So, according to this Washington Post article (via Matthew Yglesias), Dick Cheney gets most of his news from Fox News:
“It’s easy to complain about the press — I’ve been doing it for a
good part of my career,” Cheney said. “It’s part of what goes with a
free society. What I do is try to focus upon those elements of the
press that I think do an effective job and try to be accurate in their
portrayal of events. For example, I end up spending a lot of time
watching Fox News, because they’re more accurate in my experience, in
those events that I’m personally involved in, than many of the other
So, if I’m following the flow of information here, it goes something like:
The Republican party puts out propaganda -> which is picked up by Fox News and dressed up as fact -> and is then given back to Cheney as his main source of information about the world -> who then passes it along to Bush, who prefers to get his news from trusted sources than that damned, unreliable media.
This explains a lot, actually.
Jeff Lowery has a great article
about working with users when designing a new system, including this
critically important piece of advice:
“Always” and “never” are really tricky, because people often overlook
the rare exception in analysis sessions, and accounting for these
later can have profound consequences for the data model and logic of
an application. “Always,” for instance, can change to “almost always”
when further questions are asked. That’s a large difference in a
computing system. Usually, the exceptional case occurs rarely enough
that nobody will notice the error in requirements until sometime after
the system goes live, when it can be expensive to change. What’s worse
is that often what distinguishes “always” from “almost always” is a
whole unexplored use case with even broader ramifications for system
I can’t count how many times I’ve found this to be true. If you
question people thoroughly enough, every assertion that something is
always true is eventually followed by “Well, except when...” These
days, I mentally translate “always” to “usually”, and then go on to
find out the circumstances when the thing that’s always true isn’t.
Today’s Sign That We Are Living in the Future
Miss Manners weighs in on
whether IM participants are
required by etiquette to type “brb” before going off to answer the
Her next column: Is it rude to direct your blog readers to a site
whose intrusive registration process wants to know your job title and
Paper is Obsolete
Well, maybe not, but paperback books damn well should be.
From what I
hear, they’re not doing so hot for publishers these days. And
from what I see, they’re no great deal for the reader, either.
Consider this: Back when I was in junior high and buying books at
that amazing new WaldenBooks that had just been put up in the mall,
hardcover books were typically $19.95, and paperback books were
typically $4.95. And if they weren’t bestsellers (which most of the
books I read aren’t, and weren’t), they were sold for straight-up
cover price. Net result: I could get four paperbacks or one
Now, though, things are a bit different. The default bookstore for
me (and, I suspect, most people who buy any significant quantity of
books) is Amazon, where they
discount nearly all hardcovers 30%. So for a typical new release, a
hardcover costs $17 and a paperback $7.99. Net result: Just over two
paperbacks per hardcover.
Conclusion: Paperbacks are lame. They’re not good for publishers,
they’re not good for authors (who get a fraction of the royalties they
get on hardcovers), and they’re increasingly not good for readers.
Based on this incisive analysis, the industry should instantly quit
making and selling them.
Furthermore, albeit tangentially: Budweiser is lame, too. It’s too
expensive to be the bargain alternative to real beer, and too lousy to
be the premium alternative to Milwaukee’s Best. It’s really just
utterly pointless, and I expect that once word of this logic gets to
Anheuser-Busch, they’ll shut down production promptly.
Further industries will be revolutionized as events warrant.
The Magazine Test of Political Junkiedom
I realized recently that I can arrange The American Prospect, The Free Republic, The Nation, The National Review, The New Republic, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report in left to right ideological order without so much as a second thought.
That bothered me, but what bothered me even more was not being sure where The Economist should slot into the line-up.
TV Shows as DVD Fascicles
Joss Whedon has stolen my life.
Over the last few months, I’ve spent approximately 90% of my free
time going through his corpus of TV shows — Buffy the Vampire
Slayer, Angel, and now Firefly — as collected on
DVD. And after watching all that collected television, I’ve come to a
realization: The DVD boxed set is to TV as the graphic novel is to the
monthly comic book. Consider why people buy both graphic novels and
DVD boxed sets:
- They’re less time-bound. You don’t need to worry about catching
each episode of the story as it comes out or missing it forever; you
can grab it at any time.
- They’re complete. You don’t need to wait some indeterminately
long period of time to get the next installment of the story; you’ve
got the whole thing right there.
- They’re permanent. You can rewatch your DVD and reread your
graphic novel in a way that you can’t rewatch a TV episode or reread a
pile of monthly comics. (Which is to say, you can rewatch an episode,
if you’ve got TiVo or a VCR, and you can reread a pile of comics if
you’ve got an elaborate filing system for them — but it’s awkward in
Just as the rise of graphic novels transformed comics (say
“decompression” to a comics fan, and they’ll know what you’re talking
about), the rise of DVD is starting to transform TV; and Whedon is one
of the first TV people to really make use of TV episodes as an initial
serialization of the DVD set, rather than just writing a TV show that
happens to be collected on DVD. In traditional episodic TV,
nothing’s allowed to change between episodes, plots are fully resolved
every week, and casual viewers are allowed to dip in and out of the
series as they like. A Whedon show allows no such luxury. Plot
points stick around for months of TV time; subtle clues will be made
clear weeks later, long after casual viewers have forgotten them; a
missed episode can leave you completely unable to understand what’s
It’s lousy television, frankly; I can’t imagine watching one of his
shows on actual television as it’s being broadcast — particularly when
the network people fuck with the order of the episodes, as they
insanely did with Firefly. But it’s superb DVD, offering a
long form video narrative that neither conventional TV nor movies can
deliver (with the possible exception of The Lord of the Rings,
which is still only twelve hours, compared to the hundred or so hours
So, everything’s all hunky-dory, and we’re witnessing the birth of
a new art form, and that’s cool. Except for one problem, the same one
the comic book industry is facing: Making a good DVD box set, like
making a good graphic novel, is expensive, and the only practical way
to finance it right now is to serialize it out, and get the money in
installments up front. But how do you convince people to buy a
monthly comic, or watch a weekly show, when doing so isn’t nearly as
enjoyable as waiting for the inevitable DVD or graphic novel?
I haven’t the foggiest. But if you figure it out, tell the
networks, because all Whedon’s shows are cancelled at the moment, and
I’m a bit cheesed about that. Give the guy some money, people!