Posts from August 15, 2004

Olympics notes

Olympics notes

: I don’t much give a damn about the Olympics this time around.

: But I am grateful to my wife for pointing out that 6’2″ women’s volleyball player Kerri Walsh was wearing a thong. Indeed.

: This Olympics’ dumb new sport: synchronized diving.

For the good

For the good

: Michele Catalano, a founder of the amazing Command Post, has a suggestion for us all to support good causes. Go read it.

Princess charming

Princess charming

: I want to see the Princess Diaries yesterday because, hey, there was a hurricane coming and I have kids.

It hasn’t been the male-est of weeks for me: I attended bridal meetings, read Women’s Wear Daily, went to the American Girl store to get a doll for my daughter, wrote extensively about the gayGuv, and went to see the Princess Diaries. But, hey, I’m man enough to take it. I make my own Viagra.

Anyway, two reasons to mention this: The first is that Nora Jones (OK, add that to my litany if sissiness) sings Love Me Tender and it’s great. This is the benefit of the new age of the single: I went to iTunes and bought it for 99 cents.

Second reason to mention this is that it was fascinating to see how Disney got around the princess/feminist problem. The plot: The princess has to be married to take the throne in her charming (and inexplicably ethnically mixed) European principality. She is about to marry a nice but dull Brit (aren’t they all?) to fulfill the obligation but ends up falling for the nephew of the dastardly John Rhys-Davis, who wants the nephew to steal the crown. More than you want to know already, I know. And if you plan to go to the flick, you sissy, you, then stop reading because there’s a spoiler: In the end, she lets the Brit off the hook to his great relief (he did seem rather McGreeveyesque) but did not marry the nephew — which would have been the solution in the old days of princess movies; instead, she gets the parliament to repeal the requirement that queens have a man. Zap: The feminist princess movie.

Audit this

Audit this

: Australian city taxes toilets.

Facing terror

Facing terror

: The British journalist kidnapped by Iraqi thugs and then released tells his amazing story in Sunday’s Telegraph. James Brandon writes:

I was blindfolded by a sheet soaked in my own blood and could see nothing. “Who are you? What are you?” the Arabic voices snarled in broken English. “Are you CIA? Are you an Israeli spy?” The voices, many of them, seemed to boom from all around the room.

All I could feel was the cold steel of the muzzle of one of my abductors’ pistols being pressed to my temple. Then came a chilling silence . . . broken only, seconds later, by the terrifying metallic click of the trigger being pulled.

It was the first of a series of mock executions. In all, four men took turns to put their guns to my head and pull the trigger. The first time, I didn’t know the weapon wasn’t loaded. It felt surreal . . . like a bad film.

I kept shouting “Sahafi, sahafi” (journalist). But they were raging. I was pistol-whipped. They screamed in my face, calling me an animal. They were an unreasoning mob, driven by hatred. At that point, after hours of fear and uncertainty about my fate, all I could think was: they are going to kill me.

He actually escaped once (only to be recaptured):

I assumed I was going to be killed, and decided to try to make a break for it. I worked off my blindfold, which was quite loose, and managed to untie the rope that ran behind me, linking my feet to my hands. Through the darkness, I made out the shape of a large stove, and realised that I was in a kitchen.

With difficulty, I got to my feet, hobbled over to the sink and found a knife on the draining board. Holding the blade behind my back, I started to saw through the ropes joining my wrists. Soon the knife was slippery with blood as I nicked my flesh in my frantic haste to sever the ropes. Eventually, the fibres parted and I quickly freed my feet, too. The windows were barred, so my only exit was through the door, which I worked out must be tied shut by a rope.

Putting my fingers through a crack in the wooden door, I loosened the rope and tugged at the door – only to realise that someone outside the room was holding it shut. I wrenched it open and saw a woman in a nightshirt standing there. I felt cold, clinical and desperate to escape at all costs. In an Indiana Jones moment, I grabbed her by the neck, slammed her against a wall, pressed my knife to her throat and hissed at her: “Help me, or I will kill you.”

Publicity is what saved him. Even murdering thugs worry about their PR:

They had a television on and I heard my name mentioned on al-Arabiya. I heard the men saying to one another,

Populism

Populism

: Geoffrey Nunberg in Sunday’s Times says that the word “populism” is coming back into use and favor with new meanings.

I take it to mean faith in the people. I tried calling this thing in which we’re all involved “populist media” until a few people (read: Clay Shirky) said that carried too much unclaimed baggage.

So I started calling this “citizens’ media.” And I like that better.

But I still want to see us reclaim “populist” for the people.

The future is now

The future is now

: Paul Chaney asks the conductors on the Cluetrain about the future of blogging and, of course, gets great answers. Go read what David Weinberger has to say. Here’s a taste of Chris Locke:

To Seth Godin, blogging doesn’t count much because what he and his audience of business pukes care about counting are EYEBALLS. Even some bloggers are now playing this game, which is both saddening and pathetic, imnsho. Blogging and the net in general – the web in particular – have given human beings a place where they can express themselves “as” human beings, without kowtowing to sponsors who “always” dehumanize what we now, stupidly, call “content” in the service of hawking their products.

I am not arguing the necessary evils of products or commerce (though they do have their evils, to be sure, most so transparent to our current culture that we don’t even notice their effects). Rather, I’m saying that people need a place to BE people, with all the unique concerns, joys, sorrows, hopes, fears, passions, delusions, depressions, epiphanies, and those hugely various sorts of things that we have, qua human beings.

And Doc Searls:

It’s not mainstream, and most people aren’t reading blogs yet. But race car driving, farming and espressos aren’t mainstream either, and all matter to our culture.

I don’t see blogging as a medium. In fact, I don’t see the Net or the Web as media, either. Rather they are places, or spaces, where people gather to do business, to talk, and to make culture. Just like we do in real-world markets….

So if blogging isn’t a medium, what is it?

A practice. Specifically, a personal practice of journalism in the literal sense of that word. Every blog is a journal. The number of blogs, which keeps going up (now in the millions), is redefining journalism rapidly, and unavoidably.

Blogs are real voices of real people….

Dontcha love it? I had lunch with Doc and Britt Blaser on Friday and I had to run to another meeting and I just hated that. Could have sat listening to Doc all afternoon. That should be a road show: An Evening With Doc.