Speaking of juries, I had jury duty last week but didn't make the cut, despite a half-hour game of musical chairs in which potential jurors were asked to take a seat in the jury box, after which the lawyers and clerk would whisper quietly to each other, and then rearrange the seating pattern, unseating and reseating potential jurors according to their whim. The DC jury pool, by the way, is by and large a very ugly lot of people.
Saturday, October 26, 2002 ::: So yesterday was all dramadrama in weblogland what with the hacking and all. Guess I should switch to movable type one of these days, but oh well. Maybe after I update my archives and get my own domain name and do all those things that I've been meaning to do but haven't.
Last weekend was also dramatic and mysterious, but I missed most of drama and mystery - came home late on saturday night (was at madonnarama) and found a considerable amount of clothing scattered about the front steps of my building, which on closer inspection proved to be revoltingly filthy. I decided that that was enough for one evening and went upstairs to wash my hands and then got the story from my basement neighbor the next day. Seems there was a fight and the clothes were thrown from a third floor balcony along with a VCR which was chucked at a parked car, making quite a dent. The guy who lives on the third floor is very much the quiet, middle-aged type who seems an unlikely culprit. Perhaps the third floor balcony in question is that of the rowdier building next door, but I haven't really gotten to the bottom of the mystery. I'm sure I'll find out one day.
Oh, yeah, and the caught that guy. and the kid, too.
I also saw sleater-kinney at the 930 club, but that was considerably less dramatic.
On an entirely different note, those esteemed researchers over at search engine showdown have come up with a (fresh) freshness index, earlier posted to at the resource shelf.
Saturday, October 19, 2002 ::: So all this week there have big red posters reading "FAITH FOR MAYOR" and I must say they are the best looking posters of the campaign. Certainly better than those ugly Carol Schwarz posters.
Speaking of violence, I saw bowling for columbine last night and it was for the most part good. There were a few cheap shots and some emotionally manipulative bits, but otherwise it was very clever in making its points. Perhaps the best scene was filming a newscaster who was throwing a fit about his hairstyle while about to do a story on a school shooting.
Sunday, October 06, 2002 ::: There have been a spate of excellent articles in the new yorker these past few weeks. The downside to all this is that the new yorker doesn't post all their articles, and by the time I have read the issue for one week, the next one has already been put up.
But I've been so impressed of late I can't help but gush even if there isn't as much to link to as I would like. So, without further ado:
There was a very interesting review by malcolm gladwell of the book Heat Wave, which is all about the heat wave in Chicago in the mid-nineties in wich some 600 people died, and how various neighborhoods were affected differently because of numerous factors, such as whether there were reliable city services, how tightly knit social networks in immigrant neighborhoods helped prevent deaths, etc. All chock full of maps, tables, and graphs for the public policy nerd hidden in all of us. I went to an alumni thing this weekend and I hear that the book is just the talk of the town back in Chicago. It does appear to slam mayor Daley and his administration, which is the sort of thing that's bound to ruffle a few feathers.
And then in the sept 23 issue, there was a very fascinating article about an LA publicist (strangely named "Bumble Ward") and what it's like to be a publicist for movie directors. There was a lot of focus on how publicists must selectively present the truth and occasionally (or often) resort to outright lying to promote their clients, and it makes for a rather unsettling piece of journalism - as I read the article, I kept on thinking, "So then how do I know if what this article says is the truth? How do I know that this isn't also some careful presentation of an assortment of hollywood directors masking as a profile of highly skilled and possibly manipulative publicist?" Not that I really thought of Hollywood being a place concerned about the truth, but I finished the article feeling like I knew less than when I started.
And then in the sept 30th issue, along with an interesting article about stephen jay gould, there was a fascinating piece called "Bumping into Mr. Ravioli" which discussed the author's three-year-old daughter and her imaginary friend, one Charlie Ravioli. The author (Adam Gopnik) would come home and ask his daughter how her day was, and she'd say, "Oh, I ran into Charlie Ravioli and we had I nice little chat" or something to that effect. But after a while, she'd start saying things like "I tried to call Charlie but I keep getting his machine" or "I ran into him, but he had to run." It seemed rather odd to her parents that her imaginary friend didn't have the time to talk to her. Eventually, her imaginary friend started to have an imaginary assistant who would say that Mr. Ravioli was in a meeting and would get back to her when he could. All quite a lot for a child psychologist to mull over.
There was also at some point and article by jonathan franzen about how people had been writing him to tell him that his book sucked and he was a pretentious new york snob writing books that would only be appreciated for being hard for ordinary people to read. This all led to a very interesting essay about what people would like out of their books - that they either convey "status," which consists of books being long and difficult and having a great many allusions and references to other long and difficult books, or that the follow an informal agreement between the reader and the writer that the book be interesting and fun or satisfying to read, and not be a difficult and resentful chore. There's an online interview that continues the discussion.