Friday, February 26, 2010

Going Away Party


The internet is a very disorganized place. I think our children and grandchildren will laugh at us for (among many other things) even trying to bushwhack our way through this chirping, hissing, dripping jungle of data, media, networks-within-networks, and kittens doing adorable things. The next truly killer app will be the one that is able to organize content, suss out what matters and what matters to you, and deliver it to you on a silver platter (or on a lunch tray, or in the Stanley Cup, or however you want it served).

The big question that follows is how, exactly, will content-- written, visual, audio, etc.-- be sorted and organized? Who will be the decider? Will the New York Times editorial board bestow the label of true and important? Will Google's algorithms sort items based on myriad criteria to allow the relevant to rise to the top? Will billions of netizens vote and decide? Who knows.

Here's what I do think is true: In dealing with the oceans of media and content, perhaps the most valuable validators will be our friends. People we know in the "real world" (insofar as it remains separate from the virtual world) will share links, photos, videos, blog posts, quotes, quips, and other stuff they like with you, their friend, and you will share back with them. We already do this of course, through e-mail and IM, status message and Tweet, Google Reader, Buzz, YouTube, Flickr and Facebook. And through our own blogs.

Here's Where it Gets Real

Increasingly, I have found myself using this blog as a way to share stuff I liked with you, my erstwhile audience. Most of my serious thinking and writing goes into Global Mobile these days, so Red Sky at Night became a forum for passing along the good and hilarious work of others. Increasingly, I have found Blogger to be a constraining platform in this regard. I have been yearning for something slicker, smoother, easier to use. Plus, it just felt like time to shed this old skin and sport something shiny, sleek and new.

So I confess, I've been experimenting with Tumblr, and while I felt terrible keeping it from you, I wanted to test it out before inviting my friends over. I like it. I like the way it shows off content, and I like how easy it is to post. So please, come visit, and I hope you'll update your feeds, bookmarks, and whatnot.


My new home:


Dead? Is this blog dead? Well, yes, probably. It's not going anywhere, but I don't have any plans to use it as an outlet anytime soon. Feel free to never come back, unless you really like it here the way it is now.


You could reasonably ask, after my ponderous introduction to this post, and the sharp left turn down Practicality Lane, whether I think Tumblr is the future of content-sharing on the web. Actually no, I don't. Realistically, I think we'll all gravitate toward something that melds Google Reader's functionality with Facebook's network. I think both mechanisms are pretty crappy right now. And Google Buzz is the worst of both worlds.

BUT, I do think that the final product will give you, the validator, greater power to comment on the content you're sharing, and greater control over how it looks. And Tumblr gives users those capabilities, thankfully. Style, after all, as readers of this blog surely know, matters.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Switching Lanes for a Change

From the department of plus ça change, a 1980 editorial by Emmett Tyrrell. It's amazing what great strides cycling has made toward the mainstream in the last 30 years, while the vitriol targeted at it remains unchanged. Anybody who can figure out what paper this was printed in wins a gold star. A handwritten note on the article (linked above) makes reference of the Star, but I'm stumped.

All historification aside, this is hilarious:

Switching Lanes for a Change
R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.

Change has again gained the upper hand in America. The vested interests of the old order are being put down and with a thud. Why are Andrew Young and the other recent champions of change not singing? Are they your simple mossbacks?

New York’s Mayor Edward Koch is no mossback. Last week he responded to the desires of the vast majority of his constituents and took on one of the old order’s most articulate interest groups, New York’s powerful cyclist lobby.

Last summer the cyclists, acting no doubt in concert with the joggers, the heliotherapists, and those remaining 1970s hypochondriacs who have yet to poison or otherwise immobilize themselves, prevailed on the mayor to turn the curbside lanes of some of Manhattan’s busiest streets into bicycle-only lanes. Last week the mayor admitted his error and expressed a willingness to eliminate these menaces. They have already cost the citizens $290,000 in construction costs. The personal misery is incalculable.

Millions of trucks, buses, taxis, and privately owned vehicles have been squeezed into narrowed streets. Months have been sliced from the lives of drivers and passengers; a drive from 30th Street to Central Park South is now five to 10 minutes longer – God knows how much longer it is if one begins in Greenwich Village. Access to nearby shops is more difficult, and neighborhood dogs, answering nature’s call, are terrified to venture toward the curb.

In fact millions of pedestrians, standing at crosswalks, have experienced real terror, exposed as they now are to the mercy and moderation of bicycle riders, people whose lawlessness and viciousness are a matter of record.

Close observers of the mayor say he got the idea for his cycling lanes while visiting the People’s Republic of China. There he saw crowds of smiling Mao-men peddling the streets, and he came home convinced that bicycles would be just the right therapy to put smiles on the faces of his irascible constituents.

Apparently it never occurred to him that those smiling Chinese faces would smile even more resplendently were they looking out from the lush seats of Oldsmobiles. Nor did he weigh the anxiety that might be caused in cramped Manhattan offices when clammy cyclists arrived for a day’s work. The mayor foresaw a city of happy, health cyclists and looked no further.

Well he is now a wiser man, and the political message of Nov. 4 has freed him from the coils of such cyclist organizations as Transportation Alternatives, a cycling lobby whose very name suggests its perverse political purpose. The cyclists’ hold on city hall has been broken, and when the mayor’s workmen get around to ripping up those cycling lanes I hope they move on and haul away those ghastly bicycle racks. Cycling in congested cities is not to be encouraged.

Not only are bicycles dangerous, they are as antiquated a form of transportation as the rickshaw. In no advanced city on earth will you find civilized people cycling to work. The urban cyclist is generally a crank, either profoundly antisocial or hopelessly narcissistic and following the strenuous life in hopes of achieving immortality or a legendary sex life. When you encounter him give him wide berth and never turn your back on him.

Bicycles are unstable and dangerous Consumerists would have spoken out against them ages ago were it not for the consumerists’ great passion against the alternative to the bicycle, the automobile. Here we have a passion inspired in part by the consumerists’ hatred of modern life and their even greater hatred of corporations. Yet I have no doubt that if General Motors had a profitable bicycle division, consumerists all over the country would be hauling GM into court.

Bicycles provide no protection whatsoever to their riders. Their handlebars are an ever-present menace to the soft vulnerable parts of those Homo sapiens reckless enough to ride them, and I know of no bicycle whose brakes are as reliable as those of the old Model T. Koch’s incipient move against these hellish devices is but one more commendable move against the excesses of the 1970s. I salute him for his courage even as I sing to myself a few favorite passages from “The Times They Are A Changin’.”

A sweeping doff of the cap to dave on this one.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Who Dat Say Dey Gon Beat Dem Saints?

In advance of Sunday, there are two things to which I'd like to draw your attention.


And secondly:

Who dat?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Yemen Fail

RSAN emerges from months of slumber to point out a brief copy-edit fail on the front page of the NYTimes. Think anybody in Yemen noticed?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Name is Tweed. Harris Tweed.

In response to the New York Times Styles column that triumphantly claims "Late 19th-Century Dress is Back in Fashion," I can only say-- it's about time. I write today only to quote the authoritative article, and perhaps to modestly suggest that I was a little ahead of the curve on this one:

Not long ago, big brass-buttoned military coats looked a bit extreme. So did high-button, high-lapel vests and slim tweed trousers. And so did guys who tucked said trousers into high, old-fashioned hunting boots. Now these clothes (along with those ever-present beards and mustaches) look like downtown defaults compared with fall runway looks like cardinal-red tailcoats at Ralph Lauren, capes and bowlers at Alexander McQueen and knee breeches at Robert Geller.

As with home design, where curio cases, taxidermy and other stylish clutter of the Victorian era have been taken up by young hipsters, many of today’s popular men’s styles have their roots in the late 19th century. There are the three-piece suits once favored by mustachioed Gilded Age bankers; the military greatcoats and boots of Union officers; and the henley undershirts, suspenders, plaid flannel shirts and stout drill trousers worn by plain, honest farmers.

and then
“There are all kinds of societies that are about dressing up in period costume and then going back to your oversize jeans the next day,” he said. “This is about style as a way of being.” (You can’t help imagining a kind of upside-down remake of “The Wild Ones,” in which a gang of elegant men in knee breeches riding old Raleigh three-speeds descend on an unsuspecting town and freak everyone out with their impeccable manners.)

Even so, tweed states its own case surprisingly well.

“I haven’t worn tweed in a while, but I’m rediscovering it,” Mr. Brewer said. “The Victorian era was about a very trim silhouette and form, and I’m seeing tweeds that are cut that way. The thing is, tweed looks very elegant, but it’s a very sturdy fabric, so you can be dapper and still appear manly and rugged.”
I hope you'll join me this weekend for a tweed ride!