July 30, 2004


During my junior year of college, I once stayed up for 50 hours during which time I wrote my semester thesis, flew to Athens and physically collapsed during the welcoming ceremony at the World Debate Championships. The upshot is I broke something in my brain such that I no longer have the ability to function without sleep.

Last night I got about 2 hours before trekking to Logan and hopping the 6 hour flight back to SF. Around an hour into the flight, I honestly thought I wasn't going to make it. I'd already tried listening to the KLF's Chill Out but there was still 5 hours to go and my eyeballs were trying to claw their way out of my skull.

But then - a miracle. JetBlue, the world's best airline, was testing out a movie channel supplement to their signature DirecTV service. This meant I didn't have to try to occupy myself with 5 hours of Animal Planet as I did on the flight out - the highlight of which was a heartwarming tale of, seriously, a blind and deaf dog who befriends a three-legged cat (see above).

Instead, I had the Princess Bride (which is a special treat if you know Biz Stone and can imagine him doing all the parts as he's often wont to do) and The Sound of Music.

Man, The Sound of Music is good. Best movie involving Nazis? Possibly, if you discount Das Boot.

What made it especially compelling is that I quickly realized I'd never seen the theatrical cut. The copy I watched growing up was taped off of TV and severely editted for length. As a result, there's all kindsa stuff I'd not seen despite having watched the movie dozens of times (so much so that I have a clear memory of where each commercial break occurs in the 'movie').

Anyway, Sound of Music is also good because it's 3 hours long ... it was already time to land and the Von Trapps hadn't even escaped to Switzerland.

Thanks JetBlue!

July 29, 2004


Welp, that about wraps it up for the DNC. My back is killing me from having sat for 6 hours waiting to see a bunch of ballons John Kerry.

But I thought the speech was solid. Strategically sound if not inspirational - "health care is a right," "screw the Saudis," "we're taking back the money from the rich" ... these are all messages I can get behind.

I talked about it some with Noah and I assure you that when I said President Douche instead of President Bush, it was an honest slip.

Floor to Rafters

Yesterday was a wacky, hectic day filled with Indiana Jones-themed parties (for the congressional whips don'cha know) followed by the traditional scramble for convention passes. But it all turned out well when Shellen and I gained access to the delegate floor and got to experience the full force of Al Sharpton's amazing speech.

I talked about it with Noah on the audblog - I feel the Democrats had to address the recent Republican effort to court the Black Vote. Sharpton nailed it with his "we decided we’d ride this donkey as far as we could take it" line and the Florida delgates with whom I was embedded went stark raving nuts.

And then we retired to the Blogger afterparty. Blogs are big news here even if most people aren't sure why. But it's always fun to get together with clever folks and talk technology ... I did some audio rambling with Noah on the state of the blogowhatnot.

This is definitely one of most heavily mediated environments I've ever seen. Everywhere you look someone is covering something ... sometimes it's just the coverage itself. The intermingling of politicos and celebrities feeds some kinda primal excitement - last night I saw a woman lunge outta nowhere just to rub James "That'll do, Pig" Cromwell's arm. She just wanted to grab a little squeeze to take home with her.

I find it painfully weird to run up and try to capture a celebrity momemt, but I also don't want to be left out of what's clearly an essential part of the convention experience. Therefore, I present my own series of awkward celebrity photographs:

Eat your heart out, Anne Leibovitz.

July 28, 2004

this is an audio post - click to play

More audio over at listenlab.

Chain link fences and velvet ropes

The big thing I've learned on day 1 of the DNC is that political conventions, like politics, is all about access. As I talked about with Noah, we started out the evening as uncredentialed outcasts - stuck on the wrong side of the riot-proof fencing, deafened by over-amped protesters and under-muffled diesel generators.

By the end of the evening, we had traded up our color-coded badges several times and were able to peer down on the convention floor from a lofty skybox inside the Fleet Center.

It's like a baseball game where you try to sneak into better and better seats as the game goes on.

The whole process is a little strange because it relies on exploiting connections and a good deal of guile. (Neither of which are paradigms I'm particularly comfortable with).

But both led to us jumping a partition into an adjoining skybox which happened to contain Michael Moore. There was a weird celebrity awkwardness as folks were struggling with their digicams to snap souvenir photos.

But we ended up having a real conversation about blogs, Google and the terrible state of copyright. Michael Moore is a clueful dude. And hungry ... which I can appreciate.

The one completely genuine moment of the evening was Barack Obama's speech. The man gave me chills. In terms of what public service should mean, Obama nailed it when he said "If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for their prescription and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandparent."

That the poverty of others can make all of our lives poorer goes right to heart of the problems government is meant to address.

(For what it's worth, the least genuine moment of the day was dancing to Come on Eileen at a convention after party. Apparently, I'm going to be awkwardly dancing to that song for the rest of my life.)

July 27, 2004

this is an audio post - click to play

July 26, 2004


Foot Dangle, originally uploaded by goldtoe.
During my trip to NYC in May, I was amazed at the coastal difference in what it means to 'follow politics.' Out here it seems that politics is essentially what happens in the rest of the country. No one bothers strongly campaigning for national office in California because what's the point. Locally, the question is "are you liberal enough" and statewide politics is an absurdist play.

Out East, I found that my college friends were following politics like folks follow sports. Day-to-day coverage, highlights everynight, and compulsive, point-by-point analysis.

Tomorrow morning Shellen and I depart for Boston and for what is sure to be the quintessential example of the latter behavior.

I'm particularly looking forward to seeing Lt. Col. Steve Brozack's speech on Wednesday night. My onetime roommate and debate pal, Dave, works on Brozack's campaign and helped write the speech. Obviously, to a debate dork like me, this is the sort of thing you hope to do one day if you're rhetorically inclined.

Should be a blast.


The Flacksmiths recently got new bicycles, so we set out this morning on a Grand Bike Adventure. The initial plan was just to cruise to the Embarcadero but before we knew it we were in Sausalito.

The weather was perfect and along the way we took in many great sights ... including an elderly gentleman with a head full of white plaster.

We got to cross the Golden Gate Bridge (a hoot!) and stuff ourselves full of fish parts over in Marin. I also highly recommend the ferry ride back. Ferries always make me feel like re-enacting the opening scene to Working Girl.

Or that one Madonna video.

Regardless a good time was had by all.

Golden Gate Bridge (detail)
Originally uploaded by goldtoe.

July 24, 2004

Puppy Digital

puppy to good home
I've returned to the land of the camera'd! My new Sony Dsc-T1 is amazing. Ultra-small, quick, and crazy good quality.

I'm easing back into taking pictures ... sticking with the safe subjects - dogs, cats, flowers. Go with what works, they say.

Next week, however, I plan to branch out as I'm headed to the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Blogger's doing a shindig with the DCCC and I'm looking forward to blogging about the pols, the convention, the bloggers at the convention, etc.

Oh, and Flickr rocks!

July 19, 2004

Do you think you're what they say you are?

During August 1997, before my junior year of college, I watched the filmed version of Jesus Christ Superstar approximately 7 times in row in less than 2 days. After some viewings, I would cry.

It was a confusing time and, frankly, my weepiness was much more a pharmacological by-product than a spiritual awakening.

Needless to say, I approached the new direct-to-video version of JCS with some trepidation. Filmed in 2000, the goal of the producers was to update the look so as to reach a wider audience. So it's out with bell bottoms and in with the Gap.

As a result, when we first see Jesus, he's wearing a ribbed wifebeater and cargo pants. The apostles are portrayed as some kinda metrosexual paramilitary group outfitted with blue camo muscle tees and automatic weapons.

Which brings up a confusing part of the whole production ... who exactly are we rooting for here? The apostles force Jesus to go pop, his followers quickly become an unruly mob, even the lepers are shown as being annoying ... well, maybe that's not a stretch.

Pilate, as is the modern style, comes off amazingly well. Sure he's wearing Goering's hand-me-downs, but that's just 'cause he's Roman. Pilate hearts Jesus.

In fact, one of the movie's more interesting touches is the scourging. In the film, folks from the mob come running up and slap their hands on JC's body as Pilate counts out the lashes. Their hands are dripping with red paint so the streaks they leave on Christ's torso represents the whipping. At the end of the scene, we zoom in on the ghoulish jewmob (they're wearing goth eye makeup) as they reach out with their blood stained hands.

Them's my peoples!

This post has been cross-posted to Flicknut


Recently, I had to send the following message to the good people at Netflix:

Hello -

I am an idiot.

I accidentally sent back a non-Netflix dvd in the return mailer. The
movie I was trying to return was Derrida. Instead, I sent you back my friend's copy of the second disc of the Two Towers.

I know.

I just dropped it in the mail this morning (7/10) so you wouldn't have received it yet. But I'm wondering if there's anyway you can send it back to me once you get it. (At my expense, obviously).

Thanks for you help. I love Netflix and have always found it very easy to use.

Which is important, considering the fact that I am quite stupid.
And, what do you know, less than a week later Eugene's copy of the Two Towers was returned!

Right after I sent this message I also ordered a replacement copy from Amazon just in case. I briefly toyed with the idea of not telling Eugene and just replacing the missing disk with the new copy in a covert-Blue-Heaven-this-is-the-same-turtle-you've-always-had style.

In the end, I confessed and now have my own copy of the Two Towers to accidently send back to Netflix! Incompetent honesty truly is the best policy.

July 17, 2004


I don't miss owning a car, but I have noticed that my view of San Francisco has shrunk to a very small strip that extends from the Mission to Lower Haight. I've gone on some bus-bound adventures as of late, but inertia pretty much keeps me in the neighborhood and at the same restaurants I've been eating for nearly 4 years.

Don't get me wrong - I love the hood. But I need a little expansion. (Partly I feel this is due to my obsessive playing of the new Spiderman 2 game. Long since having won the game, I continue to swing around Manhattan just because it's so frickin' cool to be able to go anywhere. How sweet to swing from the Chrysler building and leap into Times Square ... and do it all in high pixelated-style).

Anyway, as I cannot (yet) be Spiderman, I bought a bike. I don't know much about bikes but mine's red and silver and let's you sit upright instead of hunched over and has a giant squishy seat. And it rocks! On my maiden trek I made it all the way to the ocean and saw parts of Golden Gate Park I never knew about (including the SFPD horse stables).

As soon as my legs recover I fully intend to cruise the Embarcadero ... I hear there aren't any hills.

July 16, 2004


As discussed elsewhere, we've released a wizz-uh-muh-wig editor for Blogger.


It's got features and such and will be a boon for text manipulators everywhere.  I'm a particular fan of the new glyphs that Chris came up with for the toolbar.  I feel like quoting stuff all the time now.

July 10, 2004


NPR's got a good audio clip on the Senate's 500 page 'Fuck You!' to the CIA. I'm fond of this quote by Sen. Jay Rockefeller:

"Our credibility is dimished, our standing in the world has never been lower, we have fostered a deep hatred of Americans in the Muslim world and that will grow. As a direct consequence our nation is more vulnerable today than ever before."

So, it was a good thing, right?

July 06, 2004

Policy wank

Once upon a time, Charles and Marie Robertson gave $35M to Princeton in order to establish a public policy school. The result, the Woodrow Wilson School, is housed in a neo-neo-classical temple and home to the most over-achieving of what's already a massively type-A student body.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, in recent years the would-be wonks are pretty much not becoming the nation's next generation of career diplomats. So the Roberston kids want their money back as the school is "instead turning out journalists, bankers and -- most appalling of all -- a professional oboist."

Yeah, fuck oboists. The kids should definitely get a refund ... with interest it comes to $600M. D'you think they'll take store credit at the bookstore?

I have a hard time picking a winner here. On one hand, $600M lawsuits should probably involve some kind of mutagenic orange juice sold to orphan children. On the other hand, the Wilson school is primarily used as an elite credential for undergrads seeking to maximize their future remuneration.

Princeton should be forced to put all the money into fusion research. Success will lead to oil independence thus negating much of the diplomatic cost incurred in having to do business in the Middle East.

While not a funding of diplomacy per se, there will be more diplomatic resources left over as a result. Which will allow us to invest in international affairs where we might have a snowball's chance in Saudi Arabia at having a positive impact.

July 03, 2004

Carnal embrace

I first read Tom Stoppard's Arcadia in the winter of 1999 when I was busily dropping out of grad school. It turned out that studying astronomy as a techincal discipline wasn't the bucket of fun I'd been hoping for. The wow factor I felt in doing astro as an undergrad was replaced by dread at having to slog through another problem set session.

Arcadia covers a lot of thematic ground; one of the main ideas is the tension between rationalism and romanticism. Throughout most of the play, characters lash themselves to one or the other of these two poles and teeter about as a result. The teetering's pretty damn funny. (In reading the play, I've always been amazed at how much mileage he can get out of stuff like 'the conversation at cross purposes.')

Last Tuesday, Sutter, danah and I saw Tom Stoppard's Arcadia at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Deals. It's quite something to see it performed after having read it so many times. For one thing, the sucker is dense. Reading 10 minutes of dialog on iterative functions is one thing - to see it pulled off is something else.

Also, the play takes place in a single room in an English estate, but in two separate time periods (early 1800s and present day). In the last few scenes, the action from both time periods overlap, with both sets of actors performing at the same time. To make the staging of such a thing seem important rather than gimmicky is quite a feat.

Technical stuff aside, Arcadia's always hit home for me and that was strongly reinforced seeing it live.