March 2009 Archives

I was reading Merriman Smith's 1962 book The Good New Days in which he describes the famous White House operators. When the president says "Get me the Secretary of Defense," they find him, no matter where on the planet he is. From the book:


Sometimes the president, after starting his business, will say, "Did I get you at home?"


And the Cabinet member answers, "No, Mr. President, I'm in Greenland."


This phenomenon is familiar to all of us now because we call people on their cell phones. We never know where we'll find them. Presidents were the only ones on the planet almost who experienced this for several decades.

I'm enjoying Bob Dylan's interview about his yet to be released record because he's taking the questions seriously and there's a lot to mine in them.

Q:Say you wake up in a hotel room in Wichita and look out the window. A little girl is walking along the train tracks dragging a big statue of Buddha in a wooden wagon with a three-legged dog following behind. Do you reach for your guitar or your drawing pad?
A: Oh wow. It would depend on a lot of things. The environment mostly; like what kind of day is it. Is it a cloudless blue-gray sky or does it look like rain? A little girl dragging a wagon with a statue in it? I'd probably put that in last. The three-legged dog - what type? A spaniel, a bulldog, a retriever? That would make a difference. I'd have to think about that. Depends what angle I'm seeing it all from. Second floor, third floor, eighth floor. I don't know. Maybe I'd want to go down there. The train tracks too. I'd have to find a way to connect it all up. I guess I would be thinking about if this was an omen or a harbinger of something.
I'm a big fan of Jonah Lehrer and I wish I'd read this before I'd written this about fairness and AIG.

100 novels everyone should read by the Telegraph. I've read about half and haven't heard of the other half.
An interview on his web site gives me hope that his new record will be lots of fun to listen to:

Images don't hang anybody up. Like if there's an astrologer with a criminal record in one of my songs it's not going to make anybody wonder if the human race is doomed. Images are taken at face value [by my audience] and it kind of freed me up.

So apparently he cares about what his audience thinks now:

There didn't seem to be any general consensus among my listeners. Some people preferred my first period songs. Some, the second. Some, the Christian period. Some, the post Colombian. Some, the Pre-Raphaelite. Some people prefer my songs from the nineties. I see that my audience now doesn't particular care what period the songs are from. They feel style and substance in a more visceral way and let it go at that.

via kottke

"We live in a society whose whole policy is to excite every nerve in the human body and keep it at the highest pitch of artificial tension, to strain every human desire to the limit and create as many new desires and synthetic passions as possible, in order to cater to them with the products of our factories and printing presses and movie studios and all the rest."

The Seven Storey Mountain
I just finished signing the second round of books and they're ready to go out. Thanks to everyone who donated to Covenant House or their favorite charity. The offer of a free signed book still stands. Read about it here.
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Abraham Lincoln's English gold watch.

Washington Post story about discovering the message written in Lincoln's watch.

Newly Identified portrait of William Shakespeare
The painting now believed to be of William Shakespeare has hung on the walls of the Cobbe family for about 300 years. Story here.

"That the painting looks more like a 26-year-old than a 46-year-old - Shakespeare's age when it was likely painted - may be down to the convention of the time when a painter should "polish out the wrinkles and increase the size of the pearls," according to Mark Broch, curator of the Cobbe collection."

They were using a version of Photoshop even back then.

Via the Guardian
In an article about his serenity readers only get to hear about it in hints given the rules of journalism at the time-- and people think we're supine now...
Roosevelt Article.png

UPDATE: I wonder-- out of ignorance-- if FDR would have had a harder time if the press had been less in his pocket in this way.

It's probably one of the few non work sites I visit every day. It's consistently good. And, like Larry Bird, he knows how to pass, which is to say, linking to sites that might take away readers but that are nevertheless worthy contributions. The latest example is his linking to The Lone gunman. The behavior is the opposite of all those sites that link to themselves, steal other people's work by re-printing it on their site or make you click 4 links before getting you to the original content.


LIFE caption: Closeup of Stork Club owner Sherman Billingsley w. hands interlocked & thumb up, one of his elaborate signals to nearby assistants which means "Get them out & don't let them in again" while sitting w. some annoying patrons over his usual Coca Cola.

Great post at A Continuous Lean (via kottke)
His story here.
"Part of what a column should do is hold people up to their potential. To remind them not just what it is, but what can be."

If you're wondering who Steve Lopez is, find out here.