The Revolution was televised, but it was cancelled for low ratings

I work for a big company. Which one doesn’t matter because, at my level, they’re all pretty much the same. The important point is that we’re really big, really boring, and really white.

So you might imagine that I was suprised when, while walking through the lobby of our corporate headquarters, I heard Public Enemy’s Can’t Truss It playing over the PA.

For those of you too young to remember, Public Enemy was the voice of the angry underclass. Their music was supposed to be a warning of the social revolution that was coming to sweep all of this away. The cities were going to rise, and the downtrodden were finally going to get theirs. It will probably be hard for anybody under 30 to believe this but there was a time when Flavor Flav, giant clock, gold teeth, and all, evoked fear rather than pity. Yes, children, we were afraid of Flavor Flav.

Public Enemy on the PA. The closest analogy I can think of is if Reagan had used The Internationale as the White House hold music.

I wonder if it was supposed to be a subliminal message to the people waiting in the lobby, the sonic equivalent of a rhino head on the wall. Think you’re tough? These guys thought they were pretty badass for a while, too.

Don’t get me wrong: despite the fact that I am not only Yacub’s grafted devil but (even worse) a Jew, I like to listen to Public Enemy. I’m not a fan of their message, but there’s no denying that it’s some of the best music made in the 80s. I bought Nation of Millions on LP. Yes, I am that old.

I can still remember the night I first heard Don’t Believe the Hype on the radio. It was angry, passionate music and I won’t deny that I was genuinely worried when I realized that the person they were so angry with was, uhh…me. Uh-oh.

I can’t escape the conclusion that Gil Scot-Heron was just wrong. The revolution was televised after all, but it was up against celebrity ice skating so nobody watched.

Please… I have calves

On our way to breakfast this morning, Ben and I stopped at a traffic light next to a Chick-Fil-A restaurant. Out front there was a guy dressed in a cow suit, marching back and forth with a sandwich board that read, “Eat mor chickin”.

Ben asked, “What’s that cow doing?”

silly sign

I told him the truth. “He’s begging for his life. He figures that his best shot is to convince us to eat some other poor creature in the hope that we’ll like that better and let him live. Gonna be some awkward moments in the barnyard when the chickens find out he’s betrayed them.”

When they came for the cows, I said nothing because I am not a cow.

Inspiring words from a man who knows how to ski

So the monkey has decided that he’s Korean.

Somewhere he got the idea that Korea is the place that monkeys come from, or at least it’s the place where he came from. This is not to say that he has any thoughts about Korean people one way or another (he’s not a racist, just a monkey), just that good ol’ Pan Troglodytes is asian.

That’s the best I’ve been able to puzzle out, anyway. When he gets drunk — which is more and more often lately — he’ll go over to the world map I have up in my office, point to Korea, and make the sign for “home”. At least I think that’s the sign he’s making. He kind of slurs his signing when he’s had a few drinks so it’s either “home” or “mailbox”. “Mailbox” makes even less sense, so I’m guessing that he thinks that Korea is home.

How he came to live with me is a story for another day, but for now just take my word that I wasn’t aware that Korea had played any part in his travels. I’m pretty sure that he was born in Nigeria (although at one point we were convinced that he was from Cameroon, so we’re not really 100% sure).

Whatever the reason, he’s completely focused on Korea lately and genuinely seems to be pining for the place. So to cheer him up, I’m taking him to there for a week in early June.

Don’t laugh. I can’t claim to understand what this Korea thing is all about, but it’s affecting his work. If a trip to Korea is what it takes to raise his spirits, then a trip to Korea he’ll get. Besides, he’s great to travel with. He’s small and strong, mixes a mean drink, and if you think that puppies get chicks then you’ve never seen my monkey in action. He’s a babe magnet. People take to him right away when we go out, and he’s he’s had all of his shots. When he bites, it almost never get infected.

Anyway, I don’t speak any Korean so I looked around for lessons that I could get online. I’ve spent a depressingly large fraction of my life in airports, and I’ve seen those stalls selling yellow boxes many times. The company that makes them is called “Rosetta Stone“, and I figure that if they’ve been around for that long selling such expensive software, they must be at least pretty good. Turns out that you can sign up for aceess to their lessons on a month-by-month basis, so I decided to give it a try.

The way that it works, for the early lessons at least, is that they show you a set of pictures and then play a recording of a native speaker saying some words that identify one of them (“the boy is under the table”, etc). You are supposed to pick the one that matches. It’s done entirely in the language you’re working on, and doesn’t have any explicit vocabulary or grammar lessons.

Sounds pretty cheesy, but so far it’s worked surprisingly well. I’m not going to pretend that I have learned Korean, but I do feel like I’ve learned more than I would have if I’d followed a more traditional approach. In the past I’ve studied French, Spanish, German, and Hebrew with varying degrees of success. I was reasonably fluent in French, but languages have always been extremely painful for me. This is the first time I’ve ever tried to learn one that wasn’t an exercise in frustration.

I’ll post an update to let you know how well I’m doing before my trip, but I’m optimistic.

PS – Twenty five points to the first person who can identify the quote that I used for the title. And yes, I’m keeping score.

PPS – Actually, I might not be so quick to say that he’s not a racist. He does seem to hate the Irish, and usually ends up doing something I have to apologize for on St. Patrick’s day.

UPDATE: andiscandis was first to identify “language lessons” as the connective tissue linking the title to the post. She not only earns the promised 25 points for this, but also an extra 5 for that thing that only she and I know about. This gives her a total of 30 points and places her solidly in the lead.

“Did you know that your dog is on the roof?”

No. No, I didn’t.

Of course, what I wanted to say was: “Yes. He knows what he did”, or “DUH he’s an AIR dale”, or “man, that guy can JUMP”, or — best of all — “I don’t have a dog”.


But no, I climbed out on the roof (nearly falling myself), clipped a long leash to his collar, and dragged his sorry butt back in. For the record, this is the SECOND of Deana’s animals I’ve risked life and limb to rescue from a high place.

Then, as soon as he got back inside, he wrapped the leash around a table and flipped it — spilling to the floor half a dozen craft mirrors Deana was working on.

I really, really dislike that dog.

And yes, Naval, I need to get a better camera phone.

Ruby, Don’t Take Your Scrapbooks To Town

So Deana got a weekend pass. She went to a friend’s cabin with some of her girlfriends for a weekend of “catching up on their scrapbooking”.


I mean, that’s a pretense if ever I heard one. I fully expected her to come back with a case of hepatitis-B and a tattoo on her ass. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t encourage that sort of behavior and I wasn’t happy about it, but I love her and if she’s feeling squirrelly, well… I’ll be here when she gets back.

So I had the monkey make me a few pitchers of extra-strong mojitos, hid my tears, and told her to have fun.

Fast forward to Sunday night. What did she actually have when she came back? A big stack of completed scrapbook pages, the makings of a braided rug, and some other crafty crap. Not a single tale of lingerie pillow fights, no bruises, not even a hangover.

I saw the stuff she left with. It was… the raw materials for the stuff she came back with. Unless there’s a service doing crafts for women who want a cover story (hey wait, that’s a good idea), she really spent the weekend, I can barely bring myself to think it, working on crafts.

When did we get so old?

3.0 and Counting

This whole mess began when Phil Wainewright got to babbling about Web 3.0 on his blog yesterday afternoon.

Rael Dornfest and Tim O’Reilly heard about it and, not to be outdone, declared Web 4.0 over pizza last night at Il Fornio.

Gates has satellites monitoring them at all times, so he knew almost instantaneously and responded to their escalation with Web 4.5 ASP Server Longhorn Edition Pro at around midnight. He dispatched his Black Ops Ninja PR troops to infiltrate The Gartner Group, so every Fortune 500 CEO had heard of it by 2am and were clamoring for consultants.

Om Malik, David Hornik, Naval Ravikant, and Joi Ito each sensed weakness in the others and attempted to up the ante. By 6am, we were up to Web 8.0. The frenzy led to a few uncomfortable moments, such as when Ravikant and Hornik both tried to declare Web 5.8 at the same time. Awkward.

Once it hit We Make Money Not Art and BoingBoing things started to pick up speed.

By sunrise, we’d hit Web 10.0 and the VCs were lined up at SFO to hand checks to people as they arrived. The police were called when a few of them were caught slipping term sheets into INS new-arrival paperwork, but Vinod Khosla was called in to negotiate and the situation was defused without violence. At one point there was talk of blocking the southbound 101 and not letting anyone pass without accepting an investment, but cooler heads prevailed and they settled on the 280.

By my own estimation, we’ll be at Web 35.2 by Tuesday.

I suggest that those of you on the west coast stock up on supplies.

I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords

DP, who really needs a better nickname, sent along this crazy cool video of a robot that starts out as a car but then stands up and walks.

I totally need one of these because the monkey butler just isn’t working out. He refuses to wear his little hat and, instead of bringing me mojitos he just drinks them himself and then throws the glass at my head. And he puts too much rum in them! Really, whoever heard of a banana mojito in the first place? I think he made it up. Stupid monkey.

Anyway, a robot butler would be awesome. He’d wear a little hat and bring me mojitos with precisely the correct amount of rum to six decimal places. Best of all, his mojitos won’t smell like monkey poop and he’ll never get drunk and try to make me his special monkey friend.

Yup. A robot butler. What could possible go wrong?

All the great ads without any of that annoying football

Two things you need to know about me: First, I have a crack team of scientists pushing the boundaries of space-time, desperately seeking ways for me to care less about football. Frankly, I doubt that it’s possible but they work cheap so I let them keep at it. Second, I hate TV ads. Manipulative little morality plays designed to prey on my deepest fears and secret desires. I believe that the TiVo people deserve a Nobel Prize for making it easy for me to watch TV without ads.

Having read that, you’ve probably guessed by now that I’m one of those wack jobs who loves superbowl ads.

Yup. Busted.

I could not name the two teams who played and have no idea who won, but the first thing I did when I sat down at my interweb kiosk this morning was to go looking for a web site that had all of the superbowl ads posted.

So yes, I pay TiVo so I can watch TV without the ads and I pay Adelphia so I can watch ads without the TV.

I’m a complicated guy.

So anyway,
Stunt City was the best (I love the little beat at the end when the coffee is too hot), but the Hummer ad and the Bud Light ad with the bear were also good.

There were a few dumb ones that had good punch lines. The FedEx ad and the Bud Light ad with
the revolving wall both made me laugh.

Most of them were pretty standard, but some companies might just as well have made a big bonfire with the money. Emerald Nuts… what the hell was that?
The Blockbuster ad reeked of desparation and actually made me feel sad for them (quite a feat, considering how much I hate that company). Finally, Ford using Kermit to sell a car? That’s just freaking evil.

There are also a bunch of GoDaddy ads that never ran on TV, but the less said about them the better. “Remember when we did that funny thing five years ago? That was cool.” We get it; Your product is a commodity so you’re trying to sell it with sex but those repressed starched shirts just won’t let you. You’re rebels. Next.

This is why tuition is so cheap

Honestly, I don’t know why I hear so many complaints about Wal-Mart. I love the place. Yeah, ok, you save four percent, big deal. That’s just the start.

The real draw for me is the show; the cast is just amazing. I love that “Tony and Tina’s Wedding” thing that they do, where you’re surrounded by actors pretending to be real people. The performances are incredible, and they’ve scripted wonderful, little morality plays to show you what life would be like if the people around you were replaced by monsters. You really believe that this woman is being cruel to those tiny children, that the workers blink “torture” in morse code, and that somebody would actually sell a gun to Travis Bickle over there.

Seriously, it’s uncanny. Thank god it’s not real. Stay in school, kids.

Anyway, check out How Wal-Mart Is Like Academia
by James Joyner. The parallels are pretty funny, and not just because they support my contempt for that through the looking glass world we call ‘The Academy’.

Because the academic market is so tight, universities have adopted virtually the same attitude toward aspiring professors as Wal-Mart does to prospective stockers. They demand heavy teaching loads, substantial committee work, a rigorous pace of professional publication — and offer rather paltry salaries. And that’s for people who have, on average, twenty-two or more years of schooling.

She feels fine, except that she craves braaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiinnnnnnnsssss

Hello, Ms. Battisti? Yeah, hi, this the hospital calling. Fine thanks. You are? Great, great. Glad to hear it. Actually, that’s what I’m calling about. Yeah, remember how during the surgery we put a bone into your back? You do? Good, good. Funny story about that. Turns out it was kind of, uhh, stolen. No, ma’am, he was already dead when it happened. Thing is, though, he might have had syphilis. Or hepatitis. You do? Syphilis? Yes, ma’am, I imagine you would wonder about that.

Turns out that
patients nationwide may have received tissue stolen from cadavers.

Battisti was informed that the cadaver bone that was implanted in her back may have been infected with various viruses — the result of what investigators say was a large-scale scheme in which corpses were cut up and body parts illegally sold.

The Long Island woman now claims she contracted syphilis from the bone and plans to sue.