Save Net radio

I had just discovered Pandora Internet radio and had begun creating my own “station” (featuring Splashdown [who has a song called “Pandora,” incidentally], among other artists, and called — what else? — “Gee Bobg Radio“) when Pandora, and many other Internet music sites, went silent for a day to protest a greedy move by the recording industry: dramatically raising royalty fees, and doing it retroactively.

You’re either with the change-averse intellectual property vampires clinging desperately to an obsolete business model from your grandparents’ generation, or you’re against them. And if you don’t take some action, then you’re not against them.

LASER: Likelihood Abatement by Synchronicity Exceeding Reality

  • 9 May: My mom dies.
  • 10 May: I help my sister start going through my mom’s apartment. Among the few items of interest I manage to find amidst thirty-five years’ worth of accumulated clutter is the December, 1966 issue of National Geographic, whose article, “The Laser’s Bright Magic,” about the invention of the laser, made an enormous impression on me when I was young. I also find the presentation I gave in fifth grade based on that article.
  • 11 May: Theodore Maiman, inventor of the laser and central figure in the aforementioned National Geographic article, dies.

Disney coming in from the cold

A big step on the road to corporate redemption.

The Walt Disney Co. has changed its policy to allow same-sex couples to participate in a popular Fairy Tale Wedding program it runs mainly at its two U.S. resorts and cruise line, a Disney spokesman said on Thursday.

(via Salon, via BoingBoing)

Also, Mark Halperin is gone.

This is to be encouraged. Everyone go to a Disney park!

Unclear on the concept

A question for those who resist vaccinating young girls against human papillomavirus (HPV) — the sexually transmitted pathogen that causes cervical cancer — because they don’t want to be seen as encouraging those girls to be sexually active:

When you require teens to wear safety belts in a car, are you encouraging them to crash?

What brings you here?

Herewith, a selection of search-engine queries that resulted in hits on this blog, according to my server logs.

watch neighbor undress; exploratorium; fizzies pulled; thailand’s greatest hits; what happened to fizzies tablets; what are the three kinds of mammals; violet incredible pez; watching neighbor undress; “new rabbi”; Rosh Hashanah; “the federation trading post”; persian candy floss recipes; “citric acid” science pop candy; supine lady; lesbian sex;; how to explain the theory of crystallization to third graders; evil cats; i feel like crying; Comcast Removes West Coast Feeds; boycott disney & abc path to 911; raiders-of-the-lost-ark Pirates-of-the-caribbean; “name the moon” greg; Reality an space-time; “francis heaney”; “smut shack”; squeamish cure; doggie style sex; webby awards; amy linker; cynthia nixon; quarks tangles; “mill valley pediatrics”; “dildo with suction”; proposition moveon endorsements; hypothermia kim; steve elliot bdsm; “instant soda”; trish gee wordpress; song meanings splashdown; “yours yours yours”; fligth to mars; “lesbian vampire fiction”; “needed a diaper”; disney fingerprints; fizzie drink discs; ben kenobi obgyn; linux backup s3; melissa kaplan sings; “adam stoller”; splashdown catalogue; “santa claus ain’t”; vote to boycott abc disney path to 911; joe costanzo; doggie style sex positions illustrated; Fizzies drink tablet recipe; “jack mccoy”; charteris; tune out, turn off; incremental jungledisk; “no fireflies” long island 2006; vampire lesbian; Thai Pilot; boisterous laugh audios; simpsons ulysses; sephardic pirates kritzler; backup osx hardlink incremental; karma slave karaoke; voyager pale blue dot send back the image; comcast digital artifacts; Con Edison; What year did the sitcom premiere I dream of jeannie; Recently got digital cable still receiving all premium channels; joseph costanzo, jr.; Superman reversing time; three kinds of meat; video koyaanisqatsi koyaanisqatsi; chabad palo alto; 9/11 personal; “Calculatrivia”; viscera at&t.

That could have been me

Like most of the rest of the blogosphere, I was strangely affected by the plight of James Kim and his family, snowbound in a remote mountain pass for eleven days after a fateful wrong turn during a routine family drive. After several days and an intensive search, his wife and young daughters were rescued from their stranded car, ironically just hours after James struck out on foot in search of help. He never made it.

People die every day. Plenty of stories are sadder than this one. What makes some grab at the imagination more than others? In this case, for me, the answer was pretty clear (even before I knew about my indirect personal connection to the Kims — they’re close friends of my boss, Matt): James Kim could have been me. He was a middle-class Bay Area computer nerd, intelligent and nice, with a young family that liked to take long car trips.

My own experience with being underdressed, underequipped, and disoriented in a snowy wilderness was orders of magnitude more brief and less perilous, but I think it taught me well enough not to strike out across open country under such circumstances. But how long could I resist the temptation to go for help when my family is freezing and starving before my very eyes? Superior, self-appointed survival experts all over the Internet are today pompously pronouncing that James should never have left the car. Easy for them to say. I think he showed more restraint than I would have under similar circumstances by staying with the car for as many days as he did. And after all, there are worse ways to die than by hypothermia (the end stages of which can be quite misleadingly pleasant — you get warm and drowsy — learned that in fifth grade from Tunnel Through Time by Lester Del Rey) while heroically trying to rescue your wife and children, as half the online world prays for you.

Reportedly, the Kims took an ill-chosen alternate route to get from Interstate 5 inland to US-101 on the coast. How many times have Andrea and I spotted a more-interesting looking road on the map and said, “Let’s have an adventure!” (We did it on this road once near Half Moon Bay and almost had a wilderness crisis of our own — on dry roads, near the heart of the Bay Area — when we nearly ran out of gas as night fell.)

Having grown up on the East Coast, I know how treacherous even slightly hilly, slightly curvy secondary roads can be in the snow, so I think I’d know better than the Kims did about choosing that winding mountain pass. But with just a few modifications, the Kims’ plight could easily have been the Glicksteins’.

[This secton incorporates text originally written in May 2004 for a similar topic on my high school alumni mailing list.]

I think I understand the need of some to make those pompous pronouncements. I know what drives the desire to blame the victim.

Several years ago I got involved in flying. A big part of what a pilot does when not flying is to talk about flying. And read and write about flying. Specifically, there are a few flying magazines that many pilots read. You’ve seen them on the newsstands: “Flying,” “Plane and Pilot,” “AOPA Pilot,” “Private Pilot,” etc.

These magazines are highly formulaic and the writing is uniformly awful. Every month it’s the same test drive of a cool new plane, the same product reviews, the same reports of what our pilot buddies in Congress are doing for us, and the same fights between local airports and the noise-averse communities surrounding them. There’s no doubt in my mind that every pilot skims right over all that junk to head straight for the monthly column about some horrible aviation mishap (columns with names like “Never Again” and “I Learned About Flying From That” and “Aftermath”).

It’s a truism that there’s a little nugget of fear somewhere deep inside every pilot. The accident statistics are very favorable, but of course it’s the grisly stories that stand out in one’s mind. So pilots morbidly devour every accident story, mainly looking for reassurance that they’re immune to whatever mistake that poor bastard made. Didn’t get an updated weather briefing before takeoff? Idiot. Didn’t do his weight-and-balance calculations? Moron. Didn’t budget enough fuel for getting to his alternate landing site? Allowed an impatient controller to bully him into a bad decision? Didn’t heed the rough sound coming from the engine? I’d never do that.

I feel sorry for the victims I read about in those stories, but I freely admit to playing that blame-the-victim game as I read. Usually the mistakes are simple and understandable. Sometimes I can’t find any difference between that poor bastard and the cautious way that I fly, other than dumb luck, and that’s pretty unsettling. But sometimes the lapses in judgment are so egregious that it turns any sympathy I may have felt into impatience, even anger, especially when there are innocent victims involved.

Maybe this is something like how the Monday-morning wilderness quarterbacks are reacting to the Kims’ story. To me, the Kims’ mistakes fall into the simple-and-understandable category. (All too understandable.) For others maybe they are egregious. Seems harsh to me, but at least I can understand it as a difference of degree rather than a difference of kind.

In recent years, when contemplating my own mortality, I’ve found that it’s not me I worry about (as it was when I was younger), it’s the people I’d leave behind. This was true even before I became a parent but is a hundred times truer now. As long as I don’t die stupidly, it’ll be without any serious regrets. (Well, I would like to know how the Harry Potter series turns out.) But I have a strong stereotype in my mind about what losing a father at a young age can do to a couple of boys like Jonah and Archer. In that stereotype they become sullen, mad at the world, unambitious, even self-destructive. This more than anything else is why I hope not to die. There’s an alternate stereotype, where the survivors pull together to endure the crisis and emerge more tightly knit for their loss. This more than anything else is what I hope for the Kims.

Big oil’s last-ditch deception

I just received the following e-mail from‘s Wes Boyd and am passing it along. Please pass it along too if you can.

Don’t be fooled

Big Oil paid for
this bogus voting guide.
Spread the word.

I just received an election ballot slate card in the mail called “Information Guide for Democrats.” I’ll bet you have too. Look for it. Then throw it away. It’s pure deception. And then get mad. Pretending to be a Democratic slate, this mailer recommends against Propositions 87 and 89, the Clean Energy and Clean Money Initiatives. There’s a picture of this mailer in the sidebar to the right, so you can identify it.

Corporate interests are spending tens of millions of dollars to defeat these two initiatives. And they don’t mind lying and cheating to get what they want. We have to fight this with the simple truth. And with word of mouth. Please pass this email on to all your friends and relatives in California. We’ve got to get out to vote and defeat these guys.

Here’s the slate of endorsements made by MoveOn members themselves:

(based on member votes)

This is a REAL progressive slate. We’ve included a copy of this slate designed for printing and taking to the polls, after this email below. Or go online and check out the endorsements of any public interest organization.

The fact is, the Democratic Party, every major Democratic leader in the state, and the most prominent Democrats nationally including President Clinton and Vice President Gore all strongly support the Clean Energy Initiative, Proposition 87. Of course, big oil is absolutely determined to kill it.

And every major civic organization supports the Clean Money initiative, Proposition 89, including Common Cause and the League of Women Voters. You can check out the endorsements in the links for each proposition above.

Why are big oil and other big money interests working so hard to defeat these progressive initiatives? Because if the truth gets out, they lose. Because if the Clean Money initiative, Proposition 89, passes, they won’t be able to do deceptive mailers like this one. So they’re pulling out all the stops.

We have to counter their lying with truth. We have to counter their money with passion and word of mouth.

Please pass this email on to everyone you know.

And please vote on November 7th.


— Wes Boyd and Joan Blades
November 5, 2006

P.S. Speak Out California has produced an excellent progressive voter guide that summarizes the initiatives and key endorsements:

For a copy of the MoveOn endorsements slate that’s easy to print and take to the polls, you can get a PDF here:

Or just print this:

The Disneyland drumbeat

Andrea has continued beating the drum for planning a family trip to Disneyland soon, and with the kids in the prolonged grip of a combined Pirates of the Caribbean and Peter Pan frenzy I am similarly inclined. There’s just one problem: Disney is the enemy and I will not give them aid or comfort.

They have an excellent chance to redeem themselves by firing the jerk who said that the mainstream media is too liberal and it’s his job to slant news coverage to the right “so conservatives don’t have to be concerned.” That jerk is Mark Halperin, ABC’s political director. (ABC is owned by Disney.)

The major news organizations in this country have forgotten that it’s their job to be adversarial. To promise one group or another that they “don’t have to be concerned” is to abandon the mantle of journalism.

Mark Halperin must go. With that one gesture I would be willing to let bygones be bygones.

Well Disney? The country seems to be getting ready to return from its wandering in the arch-conservative wilderness. Will you get back in touch with the real Main Street U.S.A. or ride the Republican machine over the impending cliff? One family’s vacation plans, and the health of our republic, hang in the balance.

The past is dead, the future is unimaginable

One quick thought about the detainee legislation now being debated in Congress: it would give the president one of the defining powers of tyrannical dictators, namely the ability to lock up anyone he wants for as long as he wants, entirely beyond the reach of the law.

I would say I’m stunned at how rapidly we’ve arrived at a point like this, but even thinking those words, I hear the voices of millions before me echoing hollowly the same dumb astonishment when their beautiful, prosperous, enlightened countries at one time or another descended into the same unthinking darkness.

Maybe it wasn’t so rapid, either. Maybe we should have been listening to Noam Chomsky all along.

Another defining power of tyrants is to suspend or nullify elections whose outcomes they don’t like. But really, when you have the first power, you don’t need the second one. Under the law now being debated, nothing, nothing would stop President Bush if he decided to, say, imprison the next Democratic presidential candidate — or any journalist willing to convey that candidate’s message to the voting public.

If he’s not willing to go quite that far, as a backup it always helps to have the largest maker of the nation’s ballot machines in your back pocket.

Say it ain’t so, Walt

It seems the Disney theme parks are collecting visitors’ fingerprints and being unclear about the uses to which they plan to put them.

For someone who’s sensitive to privacy issues, this news is a clear catastrophe, but to everyday folk the problem may not be so obvious. Cory Doctorow nails it when he writes,

Now that our national immune system has begun to attack us in a terrible anaphylactic spasm — indiscriminate NSA wiretaps, meaningless TSA security theater, secret aviation rules and no-fly lists, “free speech zones,” suspension of habeas corpus and all the rest — it’s absolutely irresponsible to gather this kind of information and leave it where the savage toddlers of the national security apparat might find it and wreak havoc with it.

For me, the worst part of this is that it conditions us to get used to being treated like crooks.

This news comes at a time when Andrea and I are feeling a mounting urge to visit Disneyland. Not only do we have vouchers for free search airline tickets that expire on October 31st; not only would we get to see new-family-member Pamela and celebrity-friend Eli; but we haven’t been to a Disney property in three years, which is a long time for us; and Jonah, who was one and a half then, is one up on Archer, who’s never been!

Yet Disney keeps giving us reasons to stay away. The fingerprint news comes on the heels of this:

New ABC Docudrama Blames Clinton For 9/11, Praises Bush

On September 10 and 11, ABC will air a “docudrama” called “The Path to 9/11.” It was written by Cyrus Nowrasteh, who […] is giving interviews to hard-right sites like FrontPageMag to promote the film.

ABC is owned by Disney.

What to do? Hell, we were married at Disneyworld! We were at California Adventure on opening day! (We were two of the few.) The very first thing I ever gave to Andrea was a little Thumper doll! Might as well face it: we’re Disney freaks. Stay away from Disneyland? Stay away from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride just when Jonah’s and Archer’s interest in pirates is peaking?

In an earlier time I might have threatened to disconnect my cable TV instead. But that trigger can only be pulled once. If I want to punish ABC and Disney for these errors in judgment — and I do — about the only good option left is to vote with my wallet and boycott the company.

Or — here’s an idea — I can write a blog post convincing a bunch of you Gentle Readers to boycott Disney yourselves… so Andrea and I can feel better about it when some latex-gloved Disney gate attendant swabs our cheeks to match the DNA on our Park Hopper passes.