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Archives for September, 2003

September 24, 2003

Matt Drudge, how nice of you to join us.

Daniel Radosh

The formerly relevant proto-blogger has this "world exclusive" today: "As the final days of the historic California recall election near, another historic development has unfolded behind the scenes. Campaign operatives are scrambling to contain full nude erotic photographs taken by controversialist Robert Mapplethorpe -- full nude photographs of Arnold Schwarzenegger!... Voters have never seen an elected official in such detail."

Never, that is, except for right here and numerous other places (and he ain't elected yet, pal). True, these pictures aren't Mapplethorpes (as far as I know), but even the alleged existence of Mapplethorpe Arnold nudes isn't a Drudge exclusive, as it was mentioned two weeks ago in something called The Washington Post (scroll down; the unintentionally appropriate headline refers to something else).

There are, of course, famous non-nude Mapplethorpe photos of Schwarzenegger. Here's one I published by accident in my college newspaper (long story) during the Cincinnati affair.

You don't think Drudge is just confused, do you?

September 23, 2003

Onancock Baptist Church. I wonder

Daniel Radosh

Onancock Baptist Church. I wonder if the youth group is able to get through even a single session without hysterical giggling fits.

September 19, 2003

Sadly, no! has scanned in

Daniel Radosh

Sadly, no! has scanned in the complete 1992 SPY article on Arnold Schwarzenegger, in case that photo and my summary weren't enough for you.

September 18, 2003

The Habitrail implications alone are

Daniel Radosh

The Habitrail implications alone are staggering.

September 16, 2003

Domain name of the day.

Daniel Radosh

Domain name of the day.

September 15, 2003

Not that you'd want to,

Daniel Radosh

Not that you'd want to, but feel free to download Mariah Carey MP3s without guilt. Mariah Carey says she thinks it's okay to "buy" a dress from a store, wear it once, then return it. "I think if somebody feels the need that they really need a new outfit and didn't have the money and they don't get caught... I mean, it's not illegal. If it's not against the law, I don't think it's wrong, because everybody's gotta live, you know?

September 13, 2003

Nexis is pretty, and sooooo soft.

Daniel Radosh

Number of news articles about a study linking ecstasy to Parkinson's disease in the first week after that study was announced last year: 104.
Number of news articles in the first week since the study was retracted because the researchers accidentally tested methamphetamine, not ecstasy: 44.
Number of the latter articles headlined "Party Pill Still Not Safe, Experts Warn": at least 1.

September 13, 2003

The dark impulse that led

Daniel Radosh

The dark impulse that led us to record God's Company, the Three's Company theme as sung by Johnny Cash, stemmed from the fact that we are all huge Johnny Cash fans -- fans doesn't even cover it, really -- and were thus a touch bitter that he didn't even get his own obituary in many places because John Ritter -- nothing against him -- happened to die the same day. Said bitterness, naturally, drove us to cheap ironic detachment, so perhaps we are more Ritter's children than Cash's after all.

Now Eric Zorn explains why Ritter's death is bigger news than Cash's (though not why the two should be connected by any responsible media outlet). Link via A List A Day, one of my favorite newish blogs, because who doesn't like lists? And he gives you a new one every day. (At least, that was the original idea, he seems to be getting more traditionally bloggy, though there are still plenty of lists).

September 13, 2003

Why is this man

Daniel Radosh


Why is this man laughing?
OK, he's not. But there is a picture of him laughing (which I couldn't find, so I guess there is something Google can't do) that is published every year with that caption in Esquire's Dubious Achievement Awards. For the magazine's 70th anniversary, six humor writers were asked to propose, for the first time, an answer to that question. They must've been turned down by a lot of people, because they eventually came to me. The resulting quiz -- cleverly titled "Why Is This Man Really Laughing," is not online, but you can find it easily on the last page of the October issue. Stephen Sherrill, of course, has the funniest answer, but I think I hold my own.

Also in that issue, a pull-out reprint of Esquire's all-time best story, Frank Sinatra Has A Cold, by Gay Talese, which alone is worth the cover price (unless you want to read a free bootleg version on the Web, I mean). The runners-up are also worth reading (and the free versions are authorized).

I will leave any snide remarks that long-lived magazines inevitably open themselves to when looking back on their glory days to, say, TMFTML or The Antic Muse.

September 13, 2003

How Google Conquered the World.

Daniel Radosh

How Google Conquered the World. My latest briefing for The Week includes such frequently asked questions as, "Is there anything Google can't do?"

September 12, 2003

God's Company. Chris Tennant

Daniel Radosh


God's Company. Chris Tennant and I were sitting around reminiscing about Johnny Cash and John Ritter, and we got to wondering what it would've been like if Cash had recorded the Three's Company theme song. So we called up Francis Heaney, who quickly laid down a track, and we all agreed that it might have sounded something like this. Only more like Johnny Cash.

Click to play MP3. Right-click to download. Are we going to hell for this?

September 12, 2003

I still miss someone.

Daniel Radosh

I still miss someone.

September 11, 2003

"Say what you will about

Daniel Radosh

"Say what you will about Apple's iTunes online music service, it is not the ideal solution. It is hard to believe you should pay US99 for a new hit and the same price for a one-hit wonder made 15 years ago." I've been thinking the same thing. Seems like it'd be easy enough to have automatically-scaled pricing. Set a base rate of 10-20 cents, which increases to, say, $1.50 depending entirely on how frequently the song is downloaded. Sure, Avril fans end up paying a little more, but overall, music is more appropriately priced. Hey, look at me, I'm a free-marketeer again! (Well, a controlled-marketeer, anyway).

September 10, 2003

295 and counting. And there's

Daniel Radosh

295 and counting. And there's no category for blogging-related pressure. On the bright side, I don't have to worry about those extra 10 points for a vacation anytime soon.

September 10, 2003

A wobbly mix of new-agey

Daniel Radosh

A wobbly mix of new-agey hokiness and Magnolia-style ensemble storytelling that is somehow still an unexpectedly engaging film. Film Threat raves... OK, compliments... OK, does not completely trash String Theory, my friend Jake's writing-and-directing debut. Actually, I'm pretty impressed. Sure you could debate whether "Far from being a bad movie!" or "The actors are uniformly competent!" would make a better blurb. But I prefer to focus on "ambitious and well crafted," or "I may suggest to the budding writer-director an alternate career path as a web-based spiritual guru or cult leader." (Don't think he hasn't tried.) Please don't click on that last link. I'd advise you to watch the trailer, but it seems to be offline. Hell, you could probably just e-mail Jake and ask him to send you a DVD. If you're nice, he probably will. I've seen the movie twice, and if you can stomach the new-agey hoakiness, it's a treat.

September 10, 2003

That's funny, she doesn't look

Daniel Radosh

That's funny, she doesn't look Jewish.

September 10, 2003

Swiss condemn suicide attacks. Well,

Daniel Radosh

Swiss condemn suicide attacks. Well, that oughta stop 'em.

September 9, 2003

Crying "kiddie porn" is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

Daniel Radosh

I won't be surprised if Bush tries it out as his next lame rationale for the war on Iraq. For now we'll settle for the RIAA saying that it's not just trying to stop music sharing — it wants to protect the kids. A pedophile could send "an instant message to the unwitting young person who downloads an Olsen twins or Pokemon file from the pedophile's share folder on Kazaa," RIAA chief Cary Sherman said, sexing up, just a bit, a GAO report. (It said that some files with those keywords were actually porn -- more on that shortly -- not that pedophiles were IM'ing people who searched for them).

Now for a couple of oddities within the GAO report. Here's the The New York Times paraphrase:

A study in March by the General Accounting Office found that KaZaA would be effective for someone looking for child pornography. The agency searched for 12 terms associated with child pornography, such as "incest" and "underage." It did not actually download the files it found, but it determined that 42 percent of them had titles or descriptions associated with pornographic images of children.

So, my first reaction was, They didn't download the files? That means they didn't learn anything, since everyone knows that porn-spammers spice up their files names with keywords that have nothing to do with the actual images. Then I re-read the paragraph and realized that what the GAO was saying is that even when you go out of your way to look for kiddy porn, less than half of the results will even have "titles or descriptions associated with pornographic images of children," much less actually BE pornographic images of children. WTF? I mean, when you use "incest" or "underage" as a search term, shouldn't 100 percent of the results contain those search terms, even if the file name is ultimately inaccurate? Unless the Times just got this wrong, KaZaA's search function is seriously flawed (or are there that many non-porn images that are accurately described with such words? If so, what would they be of?).

Now an interlude from another paraphrase of this report:

The GAO's auditors chose not to open them because under federal law, it is illegal to knowingly possess child pornography...The auditors did, however, ask the U.S. Customs' CyberSmuggling Center to test a smaller number of images found using three keywords related to child pornography. "The CyberSmuggling Center analysis of the 341 downloaded images showed that 149 (about 44 percent) of the downloaded images contained child pornography," the report says. "The center classified the remaining images as child erotica (13 percent), adult pornography (29 percent), or non-pornographic (14 percent)."

That seems to be a significantly higher percentage of ACTUAL kid-porn than the GAO's own test would have turned up, had they followed through. BTW, I wonder if, say, Trent Lott knows that the U.S. Customs office is being paid to parse the difference between "child pornography" and "child erotica."

Back to the Times:

A second aspect of its study measured the likelihood a child would inadvertently be exposed to pornography using KaZaA. It examined 157 files downloaded in response to three search terms of interest to children — Britney, Pokémon and Olsen twins. It classified 49 percent of those files as pornographic.

OK, that's a little creepy, though I'm curious how those 77 hits break down (Britney 72, Olsen twins 5, Pokémon, 0?). That seems like pertinent information. Also, the paraphrase makes it sound like kids looking for Britney Spears MP3s might stumble onto porn, when it's likely that the GAO singled out image files (or it would have had a much lower "success rate") (Update:Daze points out that MSNBC states outright that hardcore porn is "finding its way into music files.") Anyway, here's News.com again with the CyberSmuggling Center's similar test:

Of the 177 images the CyberSmuggling Center downloaded from Kazaa using "three keywords representing the names of a popular female singer, child actors and a cartoon character," it classified only two as falling into the category of child pornography. The remainder would be legal to possess--and legal to distribute assuming they did not violate other restrictions such as obscenity or copyright laws..

Only two? That's a huge difference (and it's one reason you won't see the C3 version of this test reported very often). Update: Ah, I wasn't reading closely enough. The Times (following the GAO's lead?) switched gears without warning, jumping from child pornography to the ordinary variety in successive paragraphs. I blame the media for my confusion.

In summary, if you're looking for fake nudie pics of Mary Kate and Ashley, the GAO is gonna do a much better job of finding them for you than the CyberSmuggling Center. I wonder how much that study cost....

September 8, 2003

The McSweeneysization of the mass

Daniel Radosh

The McSweeneysization of the mass media continues.

September 8, 2003

Do Candidates Dream of Electric

Daniel Radosh

Do Candidates Dream of Electric Votes? John Holden of The Wave administers the Voight-Kampff Test to aspirants to the San Francisco mayor's office. Geek reporting at its finest. (Thanks to Matt)

September 8, 2003

More trendspotting silliness. Guess what?

Daniel Radosh

More trendspotting silliness. Guess what? Porn is going mainstream. Again. Expect many more articles like this when Skin debuts. You'll know it's actually true, of course, only when you stop seeing claims that it is. After all, nobody's writing stories about the mainstreaming of, say, action movies or memoirs. (The only sign that this day is approaching was this New York Times article, a look at adult DVDs that doesn't try to justify itself.)

Meanwhile, I've just written a talking point for The Week off the flurry of articles about another trendspotting staple, the premature sexualizing of youth. Best evidence that this is simply another generation of parents who don't get their kids? Betsy Hart's attempt to deny that: "I was in high school in the early eighties. I liked to dress FUN. I liked to go to parties and date. I liked to look good. And for the record, I was not a nerd. But I never, ever wanted to look like a slut."

But, oops, old man Stanley Crouch undermines Hart by tracing the trend back too far: "When Madonna began rising to prominence nearly 20 years ago, one man wrote of having arrived in a town in the late afternoon. On the ride to his hotel, he assumed he had entered the most highly populated red-light district he had ever seen. The truth was that junior and high school girls in Madonna garb had just gotten out of class and were walking home!"

Oh come on, obviously they were just dressed FUN!

September 4, 2003

Why I believe Arnold when

Daniel Radosh

Why I believe Arnold when he says he's a liar. Kaus Files has a reasonable take on Arnold's new explanation for the Oui interview: "Schwarzenegger, remember, was determined to rid bodybuilding of its homosexual image. So he comes up with a group gangbang incident--not only is he straight, but all the guys in the gym were straight! And the girls giving hummers backstage at the Mr. Olympia contest--that's just too good. Also well-targeted. ('Mom, I want to be a bodybuilder!')"

In a related story, Dean Murphy in the NY Times offers this clever construction:

Earlier in the day, Mr. Schwarzenegger made an appearance at the California State Fair and Exposition near Sacramento, where he also lauded the accomplishments of California's workers, but insisted he would not accept money from their unions. "I will never take money from the special interests, from Indian gaming, from unions or anything like that," he said.

Mr. Schwarzenegger has reneged on early campaign promises not to accept campaign contributions from anyone. State disclosures show he has collected more than $1 million from companies and individuals with business before the state. "I get donations from businesses and individuals absolutely, because they're powerful interests who control things," he said today.

He declined to explain the difference between special interests and powerful interests.

It probably doesn't help Arnold to point out that he has also said "Any of those kinds of real big, powerful special interests, if you take money from them, you owe them something." Wait... are "big, powerful, special interests different from ordinary special and/or powerful ones?

September 4, 2003

When I said that radosh.net

Daniel Radosh

When I said that radosh.net would make online news history, which I never did, I did not mean that it would literally make it into a story about the history of online news. But thanks to Ana it has. In this OJR panel discussion, the Muse decries the "inappropriate juxtapositions" caused by some advertising, such as the one I pointed out here.

She also says the ideal news site "would look and feel like a combination of the Wall Street Journal and porn." So this doesn't already?

September 2, 2003

You won't see this in Entertainment Weekly.

Daniel Radosh

Nice to see such a a highbrow pun in an AP headline. But the editor who insisted on putting it in quotes -- a condescending visual "get it?" -- should be spanked.

September 1, 2003

It doesn't get any more

Daniel Radosh

It doesn't get any more serious than a Rhinocerus about to charge your ass. As seen in the Sept. Harper's, the hilarious cybersex pranks of J-Dogg. It always amazes me that people can be so horny that they will persist in trying to maintain their fantasy no matter how bizarre and off-topic their online partner gets. J-Dogg has a terrific sense of how to parody standard cyber scenarios, but for sheer weirdness, no one is better than Amber Forever, a purported 14-year-old girl whose desperate suitors must contend with, among much else, her mad-scientist father and (my favorite) her recurrent short term full aphasic memory disorder.


No, I don't have any more pics of "me."

Walking that fine line between pranking and entrapment, the crew over at Perverted Justice lures pedophiles and then posts their names, addresses, and photos. It's a funny, kinda punk rock idea, done with flair, but the joke is frequently ruined because the pranksters insist on annotating their transcripts with unconvincing asides about how sick the chats make them, like they're being forced to do it.

Know of any good chat room pranks that I missed? Lemme know and I'll add them.

September 1, 2003

There goes my corner on

Daniel Radosh

There goes my corner on the market. How did this guy get the Salon link?

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