Atomized junior

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Atomized junior

Thursday, December 28, 2006
16 cannibal kings

A Few weeks ago I saw a search for iCab come up in my referer logs (My referer logs are a constant source of entertainment). Why now I thought? Then answered my own question: there must be a new version out. Yes there is iCab 3.03 iCab - Internet Taxi for the Mac. iCab is a largely one man effort to produce a web browser for the Macintosh OS. I switched to Firefox over iCab about 2 years ago. Firefox was shinier, extensible, more cascading. iCab 3.0 which I downloaded; though, seems entirely suitable for mostly daily browsing. With iCab, the myriad configuration interface being so easy to get to, the key is not to change it out of the default settings without a good reason. Doing a little browsing in iCab reminded me of my changing surfing habits over the years. Before the Radio Weblog (before RSS) it was more haphazard, more serendipitous. I had a list of sites, in book marks, I went to regularly, but it was all fairly unstructured unpurposeful. I think the Library/Information science term for that "non-directed" search or some such. Still I was trying to put online hours on a more news/information acquisitional footing at that time though. Going through the old bookmarks list showed me a few things had gotten ost in the process the link to the Bad Subjects emag was old which I even have on the links bar on Atomized Jr. (now fixed). I knew it had changed it just slipped my mind to fix the link. Another thing I noticed was the first site which I identified as a 'weblog' as opposed to a web site: I hate music. Pop music (and its ancillaries), so much to be exasperated about so little time.

Music I didn't hate from last year, Oakley Hall, They're from Brooklyn Oakley Hall (band) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The band leader, Patrick Sullivan, used to be in Oneida who are also good, also from Brooklyn. Killer song (for me) is Lazy Susan. As I've mention over the course of the year I also liked the Pink Mountaintops, and Wilderness. I saw the re-run of the Decemberists on Letterman the other day. I haven't had time to assimilate this record yet. They played Valencia on Letterman. I like the title cut, crane wife, so far. Primarily I'm still a radio creature. I like hearing new stuff on the radio in a set put together by a dj. I'm missing WFMU over break. I'm on dial-up still and can't indulge in all that broadband style internets. I did see a post concerning WFMU dj Kenneth Goldsmith on MetaFilter Goldsmith sings Wittgenstein | MetaFilter. There were few comments and fewer still on topic. Largely no one bit, neither did I - I ain't no fool. If someone is going to sing modern european theory you just have to get out of the way and let them. That reminds me when are the Sic Alps going to show up on iTunes? I order nothing through the mail (except maybe one of them AlphaSmart Neo's). I limewire nothing. Nothing.

The problem with liking a band called Oakley Hall is the discovery that they named themselves after Oakley M. Hall, the novelist (here intertwined 'Oakley Hall'). I feel obliged now to see what he was about and read something by him. Over this break I finally reading finished Edward Belamy's utopian novel Looking Backward, which I started to read last summer and eventually set aside to read other better stuff. One writer I wanted to look into is the German essayist/novelist Robert Musil. He was a contemporary of writers like Mann and Hesse, and hell I've read things by both of them.

One last little thing on First Church before the year is out. After I wrote the post on PN Hoffman and our church which I knew was a little unfair, the Washington Post wrote an article for the metro section on this which I offer as a corrective: Million-Dollar Condos, With a Soup Kitchen Below -

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Saturday, December 23, 2006
Christine and the Shifting Corners of the World

While that last post and the affairs of my church are still bouncing around in my mind like a metal ball in an abandoned pinball machine. I had an idea for something that I might write about. Another church post, sort of. Enough so that I've brought back my pixel Santa (now more pixel-like than ever) this time with a rough rendition of my church in the foregroundA picture named santafccdc.gif.

This post is about a set of small and offhand conversations I've had with the student, Christine Choy, from George Washington University who does chid care on Sundays; who watches the smaller children during the church service. She has been with us about a year. I've heard her say that she is first person in her family to go to college. As well that she is the only person in her family to be Christian. Her family emigrated to the United States from China when she was still fairly young. I don't know though, how young or for that matter what China. There is Hong Kong, Taiwan, 'mainland China'. Others might say there is only China. But China is large and varied and there would be the expectation from those these others address, that they continue more specifically. I haven't asked.

Christine has said she doesn't like people talking about China (doesn't feel comfortable with it), and so generally she doesn't talk about herself. But who can keep that up for long? The reluctance to talk about where she came from may be due to a cultural indifference within this country that assigns asia the status of backwater. Denying a fine grain of detail to a whole hemisphere. I mentioned my brief familiarity with the Pacific rim from the brief tour the U S Navy took me on. The recent history of the Pacific rim, and the American interest in keeping a fleet there is a history of artificial divides: Korea, Vietnam, China. The city of Tsing'tao where the border was not drawn; where my father in his turn in the Navy spent a winter anchored as the city fell from nationalist to communist control. On to Hong Kong, where for a while a border stood and I saw it with my own eyes, and Taiwan where one still does. This was all generations ago as the great armies of the 1940's slowed and stopped distributing order of a kind and boundaries. Not unlike the middle east in the years following the first world war. All this, Christine allowed, represents a degree of power and presumption on somebody's part. allowed for my friend Tran's feeling that presumption surrounded her in Saigon. Presumption in the way of elites organizing the world for their own benefit dissolving benefit for others. For the west privileging the center, lives and narratives, over the periphery. What lesson does our army in Iraq give to the rest of the world? The President's message of will and perserverance through adversity, or the object lesson that we will stubbornly claim and take whatever we need.

What is behind our democracy our freedom and wealth? Why do we suppose people come here or why do we suppose anyone might listen to what we have to say. What is the opportunity offered. Do we still have a commitment to the just and right thing. To good and open government, to a commitment to the entire civis. Do people care about that? Or only that they can make money, and from there they will supply value of their own choosing.

The corners of the world are shifting as they always will. The far east now the far west. Everything moves over accordingly. Wealth can be created anywhere, gold mountains beneath your footsteps, but beyond wealth what?

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Stories of Hoffman

Today I have tales of Hoffman. Not the creator of fevered tales of delirium such as the Sandman, the Mines of Falun, or even that tale of strange gifts and evil mice: the Nutcracker. Fun as they are. But rather on to a world that even Ernst Theodor Amadeus did not have the resources to enter. Commercial Real Estate. PN Hoffman. These people are going to blow up a UCC church, my church First Congregational United Church of Christ Washington D C . Or crush it, mangle it. I don't think the final details or dates have been settled on yet, though we are under agreement to vacate the premises a few Sundays from now. This will be the last Christmas the building stands. This a building which has only been up now since 1961. We are letting them do this, are even actively encouraging them to do this. In its place they will, at some point three or four years from now, erect eight stories (not tales, but then I don't have all the details) of high rise luxury condominuims.

In return for this they have pledged that they will try to find a couple of corners and other out-of-way places on one of the lower floors which we will have as our Church. Will we be able to resume our dinner program for the homeless at our former location? This is not being encouraged. All this is in central Washington DC just over from Metro Center metro stop across from the Hyatt and from St Patricks. Next door to that Hulking Piece of Crap that is the Mies van der Rohe ( Ludwig Mies van der Rohe - Wikipedia) designed DC Public library. Which is under certain threats itself.

When I came across this story of some Presbyters in Queens (I see that they have almost as many parishioners as First Church does) who are also tearing down their Church, but so that they may have built in its place affordable housing for the elderly A congregation tears down its church to expand its mission | It gave me a moment of pause. A group, Enterprise community partners, has worked with them to develop this transformation into affordable housing. The detailed article goes on to make clear that this transformtion is financially complex and emotionally wrenching A massive undertaking for those who make this choice, as one of their parishioners observes:

"The church is not a physical structure. It's not the stained-glass windows; it's not these pews," he says. "It's the people in the church. It's our mission, and it's our potential to do good in the community through this project and our potential to expand our spiritual work through this project."

The Presbyters will come out of this with a Sanctuary rebuilt within in the new complex, and some cash.

First Church took counsel not to think in terms of affordable housing (at least not downtown), but to leave that sort of thing to those who can afford it.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006
the Memo

I want to say word about the memo. The memo I refer to here is the one the right-wing blogosphere is apparently no longer getting. No one seems to be in charge of the memo any more. This observation comes via the data I can gather from Tailrank which allows me to scan without visiting, the daily panic in various parts of the blogal village. The right is still "on message" to the extent that they are all still uniformly talking about the same thing on a given day. There is now an echo chamber feel to it as they link back and forth to each other, rather than the previous form of all saying the same thing in the same words, as though on some undisclosed Stepford wifi network. I thought this might be something that just seemed apparent, but last week Josh Marshall made a reference to the right-wing web loggers making a shift to less central voices in support for the administrations Iraq policy. As more prestigious republicans temper their unconditional support. Call it the Mark Steyn effect. Some of the things that have been batted about recently might have been better left unobserved on. They seem to have realized this and settled into a more conservative "noise and misdirection" approach.

 Some examples from earlier were first when many of these web loggers were up in arms over a reference (rep Dingle? who has an unhelpful idea that we need a draft) that the Army recruits the economically and educationally disadvantaged by recruiting in such area's. Not so, they shouted. The Army isn't stupid, ergo it isn't being recruited from areas we gleefully accept as stupid. The actual case is more complex  No Atheists in a Foxhole? No Idiots, Either - New York Times . Institutional conservatives, such as those in the military who know where they recruit, may say to themselves "I guess these guys are on our side, but what a pack of idiots. I may need to rethink these bozos"  Such musings form a large part of my own political education.

 Similarly it seemed to startle many of them when a Chinese submarine was discovered following an U S ship China's naval surveillance of U.S. - Editorials/Op-Ed - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper. Its not that unusual that this happens. It was formerly entirely routine with the Soviet Navy. I dug through a fair number of old pictures to find one that could proves this point (see illustration me and Victor)A picture named MeandVictor.jpg. I also have a less dramatic picture taken from where I was standing on the ship which makes it clear the submarine was only about two hundred yards off.  For those wanting to know where are the Ra5c Vigilantes in this picture? Eventually the helo that took this picture will fly back to the carrier and be spotted next to one. One legitimate question here: is our relationship with China slipping into explicitly cold  war terms. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin article | News | /2006/11/14/ mentions Admiral Fallon (a former Vigi pilot) who as the Pacific Area commander is tying very hard not to let that happen. The Navy even has a high ranking delegation setting off to China  The real story there is how did a diesel sub, "undetected until it surfaced within firing range. The submarine was spotted by a routine surveillance flight",  get within 5 miles of a carrier group? Unsat!

 I saw one headline post in a right wing web log bewailing the New York Times for once again cracking open our stone temple national security state. This was over the leaking of first the Hadley memo Bush Aide's Memo Doubts Iraqi Leader - New York Times and later the Rumsfeld "memo" Rumsfeld Memo on Iraq Proposed 'Major' Change - New York Times perhaps they should have run another tea spoon of Folgers into their morning coffee because it was obvious to everyone else that various groupings within the White House had leaked those memo's and other information themselves  Go ahead, leak a little. - By Jacob Weisberg - Slate Magazine. It cheers them though to just blame the NY Times for printing what Rumsfeld handed them.

 The last bit of acting out is their fixation on an incident at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Diversity of Opinion on Imams' Dispute With Airline -", what they term the case of the Airport Imams. They jumped out fast and reflexive on this. Some I noted the first day or so kept claiming an active terrorist ring had been captured. They passed up an opportunity to moderate their rhetoric when this claim wilted. It was all deliberate, a publicity stunt, a provocation they insisted. They can't claim they aren't also seeking ownership of this issue, not when they have a couple of columnists riding this hobby-horse near full time. Even allowing that this was a set piece of public demonstration, their accusation still winds up as: caught while being Arab in public. I think the Imams involved should in form a standing group around this - a political action committee they could call it the Arab in Public Action Committee or AIPAC for short. Sounds good to me.

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Thursday, December 7, 2006
If and When

I heard a piece on NPR a while back. Looking at the date I see it was a month ago. My shoulder still hurts from the bicycle and concrete mash-up I had. I don't like typing much these days, well, because it hurts. I may have to bail on some of these other older items I wanted to write about, but not this one.

Bill Gates, that MicroSoft guy, and a Saudi Prince, Alwaleed Bin Talal, have an investment company and their latest initiative is to take the Four Seasons hotel chain private NPR : Investors Bid to Take Four Seasons Chain Private. Now my brother-in-law, Doug, works for the Four Seasons. He is chef and food division head for the restaurant and house of their property in Georgetown (Washington DC). He's got no problem with billionaires owning the place. Even if the office uses Lotus notes now. It'll be menus in Office.XML tomorrow.

For my brother-in-law having to divide his time between the artistic endeavor of cooking, which he likes, and the more mundane and more consuming management aspects of the job exasperates him at times. And those times are plentiful, because they have him working a lot of hours. A couple of thoughts here. As a salaryman you can, in the right work environment, leverage your corporation's willingness to pay you the extra marginal cost of your time through extensive sets of extra hours per week. You can find yourself compensated and quite well for this, with bonuses, profit sharing and the like. Management jobs are less of a prize when the negative inducement is employed. Most companies realize; though, that you can stretch the concept of fairness, but it's unwise to break it.

Turning to wage men, like myself, and the first observation here is that Doug makes several multiples what I make, I belong to a division of worker called non-exempt. Which means I cannot be exempted from the requirement of getting time and a half for overtime. This is considerate and entirely moot. There is a rule: 40 hrs per week then remove yourself out the door. No one gets paid overtime. If I want to work more than 40 hours a week to get ahead in this American life I must become employed again - elsewhere. A second job! All the hassle of the first, and less pay. Rationally I wouldn't devote any additional hours of my day to work at the compensation levels I can expect. Perhaps I could sign up for one of the quasi and occasional catogories of modern work, if I were inclined. To education I would devote two or more hours a day for short periods. Especially if I could imagine increased opportunity arising from it. This is what my friend Tran is doing, but even this is a stressor, and there are things that can't be cured quickly by rubbing a copper penny into a bit of Vicks vapor-rub dabbed on your collar bone.

So where does real wealth begin: who's poor, who's middle class, and who's rich. My brother-in-law doesn't think he is even upper-middle class. What is the breakdown? I looked at the U S census catagories to see: Statistical Abstract: Income, Expenditures, & Wealth (the tables I refer in the following are excel spreadsheets linked off this page). In 2003 they tracked incomes for 76 million families (Table 680. Share of Aggregate Income Received by Each Fifth and Top 5 Percent of Families: 1980 to 2003) the upper earning limit of the lowest quintile was $24,117, the 2nd was $42,057, 3rd $65,000, the 4th 98,200. The table then jumps to the top 5 percent for which they give an figure of $170,082 which for that category is either the median of more likely lower limit. It's a small category and the story is the same either way 95% of the American population is earning less than that. The table has a second section giving aggregate percentages, The 5th (highest) quintile shows up in this portion and as holding 47 percent of the nations earnings.

The comfortable life depends not just on what you earn but where you live when you earn it. This same page has a second table (Table 664. Personal Income by Selected Large Metropolitan Area: 2000 to 2003 ) showing the per capita income in select U S metropolitan areas and their difference from the average. DC for instance Is $44,000 representing representing 140% of the national average Whereas Boston is 137% with a per capita income of $43,000. San Francisco on the other hand is 149% of the average. Somewhere else I imagine there is a matching table that shows how little indent such a earnings slice makes in basic living costs in such cities.

There is a study WorldInstitute for Development Economics Research out now, BBC NEWS | Business | Richest 2% own 'half the wealth'm that claims that "the richest 2 per cent of adults own more than half of global household wealth", and that most of these people live in the US, canada or europe, The rich really do own the world. The Globe and Mail article has another line "The United States is the richest country, with a mean wealth in the year 2000 of $144,000 (U.S.) per person." consider that in relation to the Census earning quintiles above. As part of the other 98 I can only say the rich you will always have with you. It's best just to ignore them, its what they would do for you.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2006
Mergering on the right

 Apparently last Monday Studio 60, a tv show I don't watch but had assumed for some reason was a comedy or lite drama, had the FCC as a bad guy. This is why I am altering my view of the show as a comedy because comedies generally don't have bad guys. Maybe a straight man like Captain Binghamton, but not a real bad guy. Never-the-less the show had a joke. The single source I'm relying on here relates: "In one scene the network's attorney is listing the parade of horribles that will ensue if the network doesn't kowtow to the Commission, and among them is the threat that the Commission won't approve any of their mergers." That's the joke, not approving a merger is the one thing the real FCC would never do.

 While I have the letters FCC on ctrl-c I may as well dust off a few other related links There have been some articles Big broadcasters want to control more media outlets , Free Press : Media Ownership Issues Return to Spotlight and some studies Media Ownership Report - Social Science Research Council showing that big media really does want ownership limits knocked down, and that the FCC supports this and is stonwalling on information to the contrary. The studies here were down in response to the call for public comment the FCC claims to want. I had whipped up a short reading list on Media Consolidation in a previous post and subsequently identified another book which should've been on that list.

Einstein, Mara.   Media diversity :   economics, ownership, and the FCC /   Mara Einstein.     Mahwah, N.J. : L. Erlbaum Associates, 2004. (Television -- Mergers -- United States. Television and politics -- United States. Monopolies -- United States.)

 John Nichols writing for the Nations website FCC Chair Schemes to Undermine Net Neutrality outlines another pot of unwelcome attention for the FCC This involves Kevin Martin chairman of the FCC trying to pressure another of the commisioners into unrecuseing himself on a vote of the ATT - Bell South merger. Nichols take on this is that Net Neutrality is what's at stake here - that Copps and Adelstein's vote is conditional on a nod in the direction of net neutrality by American Bell & Telegraph. And Martin is trying an end-run around them.  As well mergers  are best done quickly, the longer they drag out the more likely someone will ask questions or ask a judge to ask questions. Is it time for my annual attempt to sort through and understand all the differing opinions on what net neutrality is and whether it's a good or bad thing?. Wait, no I usually do that in the spring.

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Last update: 12/31/06; 11:23:29 PM.