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August 2003 Archives

August 30, 2003

So this kid they busted

So this kid they busted for the Blaster worm. Idiot. The worm is designed to report to t33 kid.com. Guess who the site is registered to. Yeah. The kid.

Domain: t33 kid.com
Registrant (JP397-IYD-REG)
Jeff P*rson
root@t33 kid.com
603 8th Ave S.
Hopkins, Minnesota 55343 US
Not very clever.

Interesting, long article in the

Interesting, long article in the LAT about an LA landlord who was sued because he used the word "Korean" in the names of his residential buildings (e.g., "Korean World Towers"). The court determined the building names sent a message that non-Koreans were not welcome as tenants, and therefore must be changed.

Other issues in the case: (1) the landlord is reported to have explicitly told his managers not to rent to blacks and Latinos, who he said "smell", "attract vermin" and are lazy; (2) the landlord is Donald Sterling, the owner of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers.

Boston Globe discusses challenging efforts

viagraBoston Globe discusses challenging efforts to find a Viagra equivalent for women. Note to researchers: I think it's called foreplay.

Salon had a funny piece a few years ago about a guy -- who didn't need it -- trying out some gray-market Viagra. He ends up snorting it. I think they also ran something by a woman who tried it, but I can't find it right now. Here's all of Salon's articles about Viagra, a subject they've been sort of fascinated with since the beginning -- until 9/11, which seems to have abated their interest. They haven't had a single article on the topic since.

August 29, 2003

The VMAsThere's not a lot

The VMAs

britney kiss
There's not a lot to say about the VMA's that isn't perfectly described by ADM's edited photo above. But I will say this: for many years, the most interesting elements of MTV have been the interstitial music, the background music in their own shows, and their own promotional ads. "Move Your Feet" by Junior Senior, and that Bhangra song that's captivated the world (largely thanks to Jay-Z) were some of the only interesting music involved in last night's award show, and both were used as background music. Meanwhile, we sat through THREE crappy fake-rap-R&B montage numbers where everybody on the planet jumps around onstage (men in baggy, body-covering gym clothes, women in form-fitting expensive underwear) (with the notable exception of Snoop, god bless his purple suit) and mouths the words to their tuneless songs that somebody else wrote. The lack of talent of the celebrated few was staggering. It was such a relief when Coldplay came on and actually played real instruments and sang real words that I was glad to see them, even though their songs are uninspiring and the performance was limp.

Finally: poor Britney executes yet another should-be-provocative number that felt flat and boring, this time with Madonna and Christina instead of a tiger and snake. And an especially unflattering outfit. The whole thing made me sad, but I guess I should be thankful that I didn't have to stand there after the show like John Norris and say it was like nothing I've ever seen before, when in fact, we've all seen the almost-identical, but much more exciting, Madonna performance of "Like a Virgin" from 1984 countless times. Her little white underpants flashing out as she rolled on the stage had more presence than this year's whole opening number.

But at least Missy won. Chris Rock and Metallica: thanks guys. We can always depend on you. -amy

The most interesting thing of the whole night for me, honestly, was the 'r' in Fred Durst's t-shirt. Much better than corporate lesbianism. -adm

Louise Gluck is the country's

Louise Gluck is the country's new poet laureate [nyt]. I can live with that. I saw her once at a reading in Boston with Robert Pinsky, who is himself a former poet laureate. I guess it's all about who you know these days.

9/11 Transcripts ReleasedObviously, there's a

9/11 Transcripts Released
Obviously, there's a lot of material to link to here, so we'll just do what we can. Some of it may be redundant, so sorry. Here you go:

At the time I first posted this, I couldn't find a place to download the whole set of transcripts, so if someone finds it before we do, please post it to the Amy's Robot Link Factory.

August 28, 2003

The editor of Final Call,

The editor of Final Call, the weekly newsletter of the Nation of Islam, has resigned after retracting a story that asserted Jesse Jackson was "complicit" in the assassination of Martin Luther King.

Here's the retraction and the original story.

Tecwen Whittock, the coughing cheater

Tecwen Whittock, the coughing cheater from the UK Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? has just registered his name as a trademark. A company was trying to market a cough syrup called Tecwen Relief.

Berlin has over 3,000 wild

Berlin has over 3,000 wild boars in it, and now there is an industry of trained marksmen to shoot them (nyt).

News on the Nigerian woman

News on the Nigerian woman who was sentenced to be buried up to her neck and stoned for adultery: appeals are still going on, but her lawyer's latest defense tactic plays right into the bizarre and fundamentalist nature of the court system that convicted her. According to Islamic scripture, gestation of a human fetus could last as long as 5 years, which means that her illegitimate baby could in fact be the child of her ex-husband, who divorced her only 4 years ago (nyt).

Thought all the human shields

Thought all the human shields returned to the US after the bombs started falling in Iraq? Nope. Newsweek has a Q&A with a woman who stayed through the whole war and into the aftermath, and is now back in the US facing charges for breaking the travel ban to Iraq.

Meant to post something like

frankenMeant to post something like this yesterday. It's funny how Al Franken, all of a sudden, is a major spokesperson for the angry left. I guess this is because only a handful of people -- Howard Dean, Michael Moore, Franken, and maybe a couple of others -- have even bothered to register any persistent objection the the direction the country has taken since 9/11. Squeaky wheels get oiled. So, Franken, who's political leanings have been on the record since the late 90s (at the latest), now finds himself legitimized by the mere fact that conservatives don't have that many targets anymore: everyone else has ducked for cover. Thankfully, Al takes his duties as lefty spokesperson seriously, and expends real time -- not just celebrity time -- researching his books and arguments.

Anyway, here's a profile of him by Howard Kurtz in the WP.

August 27, 2003

Fascinating piece on Fametracker about

Fascinating piece on Fametracker about Colin Hanks and Adam Brody, two young actors who both bear striking resemblance to Tom Hanks, though only one of them is his son. OR ARE THEY? Also notable: Colin Hanks starred in that vehicle for many famous people's children Orange County, and Adam Brody is currently the only likeable teen character on The O.C. (which, by the way, offered some exceptionally good and over the top fist fighting last night. Adults! Punching each other in the face! At a deb ball! I was so giddy I didn't even mind that our friend Peter Gallagher had to take one in the nose.) Uncanny.

Remember a couple years ago

Remember a couple years ago when everybody got all upset because Headline News hired Babylon 5/NYPD Blue actress Andrea Thompson, even though she had no real journalism experience? Well, eventually they fired her -- after dirty pictures of her turned up on the internet -- but guess what? According to this bulletin, next season she's going to be on 24, the official show of Amy's Robot! Welcome to the family, Andrea!

A Comparative Review of Thirteen

A Comparative Review of Thirteen and Freaky Friday

This summer has really reminded me what it was like to be a thirteen-year-old girl, even though I'm a very old man. First, there was Vanity Fair's encyclopedic teenage celebrity issue, then all the excitement about Hilary Duff, and most recently, the release of Freaky Friday and Thirteen.

Having seen them both, I can tell you that being a teenaged girl is a lot easier than being an old man like me, but it doesn't seem like it at the time. This is because -- if these movies are to be believed -- teenaged girls want two things very badly, and these things are hard to obtain: acceptance and understanding.

Read the rest of my not-very-lively, but quite thorough comparative review of Thirteen and Freaky Friday. The basic point of it is that Annabell in FF seeks understanding, and Tracy in 13 seeks acceptance. Maybe A. will have more to say about Thirteen later on.

Since everybody knows that giving

Since everybody knows that giving pilots guns will make planes safer, the federal government has already trained "hundreds" of pilots in the use of handguns, and thousands more will be armed within a year. Even the pilots themselves seem to intuit that maybe this isn't such a great idea: less than 6% of them have signed up for the program, far fewer than expected. And of those who have applied, 6% have been rejected. Why? For "various reasons such as failing a psychological test or a background check or not having met other qualifications." So, it's ok for these people to fly our planes but not ok for them to carry guns?

Is it more likely that passengers will be put at risk by a pilot who fails a psych test, or by hijackers? Is it more likely that an armed pilot will shoot a hijacker, saving everyone, or that the weapons in the cockpit will be used against him? This whole thing is tragedy waiting to happen.

August 26, 2003

Bill O'Reilly is still claiming

Bill O'Reilly is still claiming he never suggested Inside Edition won Peabody Awards. When a TV writer in Oregon recounted the spat between O'Reilly and Franken, O'Reilly left him voicemail saying, "I never suggested we won a Peabody." But, O'Reilly has already acknowledged that he mixed up "Polk" with "Peabody", and yet he's still getting angry about charges that he was mistaken/misleading. The man must be going crazy. The Oregonian points out that even if you forgive O'Reilly for saying "Peabody" instead of "Polk", there's one more hurdle to get over: O'Reilly wasn't even on the show the year it won the Polk Award. [via romenesko]

Looks like those fears that

Looks like those fears that Mel Gibson's The Passion wouldn't find a distributor were unfounded. Several are interested. Meanwhile, the AP has another story on the state of the controversy. This one includes some photos from the set.

Also, the NY Post suggested today that the name of the movie may have to be changed, since another production company has also registered "The Passion" as a title.

We already know that Boston

We already know that Boston is one of the more backward US cities in term of racial integration, or even acknowledgement that there are any other races besides white. And that we at the 'bot don't have the highest opinion of Boston. So now, the city is forcing the Fire Department to hire some white people who applied to be fire fighters, because lord knows how hard it is for white people to get ahead in Boston. -amy

    Just want to point out, in case you think we unfairly attack Boston all the time, that Amy and I both lived there for several years. -adm

BBC on the hokey fake-science

BBC on the hokey fake-science that abounds in recent "sci-fi" movies. The midi-chlorians that generate the Force in Star Wars, the shared imaginary consciousness of The Matrix, all that sea cucumber stuff from Hulk (wow, am I ever glad I didn't see that movie): nerds everywhere are not impressed. Really, if you're going to say that in the universe in which your movie exists, there are spider-men or robot killing machines, then fine. It's best to just go with it and get on with your movie than trying to explain it through a tiresome study of repressed childhood rage and the mutability of sea cucumber tissue.

Could this be what the

Could this be what the US would have to look forward to with socialized health care? In the UK, recommendations are being made to cover IVF for infertile couples; a black woman was given a white prosthetic foot, and told she would have to pay for a black one herself.

So the promising British novelist

So the promising British novelist Tibor Fischer (I Like Being Killed, The Thought Gang) hates Martin Amis's new novel, likening his disappointment to seeing "your favorite uncle...in a school playground, masturbating." Mayhem has ensued [nyt], even though the novel hasn't actually come out yet. And so, the list of recent British literary feuds grows longer: Le Carre vs. Rushdie, Naipaul vs. Paul Theroux (who's American, but still), and now this.

The central problem here, though, may just be that writers get old and tired and can't be expected to write a great novel every time, and because they are great novelists, their failures seem that much worse. In a way, this incident seems to mirror the situation between John Updike and Nicholson Baker a while back. When Updike's terrible In the Beauty of the Lilies came out a few years ago, Nicholson Baker -- who had previously written a book about his obsession with Updike -- wrote a review saying everyone who bought the book should rush down to wherever they bought it, bang on the doors and windows, and demand a refund. When idols fall, they fall on us.

August 25, 2003

Carson Daly, that champion of

Carson Daly, that champion of underground rock bands and experimental noise art, has founded his own label, called 456 Entertainment. He says, "We want young guys and girls who are making music in their basements right now that otherwise wouldn't have their music heard by a record label." OK, Carson. I'll Fedex you that tape of Ha Ha Snowsuit's early demo of "Amy is So Neat", featuring me on bass, and Pammy on vocals. You'll love it. It's really underground.

WP tells the story of

WP tells the story of Michael May, a man who was blind for 40 years, got an operation, and now can see. Strangely, though, although his eyes capture all the information, his brain hasn't quite re-learned how to process that information: he can see two-dimensional objects and do things like catch a ball, but he can't recognize someone's face, even his wife's. Of course, this raises all sorts of Oliver Sacks-type questions about what it means to "see", and some researchers even suggest its possible that seeing, as we understand it, is not "hard-wired" into the brain, but something we learn.

Regardless, recent medical advances seem more and more like miracles all the time, although sometimes things still get screwed up (gene therapy, in vitro fertilization). The restoration of May's sight was achieved through the use of stem cells, and of course many deaf people have had similarly striking success with cochlear implants. But along with these advances come controversy, like the debate in the deaf community about whether children should get them, and of course, in this case, the debate over stem cell research.

Animals rights activists have been

Animals rights activists have been vandalizing the homes of San Francisco-area restaurateurs, because of their plans to offer foie gras at new restaurants. The damage has been extensive, and the vandals also use intimidation tactics that we learned from Lost Highway. The chef, Laurent Manrique, said his wife stepped outside in the morning,

    "holding our 2-year-old baby in her arms, went out to pick up the paper, and noticed that there was red paint everywhere on the house," said Manrique, estimating the damage at more than $10,000. "They wrote things like 'Go back to France' on the walls and dumped acid on my car." Manrique said the vandals had left behind a videotape of his family inside the house that had been shot through a window.

Wesley Willis, the unbelievably prolific,

Wesley Willis, the unbelievably prolific, sentimental, and schizophrenic singer/songwriter/rock fan from Chicago, has died (Becky mentioned this first on the Link Factory.) Very sweet and personal commentary in this article from Jello Biafra, who understands why Wesley's songs are so hilarious ("I Wupped Batman's Ass") and why he was such an amazing person. We love you, Wesley. Thank you for inviting me up to the stage and headbutting me again and again at Northsix in 2001.

Washington Post, via MSN, has

hispanic vs. latinoWashington Post, via MSN, has a discussion on whether people should be called "Latino" or "Hispanic". Some, like Sandra Cisneros say "Hispanic" is like "a slave name". Supposedly, you're not allowed to say "Hispanic" on Univision. The main difference between the words is that Latino generally describes people descended from Latin America, and Hispanic refers to people from the Iberian peninsula. The debate is starting to boil over as different organizations and advocates take sides.

Interestingly, Hispanic Magazine, which features prominently in the discussion, explored this same issue in December 2000. Back then, they found a majority of those surveyed preferred the term "Hispanic", although perhaps the results would have turned out differently if Urban Latino magazine ran the survey.

Meanwhile, NYC has semi-sidestepped the issue by announcing "the Latin New York Festival" which will go from 8/21 to 9/6.

August 24, 2003

NYT discusses how some parents

NYT discusses how some parents are using the movie Thirteen as a form of "cinematherapy" with their daughters. Family counselors are invited to screenings; brochures are distributed. But the author of The Secret Lives of Girls is cautious: "If you haven't had the good conversations with your kids already, don't take them to see this thing." Amy might have more to say on this later, since she's the one who pointed out the article to me.

I don't know if anyone

I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but the NYT seems to be consciously doing retrospective articles on certain concrete themes in film: a few weeks ago, they had something about swimming pools, then a bit about surfing, and this week, it's "visions of the afterlife". Each article seems triggered by a current release (Step into Liquid for surfing, The Swimming Pool for pools), and this one is motivated by Don't Tempt Me, a new Spanish film starring Penelope Cruz.

August 22, 2003

So Evite sent out something

So Evite sent out something funny to its subscribers yesterday. Is this already all over the place?

Dear Evite Newsletter Subscriber,

Yesterday we mailed a newsletter to our subscribers with incorrect dates for three important Holidays. Please accept our sincerest apologies for these errors and note the following corrections:

Labor Day, September 1st
Rosh Hashanah, September 27th
Yom Kippur, October 6th

In addition, we also wish to apologize for having listed Yom Kippur as one of our "Reasons To Party". We understand and respect that Yom Kippur is a Day of Atonement, a day to be taken seriously to reflect and fast, and as such, one of the most important Jewish Holidays in the year.

Again we deeply apologize for the error and thank you for allowing us to make this correction.

Okay, so (A) if all your company does is keep track of events, how do you screw up LABOR DAY? And (B), why isn't purging your sins reason enough to party? It shows you're really happy about it! [via Emily, emph added]

A study of Polish filmmakers,

A study of Polish filmmakers, and how many of them feel at a loss in their new, European environment, without the constraints of censorship. Milos Forman talks about the irony of artistic repression generating more creativity: "The censorship was wonderful - they tell you exactly what you should make a film about, then you are free to say anything. Very often you don't know what to say, but you know what's forbidden - then you know what to say." And Polanski and Kieslowski made some of their best and most political movies while working with censors.

BBC weighs in on rock's

BBC weighs in on rock's recent gain over pop and dance (which the Guardian covered yesterday.) Included is a list of US rock bands performing at the Reading Festival this year, including Metallica, who are headlining. A spokesman for Virgin Megastore thinks this trend is "quite wholesome."

NY Times overview of the

NY Times overview of the Howl festival, created by the owners of Two Boots Pizza, and going on now. A goal of the festival is to revive the neighborhood art/experimental/revolutionary/weirdo scene, which has diminished significantly over the past decade. When Quizno's opened on St. Mark's Place, a little piece of our city died.

Media types confess to The

Media types confess to The Observer the news stories or global events they completely failed to follow. Slate's editor and the co-anchor of 20/20 both missed the Laci Peterson story, which I have to admit I also failed to grasp. As John Stossel said, "It infuriates me how shallow we are that we just cover the pretty blond ones or the pretty white people, and we act like we are making an objective news judgment." Word. When this case first broke, I assumed that Laci must have been a local celebrity or actress or something, for all the sensation her murder provoked. Ira Glass is big enough to admit that he missed the entire Kosovo war. And I guess I'll come right out and say it: I'm still confused about that "blackout" everyone was talking about. -amy

    It's interesting that this piece deals with people feeling bad about missing two differents kinds of stories: there's stories like the Laci Peterson case, which although sordid and intriguing, aren't really important, and then there's stories like Kosovo, Rwanda, the Congo, etc. that don't sell, but are tragic on an almost inconceivable scale, and I guess it's this inconceivability, if I can use that word, that makes news producers shy away from them. Who wants to explain Balkanization, or worse, why factions in Sierra Leone are warring, when you can just keep showing Scott Peterson picking up his morning paper and driving to the grocery store every day? The story writes itself. Anyway, I forgive Ira Glass since his job isn't about news, but any major news organization who regrets missing a story like a war in a medium-sized country can kiss my ass. They miss them on purpose.

    Instead of being controlled by a single tyrannical producer/editor who decides what America sees, maybe these media organizations should model themselves after a more flexible and democratic news organization, namely, me and Amy. That way, when one person decides to ignore a story (e.g., the Laci P. story), the other one is right there to pick it up (albeit after a bit of internal debate involving the ethics of further exploiting missing pregnant women on a website usually concerned with Britney's latest idiocies and what was on last night). So now we are quick to exploit everyone who disappears. I mean come on, would you rather read about Angola? -adm

Pacific News Service takes on

Pacific News Service takes on Diesel's new line, "Trabajadores" ("workers" in Spanish), which purposely resembles the clothes Mexican migrant workers wear. "It's, like, celebrating the worker," says a Diesel rep. The author conjectures that actual trabajadores, who probably didn't feel very "celebrated", manufactured the clothes at Diesel's plants in Mexico and Guatemala. Postmodern globalism and irony go together like peanut butter and jelly.

You know what else goes together? Hipster clothing lines and cool but unusable websites, like Diesel's.

August 21, 2003

Arnold's Pre-Emptive Spin ControlSo maybe

Arnold's Pre-Emptive Spin Control
So maybe Ahnold doesn't know anything about policy, but he sure knows how to spin: Even before he announced his candicacy, he indirectly predicted charges about his "womanizing" would surface, effectively softening the initial shock of any allegations. Now, before the full details can be know, his friends are talking to the press (encouraged, no doubt, by his campaign managers) and defending him against accusations that haven't even been made yet:

"Like the girl in London when he was lying on the bed, the couch or whatever it was, and touching her and taking a picture," [long-time friend] Columbu said. "That stuff is Arnold, he does that. He says, 'You have nice big legs' and touch her, fine. But nothing harmful or telling somebody 'Leave, I am going to be with her alone'...They love it of course. I've never seen him do something that was, like, out of place. Talking, yes, he would say something like 'Oh, you look so sexy,' 'Oh, ya, you have a nice ass,' but that's it."
The headline on the article is, "Schwarzenegger Resolute, Able and a Flirt, Pal Says", not "Arnold Sexually Harasses Women, Pal Says," so it looks like the strategy is working.

But Cybil Shepherd is unconvinced: "I think he's a real hypocrite, I think he has a past that is going to come out, and I'm not going to mention what it is, but it's not going to be pretty," she said the other night on Access Hollywood. But, in the interest of being aware of all biases, don't forget that Cybil is a politically active Democrat. Also notable is that the story was filed in Reuters' entertainment division, not the politics one.

The Super DJ and the

The Super DJ and the Superclub Game is Over
The Guardian reports that dance culture and the day of the superstar DJ has turned from the dominant European pop cultural form and returned to a niche market. Major clubs have been closing all over England, dance and club magazines are falling, kids are buying guitars again and selling their turntables. Ironically, this is all happening just as Junior Senior, Timo Maas, and Benny Benassi are all getting played on US radio. Are we the inheritors of the boom-boom sound?

Jamie Lee Curtis, who was

Jamie Lee Curtis, who was amazing in Freaky Friday, admits she's had plastic surgery, but she says it made her look and feel worse. We think she looks great either way. But more importantly, this gives us the opportunity to introduce the latest round of our favorite quiz show here at the 'Bot, Who's Older?™ So here you go: