Impassioned plea

I open my email this morning and there’s a long message from a vaguely familiar name. It’s dozen paragraphs long but I start to read it.

The first couple paragraphs explain that I’ve connected with this person in the past either through some hipster activities in the DC area or through blogging, and the author was going through their gmail address book and writing to everyone. It sounds extremely important; they sound honest and this sounds urgent, so I read on.

They apologize for the mass mail, but explain further that even though the author knows not everyone is politically involved, there’s a bit of a crisis in Washington that they felt was important to share at this tumultuous time. The anxiety in the author’s voice is palpable and I’m right there with him. “What is it he needs us to do? How can we help?” I ask myself as I continue reading.

The call to action comes in the last paragraph. The culmination of the email is that we friends of the author should check out a few youtube videos that will explain everything. I’m dying to know what they are about.

Genital Mutilation story from Africa?

Doctors Without Borders plea?!

Environmental disasters in China?!

I push play on the first video.

Ron Paul campaign ad. It’s fucking Ron Paul. 12 paragraphs to spam every single person the author knows, all for a fucking Ron Paul ad. I look up at the To: line and see about 100 names, all starting with M, like mine. This douchebag sat here and did this by hand all day with his stupid Gmail address book. I’ve heard Ron Paul fans described as “crazies” and now I know why.

Snigglets 2.0

Sometimes I like to make up words to match situations. Here’s today’s made up word/phrase:

All-You-Can-Amnesia (n)

Common form of memory loss often found in food service industry waitstaff. Especially prevalent in restaurants that don’t write anything down when you order, often resulting in the wrong dressing, wrong drinks, and an entirely missed entrée.

Seriously, when did trying to memorize a table’s entire order become a new parlor trick worthy of higher tips? I can see when it makes sense in a high-end tiny restaurant where you only have 5 options and there are 6 tables in the whole place, but when the local bar and grill starts doing it on busy nights, bad things happen.

Words to live by

I would suggest that all of you find your “accordion” — that thing that makes you try out life’s little detours — and use it to practice your own random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty. The rewards are astonishing.

Joey DeVilla

National Writers Workshop in Wichita

I’m in Kansas for the National Writers Workshop put on by the Poynter people. They asked me last summer if I wanted to come talk about online stuff and I said yes, but to give you an idea of how much of a lightweight I am at this conference, I bumped into another speaker on the hotel shuttle and he modestly said he had to give a talk as well, so I looked it up (a keynote!) and this is him:

As a journalist for the Tri-State Defender in Memphis and the Baltimore Afro-American newspapers, Moses Newson covered almost every major event of the civil rights era. His stories included the 1955 Emmett Till murder trial in Mississippi; school desegregations in Hoxie, Ark. (1955), Clinton, Tenn. (1956) and at Central High School in Little Rock, Ark. (1957); and the desegregation of the University of Mississippi in 1962. Newson was one of only two reporters aboard the CORE Freedom Ride bus that was fire bombed in Anniston, Ala., on Mother’s Day, May 14, 1961.

And I’m a guy with a blog that has comments. Can’t wait for my session!

Digg revolt

Pretty interesting community story taking place on Digg today (as much as I can gather, after Andre showed me):

  • user makes a post on digg linking to the encryption key that is used to crack HD DVD protection
  • story is pulled, user is banned, then story goes up about banning user (people speculate it’s because HD DVD was an advertiser) update: Ed Felten has a good post about general efforts to take all references to the key off the web
  • Two to three thousand people get annoyed/pissed, and start posting and digging all sorts of stories that mention the encryption key in seemingly innocuous ways.
  • This continues for the rest of the day, with the entire front page of the site filled with stories leaking the crack

It’s always fascinating when a community (or a country, or a religion, or a group of any size) decides to spontaneously revolt, and it’s even more interesting when it happens in such a short period of time in a distributed medium like the internet. There are loads of stories like this on other sites and in multiplayer online games but I’ve never seen it happen on digg before. I’m curious how many people it took to come up with a reaction and the idea to post the key in other ways — I can see a general mob voting mentality would be easy to gather steam once the posts were up since many people wanted a way to vent their frustration — but I wonder if it was just a dozen or two users that started creating the posts that quickly got to the front page. And finally, what was their method of communication? In-site messaging? IM?

Anyway, I’m certainly a late comer to this story but I’d love to see a wrap-up of it several days from now, when all the details can be figured out.

Thoughts going through my mind while at the dentist, listening to my iPod and on nitrous for the first time

Oh my god I love this song. Love it. The part in the chorus with the drums? Awesome! I totally need to see these guys live, I bet they’re so good. God this song rocks. Man, it sounds like someone really far away is getting a gnarly scraping, but all I hear is this awesome song. I’m gonna turn it up. It’s sooo good! I’m going to twirl now, just sit here and twirl in place. Such a great fucking song!

Basketball half bakery ideas

I thought of these during March Madness games, but neglected to post it until now, so here goes, my wishlist for technology additions to the sport of basketball:

1. Put RFID tags inside the soles of players’ shoes as well as embedded in the floor. Take the “3 seconds in the key” call away from the refs and let technology automatically measure your time in the paint. There is no disputing the call when you trip the clock, and refs can focus on other more important stuff.

2. Accelerometers in shoes communicating with one inside the ball could probably do a better job calling Traveling than the ref.

3. Accelerometers in shoes of players could give the referees more data to judge charging vs. personal foul calls. You could have actual data for who planted their feet first and deserves a charge call or who wasn’t stationary in time and deserves a foul.

Not quite so modern after all

What is most amazing about Room & Board and Design Within Reach is not that they offer unique modern furnishings for your home, it’s that they’re based on a business model from the early 1900s. They’re catalog stores, plain and simple. You go in, check out the comfy sofas and interesting tables and you order stuff, exactly as you would at home using the web, only you’re dictating your address to someone in the store using a computer.

For all that seems fresh and modern about these businesses, trying to buy something on the spot that you could walk out holding reminded me of the past. I guess in the age of the internet, we still need to try things on, sit on them, and see if that orange paint is too orangey, but it seems like weird to base a business on such an old school idea. I guess what they offer is such a niche kind of product they can’t be undercut by a million websites offering copies.