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1 May 2001

"Do you smile 'cause I'm funny?" said the man
"I wasn't joking and I meant the thing I said"
"Not at all, not at all," said the woman to the man
"I was thinking of an unrelated thing."
-- "Unrelated Thing", They Might Be Giants, John Henry

Long Apple update:

  • Steve Jobs: The Graying Prince of a Shrinking Kingdom [Fortune]
    Apple shipped upwards of 115,000 [Titanium PowerBooks] in just two months, making it right now the fastest-selling laptop on the planet.

    [Jobs] has yet to install license plates on his two-year-old silver Mercedes, apparently as a way to dodge parking tickets. "It's a little game I play," he explains.

    Jobs was sure Apple could sell 200,000 [G4 Cubes] per quarter. In reality, Apple managed to sell only about 100,000 in the September quarter, a pathetic 29,000 in the December quarter, and a moribund 12,000 in the March quarter.

Also, new iBooks are due today, probably similar to the Titanium PowerBook and possibly as cheap as $1000. That would be quite a combination... Check MacNN and MacCentral for the story later today.

Long David Byrne update:

  • David Byrne is the Same as He Ever Was [NY Times Magazine, 5 pages]
    "I really think he sees the total madness of things with a sweeping breath of love," says Beth Henley, who co-wrote Byrne's 1986 film "True Stories." "He doesn't miss anything. He's not out to judge. Just to see."

    Even when gazing at one of the corporate-headquarters signs he likes to photograph -- the tattoo on the belly of the beast -- he says, "You have to admit there's somethin' beautiful and seductive there." If societal comforts weren't so alluring, they wouldn't be dangerous. Byrne has no use for rage when left-handed exaltation will do the job just as well. Rage doesn't communicate.

    "Take Eminem," he says, laughing mirthlessly for once. "I can never lose sight of the fact that his music is corporate rebellion marketed in a corporate way. He's said to have this threatening quality -- but how can he be threatening if his music is sold by one of the biggest companies in the world? I think teenage fans realize that it's safe, a safe kind of rebellion."

Lawrence Lessig writing about the 'Wind Done Gone' copyright fiasco:

  • Let the Stories Go [NY Times]
    Congress has extended the term of existing copyrights 11 times in the past 40 years. [Largely so Mickey Mouse/"Steamboat Willie" never falls into the public domain where it belongs...]

    A much simpler solution to such conflicts would be to follow the framers' design. When the Constitution says "limited times," it means limited. The limited copyright for "Gone with the Wind" expired in 1992. Mitchell's story, which she and her estate have made millions retelling, should now be "as free as the air," as Justice Louis Brandeis wrote in a 1918 case, for anyone, including Ms. Randall, to remake and retell.

Slate columnists Weisberg and Noah talk about the Bob Kerrey revelations:

  • Heroes and Villains [Slate]
    When the story broke last week, my first reaction was a "eureka" about Kerrey himself. I've always liked Kerrey a great deal at a personal level, while finding him to be something of an enigma. If you spend any time around him, you become aware of a haunted, almost ghostly quality about the man. He is one of those people who seems to have an eerie existence outside of the moment, as if he's watching himself from afar. ... Now we have the missing piece of the puzzle.

Bob Kerrey spoke at Washington University around 10 years ago. I didn't know much about him; I attended and found him to be intelligent but oddly mystical (what Weisberg calls 'ghostly'). Since then he's struck me as one of the more straightforward politicians we have.

I'm strongly reminded of Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried: truth about what exactly happened in a war is very hard to pin down; stories that feel true probably aren't. Stories that are unbelievably horrible are probably true.

Cool. 29 years later and still going: NASA Contacts Pioneer 10 [Slashdot comments, level 5]

Lots of CNN goings-on:

First, some disgruntled ex-CNN employees are putting up sites: Me and Ted (interesting) and Ted's Turnovers (juvenile). In my ideal world, over time more big companies will have such anti-sites until you have multiple, varied watchdogs for every major corporation.

Insights from former producer Sol Levine:

  • Diary by Sol Levine, A laid-off CNN producer [Slate]
    I spent more than 18 years there, and it's still in my blood. I loved CNN. I am of the CNN that was, not the one that is. Even so, it's painful to see the new version become more and more tarnished. There's nothing I can do but watch and shake my head.

    Taken over first by Time Warner and then by AOL, the scrappy news outfit I worked for has become a fraction of a conglomerate. I think conglomerates are too big to be courageous. Of course, I can't prove that.
  • Interview: Sol Levine, former producer with CNN [Journalism Jobs]
    Two mergers in three years with huge companies are pretty influential on how business is done. I think over time what has happened with the influence of FOX and MSNBC is that now personalities have just as much importance in the way they're programming the network. It used to be news in a plain brown bag. Now it's much more slick, which is good because I think CNN had the look of sort of like a college station for way too long. But they're also looking for a formula that does include popular personalities where before that wasn't that important.

Andrea Thompson: qualified or not?

  • CNN's hiring of former 'NYPD' star making uppity journalists blue [Seattle P-I, via MediaNews]
    How much mass-media seasoning is required for one to sit at a desk, read from a script and appear friendly/concerned/accessible on camera?

    If we adopted the British term "news reader" instead of the American term "anchor" we probably wouldn't even get excited about it. Thompson is eminently qualified to be a news reader...

    The problem with her hiring by CNN arises among journalists who view anchoring -- pardon me, news reading -- as the ultimate reward for a life in the journalistic trenches.

And from December:

  • Interview with CNN's Joie Chen [Journalism Jobs]
    [Regarding diversity] It's clear that we are behind society as a whole particularly in management. Today you see more color on the air and that's probably a change from Bernie's generation to mine. I see more of that. But I think that if you look at management, the business still needs to diversify.

    What I fear in journalism is that it becomes a girl's job the way we used to see nursing in a perjorative way, or teaching. It's what girls do before they get married. It's losing its image as a lifetime profession. If you go to journalism schools, you find that classes are overwhelmingly female, filled with very attractive women. That's not a bad thing, but there's the expectaton that all of these pretty women are going to be on TV. It's also very low-paying at the entry level.

"Please explain the expression on your face.
"Then I'll know what's beneath it," said the man
"No you won't, no you won't," said the woman to the man
"I'll be thinking of an unrelated thing."
-- "Unrelated Thing", They Might Be Giants, John Henry

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