Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Thank you, Jesus!

Judge: Web-Surfing Worker Can't Be Fired
Published: April 24, 2006, Filed at 9:26 a.m. ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- Saying surfing the web is equivalent to reading a newspaper or talking on the phone, an administrative law judge has suggested that only a reprimand is appropriate as punishment for a city worker accused of failing to heed warnings to stay off the Internet.

Administrative Law Judge John Spooner reached his decision in the case of Toquir Choudhri, a 14-year veteran of the Department of Education who had been accused of ignoring supervisors who told him to stop browsing the Internet at work.

The ruling came after Mayor Michael Bloomberg fired a worker in the city's legislative office in Albany earlier this year after he saw the man playing a game of solitaire on his computer.

In his decision, Spooner wrote: ''It should be observed that the Internet has become the modern equivalent of a telephone or a daily newspaper, providing a combination of communication and information that most employees use as frequently in their personal lives as for their work.''

He added: ''For this reason, city agencies permit workers to use a telephone for personal calls, so long as this does not interfere with their overall work performance. Many agencies apply the same standard to the use of the Internet for personal purposes.''

Spooner dispensed the lightest possible punishment on Choudhri, a reprimand, after a search of Choudhri's computer files revealed he had visited several news and travel sites.

Martin Druyan, Choudhri's lawyer, called the ruling ''very reasonable.''

Monday, April 17, 2006

three movies that sucked

1. A History of Violence. Just got around to watching it this weekend and was very very underwhelmed. The ending was dumb (the killer dad sits down at the table), the violence was not that graphic (at least not on the scale of something like Saving Private Ryan), and the plot was just weak (did anyone really think this would be a film about mistaken identity? No, it was clear that "Tom Stall" was really this "Joey" guy but was just too dark and complicated to talk about it.). There was like a five minute sequence showing Viggo Mortensen driving from Indiana to Philadelphia. Dear Cronenberg, please edit out the driving sequences. Ask Vincent Gallo about this if you don't believe me.

2. 40 Year Old Virgin. Everyone raved about this, but no one told me it was over 2 hours long. And again, no suspense. We know from the beginning that he's eventually going to get Catherine Keener, but the film is so intent on taking itself seriously (for a comedy!) that it wastes time on all this "character" development stuff. There is, in scripwriting, a term called "The Big Gloom" which is supposed to be the last obstacle in the character's path toward a happy ending and everytime it looks like there is absolutely no way things will work out, but then of course somehow they do and The End. Well, 40-y.o.v. has like three or four big glooms and I can't think of any purpose they serve except to stall. There were a couple of funny jokes, but a lot of material fell flat and just sat there. Something I didn't like about either one of these is that they both seemed to take themselves too seriously, they were both earnestly trying to be A Great Film and we all know you just can't try to be cool.

3. Prozac Nation. Maybe the worst film I have ever seen. I could not finish half of it. Seriously, do not waste your time even reading about how much it sucks.

4. On a non-sucking note, I can recommend the movie version of "The Safety of Objects" as being not-all-bad. It's barely faithful to the book, but still entertaining in its own right (minus Joshua Jackson; I cannot stand that guy). The best movie I've seen so far this year: The Squid and The Whale.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Attention Authenticists!

One thing I really hate about teh internets is this self-congratulatory hipster egoism of getting there first--the authenticity of being a 28 year-old "oldtimer." I'm noticing it more and more, on a large scale.

A couple of examples (out of the million or so I could dig up):

1. From:
"I started using flickr back when it was a flash-enhanced backchannel chat at etech many moons ago, and when it was finally released to the world, it was built off the previous web trend of social software."

2. The complex sarcasm tied up in megnut's statement here:
"all of us narcissistic a-list weblogers stopped frequenting this site years ago..." (I think she's being sarcastic, but clearly there's a grain of truth there as she did not post a comment on MeFi in 2004 or 2005 except to defend Kottke; and clearly the crowd who consider themselves "A-list bloggers" like kottke, megnut, and anildash HAVE stopped frequenting MeFi.)

3. Flickr even puts this into their login screen whereby those with pre-yahoo logins get to sign in under a different button, highlighted by the phrase "Rock On! You're Old Skool."

4. Caterina claiming that "Web 2.0 isn't all that" because here company made it, got bought by Yahoo!, made her a million bucks, and so the trend is over! We were here first! You guys now are all just lame! Except for the companies started by my web 2.0 friends whom I'm also advising!

Now, there are some legitimate cases where this might be OK, whereby someone who's truly an internet giant can stand up and pontificate on the history of particular applications or remind us our history, but most of the time I feel that this is just used as a badge of honor: "I've been doing this forever and let me tell you what it was like back in the old days. I'm so cool now that I jumped off the friendster/myspace/flickr/web2.0/blogger/digg/metafilter/
bittorrent/whateverthehellyouthinkiscool" bandwagon a loooong time ago. This is why I'm not into to "indie" rock. However, "the internet" and its many applications are too big to be confined to the esoteric authenticity wars of this coolness debate. Or are they? It's a small world after all.

I had some of the same issues with Yankees fans. Now, I consider myself a Yankees fan, but when I go to Yankee Stadium and end up making small talk with some guy wearing a Ron Guidry jersey in the bleachers, inevitably it will degrade into a game of one-upmanship of how this guy was born across the street from the stadium, saw Mickey Mantle hit home runs, caught a Reggie Jackson world series ball, etc., and that all this inevitably makes him a more authentic or real fan that someone who's recently moved to New York and also likes the Yankees. I say Screw That. In fact, that kind of I'm-authentic-you're-not might be near the root of some types of xenophobia. Anyone can be an authentic legitimate fan of a team, or user of a website. Accept it. Don't look down on people because they don't remember back when slashdot ran Java 1.1. You are a geek. This need for social heirarchy is simply clinging onto to the only remaining shred of power you can squeeze out of being an unemployed loafer who produces nothing in life but a website and a bloated ego. I'm sick of you all. You really are narcissitic egotists who can only feel important by claiming elder-statesman-status in a medium that changes every second of the day. You are all boring and will be forgotten.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Excuse for Absence

Haven't posted in about a month, mainly because we just bought a house.


That's the other folk's furniture in there. We've just started moving some of our stuff over so that explains the total absence of books in these pics. Now the eternal list of home-repair projects commences...

Words I love to say (usually not aloud)

1. fecklessness
2. Cold Spring Harbor
3. mollycoddle
4. Katwijk Aan Zee