Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Harry Potter ebook store opens—and the books are straight epub

The Pottermore Shop opened its doors today. That’s J.K. Rowling’s home on the web for Harry Potter ebooks and audiobooks. It’s the only place Potter series ebooks will be available.

Somehow I expected a little more glitz in the production of the books, but a sample shows it’s straightforward un-Applfied epub format. I think I like that.

Click on the image below to look at a bigger picture of my Sigil screenshot.

Posted by amyloo on 03/27 at 05:40 AM


Monday, March 19, 2012

Helter skelter

Not so sure I agree with Keith Appell, the GOP strategest The Hill quotes in a story about a possible brokered Republican national convention.

“It could turn into a free-for-all, and be somewhat unseemly, and no one wants that,” Appell said.

Actually there’s a faction that would love to introduce chaos into the elite establishment game. This group of voters is certain that a Palin-West ticket is the only way to beat Obama, and would wear the “unseemly” label with pride. They’re more audacious than the president can afford to be these days, and you have to almost admire that streak of rebelliousness in the abstract.

What is the GOP to do with its naughty Tea Party children?

Posted by amyloo on 03/19 at 02:49 AM


Monday, March 12, 2012

Civilian slaughter in Afghanistan: Is the media asking the wrong question?

We don’t know enough yet about the soldier who massacred Afghani civilians in Kandahar. Surely the tern “lone nut” pretty much must apply.

What struck me, though, in reading and watching some of the commentary about it, was that the media’s next question about it is “Should we get out of Afghanistan?” Yes! I think so, but as a society how about asking this question: “Shouldn’t we think about changing the age-old military strategy that calls for training service members to dehumanize the enemy?”

Psychologist David Livingstone Smith came out with “Less Than Human,” a book about just that question last year. Here’s an interview about it.

There’s a short book excerpt on the NPR page.

When we think of dehumanization during World War II our minds turn to the Holocaust, but it wasn’t only the Germans who dehumanized their enemies. While the architects of the Final Solution were busy implementing their lethal program of racial hygiene, the Russian-Jewish poet and novelist Ilya Ehrenburg was churning out propaganda for distribution to Stalin’s Red Army. These pamphlets seethed with dehumanizing rhetoric: they spoke of “the smell of Germany’s animal breath,” and described Germans as “two-legged animals who have mastered the technique of war” — “ersatz men” who ought to be annihilated. “The Germans are not human beings,” Ehrenburg wrote, ”... If you kill one German, kill another — there is nothing more amusing for us than a heap of German corpses.”

Smith says it’s been happening all the way back to Mesopotamia.

Sebastian Junger, author and war correspondent, is good on the present-day American version of the state of mind—a military training tactic, but also a way to live with oneself when you kill people in wars:

But of course they have dehumanized the enemy — otherwise they would have to face the enormous guilt and anguish of killing other human beings. Rather than demonstrate a callous disregard for the enemy, this awful incident might reveal something else: a desperate attempt by confused young men to convince themselves that they haven’t just committed their first murder — that they have simply shot some coyotes on the back 40.

Also check out this editorial from the Juneau Empire, following the sentencing of Alaskan Jeremy Morlock.

Despite denials by the military, many veterans claim basic training emphasizes dehumanization. Because it’s easier to kill a person perceived as being less than human, soldiers are encouraged to believe their enemy is a lower form of life instead of a worthy human adversary. But such thinking fosters such deep hatred that it can readily grow to include civilians from the demonized culture.

Finally, here is part of a talk by Paul Chappell for Crossroads of Peace.


Posted by amyloo on 03/12 at 05:12 AM


Friday, March 09, 2012

Neat way to configure a standard Twitter widget

Reading Howard Kurtz's preview of a TV interview with Game Change makers, the Twitter widget on the page caught my eye, I think because it was updating fairly quickly.

It's just a standard Twitter search widget provided by Twitter, but it's set up to show tweets from three different media writers:
  • Kurtz, writer for The Daily Beast and host of CNN's Reliable Sources
  • David Carr, media and culture columnist for The New York Times,and
  • David Folkenflik, media correspondent for NPR

I like it because it doesn't hawk only Beast writers, and the three tweeps involved are prolific and good at this Twitter thing.

In case you're one of those people who thinks you can't implement something like this yourself? You can. Don't let anybody tell you that you can't and don't tell yourself that either. And if considering using these kinds of drop-dead simple embeds in a business setting, and somebody thinks you need to waste the time of five people to have a meeting about it? What you do is just laugh.

@HowardKurtz   @carr2n   @davidfolkenflik  
Posted by amyloo on 03/09 at 06:02 AM

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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

More Game Change reviews

  • Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times,  (who was at The Undefeated screening I attended in Chicago last year). His overall takeaway is the one that seems to be forming up as the conventional wisdom about the film—that it will evoke sympathy for Sarah Palin even among her detractors.

    She was thrust into a most unusual situation and everyone knows what it feels like to be in over your head. That’s the kind of fairness that will play well to everybody except the bottiest of the Palinbots who will not be able to entertain the notion that she ever was or ever could be in over her head. It seems like the fan club would love the phase where Palin stands up to her handlers. However, in my observation while researching the phenomenon for some fiction I’m working on, the hardcore supporters will discount the whole endeavor if every detail does not play out like a testimonial for canonization.

I’ll add to the list as I run across more reviews. Film and TV reviewers have seen the film, and we can expect more political writers to weigh in after the Washington premiere. Joe Scarborough and Chris Matthews have mentioned they’ve already seen it.

Julianne Moore, who plays Palin in Game Change, will be a guest on Morning Joe today.

It debuts Saturday at 9 p.m. Eastern on HBO.

Posted by amyloo on 03/06 at 04:47 AM

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Monday, March 05, 2012

Funny Time blog comment exchange between Palinbot and writer of the post

Time entertainment writer James Poniewozik couldn’t help himself and had to engage when a prolific bot clearly hadn’t read his post.

Posted by amyloo on 03/05 at 03:42 AM

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Sunday, March 04, 2012

Matt Taibbi explains the mortgage crisis in five minutes

Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi gave a talk at a Occupy last week and managed to sum up the whole mortgage crisis in just a few minutes with the help of an effective prop: a shopping bag.

It’s one of those succinct summaries that could become one offering in an organized collection of backgrounders for use in bringing readers up to speed on an issue.

Of course if a reader can take the time to really understand, The Planet Money/This American Life radio program, ”The Giant Pool of Money” is the very best backgrounder to link to on the mortgage mess.

@mtaibbi   @occupytvny   @planetmoney   @ThisAmerLife  
Posted by amyloo on 03/04 at 04:21 AM


Saturday, March 03, 2012

Long interview with Game Change book authors, the media blitz is on, HBO and the net

Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, co-authors of the Game Change book, gave a 55-minute interview to C-SPAN that aired on Wednesday. The video is not embeddable, so you’ll have to go there. The authors have talked about the book on C-SPAN before, but with the HBO movie premiering in a week, it’s very much back in the news.

If you are mostly interested in the juicy Palin bits, as the screen adapters were, skip to 33:00 or so. The whole interview is good, though, and is supplemented by several clips from the 2008 campaign. I enjoyed the book, and think it made sense for HBO to focus on just one of the storylines from it. If it had been a mini series, that would have been a different matter, but for a two-hour movie, some honing in seems appropriate. Of course Palin fans are outraged that HBO had the nerve to adapt only a part of the book. Apparently that particular creative choice should not be allowed.

Check out Halperin’s new Twitter avatar based on a 2010 Archie comic cover.

The media blitz is upon us

Get ready for a packed week of promotion running up to the March 20 debut. Heilemann was on Bill Maher’s panel last night. Howard Kurtz will do a panel about the movie on Sunday.


  • Here a take on the movie from David Frum, every liberal’s favorite conservative. He will be on Kurtz’s Reliable Sources program on CNN too, not sure if it will be to talk about Game Change or Limbaugh. He’d be a likely candidate for either or both segments. I shouldn’t link to this dumb Reliable Sources show page. CNN doesn’t have a page of RS video that I can find on its otherwise decent news site.
  • New York Times article by Brian Stelter, who addresses HBO’s choice to focus only the Palin story
  • Blog post by Time magazine TV watcher, James Poniewozik. He thinks Game Change is a bad movie but counters Palin’s assertion that it is based on a false narrative by saying he “doubt[s] that every reporter who’s covered the McCain-Palin campaign has falsified things.”
HBO and the net

How about post-premiere scraps for the internet crowd, HBO? Have you thought about trying something special online—like organizing a watch and chat event? (After the Saturday night debut, please; first-time viewers will want to give it their full attention.) Or how about allowing embeds of selected longer scenes, so bloggers can offer teasers as entertainment, not just your promotional trailers?

HBO can tend to the clumsy and greedy in its social media tactics. A few months ago I tried the “Tweet this” feature from the excellent HBO Go iPad app, and was horrified and embarrassed to see that I’d tweeted not a pointer to the program I was watching but a pitch to my followers to download the app. I’m sure I was expecting to send a friendly GetGlue sort of message like “I’m watching [so and so].” But that’s how brands learn what not to do in social, because they will get loud and instant feedback about missteps. Then there’s that all-Flash site of theirs. And pointers from iOS devices take you to the mobile home page—not to the specific page you were trying to read.

But I adore HBO, generally, as TV, honestly I do. It brought me The Wire (David Simon gave it to me), and that’s impacted my life as much as my passion for Jane Austen and George Eliot books, which is considerable.

You have to wonder if HBO is planning for the inevitable pirating of the movie by people who don’t subscribe but really want to see this movie. I hope they’ll go easy on the thieves, realizing they will be mostly extremely interested viewers and prospective subscribers, not resellers. We can’t all afford premium channels, though a lot of us 99ers scrimp in other ways to compensate for the luxury. Scheduling a free access period while the movie is in heavy rotation would serve the channel’s image best in the long run—far better than meting out punishment, or even considering black avenger countermeasures

@Markhalperin   @jheil   @HBOWatch   @HBO   @cspan
Posted by amyloo on 03/03 at 03:24 AM

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Thursday, March 01, 2012

Embrace the fedora!

Orrin Hatch’s fedora remark from the Senate floor yesterday was great imagery. These guys are good at coming up with sound bites; you have to give the conservatives that much.

“President Obama has traded in the hard hat and lunch bucket category of the Democratic Party for the hipster fedora and a double skim latte.”

I wonder who who wrote the line. Maybe this guy? At least Matt Harakal was canny enough not to adopt the Jon Kyl aide’s manner of explaining a Planned Parenthood mis-statment. (Not intended to be factual.)

I love the fedora image and think it’s one of those insults that ought to be embraced and celebrated, merchandised in the online campaign store. Like so:

@MHarDC   @OrrinHatch   @DavidAxelrod  
Posted by amyloo on 03/01 at 06:43 AM

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