parses genius one step at a time trying to understand the modus operandi.

    penn jillette.

    as i say this i am trying to think of criminal genius and deviant genius, the controlled pathology. genius is not methodological, it is searching. perhaps genius that is pathological doesn't understand how others don't understand, and doesn't care. madness is genius that doesn't seek transforming public expression - only observation and assimilation.

    henry kissinger.

    a genius tries to do gravitate all meaning to his inventions. they interpret life through their twisted prisms. the genius is disabused when they try to explain too much, overloading their creation with meaning. they need another breakthrough. the genius destroys himself if he is unsuccessful.

    richard pryor.

    a genius must attain mastery. he perfects and re-perfects. he throws it all away and starts over. he spins off a million tangents and throws them away. a genius plays with large dangerous tools. a genius gambles using tells too subtle for the untrained eye. the genius throws himself in the garbage just to test his own genius. he pushes the limits and pretends to be immortal just to see if he can, and finally he achieves.

    jackson pollack.

    after the genius, if they are recognized in their own time, they change the paradigm. suddenly it all becomes obvious - the dots are connected. the elemental genius of the connection becomes commodified. the public overdoses. pretenders and hacks rip off. earlier works are scrutinized.

    woody allen.

    we expect that the genius knows about life. maybe they do, but they probably look at the world as if they were an alien race. ordinary comforts don't suffice. genius has no peace. thus they must simplify their own life, discipline it - or throw it into extremes. they reject the free life, they spend too much time attending to the demands of their talents.

    billie holiday.

    genius is hungry and predatory. its talent doesn't save until it is manifest universally. the genius aims for the globe


    genius evokes a vast sense of loss and disintegration when it is suddenly missing. on the passing of genius it is always felt that it will take several generations to find and recover what genius has discovered. one wonders how the world would have been different were it not for the genius in our presence. we are contrite for not paying it the mind we should have, we wish we had another chance to appreciate it all over again. but it is too late.

    gregory hines.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:08 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

    August 05, 2003

    MFK 2.0

    Now that I've got my online house in order, across three domains, in multiple categories and varying degrees of seriousness, I am less inclined to hesitate airing my lighter, if not completely wackjob sensibilities. But still I feel the necessity to qualified my unqualified madness with self-serving paragraphs such as this. You can blame my parents. IDGAF.

    The game is MFK, the candidates are multiple.

    This is the toughest one, of course. It has to be someone I'd suicide bomb. I simply don't have the passion to gank someone out of personal spite, but perhaps I'd willingly martyr myself on principle. In this regard, and since it's entirely hypothetical, I would need to travel back in time and be the man responsible for the brutal slaying of one man. I think that man would be William Bradford Reynolds. You do the math.

    Someone in this category would be an individual we would love to see suffer a fate worth than death. Someone for whom humiliation would be complete, and unending. This is the most appropriate punishment for cross-media asshats who hog precious space with their mindless bloviation - the human equivalents of the Macarena. The competition is tight, the winner: Dr. Laura. We would like to see her accused of child molestation by a vast media conspiracy. Every third caller to her radio broadcast would be 'What about the kid, Laura?' The runner up: Anne Coulter. We would like to see a skillet of scalding chicken grease leave a bright purple ameboid mark on her right cheek, and have one of her eyes permanently astigmatized 20 degrees off center.

    I prefer the term, 'publically disappeared', as in Jimmy Hoffa. For this honorific, there are any number of well-deserving candidates. But I think public enemy number one should be, Kim Jong Il.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Hurricane DMX

    Hurricane DMX got crunk and straight ganked Galveston, TX yesterday morning leaving a trail of devastation not seen since way back in the day.

    In Galveston, hundreds of bustas were left homeless as DMX lost its mind up in there. Forecasters expected it to move quickly through Texas into Louisiana, but evidently it stopped, dropped 20 inches of rain, shut down businesses and opened up shop all over South Texas. It was a rough ride for many in Houston as well. As one resident of the Fifth Ward of Houston said when he saw the storm coming, "I thought my mind was playing tricks on me."

    Just a week ago, DMX was considered a tropical depression. Most everyone slept on him. The Weather Service reported that DMX was slipping, falling and not getting up. Then he blew up to a tropical storm and was rollin' with the barometer in the dubs. By the time he hit the streets of Galveston, he was dropping hailstones the size of blunts. One forecaster simply remarked "We didn't know who he be."

    Currently, there ain't no sunshine in the Gulf states. It's dark and hot as hell, and there is a great depression across the South.

    While major population centers are currently in the eye of the storm, people are taking a break to holla to their peeps. But time is short as it appears that DMX is going to give it to you as it breaks north and crosses the border. Experts predict that it only has 24 hours to live, but will still be off the chain for the immediate future and is likely to smack the breakfast out of Louisiana.

    Residents in the affected area codes are advised to knuckle up and guard their grills. Don't be skurred. For those most seriously affected by the storm, the Fed's has got their back with disaster aid so they might dust themselves off and try again. Government agents are asking 21 questions of local people.

    Some people have expected this for a long time and are determined to stick it out. Says one local "I've lived here all my life, I'm stayin' right thurr. I don't really care what people say. I don't really watch what them wan' do." Others are not sticking around. Says one resident, "If it can hit once, it can hit twice."

    Posted by mbowen at 01:52 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    August 04, 2003

    Nigdriving & Nigchalking

    pryor.jpgI just had a brilliant idea for folks with too much time on their hands. It's nigdriving! All you need is a Google Toolbar and a sense of humor, or a serious gripe.

    Here's what you need, start here at Cobb. Head over to my blog maki in the orange bar on the left. Click on a link and follow it to a new blog. Then go to their blogrolls and pick a random target. (The first order bloggers may not payoff well.) Now that you are at your target blog, type 'nigger' into your Google Toolbar and Search Site. Ever faithful, the Google engine will provide you with all references. Eyeball the context of the hits and determine whether this blogger deserves recognition. Nigdriving!

    Nigchalking is a bit more tricky. Now that we've identified the reprobate, what do we do? My suggestion is that we do nothing unless and until we are ready to apply some technology, but here is my idea for nigchalking. I've done it once before. It was inadvertant but it turned out to be very very effective. (Google up Niggers and Basketball)

    We assemble a Bomb Squad of nigdrivers. A critical mass of about ten is all I guess that's required. Each of these bloggers create a category of Nigchalking in their blogs, and then trackback to the identified reprobate. The resulting web of links will spoof Google into making that entry the most popular part of the reprobate blog. Therefore when the blog is googled up, the most offensive post of the blogger will show up at the top of the list. There is an obvious problem with this, which is that it equally poisons the Bomb Squad blogs.

    If a separate site were created, not enough independent links would be created to spoof Google, but at least it could be a central resource. I imagine a little trickery with blogrolling and/or RSS could balance things out a bit. I favor this solution which is rather similar to Hatewatch but could enlist parttime nigdrivers.

    I for one think this is a fabulous idea but I'd hate to be famous for it.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:32 AM | TrackBack

    July 27, 2003

    Hussein Family Values

    From Newsweek we learn a bit about Iraq's deposed first family.

    Uday was the more grotesque. He supposedly had a penchant for raping the girlfriends of other prominent Iraqis and then branding them with the letter U. Iraqi soccer players remember Uday as the worlds only Olympic Committee chairman with a torture chamber in his headquarters. Players who failed to measure up could be dragged through a gravel pit then dipped in a sewer, so their cuts would fester. Saddam favored his younger son, Qusay, who was less flamboyant and more purposeful in his sadism, though no less wicked. He would watch as political prisoners got fed, feet first, into the wood chipper; when he grew bored, the prisoners were fed in head first. Qusay was chief of Saddams security forces. Uday ran the ragtag Fedayeen. Both men were feared by everyone in Iraq.

    I hear that we killed them. What a shame.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    July 23, 2003

    Country Penguin

    Some days, it just doesn't pay to be serious. Check it.

    Posted by mbowen at 09:29 AM | TrackBack

    July 17, 2003

    Break out the Champagne & Vaseline

    Well, here's news for celebration. According to the New Scientist, masturbation can help prevent cancer. This is excellent news and gives a new spin on the scourge of prostate cancer. If you get it, it's because you weren't getting any. I can envision a whole store full of homeopathics for this treatment.

    But seriously, this is really good news.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:41 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    July 11, 2003

    The Truth about Uranium

    I hear that there is a theory that science makes no great leaps forward after marriage. I'm not entirely sure that I believe this at all, but even if it were true, it would make for a striking incrimination of science itself.

    I've a theory about a phenomenon I call 'scientific animism'. It occured to me when I was younger than 30 and single, so there might be something to it. The idea is simply that loads of us love to believe in science, even though we don't understand it. One simply needs to be a fan of sci-fi or be wary of cholestrol without the ability to identify the molecule under a microscope to be such an animist. Nothing could be further from the true precepts of the scientific method than our abiding faith in Science and Technology. Science is about disciplined skepticism and the ability to immediately walk away from that which stinks. The result is often frustration but often discovery.

    If its defenders are to be believed, the scientific method is the best way of discovering truth. But truth is not such a good thing, since Truth doesn't serve man. If truth be told, scientists can be self-serving in their quest for the possession of truth. It does indeed make them high priests. And there's the rub.

    So what are we to do with the latest and greatest discoveries of truth as revealed by unmarried people without children? Not much, says conservative moi. But we needn't worry, because the nature of such scientific discovery, by dint of the difficulty and discipline required to advance it trickles through the rest of society rather slowly. What scientists know and discover is rarely communicated to the world by scientists themselves - they don't have the money, and that's a good thing.

    It it is most interesting when scientific animism meets that other work of faith, political partisanship. So as scientists and politicians climb over each other to try to discover the truth about say, Uranium, we animists and partisans have a tough row to hoe in making sense of their competing axioms. The truth is out there, but the fact is that it may always be to little or too late to be of any practical benefit.

    You don't have to be unmarried and single to discover that.

    UPDATE: Disenchanted

    Posted by mbowen at 03:49 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    July 03, 2003

    WMD Error 404


    Posted by mbowen at 06:49 AM | TrackBack

    July 01, 2003

    How Do You Like Your Violence?

    More ratings to help us understand.

    Posted by mbowen at 06:41 PM | TrackBack

    June 29, 2003

    Semantic Nits

    Before we get off into the deep end, I think it ought to be clear that I don't see the recent SC decision over Texas sodomy laws to be a blow for 'gay rights'. There's really no such thing. There is nothing that homosexuals need or desire that the rest of us don't. It's only flavor. The right to be free of state intrusions into one's private sex life seems to be, very simply, a right of all adults. I'd say it falls more squarely in human rights than civil rights, but less so than certain other First Amendment rights. The right to sexual privacy is fundamental and any government that would infringe on such rights is very near to being terroristic.

    Posted by mbowen at 10:19 PM | TrackBack

    June 25, 2003

    Geo Hacking

    I must confess that of late I have felt the urge to do some dumpster diving. I sort of regret not knowing somebody I could trust to go infiltrating.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:32 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    June 08, 2003

    The Cage

    The Cage is reserved for criminals against humanity. It is the death sentence handed down by the International Justice Tribunal and by First Initiative in free and fair elections in the liberated country. For some, there is no reconciliation their truth will bring them, only permanent exile from the human community.

    When they are sentenced, the convicts are moved into the Cage. It will be newly fashioned for them, for the old Cages are not retrieved. It will bear their name on a plate. Perhaps they will share it with their fellows, perhaps not. But they will be shackled and they will wait for the parade.

    The Parade of Expulsion will be the last time the convict will see human beings. They will line the streets and throw flowers, coins and kisses at the driver of the cart carrying the convict in his Cage. They will throw rotten fruits, vegetables, foul water and excrement at the Cage. They will jeer and taunt. They will kick him goodbye.

    A robotic crane will lift each Cage onto a robotic ship. At the bow will be the raised platform onto which the Cages will be placed. The ship will take the convicts out beyond the boundaries of nations into the deep. As the land disappears behind them, they will be rid of humankind for good. The open ocean will be their final home, and they will be dumped.

    Posted by mbowen at 06:29 PM | TrackBack

    June 05, 2003


    "That's what boys are for."

    It was overheard in reference to errand boy. It's true that we send our sons to fetch things. It occurs to me that this is deeply embedded in our culture. We send boys, sometimes to do a man's job, but always away for something. We expect them to come back with something, and doing so successfully we reward them with a nickel, or a pat on the head.

    We want them not to get lost or wander off. We expect them to tell the truth and a story about their trip if they take too long. We expect them to use their wits if something goes awry on the trip. We expect them to bring back the correct change.

    If he comes back with a bloody nose or a dirty shirt, we admire him if he delivered and rebuke him if he did not. Such is life as a boy.

    We don't send girls as readily to the store for a loaf of bread or a box of nails. They stay in the house.

    Posted by mbowen at 04:36 PM | TrackBack

    May 24, 2003

    Chuck Wood

    In answer to the proverbial question.

    A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck would chuck wood. But Chuck Wood chucked a woodchuck for chucking Chuck Wood's wood, so woodchucks won't.

    I just thought you'd like to know after all these years.

    Posted by mbowen at 01:07 PM | TrackBack

    January 22, 2003

    On the Internet, Nobody Knows If You're a Bitch

    Geegaw. Always interesting

    Provocative article about Gender Swapping in Cyberspace. It lists several motives for why men pose as women and vice versa, a bunch of interesting anecdotes, and an uncannily accurate set of tough questions designed to tell "real" women from men posing as women I'm curious how many men can fill in the blanks, e.g.

    • What's the difference between junior sizes and regular women's sizes?
    • When dyeing hair, you need to leave the dye in for ____ minutes.
    • Antibiotics can have the nasty side effect of ______.
    • Your flow is heaviest on the ____ day.

    The rest of the site is pretty amazing as well. I could spend all day reading through it.

    Reminds me of some stuff I did on race and cyberspace. Hey Kali, you out there?

    Posted by mbowen at 09:29 AM | TrackBack

    January 21, 2003

    Yay Hispanics

    Hispanics are, by definition, people who speak Spanish. They are now, oh oxy of morons, the largest minority group. You know I just hate that phrase 'minority group' because you know it wasn't the Hispanics who decided to group together. Mickey Roonie y Lopez saying "Oye hermonos, let's put together a big minority show, eh?" Only in America.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:18 PM | TrackBack

    November 23, 2002

    Autumn's Bridge

    the love you loved
    when you first loved me
    was the love i loved to see
    t'was all the love i needed
    but now today as you turn grey
    i find the love you love me with
    is something like an ancient myth
    i heard but never heeded.

    the love i love
    now that my love for you has changed
    is love so strange i feel deranged and
    look upon my former range of love
    and find it lacking.

    the love we share is heavy air
    and hardly where we dared to care
    and though my mind is wracking
    i feel my heart is cracking.

    september love
    indian summer suddenly snapped chill
    leaving us wondering, blundering
    hating at each other
    looses bricks, loose words
    blown warmly by august gusts
    now slam our frostbitten toes
    yanked by the gravity of age
    youthful desire no longer supports
    the love we love

    i step unsteady and foot the swaying bridge
    i turn about and eye my gleaming children

    the kids are ready as the photoed fridge
    my stomach churns, i bear them willing
    into my maturity but you my bride
    are yet a different wraith
    from whom i cannot hide
    and can't be safe in prior comforts
    and must attend without security
    my back is what you wish to ride
    i tremble and vomit over the ropey rail
    and through my spit and spew the pit
    of broken homes and death assaults
    bodies like mine below for miles in mirrored motion
    with gripping claws and working jaws

    with envy and resignation.

    why are we on this bridge alone?
    who cares if we should fall?
    what difference does it make if we
    survive the winter squall?

    is there another spring for us?
    can love so twisted be
    the source of unknown joy again
    the love i loved to see?

    i will it so and wish in turn
    without the fire of youth
    that as we go new love we'll learn
    and live in that great truth

    yet of this love i nothing know
    but name it as it was
    and only trust as feelings flow
    that save is what it does

    for i am lost without a clue
    gave every love i had to you
    took every love you had to give
    and wondered still if we should live

    we wobble here on autumn's bridge
    astride the chasm of divorce
    i'll close my eyes and bear us forth
    with faith alone my driving force
    and if upon the crested ridge
    ahead lies nothing but dispair
    i'm satisfied my faith today
    in what love could be got us there

    my trust in you is faith in love
    whomever you and love may be
    i dream a blessed spring awaits
    let's struggle on, and soon we'll see.

    Posted by mbowen at 11:15 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    November 21, 2002

    A Poem

    for western girls who have considered surgery when the thighmaster is not enuf


    afghanistan they say
    is kind to women who in may
    are apt to wear from head to toe
    the kinds of clothes that do not show
    an inch above your heel

    and so if you have gained a bit
    of weight and when you sit
    up straight you still can't see your shoes
    and that gives you the blues
    well, here's the deal.

    fillup your suv with gas
    and head off to the kyber pass
    there pakistanis guide you to
    where the taliban can banish you
    and hide you from the world.

    to put your self esteem in order
    the moment that you cross the border
    the mullah has a special plan inside of *his* afghanistan
    conducted by the taliban
    to set you free from every man
    who called you chubby girl.

    no man will ever roll his eyes
    at your thick thighs
    nor dare crack wise
    at your cup size
    or quote that line about your eyes.

    no supermarket magazine
    will ever call your size a queen
    no complicated weight machine
    or diet pill or beauty cream
    will make you feel that shameful way
    they do in l.a. every day.

    no bitches on the maury show
    will ever call you a fat ho
    in fact i doubt they'll even know
    if your waist happens to grow
    that is if you decide to go.

    one caution i might subtly add
    once you're inside jalalabad
    it's not assured you can return
    despite the calories you'll burn
    and pounds you drop through winter.

    it's not the civil liberties
    (tell me really who needs these)
    it's that your old gang won't go green
    the real catch is you can't be seen
    fourteen inches thinner.

    Posted by mbowen at 07:35 PM | TrackBack

    January 03, 2001

    DNA & Race

    "If DNA can provide proof that a people are descended from another group, doesn't that alone imply that race is a valid distinguishing feature among the people of the Earth?"

    dna can prove that you are not a rapist in a particular case. a urine test can prove that you are not a drug addict. there are tests which can prove that you are allergic to strawberries or that beans make you fart more than the average samoan teenager. before you posted it, i have never heard of tooth concavity in asians. i never cared. should i?

    the most significant word in you question is 'valid'. we all have distinguishing features, and as science of studying the human body advances, all of those distinctions can and will be cataloged. there are millions of them today. my wife has morton's neuroma. my youngest daughter has beta thalassemia minor. i have never had heartburn in my entire life.

    so the entire question is valid for what purposes? but there are even simpler questions than that. you've got the entire genome, chromosomal and mitochondrial dna to choose from. who decides, and for what purpose, which of the millions of genes to aggregate into racial categories?

    imagine that we decided to legislate colorblindness. we 'fingerprint' everyone but we leave eye color, skin color, facial, hair and body characteristics OFF of the fingerprint. in fact we reduce the entire genome to 5 characteristics (which i'm not going to tell you) and then order that into 7 races. what is the point of such an exercise? it is political. it is always political.


    http://gslc.genetics.utah.edu/basic/index.html http://www.panix.com/~mbowen/p2/rm/raceQuiz.htm

    Posted by mbowen at 02:53 PM | TrackBack

    December 28, 2000

    Klystrons & Swearingen Seals

    i have always been fascinated by some little thing i read when i was in college about the fact that someone found in an old abandoned warehouse something that looked like very large but lightweight screen doors. they turned out to be titanium molecular sieves for gasseous diffusion (or some such). so i went on something of a quick check for the most secret of secrets of bomb making and happened upon this miracle called the swearingen seal. its design and manufacture are, according to all testimony, miraculous. (which makes for interesting thinking along the lines of whom is qualified to be an unscom inspector)

    swearingen, during the 40s, was employed at a joint called kellex in jersey city which was, evidently, one of those great brain trusts that only hugely wealthy and connected entities could establish and maintain. since then, i think it is fair to assume that the mechanics of such machines are still known (and comprehensible, presumeably) to only a few dozens of people on the planet.

    aside, at the fry's in sunnyvale, there is a giant klystron on display. in an any randian way, the very fact of this machine is a striking and undeniable testimony to the genius who built it. but despite the fact that there are people that *can* does not mean that there are people that *will*.

    apparently, there are some things which, despite the fact that you might stumble over them, are so vastly complex that they require highly structured organizations of people to make them work for good or evil. most of our great creations are of this nature. we're not likely to build more pyramids or another city like venice, despite the fact that we know how. we simply lack the capacity to motivate people to organize for those purposes. nobody is going to make a better fortran, or sell firestone-proof tires, or build another concorde.

    if we are to be concerned about how self-organizing things procede, then we have to buy into the logic of kurzweil's accelleration theories. it seems to me that we will have been living for quite some time with that thing that will replace us before it takes the evolutionary lead, because it will have had to survive with us through those things that would destroy it. and of course, whatever this entity is, it will have to have some intentionality to destroy us before it does. or to borrow a phrase from michael moore, we'll be pets before we are meat.

    Posted by mbowen at 05:55 PM | TrackBack

    June 02, 2000

    The Prosumer

    prosumer eh? that must be what i am. i have all this extra income and i purchase geekware tangential to my profession. it's interesting that i used to be a dj and then had stacks of tdk blanks, duracells and miles of speaker wire. btw, where have all the audiophiles gone? gone to linux every one? there used to be a time when the closest thing to what we have become in the software industry was michael sembello - a one hit midi wonder complete with beachhouse and a dozen keyboards trying to come up with one more tune as compelling as flashdance's 'maniac'. invariably recording artists had the slamminest stereos... and in some cases they crossed the line and built signature amps and instruments.

    can anyone recall the romance we once had with things like gas thalias, carver cubes, and stacked advents? whatever happened to the cottage industry of high-end audio? i used to sell the stuff, and if there is anything remotely resembling the partisan brimstone heaped against microsoft in the name of hand-crafty goodness and high quality it is the stentorian rants of audio purists shouting down the hoi polloi panasonics of the world. in the end, the complexity of separate components proved too daunting (not to mention our commissions). circuit city took over and america decided that it didn't need quality. plus, the average stuff got good enough so that the really good stuff couldn't compete price/performance-wise. maybe the demise of high end audio is instructive.

    just as was the art of zen and motorcycle mechanics. once upon a time, not long ago, motorcycle purists (again, myself included) disemboweled their rice burners and replenished them with aftermarket valves, cranks, pistons, bearings, carbs, exhausts, tires and shocks. the symbiosis between motorcyclist and mechanic was uncanny (and yet psychotically co-dependent). why, because no factory could come up with a street bike suitable for the canyon carving we craved. their engines were too wimpy, their shocks too mushy, their tires too slippery.

    then somehow, japan got the message. suddenly the superbike appeared on the scene and there was nothing left for us hackers to tweak. they finally got it right. the quality went through the roof and now our riding abilities were challenged by the perfection of the new breed of factory ride.

    so which way might the open source movement go?

    Posted by mbowen at 11:08 AM | TrackBack