Creative Destruction

June 29, 2007

Queuing in Scarcity and Abundance

Filed under: Content-lite,Geekery — Brutus @ 3:43 pm

I’ve heard tell that in cultures where scarcity is commonplace, a queue formed outside the doors of a commercial establishment signals the recent delivery of goods. So without even knowing what they’re in line for, people will join the throng waiting patiently to make their purchase. It must be a no-lose situation, where the time committed to standing in line for the purchase of an item one may not really want or need can probably be transformed into profit by immediate resale of one’s purchase to someone in the back of the line whose time may be more valuable than one’s own.

In cultures where abundance is commonplace, a queue formed outside the doors of a commercial establishment signals (sometimes in advance) the delivery to market of goods without a particular perishable date but with a high desirability quotient. For instance, folks will stand in line for hours just to spend the next two hours and $20 watching the latest blockbuster movie. Or the implausible must-have Christmas gift available in limited quantities may spark competition to queue the earliest to be assured of inventory once the item goes on sale to the public. (The Friday after Thanksgiving may be the worst instance, with bargain hunters and sales hounds camped out well in advance of a store’s already ridiculously early business hours, adjusted for the season, of course.)

Today’s release of the Apple iPhone is a fairly unique (if stupid) opportunity to observe supposed scarcity amid abundance, when trend whores scurry and scamper to queue up and camp out in preparation for the first sale of a product that will probably be ubiquitous by, I dunno, maybe the middle of next week. What possible personal advantage, coolness, hipster cred, or bragging rights attach to owning the newest electronic gadget less than a week before everyone else (and by most reports, it will indeed be virtually everyone) is lost on me. Nevertheless, the stories about folks who have been camped out beside the Apple Store since last night in preparation for the 6 P.M. stampede (and trampling, rioting, snatching, scalping, etc.) fall into the can’t-make-this-shit-up category. A true sign o’ the times.

Just in case my attitude toward today’s feeding frenzy isn’t clear, I think it’s pretty pathetic, considering so many other, more important issues competing for our attention other than … shopping. Of course, mea culpa for my bothering to blog about it.

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June 28, 2007

It’s Not Easy Being Queen Anne

Filed under: Art — Off Colfax @ 11:07 pm

There are times when words escape me.

This one was caused by hilarious laughter.

June 24, 2007

Reverse Psychology

Filed under: Content-lite,Navel Gazing — Brutus @ 7:56 pm

I suppose it had to happen eventually. As reported by the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, a number churches have begun to use reverse psychology on billboards to attract attention to their, um, cause (?). The billboards sport quotes attributed to Satan such as these:

“I Hate Victory Family Church — Satan”
“CedarCreek Church Sucks — Satan.”
“Victory Family Church stole my kids — Satan.”

I’m not too sure just yet how smart or stupid it is for churches to be (presumably) quoting Satan. In today’s culture, of course, there is little propriety left that would instruct us to regard quoting Satan as anything other than reprehensible, so I expect that lots of folks would look upon these stunts with the ideology of the day — pragmatism — which is to say, “if it works [to bring people into the church or closer to god], then it’s OK with me.”

June 23, 2007

John Crapper @ 5000 RPM

Filed under: Content-lite — Off Colfax @ 8:57 pm

The new clean electricity! All due to the paperless toilet!

Not even Teddy Kennedy could write this one off.

Are You Queen Anne?

Filed under: Content-lite — Robert @ 3:30 pm

Are you Queen Anne?

Lollipops are Queen Anne, but suckers and candy bars are not. Paris Hilton is not Queen Anne – but Bonnie and Clyde are. (Although Clyde could not achieve it on his own, and needs his partner’s help.)

Barry (Amp) is Queen Anne, but I am not, nor is Daran. Off Colfax is Queen Anne, however. Of my relatives, Jody and Jared are not Queen Anne, but Sammy Ann is.

If you are Queen Anne, or know who and what are Queen Anne, then you may expound in the comments. 😉

(No, I’m not bored. I’m actually frantically busy. But when every fifteen seconds someone asks you to fix the computer or get a sandwich or play with chalk, you find your relief in strange ways.)

Toddler Photography Saturday

Filed under: Art — Robert @ 12:46 pm

Yes, it’s time for everyone’s favorite Saturday posting tradition (which I just started) – snapshots taken by toddlers, for toddlers! Stephanie has a digital camera designed for little children (point and shoot, two-hand grips, bifocal viewfinder, invulnerable to minor falls) and loves to take pictures. And I love to inflict my daughter’s cuteness on the world, so it’s really a win-win.

This rather daring set of pieces, entitled Self-Composition Nos. 1 and 2, plays with the boundary between observer and observed, between artist and art. She is taking a picture – but of herself, taking a picture. The protruding tongue speaks to a lighthearted, even whimsical sensibility, while the more formal portrait depicts the constraints that all artists must suffer under. Where does art end and life begin? We may never know, but the avant-garde work presented here today may open a new and exciting chapter in the visual arts.
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June 19, 2007

Apologies To Billie Joe

Filed under: Election 2008 — Off Colfax @ 7:19 pm

My song: Wake Me Up When November Ends

June 13, 2007

Sadness

Filed under: Current Events — Off Colfax @ 9:00 pm

Mr. Wizard. Rest In Peace.

We have lost an icon. Not even Bill Nye The Science Guy was as fundamental as Mr. Wizard.

He will be missed. And mourned.

[Via]

Funk Update

Filed under: Content-lite — Robert @ 12:53 pm

Stephanie (age 4) hurt her toe yesterday and as a result is in a somewhat grumpy mood. This was heightened this morning when the DVR recording of her favorite show cut off a minute before the end, resulting in a tragic lack of resolution to the exciting saga of Ms. Frizzle and the abandoned lot. To this tableaux, add the entry of my wife, who came into the living room singing “we want the funk, give up the funk” &c.

This was apparently the last straw for Stephanie, who stormed (limped) out of the room shouting “No! No funk! No funk for anyone!”

So if you’re having a non-funky day – this is why. Our apologies, and we hope that normal levels of funk service will be restored when the Funk Princess is in a better mood.

June 12, 2007

When I Am King…

Filed under: Criminal Justice,Current Events — Robert @ 11:08 pm

The typical reaction accorded to a plaintiff like Judge Pearson will be summary execution.

Or at least a beating.

June 11, 2007

About the Word “Fuck”

Filed under: Content-lite,Free Speech — Brutus @ 11:18 pm

Slate has a brief article about the word “fuck,” among other expletives. The launching point is a longer article in the NY Times about a court ruling that the bars the FCC from fining radio and television stations that broadcast obscene language.

It’s clear to anyone who goes out in public that we Americans have become a bunch of rude fuckers. In office suites, classrooms, sports arenas, public transportation, restaurants, and the floor of Congress, the use of profanity is so matter of fact one wonders why we even bother to pretend that such language is off limits to children. Indeed, as both articles indicate, expletives have lost their power to offend over time, enough that relaxed standards of decorum allow anyone to use foul language in most any situation with impunity. (Don’t try that at your next job interview, though.)

Personally, I’m a product of the same cultural environment as the rest of America, so there is nary a word that raises my hackles anymore, even when clearly spoken with intent to offend. The same is probably true (of me, at least) of so-called fighting words, such as insultingone’s mother or family. But on the street, it’s not at all uncommon to see people up in each other’s faces over the slightest provocation.

The funny thing to me about the court’s ruling in favor 0f free speech (obscene speech that has lost its sting — especially when blurted out the way “darn” or “shoot” use to be) is that it runs so contrary to the motives of the current governing class. (Ban it, and pretend it doesn’t exist.) It’s clearly an idea (relax, man) whose time has come in practice if not quite yet in manners. And how proud must the author of the Slate article to put her research, writing, and journalistic skills to work on such an engaging subject. The whole business is in fact so banal, why even bother?

What Was Up With The Parallel Parking?

Filed under: Popular Culture — Robert @ 2:06 pm

First, go look at this to get your mind in the proper recursive frame.

Second, what was the deal with Meadow and the parallel parking scene at the end of the Sopranos finale? I think I actually know. It’s an allegory about the moral arc of the characters, and the decisions they end up making and accepting.
Remember how they were discussing which restaurant to go to? Some other place, vs. the diner-tavern they ended up in?  That’s the decision between good and evil – or at least, abiding by social norms of good, versus rejecting those norms and acting in pure selfishness. Note that the parents decided on the basic path, and informed the kids – who accepted it.

The first to arrive at the restaurant – to accept evil/sociopathy – is Tony. He started on this path at a young age. He thought about getting off of it – about going to the other restaurant – but in the end decided on evil. Arriving quickly thereafter is Carmela, who as Tony’s wife made an occasional show of not knowing what was going on or pretending that her husband was not who he was, but who was the first person in the family after Tony to accept the lifestyle.

Next comes AJ. He kicked his little crybaby feet for a while (what a useless sack) but there’s no way he can feed himself – he’ll take the evil if that means a free ride, as reinforced by his eager embrace of the “development executive” job and the BMW. So much for saving the planet.

Finally comes Meadow. Meadow is the one who put up the most resistance to becoming evil; she wanted to escape her family’s moral orbit and become a pediatrician, possibly the least objectionable job anyone on the Sopranos has ever aspired to. But Meadow is an intellectual, or at least, not a complete moron; she can’t do what AJ does and just knuckle under and let stupidity cover the moral decision she’s making. She has to justify it. She embraces evil by becoming a civil rights attorney; not that this is evil in and of itself, but she’s making herself useful for the family and justifying it to herself with civil rights rhetoric about the oppression faced by Italians. This is symbolized in the final scene by her difficulties parking – she has to go back and forth, back and forth, maneuvering to fit her life decision into a space that really isn’t quite able to take it – but she manages through persistence.

Finally they’re all together – a family that has embraced evil together. The final bell, as others have noted, is an indication of the ambiguity and paranoia that will stalk all the Sopranos for the rest of their days – any stranger is a threat, any new situation a possible ambush. They have their comfort and they will eat – but Tony will always be a hunted animal who can never truly relax again.

That’s my .02 on what it meant, anyway. You are welcome to disagree, but of course, you will be wrong.

June 9, 2007

Fight The Power!

Filed under: Blogosphere — Robert @ 1:44 pm

Still mad about how the capitalists have stopped the proletariat from rising in a spontaneous mass action to usher in a new world of socialist joy? Amanda, too – but she has a practical program for action that will make them pay.

And if scraping off Bush bumper stickers, arson, or breaking things doesn’t work, then we can always move to the second stage. That’s right. I didn’t want to bring out the heavy guns this early – but we might just have to start wearing the Che Guevara shirts.

They brought it on themselves, those free-market capitalist bastards.

(H/T Protein Wisdom, and a nod of sympathy to the Edwards campaign, which daily must wipe its collective brow and think “Christ, we dodged SUCH a bullet here.”)

June 7, 2007

Nitpickery Online

Filed under: Blogosphere — Robert @ 12:16 pm

Shamus Young (of DMotR fame) is understandably irked at the nitpickery that has come with having a big readership.

I confess uneasily to being one of those commenters, sometimes, although I like to think that I’m able to restrict my nitpicking to areas where it really is material to the point or argument being made. (Example of useful nitpickery: if the actual author of the linked post was Frank Johnson, correcting my error would be material; non-useful nitpickery would be pointing out that nitpickery isn’t a word.)

From a commenting perspective, probably the only thing Shamus can do to move the situation in a direction he likes is to create a circle of regular, non-irritating-jerk commenters, and ask them to use peer pressure to keep the jerkish behavior down. Ironically, I’d like to make this helpful suggestion at his site, but he’s closed comments because he’s sick of the jerks. Hopefully he’ll see the trackback. 😉

June 6, 2007

Lileks Reprieved

Filed under: Blogosphere — Robert @ 4:57 pm

Looks like Lileks won’t have to find honest work after all.

Nice to discover that the newspaper industry hasn’t completely lost their marbles.

June 5, 2007

Given up?

Filed under: Blog Status,Navel Gazing — Daran @ 4:20 pm

Dianne:

Have you given up posting on CD?

Do you want me to give up posting on CD?

Would you take my place here if I did?

Would Mythago come back?

Truth is, I’ve been somewhat busy with real-life[*] just recently, hence not able to give as much attention as I’d like even to my new baby, let alone here.

But I haven’t intended to give up. Maybe I should crosspost more.

[*]That annoying thing that keeps people away from blogging.

Woe, Despair, Agony on Me

Filed under: Environment,Ethics — Brutus @ 12:00 am

From a blurb called The Earth is Dying:

At the heart of the modern age is a core of grief.

At some level, we’re aware that something terrible is happening, that we humans are laying waste to our natural inheritance. A great sorrow arises as we witness the changes …

… changes [that] signal a turning point in human history, and the outlook is not particularly bright. The anger, irritability, frustration and intolerance that increasingly pervade our common life are symptoms associated with grief. The pervasive sense of helplessness and numbness that surrounds us, and the frantic search for meaning and questioning of religion and philosophy of life, are likewise often seen among those who must deal with overwhelming sorrow.

I’ve been reading too much recently about disaster, catastrophe, and threats poised to overtake us. The quote above describes how I feel better than I can.

This post is a follow-up of sorts to my previous posts called Malicious Ecophagy and Steamrollers. My latest awful discovery is something that won’t take time to manifest — it’s already a fait accompli:

A vast swath of the Pacific, twice the size of Texas, is full of a plastic stew that is entering the food chain. Scientists say these toxins are causing obesity, infertility … and worse.

The article this second quote comes from is fairly complete and doesn’t appear to require advanced scientific training to evaluate and appreciate. How any naysayers can explain away large portions of ocean (in each of the four principal bodies, the article informs) ruined and wrecked by human waste is beyond me, but let them try.

We’ve heard recently about how the decimation of the bee population could affect agriculture. How would the disruption of the aquatic food chain (from plastic waste), starting with plankton and proceeding up the cycle, affect a planet that is roughly 2/3 water? Although the article raises the specter, I’m not sure that anyone really knows, just as we don’t really know with certainty how global warming will play out.

At some point, perhaps I’ll stop reading these reports and adopt the attitude of the typical American: don’t worry, be happy. I’m not there yet, though, and in the meantime, I think it’s still worthwhile to bring these baleful prognostications to light so that we might actually consider heeding the warnings.

June 4, 2007

The Secret To Success

Filed under: Philosophy — Robert @ 1:32 am

Or so the story goes, anyway.

(It is sound advice.)

(H/T, the Evangelical Outpost.)

June 3, 2007

Tough Critic

Filed under: Criminal Justice — Brutus @ 11:23 pm

A report from CBS News informs us that a karaoke singer in the Philippines was shot dead for singing out of tune over the protestations of a security guard in the audience. I have to hold back from saying much about it because the obvious jokes are in very poor taste considering a guy is dead. Let’s just hope that American Idol never goes on the road to Manilla.

June 1, 2007

A Campaign Theme Song By Queen

Filed under: Blogosphere,Election 2008 — Off Colfax @ 9:24 pm

With the blogosphere still a-twitter with the Clinton44 Or Bust campaign asking people to nominate theme songs (This buzz-making strategy is a definite winner for them, by the way. As much as I don’t like the very thought of the Oligarchical Presidency, I have to tip my hat to whoever thought up this bit of political genius.), it looks like the volunteer opposition researchers of the blogosphere just might start humming a theme song of their own:

This is a public service message to all contenders for the Oval Office.

Just because a blogger has a high hit-count, regular visits from those who are on your particular ideological slope, and contacts throughout the blogosphere does not automatically make them a safe choice for your Outreach Director for Intar-tubes Writing Thingies or whatever you want to call the position.
I would imagine that the ruckus caused by the Edwards Campaign’s Marcotte/McEwan kerfluffle would have made someone go through and review the writings of the person in question before those volunteer opposition research specialists (Also Known As: SOME OTHER BLOGGER!) pointed things out to you.

So. This makes the second campaign to put their foot in the bit bucket. And soon to come will be the second campaign that will have a staffer released due to the chosen language of their blog.

If there is a third one, particularly on the Democratic side, I might just despair entirely. Or send them my resume. Or send my resume and then despair entirely that they won’t hire a perfectly reasonable individual, such as myself, particularly when I don’t even have oodles and oodles of the Seven Words You Can’t Say On Television in any given post.

[Turn Signal: Insty]

Guys Who Wish They Had Six Inches Less…

Filed under: Content-lite — Robert @ 9:12 pm

Sorry about the joke. With a picture like this, I cannot resist.

Noonan On Immigration and Bush

Filed under: Politics — Robert @ 5:04 pm

Yeah, what she said.

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