Posts from August 2002

Get well soon!: Some of

Get well soon!
: Some of my bookmarks got messed up and so I lost a few links and thus lost touch with a few online friends. I rediscovered the links just now and found, to my shock, that Daniel Taylor, the Dreaded Purple Monster, had a brain hemmorhage and he’s in the hospital. In July, Daniel had a heart attack but got out of the hospital quickly. His wife, Oreta, is giving us all good updates on his progress. Thinking of you, DPM.

A case of the pot calling the kettle metal
: I once was quoted in a book of quotations for saying that. Writing for People, I noted that Robin Leach did a show about tacky TV from Japan and I said that was a case of the pot calling the kettle metal. The editor of People at the time (later the editor of Time) tried to change “metal” to “black” and I screamed; he was making it into a cliche; I was twisting the cliche; I screamed louder; I won; I was quoted.


This is a case of the pot calling the kettle metal: The head of Fox complains about the morals of the Internet. Mind you, I like Fox; it is what it is and it is proud of that. So I don’t understand him standing higher and mightier than the Internet. Reality is reality.

A headline for the ages:
: Does God ever get pissed off?

: Anil Dash complains that Charles Johnson’s Little Green Footballs has become too single-minded in looking for Arab nasties. I half disagree. I do miss some of Charles’ other posts, but I admire what he has done here: He has turned a blog into a real resource, and an opinionated one at that. He has a drum and he uses his blog and the web to beat it. I admire that.

Meanwhile, Mark Steyn admires what Charles has done and says so in print.

The first memorial
: The governors of NY and NJ want to rename Newark Airport Liberty International Airport in honor of the 9.11 victims. OK.

I can see why you would not want to name an airport, of all things, September 11th Memorial. But it is time when we should start naming things with the date, not some amorphous moniker vaguely meaning freedom and America.

Why I hate Sony: You

Why I hate Sony
: You haven’t seen much of me lately because I have been wasting my frigging time trying to get a new Sony laptop to work.

Piece of crap. I hate Sony.

It’s a beautiful new laptop. Sony knows how to make things look nice… but not how to work… certainly not how to support them. It’s the VX88: thin, light, big screen, built-in wireless network. Alleged built-in wireless network, I should say.

I opened it up, turned it on, and was impressed that the thing immediately found my Linksys router. But after two minutes, it lost the connection. I tried everything I know. Failure.

I called Sony.

“We don’t support networking, sir,” they said.

But you sell it, I said.

“But we don’t support it. It’s complicated.”

No shit. So what do you expect me to do?

“Contact your network administrator.”

You have to be frigging kidding, I say. Welcome to 2002, sir. You are selling wireless networking into homes. Homes don’t have network administrators. (Actually, I do have one, a 10-year-old network administrator, but he, too, was stumped.)

“This is why network administrators make a lot of money,” the man says.

I say, this is why I paid a lot of money to you.

I get nowhere.

Frigging Sony.

They don’t care that I’m going to return this piece of junk.

They don’t care that I have personally bought seven Vaio’s over the years and won’t buy another one. Ever.

They don’t care that I have gotten my company to buy many more and now will stop that from happening anymore. Ever.

They just don’t care.

This is why I hate Sony.

Mark my words: This is when you start to see the downfall of a company — when they don’t support what they sell, when they don’t care about their customers or their products, when they think brand beats service.

This is how I have been wasting my time.

Farewell, Elvis… already: I am

Farewell, Elvis… already
: I am so glad today is the anniversary of Elvis’ death because now all this insane, inane, inspid, intolerable, unending hype will end! Elvis, Schmelvis. He was just a camp hoot, Vanna White, superstar. Enough!

But I say all this for a reason: Because I just read one bit of media about Elvis that I actually enjoyed, from your friend and mine, Rossi.

The Week
: Here’s a report on the progress of one of my favorite magazines, The Week.

Here is New York: My

Here is New York
: My copy of Here is New York, the book of photographs from the ad hoc gallery that grew in New York after Sept. 11, arrived today.

It’s a miraculous book: 864 pages of photographs taken by scores of photographers giving you hundreds of perspectives of that day, that place, that event, and its aftermath.

There have been other good photo books but this one is so much more. I’ve seen nothing that captures September 11th so well, so completely, so dramatically, so wisely.

Buy it.

You can order it from the publisher or from Amazon.

The story
: The second installment of William Langewiesche’s American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center in September’s Atlantic Monthly is now on the newsstand. It is an amazing piece of work, every bit as engrossing as the first of the three installments. I am surprised that I am still learning new stories from that day and from Ground Zero.

The piece is not online but I’ll give you one sample: the story of one of the last two survivors rescued from the rubble, a Port Authority worker named Pasquale Buzzelli, who was late coming down the North Tower:

Buzzelli had just passed the twenty-second floor when the North Tower gave way. It was 10:28 in the morning, an hour and forty-two minutes after the attack. Buzzelli felt the building rumble, and immediately afterward heard a tremendous pounding coming at him from above, as the upper floors pancaked. Buzzelli’s memory of it afterward was distinct. The pounding was rhythmic, and it intensified fast, as if a monstrous boulder were bounding down the stairwell toward his head. He reacted viscerally by diving halfway down a flight of stairs, and curling into the corner of a landing. He knew that the building was failing. Buzzelli was Catholic. He closed his eyes and prayed for his wife and unborn child. He prayed for a quick death. Because his eyes were closed, he felt rather than saw the walls crack open around him. For an instant the walls folded onto his head and arms, and he felt pressur, but then the structure disintegrated beneath him, and he thought, “I’m going,” and began to fall. He kept his eyes closed. He felt the weightlessness of acceleration. The sensation reminded him of thrill rides he had enjoyed at Great Adventure, in New Jersey. He did not enjoy it now, but did not actively dislike it either. He did not actively do anything at all. He felt the wind on his face, and a sandblasting effect as he tumbled through the clouds of debris. He saw four flashes from small blows to his head, and then another really bright flash when he landed. Right after that he opened his eyes, and it was three hours later.

Go buy the magazine now. Or you can order the book, due in October. But I wouldn’t wait.

What’s meant to be free

What’s meant to be free (and not)
: It’s still not clear whether the Web is meant to be free. Hell, it’s still not clear what the Web is meant to be.

But our expectations of free v. fee are quite clear for other media — and some new businesses are ignoring that consensus at their financial peril.

: Exhibit 1: Sirius Radio, one of two satellite radio companies, just announced that it has to raise a whopping $600 million to stay in business until it has enough customers to make money. And why is that? Because radio is meant to be free. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay almost $300 for a radio (XM, the competitor, in this case) that I can play only in my car and then pay another $12.95 per month for what is free and plentiful — and they don’t even have Howard Stern. Would I rather listen to radio anywhere and for free for the price of hearing some commercials? Yes. Radio is meant to be free.

: Exhibit 2: Personal video recorder (aka TiVo, Sonic Blue) sales continue to lag expectations badly. The Times reports that there are 2.3 million in homes now; current estimates expect 15 million by 2006 but original estimates were for 20 to 50 million by 2005. Now everyone I know who has a TiVo loves it (including Howard) and it’s true that TV is not necessarily free; we are willing to pay more for cable. But we’re willing to pay more because we get more programming; we are willing to pay for HBO because it gives us The Sopranos, Sex and the City, Six Feed Under. I will pay for a TV. I will pay for a VCR. I will pay for premium programming. I will pay for video tapes. But I will not pay for an ongoing service that gives me nothing but TV listings (which I already get in many forms, most for free today), which is the TiVo model. Once I buy the thing, I should be able to use it but with the most popular brand, I can’t. That is why they are not selling. The listings are meant to be free.

Gadget heaven
: Nick Denton announces the launch of a new blog devoted to gizmos — I’ve been secretly reading the beta for weeks now. Love gadgets. Gotta love the blog. Note also the clever “Read/Buy” links. Nick intends to make this make money. So he can buy gadgets. Life is a big circle.