Scripting News for 4/11/2007

Kurt Vonnegut 

The author speaking through one of his characters, Eliot Rosewater:

“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.'”

Vonnegut died this evening in NY. He was 84.

Nappy ho 

An old white radio personality didn’t just wake up one morning and think of “nappy ho” all by himself.

Okay he’s white and he said something stupid and he’s old, so he’s easy to pick on.

But maybe black people should take the issue up with the music industry too.

And its not just music, all that kind of stuff was in a movie that lots of white people saw, myself included. 9 years ago. In that movie Halle Berry said “Don’t you know you my nigger” — to an old white guy!

Maybe it’s just a sign of respect. Certainly when some people say it, it is. I don’t know, seems a little racist to me to have a huge national shitstorm when a white person says something that if a black person said it wouldn’t be any cause for alarm.

Maybe Imus didn’t mean any harm at all. Just a thought.

Postscript: A commenter named “Solo” points out that Jesse Jackson has a lot of chutzpah going on national TV saying that Imus has to go. Maybe he forgot Hymietown?


Autodiscovery for sitemaps. I’m working on sitemaps for An example, the sitemap for the “misc” folder.

We can arrive at a fair solution 

I don’t think my old attorney blogs, but maybe he should. Maybe by the time we’re done with all our michegas, he will.

Two weeks ago I posted a proposal, in public, to try to get a dialog going. In that proposal, I tried to see things from his point of view. I like to figure out what’s right, and then do the right thing. I don’t want anything I’m not entitled to.

I did all the work to create, and took all the risk, and withstood all the flaming — and I also invented it (unlike RSS, was invented), so it might seem fair that I get all the proceeds. (I did all that without getting a salary from UserLand, all my time was at my own expense.)

But UserLand did help, it registered the domain for me (something we did for anyone in our community who wanted us to, back then domain registration wasn’t so easy), and I did run the site on one of its servers (also something we did for others, at no charge), so let’s, for the sake of argument, assume that UserLand owned it when it was transferred to me in 2003. That was the starting point for my proposal. From there, I thought we could easily arrive at a fair solution, shake hands and go forth and do our respective things.

So here we are at a fork in the road.

As far as I’m concerned the proposal is still on the table.

But — today I thought about what it would be like to go through depositions and a trial. I can do it. I blogged Jury Duty and got something from it, and so did my readers. Maybe I’ll write a book from the inside of the legal process, I suspect there will be plenty to write about. Sure it’ll cost money — but I have money.

Net-net: I believe in being fair, to others, and to myself.

AppleTV here 

My AppleTV arrived. I’ll try to install it later today, and of course will report on the experience here.

Engadget reports that AppleTV hardware is capable of doing HD, but inexplicably, the software isn’t provided to do it.

3PM: I have AppleTV hooked up to my kitchen TV set using the HDMI cable. Everything worked the first time. Connected it to the LAN through a wifi router in the den. Connecting my laptop to the unit was like connecting a Bluetooth device — you enter a password that’s displayed on the screen of the TV. It’s now synching all the content in my iTunes library, even though I didn’t ask it to, and when I stop it, it starts again on its own. I’ve decided to let it have its way. I want to link it to a folder of photos on my laptop’s hard disk, but the command it says I should use isn’t present in my copy of iTunes. I tried copying an AVI file I ripped from a DVD, but it was rejected. So after setup it’s confusing, and not working the way I expect it to. More later.

I found the tabs, I was looking in the wrong place. It’s synching pictures now.

I happened to have a copy of a video Meet the Press podcast, and it got synched to the AppleTV in the initial setup. And when I browse through the menus, which are patterened after the iPod menus, there was a section for podcasts, I chose this podcast, and there was the first “aha” moment — I was watching an episode of Meet the Press, albeit an old one, and it looks pretty much like it looks when I watch it on NBC throug my cable box — far from HD quality, but still a pretty good demo of what it can do.

They have a full selection of trailers, already downloaded. That’s cool! I’m watching a preview of Grindhouse.

Twitter slowdown? 

The furious pace of growth on Twitter, for me, has slowed to a trickle, and now all the action is on Jaiku — or maybe it’s just that Jaiku is catching up? It’s hard to say because everyone’s view of these systems is different. Jeff Pulver, in Scoble’s video description of Twitter, said it was IM or a chatroom, and Scoble corrected him, pointing out that it was very different in one important way, that people opt-in to listen, and can opt-out at any time. So true. But to others, with very few people listening, it must look like a chatroom, a chatroom they can’t post to, a conversation they can listen to but can’t participate in. I imagine for some personality types this is exactly what they like.

Web 2.0 conference 

I will be at the Web 2.0 conference next week, at least for one day (not sure which one), so if there are any products or companies you think I should see, or for that matter anyone should see, please post a note here or send an email.

Thanks to the folks at O’Reilly for approving my request for a press pass.

Doug Kaye 

I had a nice lunch on Monday here in Berkeley with Doug Kaye. It had been too long.

I learned a lot about Doug that I didn’t know before. I thought he was a tech guy, turns out he’s a film and audio guy who learned tech out of necessity. No wonder his stuff is so useful.

I first met Doug when he was an early member of the Radio developer community. Come to think of it, that’s how I met most of the people who went on to do great things in blogging, podcasting, and Web 2.0 in general.

Doug recommended a movie, Memento, saying it was one of the ten best movies of all time. I had never even heard of it. Of course, with that kind of endorsement, I had to see it, and I now have. Very good, really haunting. I bet Doug likes it because it is a technical marvel, I’m not a movie technology guy, but even I could see that putting this movie together required greatness. I rated it a B+ on Yahoo. (Also you have to see it twice to get all that’s going on.)

25 responses to this post.

  1. Twitter is slow. Meanwhile at Jaiku

    Our servers are too busy now

    We are working to speed things up – meanwhile this is the right moment to have a chat with someone you love.

    They are both having issues.


  2. I still can’t help but think that a distributed system using RSS-OPML-SSE will replace these “chatrooms”. Blogs are blogs and will continue to flourish, but there has to be room for the next generation of groups, that is open, like blogging, but a little more tightly threaded.
    I know that blogging wasn’t meant to replace email lists, but something should, IMHO.
    Such a system would also replace blog comments, which is also in need of replacement.
    Anybody out there want to have a open table podcast discussion about this?


  3. It’s not a chatroom. It’s a whole galaxy of monologues. Which is exactly the same problem/strength that Blogs have. It’s been fun watching the Twitterers try to answer back and turn it into a dialogue with the @name convention but it’s a nasty kludge.

    I have this dream of a Twitter like thing that takes IRC/Skype Chats but builds the channels/chats out of who you know. But that has one huge problem (just like twitter) that if you only know one half of the participants, you’ll only see one half of the conversation.

    And that thought of course comes from envy at not being as famous as Joi Ito or Scoble and so not being able to create a chat room called “Friends of Julian Bond”


  4. The URL of the movie is nice too :


  5. Depending on which DVD you picked up, you can see Memento put back in order:


  6. I love it when you plug movies I love. I’d love it even more if you’d credit the folks who imparted the greatness to it: Chris Nolan (director, co-writer) and his brother Jonathan (co-writer, author of the underlying story). Chris Nolan is the director who put the resonance into Batman Begins. The Nolan bros. also did The Prestige… another puzzle-story (not as tight as Memento, but also wonderful for its cast, story, and historical references). I loved it. Wonder what you’ll think.

    The Nolans are collaborating on the next Batman film.


  7. I’ve seen The Prestige. I liked it.

    Another watch-it-twice movie.


  8. Posted by Wes Felter on April 11, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    Dave, it looks like the OLPC has a (very beta) aggregator built in; check out the screen shot:


  9. Wes, it’s hard for me to get excited about that.

    I have a Mac Mini on the TV in my den, and it has a web browser and a real internet connection (unlike the highly controlled connection of AppleTV).

    Synching is so ugggh, difficult — I really don’t like it, but I got this unit because I wanted to know what people are using.

    I have a photo application that’s a much better kind of RSS reader for one of these babies.


  10. Posted by Solo on April 11, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    I agree with your comment on Imus.

    Imus probably stepped over the line, but so did Isaiah Washington & he got an award from the NAACP. The only African American public figure who really spoke out about the use of racist language by Blacks was Bill Cosby.

    Al Sharpton and Jesse “Hymietown” Jackson demand action on Imus? Well, there’s some chutzpah!


  11. Posted by Herb on April 11, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    Sticking up for the underdog again? 😉

    As for “But maybe black people should take the issue up with the music industry too.”

    Black have, and are taking it up with the music industry. Both Sharpton and Jackson in particular have decried degrading and misogynistic lyrics in rap for years now, not to mention thousands of black artists like Kirk Franklin and Yolanda Adams who produce uplifting and positive music. And I won’t even talk about the flack that BET gets in the black community. Certainly Cosby isn’t the only black public figure to talk about these issues. In addition to the aforementioned Sharpton and Jackson, let’s not forget C. Delores Tucker, Rosa Parks, Oprah Winfrey, even prominent rappers like KRS-ONE and Chuck D. Just because CNN would rather report on Anna Nicole Smith 24/7 doesn’t mean that these issues aren’t discussed.

    The problem is that the degrading music sells – and it’s blacks and whites (in some cases, mostly whites) that are buying it. There’s an independent movie that was broadcast on PBS a while back called “Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes.” If it ever comes on again, and you’re interested in these issues, you should check it out. It address these points.


  12. Posted by TF on April 11, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    Then shut off syncing and only stream. It’s right there in Settings.


  13. Posted by Marcel Weekes on April 11, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    While clearly Mr. Imus didn’t “think up” this phrase, he also didn’t coin “cleaning lady” as an original phrase when he referred to Gwen Ifill and her White House assignment several years ago (a charge Imus now denies).

    But no one should think this is about “origin” or originality in thinking up unkind phrases.

    What he said was an ugly, mean-spirited thing to a group of people who had caused him no offense. And it doesn’t take a degree in African-American or Women’s studies (or even a course in either subject) to know that.

    And yes, I hold other adults (black, white or other) to the same standard. I won’t purchase or listen to music that demeans black women. My mother, sister, wife and daughter all deserve better. And I know several other black males and females who hold the same standard.

    “Maybe Imus didn’t mean any harm at all.”

    Really? Maybe he meant the phrase as a term of endearment?

    Sort of the way, William Bennett didn’t mean any harm when he stated, “…you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.” Just pointing out that black people are the proximate cause of crime in America, I guess.

    No offense meant to anyone who might be listening.

    As a parent of 2 small black children, I find these incidents incredibly discouraging. Also discouraging is knowing that all our kids will grow up in a country where people who say these things repeatedly get into positions of influence in media and government.


  14. Posted by Bob on April 11, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    Good luck with the lawyers, Dave. They are programmed to keep cases running because they are usually going to make money anyway.

    I lived in an apartment in San Francisco that a new owner was going to move into. The moment I found out, I contact to future owner in an attempt to get as much notice to when he wanted to move in, so I’d have time to plan moving out. He never replied. Instead, he had his attorney send an eviction notice three weeks later, giving us 30 days to leave. Just to make him pay for that stupidity, we didn’t hire an attorney, and instead kept asking for more time and more compensation, staying far longer than we wanted to or would have to had he just picked up the phone.


  15. Imus is a jackass, and hardly an underdog, but, whatever. He’s a waste of breath if you ask me.

    As for “black people,” I’m not one, but I’m sure they don’t speak with one voice and I think it’s lazy to accept that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson really represent the full diversity of black voices. Check out Sarah Jones’s “Your Revolution,” a fantastic riff on Gill Scott Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” indicting the sexism in a lot of Hip Hop music. There is a version available on iTunes:


  16. Dave, let’s pretend that your wife, your sister, your girlfriend, or your daughter was in the news for having been named “teacher of the year” or some other such honor indicating excellence and accomplishment.

    Then let’s say Bill O’Reilly were to refer to her on a cable news channel that she was “another one of those hymietown whores”.

    Don’t you suppose the JDL would be up in arms?

    Imus is the kind of guy who would set a gallon of paint atop a door, and when you walked in the room, you’d get a concussion and all your clothes would be ruined by the Valspar. And if you complained a bit, he’s say, “Hey, cool your jets, fella, can’t you take a joke?”

    I don’t have ANY trouble believing every word Howard Stern said in “Private Parts” about Imus.


  17. Maybe the JDL would be “up in arms” but I wouldn’t.

    Bill O’Reilly is a joke. Entertainment. On Countdown they call him: Bill Orally or Bill Oh Really. His network is called the Fox Noise Network.

    And I don’t even know if the JDL exists anymore — do they?

    Your example proves the point. I think the people who are really assholes in the Nappy Ho controversy are the shrill bastards who are making a federal case about it. They are using the basketball players to promote themselves at the kids’ expense. Those are the people who, imho, should be thrown off TV. In fact, the big crime is that this story is on the news at all. If you think Imus did something terrible, suspend him, or fire him, and drop the story. All the extra promotion proves that it isn’t about Imus, it’s bullshit.


  18. so…jesse jackson should not be allowed on TV anymore?


  19. Posted by Jason Ehrlich on April 11, 2007 at 10:33 pm


    The idea that AppleTV “does not include software” to play HDTV is FUD.

    It plays HD (720p) video fine out of the box without any need for any hacks or modifications. You just need to have appropriately encoded content. Apple has some nice sample HD video podcasts on iTunes (there is one from the Washington Post, in fact). These play 720p HD video and they look great on my 42″ plasma HDTV.

    Movies from the iTunes store are not in 720p video.

    You can do the hacks mentioned on Engadget to add 720p DivX and Xvid video support, but these are not commercially supported formats. (Basically because mainly they are used by people who pirate movies on the Internet.) I am sure the video from them will look great though 😉


  20. Posted by Al Willis on April 12, 2007 at 6:19 am

    Dave, just to be clear, he called them “nappy headed hos”. To you, it may not be much of a difference, but it’s important to be accurate.

    You may not know the significance of these terms and you may not put them into the context of 400 years of history. To you, these may be harmless terms and, Imus gets a pass because he’s an old white guy being attacked and perhaps he didn’t mean any harm.

    He used racist and misogynistic language–it doesn’t matter whether he claims he knew that or not. Even for how crass our society is these days, he crossed a line and that’s saying something.

    I know that many folks have a knee jerk reaction when certain people join the chorus, namely Al Sharption and Jesse Jackson. While there’s no excuse for some of their behavior in the past, it doesn’t mean they’re wrong now about Imus. So we need to get past that.

    What’s sad to me is that someone like Imus–who I believe knows better–can take the crude and racist language that only exist because of the enslavement of and subsequent racism against the Africans that were brought to America (with the atrocities committed against them) and uses that as fodder for his radio show. That’s the context we are living in, which Imus is aware of, which makes his behavior contemptible.


  21. You ignored my main point — if it’s okay for black people to talk about black people that way, you really don’t have a strong basis to object when a white person says exactly the same things.

    I don’t say those have to be your values, but they are mine.

    And we forgave Jackson, so I don’t feel bad suggesting that you forgive Imus (and I don’t think Imus is Jewish, so I’m asking you to forgive someone who is not from my tribe or yours).


  22. The bottom line is that he is a curmudgeony old white man who doesn’t think before he speaks. He made a distasteful joke that was out of line. No one should even give a damn what he says. If you don’t like it, change the station. They are only words. People are too sensitive.


  23. Dave, what’s not exciting about an RSS aggregator being part of the system software on a $150 laptop intended to be a key educational tool for students in the developing world? Even better, the whole thing is designed to be hackable.


  24. Posted by Al Willis on April 12, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    You ignored my main point — if it’s okay for black people to talk about black people that way, you really don’t have a strong basis to object when a white person says exactly the same things.

    I think is one of the primary issues that well meaning people often get wrong. It’s not okay for anyone–black, white or purple–to talk use racial slurs against black people. It’s especially wrong for black people to use this language IMHO. Some of this terrible language is tolerated, but nobody I know that’s black (including myself) thinks it’s ok.

    You seem to think that because some of this offensive language is in popular music and in the movies, that somehow black people condone this. You’re talking about media that’s controlled by corporate America, which is controlled by white people. This language, among other things, is the result of the abuse, discrimination and institutional racism suffered by black people since they’ve been here, which has resulted in a form of self-hatred.

    Halle Berry did use that line in Bullworth, but you pulled it out of context to make a cheap (IMHO) point. The writers and directors of the movie had her use an borrowed expression from some of the most disenfranchised, isolated and discriminated-against people in America–impoverished black folks, primarily males, from the inner city, in a system (what I alluded to in my first post–the 400 years of history, enslavement, institutional racism, etc.) that in many ways doesn’t enable them to progress. And has black boys killing each other everyday.

    I don’t hate Imus, so it’s not a matter of forgiving him. I’m objecting to your thesis that he’s only being at attacked because he’s an old white guy who said something that you believe would be “ok” if a black person of equal stature said the same to millions of people.

    So far, Imus hasn’t played the “they said it first” card; he knows better and shouldn’t have gone there.


  25. Posted by Ady on April 12, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    Cambrian House is a must-see startup company.


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