I Got Your Spooky Right Here

October 31, 2006

The look of the world’s a lie, a face made up
O’er graves and fiery depths; and nothing’s true
But what is horrible. If man could see
The perils and diseases that he elbows,
Each day he walks a mile; which catch at him,
Which fall behind and graze him as he passes;
Then would he know that Life’s a single pilgrim,
Fighting unarmed amongst a thousand soldiers.

— from Death’s Jest-Book (Act I, Act II) by Thomas Lovell Beddoes (June 30, 1803-January 26, 1849)

How Everything Happens

October 31, 2006

Action! Nothing Happens Until Something Moves by Robert Ringer

Like most people, I became acquainted with Robert Ringer through his first best-selling book, Winning Through Intimidation, published in the thick of the filthy Me Decade of the 1970s. In one way that book was a big disappointment: It did not live up to its title. It was reallly about not being intimidated. Which also made it a better book.

Several books later, Robert Ringer is back with something I think many people need to read.

Over the past decade, I have beccome increasingly and consciously aware of a remarkable tool that is not only at my disposal, but is available to every member of the human species. It isn’t that I was not previously familiar with this tool; on the contrary, I have employed it quite effectively throughout my adult life. What has changed is my heightened awareness of its preeminent role in steering the course of events.

The tool I am referring to is action.

Ringer then elaborates on various types and combinations of action:

Truth-Based Action
Value-Oriented Action
Value-Based Action
People Taxes and Action
Freedom and Action
Self-Disciplined Action
Adversity and Action

Each of these are illustrated with real-life examples from Ringer’s many entrepreneurial (and daily life!) adventures. Some of these examples do not show Ringer in the best light — which is very comforting! If someone as well-known and sucessful as Ringer can still make mistakes, we should be less hard on ourselves as we inevitably make our own. (Perhaps Ringer, if not in a book then on his website, can do All The Mistakes I’ve Made, so we can all learn more about what to avoid!)

Two particular points in the book I liked were the section on Dignity (as in Keeping One’s) and the chapter on a brilliant concept he calls “people taxes.” Within the chapter on people taxes, the section “Never Confuse Good Intentions with Bad Consequences” is singularly wise.

Ninety-nine percent of this book is very practical, down-to-earth advice. Ringer devotes one percent to the inexplicable, surprising, and confounding weirdness that suffuses life. Unlike the subjects of SHAM: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless, by Steve Salerno — which I am still reading — Ringer delivers meat, not bait. Act: Get this book.

M. Dylan Raskin – Part 1 (of 2)

October 30, 2006

Little New York Bastard is a deceptively simple account: Raskin, disgusted by New York City (I quote the book’s opening here), finally decides to go somewhere else. That’s it!

As well as searching for a place that will inspire him, he also wants some other things:

All I wanted was to be anonymous. I wanted to be able to go places and do things without being hassled by stupid people and unoriginal and uncreative people[.] [pg. 7]

[…] I was thinking of going someplace that was nice and autumn-like, and wide open. I wanted to find a place where the people were all friendly and all very smart, and where I could be anonymous and exempt from social rules. […] [pg 11]

What makes the book a wonderful work and gives it meat and depth are Raskin’s spot-on observations of the creatures he has to share oxygen with — such as this young woman who accosts him while he’s at college, which leads to a wider observation about modern people in general:

I was looking at her like she was completely out of her mind. She used the words whatever and like as if they were going out of style, just like every other schmuck I meet these days. This is the pathetic way people talk today. It also amused me very much how she said he [her current boyfriend] was “cute.” You will never know how much I hate it when people say ridiculous dribble like that. Why is everyone cute these days? I don’t think anyone realizes what the hell they’re saying anymore — or how stupid they sound when they say it. You really have to wonder what the hell is wrong with some of these people. And I’m sure this guy was such a nice guy, too. Whenever a girl says that, you can bet your ass that he’s really some piece of excrement who has a hard time even affording his drug habit. Usually, these girls end up getting beaten to death by these “nice guys.” I don’t have any pity for them either, to be honest with you. If you’re too stupid and insecure to to get rid of some lowlife, then you aren’t worth two cents, in my opinion. [pg. 20]

And the guests at a Hampton Inn he stayed at during his travels:

The room was full of very old people who had teenagers with them. Most of them looked to be up the creek in bad health — even the teenagers. They all had really bad haircuts and really bad teeth. To be completely forthcoming with you, everyone in that joint looked like a product of incest to me. I’m sure they weren’t, but they sure as hell did a good imitation. And you know the most insane thing was that they were all looking at me like I was an escaped mental patient who had a hook for a hand. I wasn’t being paranoid either. Every single product of incest in that room was looking at me like he wanted to kill me. […] [pg. 72]

And there are his astute observations of places, such as Elmhurst (Illinois):

[…] I realize that I’ve told you about some pretty strange places up to this point, but Elmhurst was in a class by itself. As soon as I got to the city limits I knew that I was far away from my element. What a Nazi-looking town. Seriously, this town was so clean and so pompous-looking, it was unbelievable. There were all of these huge white houses all over the place, and school buses with stop signs on them, and ice cream trucks on every other street. What a lunatic place. It looked like one of those towns in the after-school special movies, the ones that always have some real kooky story about some elementary school teacher who decides to have her husband whacked because he doesn’t screw her the right way or let her drive the convertible. And if you think I’m exaggerating about this place, just listen to what the welcome sign said: “Welcome to Elmhurst, A Proud Community.” I mean, what the hell kind of a place do you think you’re in if you see a sign like that? You’re in hell, that’s where you are. Man did I stick out in that joint. If you know anyone who’s been to Elmhurst, you should ask them about it. Go ahead, see if they agree with me. See if they think I’m exaggerating. Knowing people these days, they’ll probably tell you what a beautiful little town it is. And maybe they’re right — maybe it’s beautiful to look at, but to a guy like me who grew up playing tennis on housing project tennis courts, that place was about as comfortable as undersized Underoos. [pg. 97]

Reality smacks his face while apartment hunting:

[…] Unfortunately, I only found one place with a kitchen window to my liking […] [a]nd this place actually had a sign outside with a price tag. This is what it said: “Apartments for rent: 1 bedroom, $1600/month, 2 bedroom, $1900/month.” What in the hell kind of prices are those? Is that justified, I ask you? That sign made me so sick to my stomach that I felt like hurling right there — right on the sign. There was no way under the sun I could find any two-bit job that would pay me that kind of money. And I still had to pay car insurance and all those other idiotic bills we’re responsible for in this stupid world. I stood there and stared at that sign for a good ten minutes. I kept thinking that maybe I was misreading it or misunderstanding it. Sixteen hundred bucks for a one bedroom — what the hell is wrong with these people? What the hell kind of a corrupt society are we living in? To charge that much for a stinking dump is highway robbery, as far as I’m concerned. And those people who set the prices ought to have their tongues chopped off and fed to vultures. I hate those no good, greedy sons of bitches. [pgs. 130-131]

The road trip is, ultimately, fruitless. Raskin knew from the start, in his bones, that what he was looking for could only be found within himself. But it took getting away to start that trip.

If there was ever a song for this book, it would be Morrissey‘s How Could Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel.

And as for finding The place, Baudelaire didn’t need Google Maps when he wrote N’importe où hors du monde (Any where out of the world).

Raskin’s book is a great debut that would make any writer jealous.

[Excerpts Copyright © 2003 M. Dylan Raskin. Excerpts used without explicit permission under the Fair Use provisions of Copyright law. CopyNazis can go fuck themselves.]

Memos To Sony (Part 1 in a Series)

October 30, 2006

Socialising the eBooks is a thoughtful, deep, and exciting essay by Alan Pritt.

Do not ignore this.

This is what Connect should do.

Or must you learn how from Microsoft and Zune?

Lead! That is the True Sony Way.

Scum Of The Earth That Was

October 30, 2006

Universal Sends Retroactive Bill To Fans It Encouraged To Do Its Viral Marketing

Oh oh oh.

How I long to see you bastards in suits in your future venue: Begging for change in front of your cardboard-box homes!

And even that is really too good for you!

Joss Whedon, where are you?

Update: More details here.


The Music of Life!

October 29, 2006

Paperboy 9/27/2006 10:17 AM

our CD player doesn’t believe us when we tell it how awesome your band is, please help us convince it soon! i guarantee that we’d buy your CD the day we see one available.

Digital Life: Loose Ends

October 29, 2006

Pepper Pad 3: It has the best built-in stand of any portable device I’ve seen. It’s made of a shaped thick metal rod that’s easy to pull out and push back in. Quite a contrast to the scary, flimsy, frustrating plastic stand built into the Samsung Q1. Also, Steve at Carrypad has a mini-review with many pictures.

Samsung Q1: I got to see Microsoft Windows Vista (look, I did all three trademarks!) on it. My first encounter with Vista. Wow, it looks nice (happy, Jeff Kirvin?). The always-ready HWR strip that zips out from the side is just a wonderful touch — and even though I was being real pissant and just play handwriting (not taking it seriously), it recognized every damned thing I wrote! Whoa! It was also fast. JK on the Run has had several articles about putting Vista on a Q1: see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 3.5, and a bonus post. Still, my question remains: Since the Q1 lacks an optical drive, how can an XPed one be upgraded to Vista by an average customer (that would be me!)?

Asus R2H UMPC: I got to fondle one. Sorry Asus fans, but I didn’t like it. Sure it has better buttons than the Q1 (although those buttons tend to distract me from touching the screen), but in my hand it felt like a fat slab. Which is strange since I compared it to the Q1 right next to it and they’re just about the same size! Plus, being a NYC grid rat, I have no need for the built-in GPS feature.

Sony UX microPC: I finally got to do my Patented Pocket Test with it! The weather caused me to wear a different jacket on consecutive days so I got to try it in both of them. Shockingly, it fit in both inside jacket pockets just fine! So much for those who’ve said it’s not pocketable. Never believe everything you read — including what I write. Try everything for yourself.

Sony MYLO: It’s a cute little device. It’s not aimed at me, though. Sony seems to be gaining traction among the college crowd (keep P2P alive, kids!) with it. Plus, some non-college people are finding it to be of use too: See comments here and here; and a review here.

It seemed like half of the show was devoted to gaming. There were probably a lot of significant announcements and sneak peeks and such, all of which was water off my duck’s back. I have no interest in games. Sure, I saw the Playstation 3 outputting to a Sony HDTV — but I didn’t see what the big deal was. (In fact, I don’t see what the big deal about HDTV is, period. It all just looks like what I’ve been seeing on computer monitors for years and years, just obscenely bigger! And now that TV is going digital, you can be damned sure in fifteen or so years they’ll be touting UltraDTV. Everyone oohs and aahs over Step One while I cringe at the next steps no one is paying any attention to… yeah, I’m a spoilsport.)

Digital Life is what PC Expo used to be: a big, sprawling show that allows everyone to touch stuff not readily or not yet available. I especially liked the fact that, as with the original PC Expo, there were many small vendors. Small vendors always have interesting stuff (see my first and second reports which mentioned some of them). If you’ve never attended, do.

Sony Reader: Gizmodo’s Hands All Over

October 28, 2006

Just what their title says.

Excellent pictures there. Techpr0norific!

Free Audiobooks

October 28, 2006

I could have just FURLed this, but I want it here: Librivox.

*gasp!* RSS on iPod

October 28, 2006

As usual, I’m probably the last person to know about this.