Browse Happy

Brought to you by the folks who began, run, and promote the Web Standards movement, it’s cool to see a site finally dedicated to looking at safer, better browsers.
Included on the site are testimonials of people who switched off of Internet Explorer for a variety of means and now use either Firefox, Mozilla, Opera, or Safari. It’s about time that the Web standards movement is pushing the positive benefits of standards, which include better and safer browsing as this site clearly advocates. I’m hoping that this site will start to bring real, readable, and realizble Web standards to the people.


I ordered Nicholson Baker’s new “novel,” Checkpoint: A Novel, which at 128 pages in length is more like a novella.
I haven’t read it yet, but I did listen to Mr. Baker’s interview on The Leonard Lopate show and I found him to be incredibly modest for his accomplishments, which includes helping to save American libraries’ fragile physical artifacts from history’s dungheap. In fact, I’m buying the book because of his (real or apparent) modesty which lies in stark contrast to the content of the book.
In case you don’t know, in this story, two men discuss, in a hotel room, the implications of killling the President. It’s a grotesque of course, a modern grand guignol that happens to also stand as a read on current events. I thought it appropriate to order during the current RNC less-than-rampage through NYC.
(We babysat our friends’ daughter today so that the mother and father could march in today’s 100,000-strong protest.)

New Treo / Nutrio

I never bought (into) the Treo 600, which is an all-in-one Palm OS organizer/mobile phone/camera with browser and email applications released about 9 months ago or so. Yet, I desired it so.
But, typing “treo” into Google today, I found that some soul has found photos of the unreleased, redesigned Treo, possibly named the 650 and probably to be released with in a month or two. I know, I know, it’s gross. But, if you’re still grotesquely interested, here is a Treo 600 | The Perfect All-In-One Phone, PDA, MP3 Player, Portable Movie Player, Digtal Camera, Portable Game Player : Treo 650 & 600: Side-by-Side Comparison” href=””>side-by-side comparison.
Hey, the blog is called “Deckchairs on the Titanic.”

Landing in NYC

The Republicans are coming and, while I’m not as hateful as many of my fellow New Yorkers may be, I’m thrilled that Wayne Barrett took the opportunity to write the Village Voice cover story called The 10 Ways Bush Screwed New York. I see Wayne regularly and I can’t wait to congratulate him on this piece.
In fact, I’ve been waiting for a piece like this for a long time; why it’s so difficult for other New York-based media magazines and newspapers to rush to the defense of New York City, which gets pennies to other states’ dollars in spending after it went through a massive attack and an ugly financial implosion — it’s truly beyond me.
Briefly, here are Mr. Barrett’s Top Ten:

  1. Osama is at large thanks to the war in Iraq.
  2. The 9-11 investigation was shamefully resisted by President Bush for no good reason.
  3. The Bush team, armed with the knowledge that something was coming down the pike, did nothing to even try to prevent 9/11.
  4. The Bush Deficit, now at $500 billion, will have to hurt domestic programs in NYC.
  5. Bush has been cheap when it comes to going the extra mile for New York’s struggling economy
  6. NY is ranked “35th in anti-terrorism per capital funding and 50th in bioterrorism.” Egh.
  7. Ground Zero workers (and maybe all of us in Brooklyn under the WTC plume in September 2001) probably inhaled too much crap, but the EPA is partisan and disassembling.
  8. Government educational funding cuts have hit NYC super-hard.
  9. Bush is proposing to cut $107 million for the city’s housing vouchers – a first!
  10. Bush, alienating his allies overseas and international treaties generally, has made NYC far and away less safe.


I bought the Wrens’ Meadowlands album because the cover is cool and because a massive 49 reviewers on Amazon gave the album an average of 4.5 stars. Also because “Customers who bought this title also bought: Broken Social Scene, The Shins, Sufjan Stevens, Death Cab for Cutie, Decembrists, Franz Ferdinand, Modest Mouse, and Walkmen.” Why else would I buy it?
I’m pretty into this little album, by a bunch of guys from New Jersey. Their influences are many, and the album builds in that the each tightly written song on the list is better than the next one. The entirety is accomplished but I mostly appreciate the odd sonic surprises throughout, mostly during a song’s bridge.
Bands seem more heavily influenced by other bands than ever before. Here are Wrens’ recognizable influences:

  • The Pixies
  • Lush
  • My Bloody Valentine
  • Flaming Lips
  • The Vines
  • The Strokes
  • Grandaddy

Where RSS Is

RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, seems, to little old me, to be at a bit of standstill. It’s not clear why as RSS has the potential to change how we read (and someday, respond) to websites. There are a few advances, such as the amazing little PulpFiction for Mac OS X, which is way sweeter than the old school and (someday updated) NetNewsWire also for Macintosh.
Essentially, RSS allows a user to quickly scan and read news reports, weblog posts, and other updated content on the Web that rely on an XML format. Like faxes, email, websites or other massively collected and distributed information medium, RSS will not be valuable until it reaches a tipping point where more people use it than not.
Here’s what I believe could kick-start RSS:

  1. Web browsers need to find a way to integrate RSS into their interfaces. Apple’s Safari is slated to do this, but until Microsoft works out a way to do it, RSS will fail.
  2. Companies like NewsGator need to take a more aggressive approach to pushing RSS to email clients like Microsoft Outlook. (They have a great looking product.) This would mean advertising in mainstream technology magazines but also offering support on other mail clients.
  3. RSS readers need to allow some style sheet formatting to be picked up so that reading within an RSS reader is more like reading on the Web and a separate Web browser becomes unnecessary. Technically, I’d imagine that the style sheets of a site would need to be exported to the RSS reader as part of the feed. Some folks have suggested ways to do this.

Garden's State

I took part of the afternoon off today to see some flawed, but very good, entertainment: Garden State, directed by Scrubs lead funny-guy Zach Braff.
Mr. Braff has a very good ear for dialogue, which is the usually the first thing I look for (well, listen for) in a new writer/director. He understands how people communicate with eyebrows and raised lips and teeth as well and, in that respect, his filming of Natalie Portman was so very right on. Ms. Portman, I’ve always held, is every 27 year-old’s dream of a girlfriend and Mr. Braff, well, shagged her. I mean snagged.
The film, with a beautiful Flash website, falls apart in a number of crucial places like the middle and the end. This is mostly because Mr. Braff created a visually stunning but derivative beginning that sets up the rest of the drama and fails on its own terms. A few characters are also misplaced (or miscast): teh father, played by Ian Holm, is a cipher. Method Man, playing a bell hop, is too much himself and not, well, a bell hop. But Peter Sarsgaard almost steals the show as a burn-out grave robber; he reminded me so much of a young John Malkovich in Dangerous Liasons that he may have been playing an homage.
Mr. Braff puts the lie to the Hitchcockian “actors are sheep” and the film, a bit like New Jersey suburban filmic traumas American Beauty or Boiler Room or, perhaps most appropriately Happiness, tries too hard. But there was a tremendously heartfelt sadness trying to emanate from the film and I appreciated being wrapped up in it.
P.S. How could I forget? The film has a very good soundtrack that features faves The Shins, Nick Drake, Iron and Wine and Remy Zero. Perhaps the most beautiful image of the film is when Ms. Portman smiles gorgeously at Mr. Braff as she introduces him to The Shins’ “New Slang,” which is what I would have listened to had Natalie Portman introduced me to The Shins.

When it is Scary

Yesterday’s and today’s New York Times had some of the scariest pages within that I’ve seen in a long, long time. It wasn’t articles about nuclear terrorism, or lies and deceptions, or financial crisis, or massive hurricanes, or global warming, or the failure of increasingly popular charter schools, all of which appeared.
Today, two pieces appeared next to each other on the Op-Ed pages: Paul Krugman’s Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Saving the Vote” href=””>Saving the Vote, which states that, because of electronic voting, the Florida election results in 2004 could call into question the entire election again, and an editorial titled Interrogating the Protesters, which points out the FBI’s interviewing of potential protesters as if they were terrorists.
You just have to read these two pieces and combine this with Bob Herbert’s piece about Florida state police officers currently visiting elderly black voters — and not to bring them meals on wheels. Politically left or right, one gets an icy, cold feeling about the future of American democracy. These need to be read.