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30 December 2000

I thought I saw an eagle
It might have been a vulture
I never could decide
-- "Song of Isaac", Leonard Cohen (sung by Suzanne Vega on Tower of Song)

Supposedly, on January 9th, Apple's coming out with a new PowerBook. (About time, as it's been almost a year since the last major update to the model.) Rumored features include a wider screen (though not taller), a more normal-sized keyboard, longer battery life, and a G4 inside.

I'm looking to buy a new one (wants: faster than my 333MHz, AirPort-ready, etc.). I'll wait to see if I want the new one (probably) or a discounted old one. Either way, a new toy tool will be mine soon...

So, I signed up to get a cable modem installed last week since DSL is staying just out of reach (I still have yet to hear a peep from Flashcom despite repeated inquiries). Comcast said: no, you're not in the service area, wait, yes, your area's in beta, wait, no, we're not coming out because your line isn't ready yet but you can get in the queue and it should be ready in a-week-to-a-month.


Oh well, at least compared to DSL all this runaround has happened in a comparatively compressed time period. I still have hope I'll have high-speed access in 30 days.

Here's a wide-ranging interview with much interesting thinking about technology's future. What caught my interest most is the discussion (on the second page) of the future of art (specifically music & video). Like John says, there's so much one could quote...

  • Eben Moglen interview [Immaterial, via Genehack]
    MOGLEN: From the point of view of the copyright industries, the culture manufacturers, the limited term of copyright is unacceptable. What Disney went through to keep the mouse from expiring is just the beginning of that issue. ... In the world of the electronic, absolutely free, frictionless copy, they need to move more and more towards a control environment. The traditional balance that lies underneath, that we no longer think about, where you just hand the newspaper to the guy sitting next to you when you leave the railroad train - that's not what they're thinking of, and the logic of the situation compels them not to think of it. The logic of the situation compels them to all or nothing solutions, and I think they're going to get nothing instead of all.

    ... In a world of really free stuff, I think there would be a lot fewer Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. I think $100 million movies don't represent a particularly good form of free stuff.

    WORTHINGTON: Any sort of high initial capital cost cultural production seems hard to justify. Blade Runner probably doesn't get made either.

    MOGLEN: Absolutely. On the other hand we're going to have a golden age of poetry such as the world has not seen in a thousand years. Even traditional art forms may do very well. ... There are ranges of collaboration; there are new forms of art; there are new ways of making and delivering everything, including dramatic video, that will come up, and there are art forms whose names we don't know yet that are going to happen. All of that is sure. But you meet people who say - But if there weren't property then nobody would make the Flintstones - you have to say, well, what do we get on the other side? What's the name of all those art forms that we can't have now and that we will have then?

    ... Americans listen to music; they don't make music. That's a whole profound change in one generation, really, in the history of music in the world. Music was a thing people made; now it's a thing we hear. I am a non-maker, listener to music. I have an enormous privilege, as I see it, to live at the beginning of the digital era, when music from all over the world is available, before it has all been homogenized and paved over.

    ... It isn't necessarily homogenizing, but of course there are forces for homogeneity doing very well at the moment, and it is their activity in the net that we are primarily talking about. They are the people who want to encrypt. They are the people who want to own. The musicians all over the world looking for an audience, they don't show as their primary concern that they want to encrypt their music and keep it away from people. Ownership and homogenization have a relationship to one another. They're not just casually, contextually found in the same places. They exist where they exist for reasons. The goal of reaching the mass audience and getting paid for each and every eardrum is also the goal of homogenizing, to have broad appeal.

Blog-rolling: Medley was in fine form yesterday with a great (long, eclectic,) entry (29 Dec 2000). Go, read. :)

The 'Foolish Four' investment strategy I linked to many months ago (which sounded plausible) is apparently not doing so well. Index funds seem to perform better.

  • Motley Fool Investors' Money Departs [Boston Globe]
    Research by the Motley Fool that now extends back 50 years shows the Foolish Four outperformed the Dow by less than 2 percent a year on average. Previous research that had shown the Foolish Four outperforming by a much bigger margin didn't go nearly as far back in time.

  • Farewell, Foolish Four []
    ...the bottom line is that this study -- the most extensive test ever conducted of the various high-yield/low-priced Dow strategies -- does not show enough outperformance to justify our continued championing of the Foolish Four strategy or any high-yield/low-price variation.

Poor journalistic moments of 2000:

  • And Now, The P.U.-litzer Prizes for 2000 by Norman Solomon [, via Robot Wisdom]
    NO NEED TO DEBATE PRIZE -- ABC's "Nightline" : On the eve of the May vote in Congress granting China permanent normal trade relations (PNTR), "Nightline" presented a panel composed of a former House speaker, a former senator and a former ambassador to China -- all strong supporters of PNTR. In response to complaints that the panel was one-sided, a senior producer wrote that "we never intended to have a debate" because "by the time that we went on the air, the vote was really not in doubt." ... In the intervening years, "Nightline" found time for a total of 40 episodes on O.J. Simpson, Elian Gonzalez, and the conflict involving skaters Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan.

    SYNCHRONIZE OUR WATCHES AWARD -- The Associated Press : In reporting on a Republican lawsuit against the TV networks for projecting Al Gore the winner in Florida before the polls had closed in the state's western panhandle ... the story had a rather significant flaw: No TV network projected Gore the winner in Florida until 11 minutes before panhandle polls closed.

    MICKEY MOUSE JOURNALISM PRIZE -- ABC News : Reporting that journalists at Disney-owned ABC News had decided to avoid stories on a cruise ship line (partly because Disney owned a rival line) and on the hit movie "Chicken Run" (produced by a rival movie studio), the New Yorker magazine quoted an ABC News producer who said that steering clear of Disney "comes up all the time." Explained a producer: "No one here wants to piss off the bosses."

They're all interesting. Check it out.

Interesting summary of the media recounts progressing in Florida:

  • Almost Everything We Thought About the Florida Recount Is Wrong! by Mickey Kaus [Slate] Lake County the Sentinel examined 3,114 overvotes. And one-fifth of them contained exactly the "write-in mistake" that Boies had dismissed as nonexistent. More perversely, the majority (376) of these ballots were clear votes for ... Boies' client, Gore.

    Lake County, remember, is a Republican county that Bush carried by a wide margin.

    James Baker was right -- in a strategic, not moral, sense -- to fight all manual recounts instead of seeking his own hand counts in pro-Bush counties. The Lake County result shows that even in Bush counties a hand recount would probably have helped elect Gore, thanks to all the Sloppy Dems.

And a bit from William Saletan on the GOP attempts to hide whatever truth is discernible from the ballots:

  • Who Is Buried in Gore's Tomb? [Slate]
    The media, unlike county canvassing boards, aren't mysteriously declaring each ballot a vote or a non-vote. They're dividing that process into two intelligible parts. First, they're organizing the ballots into precise categories: dimple with hole, dimple without hole, [...] etc. Then they're calculating how many votes each candidate would gain depending on which of these standards is applied. The Palm Beach Post and Tampa Tribune have already published figures showing different results based on different possible standards in early batches of reviewed ballots.

    A media recount that yields eight possible statewide results based on eight different standards doesn't resolve "the truth" about who won Florida. But it does resolve eight truths, which is eight more than we have today.

Teaser: There will be a redesign here soon. Maybe even in time for the new year. (See, if I say something about it publicly, I'll be more likely to do it.)

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