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Disinfotainment: BlogTV Archives

Recently in BlogTV Category

BlogTV is back on the air with a strange Halloween festival in Japan. Well actually, the festival in September, but I thought the creepy theme was appropriate for the Halloween season. This video is 5min 17sec and entirely in Japanese, but it will be fairly obvious what's happening despite any language barrier.

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FujiTV dispatches a reporter to investigate a strange festival on a remote island of Miyakojima, far down the Okinawan island chain. Miyakojima is closer to Taiwan than Tokyo, traveling there takes 17 hours on a ferry. Our intrepid reporter gets off the boat and walks toward the island village. A couple of kilometers from town, some guys are milling about. He asks what's up and they tell him, it's time for the Pantou Festival! They're weaving straw and fibers, cutting thick mats from local vines, and making the Pantou costumes. But the primary ingredient of the Pantou costume is mud. So they're digging a big hole, stirring up the dark black mud, and mixing it with sticky leaves and straw. Of course a scary wooden mask of an ancient design is required to complete the costume. The reporter leaves the Pantou people to prepare and walks towards town.
At the edge of town, a children are waiting, Pantou is coming this way! They spot the three dark figures walking down the road, they're dressed in leaves, straw, and mud, with a crazy sprig of leaves and branches coming out of their head like a horn. And now we see what the festival's about, Panto chases after the kids and smears them with mud. Everyone runs in terror, trying not to get smeared in the sticky mud. But Pantou catches them and gives them a big smear right in the face! Apparently this is some sort of harvest ritual, smearing the children with earth will ensure their health and prosperity, and that of the whole village.
But our reporter has traveled a long way to see this festival, so he gets the full treatment. All three Pantou men gang up on him and sit on him, so he's covered in mud from head to toe. Well at least now he doesn't have to worry about getting caught, once you're muddy, Pantou will leave you alone, his job is done.
Some of the little children are too young to be chased, so their mothers offer them up to Pantou, some of them he gives a muddy embrace, some he just gently daubs on the cheek, some of them, pow! right in the kisser. Mom gets a little daub of mud too. The looks on some of the kids faces are just priceless. One little kid is crying, even though he's barely muddy at all. Some of the kids are just terrified.
But Pantou is not just after the kids and their mothers. Panto makes a house call and rolls around in the entryway, gettting mud all over the floor. I don't know how the old guy was chosen for a visit by Pantou, but he seems to be taking it in stride. At least there's not too much of a mess to clean up. [Update: I found out that newly constructed houses are visited by Pantou, I guess it is a sort of initiation.]
But to pass on a Japanese tradition, it must be handed down in the family. One of the Panto actors has a new child, this is its first opportunity to meet the demonic mud man. He gently extends a muddy finger, and wipes it lightly on his child's face. And then again, a little less gently, on his wife's face.
The Pantou men chase after the villagers for two days, with endless replenishment of buckets of mud, seeking to leave noone unbesmirched. The festival winds down at sunset, as Pantou chases down the last stragglers. And then Pantou disappears into the night, until the next year's festival.

BlogTV: Nebuta Festival

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Summer is ending, and the season of summer festivals is coming to an end. One of the world's greatest festivals is the Nebuta Festival in Aomori, at the northern tip of the main island of Japan. When I was in school in Japan, all the students went to the festival, but I was sick and had to stay behind. It is one of my greatest regrets that I missed the spectacle, and I am determined that one day I will travel to see it. And again this year, I missed my chance, the festival was a month ago.
But for some people, when summer ends and the festival is over, preparations for next year are just beginning. This video from NHK Newsworld (in English, 3min 24sec), shows a "nebuta-shi," the artist that makes the grand Nebuta floats, as he assembles and paints his work, taking a full year from concept to final execution.
Nebuta are quite unique, they are gigantic paper paintings draped over a wood and wire sculptural frame, and illuminated from the inside. The translucent paper is painted in opaque black ink and bright watercolors, the light shines out from within, creating a bright, dramatic visual effect against the night sky. Click on the image below to see how the Nebuta are constructed, painted, and presented at the festival.

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BlogTV: Two Different Worlds

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Sometimes it seems like the people living on this planet are inhabiting completely different planes of existence, they live in entirely separate worlds from each other. I was recently reminded of this when I saw two TV commercials that ran right next to each other.
The first commercial, for Liberty Mutual Insurance, was produced by the Hill Holliday advertising agency. It is a "corporate ad" so it is not intended to sell a specific product, it is intended to associate a positive image with the corporation. But the image this company is promoting is startling in its difference to other advertisements, it shows what can happen when people do kind things for each other.



The first time I saw this ad, I was sucked in by the sweet singing, and the portrayal of simple acts of kindness. But when I saw it again, I took a closer look at the editing and camerawork, and decided it was a minor masterpiece of cinematography. We see someone doing a kindness for a stranger, but the camera centers not on recipient of that kindness, it focuses on a third person who witnesses it. In each successive scene, we follow that third person who is inspired to his own action, which is then witnessed, and the cycle of kindness is repeated again and again. It took me several viewings to notice the catch, the final scene is the same as the opening scene, the circle of kindness is complete. When I saw the catch, I burst into tears. This commercial vividly shows the cause and effect cycle of good karma in action, if only one person is moved to an act of kindness by having viewed it, the world is a better place.
But my good mood was shattered mere moments later, when a commercial for the Hummer SUV came on. It shows almost the same scenario of cause and effect, but from a different angle. Someone commits an act of unkindness, which perpetuates another cycle of unkindness.



Here we view the direct effect of the unkind cause, the woman responds by buying a big SUV, now nobody's going to get in her way again! The commercial accompanies these actions with an obnoxious cacophony of cartoon sounds of boinks and cash registers going kaCHING, over a raucous song. After the woman buys a monster truck, she straps her child in the passenger seat, we see the look of self-satisfaction on her face, and the camera pulls way out in the distinctive ending of every Hummer commercial, we see the earth from orbit, above the ozone layer the Hummer SUV is destroying. The goal of this commercial is to sell Hummers, and if one person decides to buy a big fuel-guzzling, high-pollution SUV instead of a normal car, the world is a worse place.
As a buddhist, I can see these two commercials as representations of different states of being, we call it the "10 Worlds." The woman who buys a Hummer is in the world of Animality, it's a dog-eat-dog world, and she wants to be a bigger dog than anyone else, with a bigger car than anyone else. Her selfish act might bring one brief moment of satisfaction, but it places her firmly in a cycle of bad karma. The Liberty Mutual commercial represents the world of Bodhisattva, where a person takes pleasure from the happiness of others. This is the path to enlightenment. Buying a big SUV will never give you the same pleasure as a simple act of kindness, of handing a lost toy back to a child.

BlogTV: Tornado!

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A devastating Tornado hit Iowa City late last night. I had no idea what was happening, I knew the storm was serious, since I went out and collected a few hailstones and posted a picture. But soon the storm subsided, the emergency sirens stopped blaring, and my cable TV was off the air, so I just went to bed.
The next morning, I was awakened by a phone call from my sister in Oregon, asking if I was all right. I was barely awake and I could only think to myself, "what the hell?" She said there were news reports of a huge tornado striking the city, this was the first I'd heard of it, but I reassured her that I was fine. Within a few hours, TV news started reporting the true level of devastation. I am releasing a Fair Use compilation of some local TV news clips, click on the image to play the video clip.

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Live news coverage originated from the most heavily damaged building in downtown, St. Patrick's Catholic Church. It seems that whenever a tornado strikes in Iowa, the local church is always destroyed. I had a strange wish that I could have been there in person to witness it, I could have been the heathen anti-theist buddhist bellowing at the fleeing parishioners, "where is your god now?" News coverage showed other local landmarks that had been flattened, like the old Dairy Queen. I had to laugh at the wreckage, it was splattered with blood-red cherry syrup.
But I should not make light of the situation. Millions of dollars of property was damaged and destroyed. Low income housing areas near the University are devastated, and many hapless young college students are now homeless, having lost their first independent homes. A sorority house was destroyed, and the sisters put on their bravest smiling faces for the camera, as they described being in the house as it was torn apart. That was one block from my childhood home, I used to deliver newspapers to the sorority on my paper route. I wonder if my childhood home is undamaged, it is a historic Victorian house in the oldest neighborhood in the city.
I noticed a short interview with a woman through the broken window of the hair salon where I get my hair cut. The salon wasn't badly damaged, just some broken windows and fallen ceiling tiles, they should be back up and running before my next haircut appointment in a couple weeks. Next to the hair salon is a liquor store, the local student newspaper The Daily Iowan reported that their wall collapsed and students looted it (archived PDF story). I suspect that looting was more widespread than generally reported. The storm struck the downtown area late at night, just as the bars were full of students soaking up liquor. Newspapers reported that after the storm, crowds of thousands of students wandered through the downtown streets, but this is not particularly unusual for any Thursday night in the bar district. As the weekend approaches, city officials seem most concerned with directing the student population away from the closed bar district.
I was shocked to see the damage at the auto dealers. The worst damage was out by Highway 1, a few blocks from the storage facility where I have almost everything I own in a storage lockup. I frantically called them and was relieved to hear that the buildings were undamaged and my stuff is safe.
As I watched the unfolding story of my hometown's devastation, I had mixed feelings. I hate this town and am desperate to move away from here, I try not to engage with the city in any way that might form more attachments, yet I discover that I am more attached to this town than I care to admit. This makes it even more difficult to move on. This town is full of people who pass through, and in their short time here, they form attachments to institutions and landmarks that are obviously all too impermanent. It is time for me to move on, and stop caring about this town. And that is the hardest thing to do of all.

Aaron Valdez: Plagiarist

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Once again, one of my best video art projects has been shamelessly plagiarized, this time by Aaron Valdez. Oddly enough, Aaron Valdez lives in the same city as I do, yet he claims he has never heard of the only other local video blog, my BlogTV project. It is not likely to be a coincidence that he produced a video artwork identical to my work within 30 days after my video was circulated widely around the web. Valdez has submitted his act of plagiarism to video exhibits and contests and uses it as an example of his best work.
It appears that Aaron Valdez took advantage of the technical problems that forced my BlogTV server off the air in July. Almost immediately after my video was no longer available on the web, he posted his own version, since the source that he plagiarized would not be available for comparison. But Valdez did not expect the resurrection of BlogTV, which provides incontrovertible proof that I was publishing videos using this technique at least 2 years before he stole my idea.
If there is any thing in the art world that will make you an instant pariah, it is plagiarism. I've been in the same position myself, I produced an artwork that I was convinced was totally original, and then someone pointed out it was almost identical to some other famous artwork. I was sure I had never seen that other artwork, but I could not eliminate the possibility that I had seen it before, so I withdrew my artwork and destroyed it, sacrificing a considerable amount of work on the piece. I could not condone even the possibility that I had committed plagiarism. That is how someone with a sense of honor would have handled the situation.
But it is obvious that Aaron Valdez is a shameless plagiarist and has no sense of honor. I contacted him and gave him the opportunity to respond, but he defended his act of plagiarism and believes he has done nothing wrong. Perhaps Aaron Valdez should consider his karma before he declares he has the right to profit from stealing the work of other artists and misrepresenting it as his own original idea.

BlogTV is Back On The Air!

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The BlogTV server is back on the air! You can now browse through the BlogTV Archives and watch some of the videos I have presented over the last 3 years. However, performance may be substandard over the next few days as Qwest works out a few bugs with the poor quality phone cabling in this area. We Apologize For The Inconvenience.
Soon Qwest will no longer be an issue. I've already started work on the new blog server at a pro webhost. It will take a while to migrate the content to the new server, but it will be worth it in the end. Soon I can stop futzing with the technical details and get back to work creating new content. Stay tuned to this channel for upcoming announcements!
I am testing a new method for presenting videos on this website, and I need users to test it on PCs, to insure compatibility. This new method will allow me to put up a "poster frame" with an image from the video, so you get a little preview of what the video is about. This should make a much prettier website, but I have had some problems with Windows compatibiity, so I would especially like to hear from PC users. Note that you must have QuickTime 6 installed to see the video. Comments are up and running, so even if you've been discouraged in the past by my disabled comments, they will work now. If the video fails to launch, leave a brief comment about what you see, and I will be better able to debug any problems.

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BlogTV Japan: Tops

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Disinfotainment is back again with another video from Japan. This little piece of fluff was produced by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it is a short film (3min 25sec) in English, about traditional Japanese toy tops.

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I love traditional Japanese crafts, and I love toy tops, so I love this little film. It's produced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so of course it is a piece of propaganda about how Japan is exporting happiness in the form of one of their oldest traditional crafts. But if you can get past the first half of the piece, and don't choke on the cloying tone of the narrator (who seems to be addressing 2 year old kids) you will see some lovely, innovative designs for tops.
I had a chance to play with a Japanese top on my last trip to Japan. A friend took me to a theme park in Nikko called "EdoLand," where a woman in a kimono was demonstrating wooden tops of the style that was popular 150 years ago. I asked her to show me how to spin the top, it was was an unfamiliar shape and as big as my fist. She showed me how to wrap the thick rope around the top, and how to toss the top and make it spin. So I gave it a whirl, I tossed the top at the circular wooden platform, it bounced right off and hit the poor woman right in the stomach! I decided I better leave the tops to the little kids.
BlogTV is back on the air after a lengthy hiatus, while I upgraded the video delivery system. I am pleased to bring to you another strange video from FujiTV News in Japan (8min 50sec in Japanese with Japanese subtitles only) that explores the enigma of Japanese toilets.

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Perhaps nothing in Japan inspires more curiousity than toilets. Everyone knows that Japanese toilets are somehow different, but there are a few misconceptions about the subject. Many people have the strange idea that Japan is a land of high-tech toilets, but that is a misconception. According to Japanese census data, it was only within the last decade that over 50% of all toilets were Western-style toilets. Until very recently, Japanese toilets were predominantly the Japanese-style squat toilets, which are not much more than a trench in the ground. Census data still shows that as many as 35% of all toilets in Japan are not hooked up to sanitary sewers, they are merely hooked up to holding tanks that must be emptied by a "honey wagon," a tanker truck that comes around periodically to siphon off the sewage. Much to the chagrin of hapless foreigners, it is quite common to find oneself in a position where no familiar Western toilet is available, only a squat toilet. However, for the Japanese, it is also possible for someone who has never used anything but a squat toilet to find only Western toilets and not know how to use them. Even when both styles of toilets are available, many people prefer the Japanese style, since that is what they used since they were a child.
And this is where our video begins. A classroom full of kindergartners is assembled on their first day of school for an important lesson: how to use the school's new Western toilets. Some of these children grew up in traditional homes and have never seen such a thing. The teacher explains to the giggling children how to use the new toilets, and takes the children on a tour of the newly remodeled facilities. The children love the new toilets, declaring them beautiful, and in fact, they are practically palaces of porcelain compared to typical school toilets. One student says the old toilets were stinky and he never liked to use them.
And here is the crux of our video. We switch scenes and enter the Ministry of Science and Education, where a spokesman declares that the poor quality of toilets in schools is becoming an obstacle to the education and socialization of children. Japan must not allow itself to fall behind in public toilet facilities, so the Ministry is announcing an expensive new program to upgrade toilets in all schools throughout Japan.
Let us tour some of these new facilities, starting with an elementary school in Kanazawa prefecture in north central Japan. The cameraman lingers on a crude copy of Rodin's famous sculpture "The Thinker," but his squatting merely foreshadows the sights we will view inside the school. We approach the newly upgraded facilities, painted a bright blue, and the announcer directs our attention to the distinctive "tokonoma," a typically Japanese architectural feature of an inset shelf where an artistic display can be set, in this case a vase of flowers. But perhaps the announcer is attempting to divert our attention from one strange feature, a large mirror on the boys' bathroom that allows us to see all the way into the room. There is no such mirror on the girls' side. Inside the room, we see the ceiling mural of blue sky and white clouds, to evoke a peaceful, restful setting. A group of girls assembles and one says, "It doesn't seem like a school bathroom!"
Let's visit another school in Gunma Prefecture. This school has a different color scheme, but the design is even more modern. A high-tech washlet is available, as well as self-flushing urinals. But not all toilets in the school have been modernized. We see another bathroom that is more typical of the old style, with rusting steel sinks and grungy tile walls and floors. Students again express their disgust for the decaying old bathrooms.
But the Ministry of Science and Education's toilet initiative is not designed just for convenience, it must enhance social interaction. So the new toilets are designed with benches out front, where the students can lounge around between classes. We watch through a telephoto lens from a far distance, and we see a gaggle of girls headed to the head together. They don't enter to use the toilets, they sit out front and chat with each other. Even the teachers get into the act, chatting with small groups of boys and girls. The bathrooms have become a center of social activity within the school.
The toilets even have a unique educational component. We watch as a group of students learn how to help the disabled use the "barrier-free" bathroom. The students take turns roleplaying, learning to lift each other on and off the toilet. Perhaps some good will come from these able-bodied students learning how difficult it can be for the disabled to perform some of the most basic bodily functions, they may learn to empathize with others who are less fortunate than themselves.
Let us now travel off to another school in Mie Prefecture. This school's bathrooms have not yet been upgraded, so we will be able to observe this most typically Japanese process of planning a public project. First, an initial site survey is performed by members of an iinkai, a committee delegated to investigate the issue. A teacher watches as the students point out their problems with the facilities. They complain about privacy, badly placed mirrors allow unobstructed views into the urinal area, the doors on the stalls do not go all the way to the ceiling so people can hop up and look over the doors. But this is merely the first step in the planning process. The full membership of the iinkai meets to prioritize the changes they would like to make.
Let's leave the Gunma school's preliminary iinkai and visit another school in Shiga Prefecture, to see how their upgrade process went. Eight years have gone into this plan, and with such elaborate preparations, every detail has been examined, this school's bathrooms are the very model of a modern major upgrade. But a bathroom is mere tile and porcelain, the school principal declares that the biggest changes have come in how students think about bathrooms. And now we see the reason why, an iinkai conducted a survey of all students, to examine how they felt about the old bathrooms and what an ideal bathroom would look like. The remodeling reflects the students' wishes, so students now feel like the bathrooms were created just for them. And in any public school, the bathrooms' maintenance and cleaning is the responsibility of the students, so if the students don't care about their toilets, they will not be responsible citizens and take proper measures to insure their cleanliness. We see how the students fastidiously clean the facilities, even leaving signs taped to the wall to admonish everyone to keep the place neat and tidy. Anyone who would dare to defile these porcelain halls would be wagamama, a selfish person who does not obey the social norms that are expected of every citizen. A teenage girl says it is the responsibility of the senior students to teach their juniors the proper attitudes towards the toilets, and the school's principal proudly declares that the students will always treasure their memories of their time spent in the school's toilets.
And as we close, the announcer repeats the central lesson of the Ministry of Science and Education's toilet initiative. A change in the toilets also changes the attitudes of the students that use them. A remodeling of the facilities has given the students new opportunities for socialization, both through the iinkai process of development, and through the new social space created in accordance with everyone's desires.
Threats of libel lawsuits are once again running across the blog world. An Irish blogger, Gavin, has been threatened with a cease-and-desist letter from the lawyer of John Gray, author of the pop psychology book "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus."
"Dr." John Gray seems to have taken offense when Gavin described him as a "fraud" after reading his educational credentials. None of Gray's degrees come from accredited universities. His PhD comes from a defunct school that had a reputation as a diploma mill. Even more interesting are his alleged B.A. and M.A. degrees, from Maharishi European Research University.
Now here we are entering my home turf. In the 1970s, Maharishi's unaccredited schools in Europe were closed and a new campus, Maharishi International University, was established at Fairfield, Iowa, about 25 miles from my home. It took a few years, but somehow the tiny college managed to get accreditation recognized by the US Department of Education. But it is possible to get a degree from an accredited college and still be a fraud.
The Maharishi's Trancendental Meditation cultists are well known in the local community as crackpots and lunatics. Recently they have become notorious for razing historic old buildings on their campus (the former site of Parson's College) because they did not conform to precepts of Vedic architecture, for example, the toilets did not face north (no, I am not kidding). But Maharishi University's notoriety comes largely from the course they consider their highest teaching, levitation. The largest building on campus is known as the "Golden Dome," normal people would describe it as a gymnasium, except this building's sole function is to provide a place for practicing levitation. Here is a short video that appeared on the local news show from KCRG-TV, showing Maharishi University students demonstrating levitation inside the Golden Dome.

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Now any rational person would not recognize this as "yogic flying" or "levitation," they'd call it "hopping up and down on your butt." There is nothing yogic about this whatsoever except that you sit in the Lotus Position. But the Maharishi cultists claim it is physically impossible to hop while seated in the Lotus Position, any upward motion comes from supernatural forces. Balderdash.
But deluded people come from around the world, and pay tens of thousands of dollars to be trained in this balderdash. It is part of the Trancendental Meditation Sidhi Course, which is supposed to confer supernatural powers, such as levitation, omniscience, invisibility, superhuman strength, teleportation, etc. And the primary reason Maharishi University was created was to teach the Sidhi Course. In order to gain accreditation, they must also teach other courses in math, science, etc., but those courses are always described as Vedic Science, Vedic Math, etc. and are all merely preparatory studies for the Sidhi Course. Somehow I doubt these courses are as worthwhile as regular science and math courses at conventional universities.
But let us return to the issue of John Gray and his fraudulent educational credentials. It must be obvious to anyone who watches the "levitation" video that John Gray's B.A. and M.A. degrees from Maharishi Research University of Europe are worthless. I have suggested to Gavin that he issue a retraction of his statement asserting Gray is a fraud, if Gray will publicly demonstrate levitation to him, in person. Alternately, Gray could demonstrate any Sidhi Power, such as invisibility or teleportation. That way we all can assess whether Gray passed his Sidhi Course at Maharishi University and accept his degree as legitimate. Unless Mr. Gray can produce a convincing demonstration of the Sidhi Powers he learned at Maharishi University, we will all know he is a fraud.

BlogTV: The Black Phone

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BlogTV presents another fascinating look at a Japan in a time of technological change. This story (5min44sec, Japanese subtitles only) comes from FujiTV, and the video is of fairly good quality.

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Our video starts with an intriguing question from little Satomi, age 11. She writes to FujiTV inquiring, "what's a kurodenwa, a black telephone?" So a reporter is dispatched to investigate the question. Japan is a land of rapid technological development, perhaps nothing has evolved as quickly as the telephone. In the past, telephones were only available from the national phone company NTT. Phone functions were easily distinquished by their color, for example, green phones were pay phones, and even today most pay phones are green. But what was a kurodenwa?
We start by investigating Satomi's home, where we see her family's phone is a huge modern multifunction phone/answering machine/FAX device with a big radio antenna, presumably it also has several wireless extension phones. The reporter starts her search for a kurodenwa at a local electronics shop. We see dozens of variations on modern desk telephones, some of the phones are colored black, but the salesman admits that he does not have any kurodenwa. Obviously it isn't the color that makes a phone a black phone.
Let's go straight to the top. Our reporter interviews a corporate executive at NTT who says that kurodenwa were discontinued 18 years ago, long before little Satomi was even born. An executive at NEC brings out the modern equivalent of the kurodenwa, an ugly reddish-beige phone with a touch-tone dial. Even the NEC executive admits this isn't what we're looking for.
Our reporter, as usual, sets out for some man-in-the-street interviews searching for a kurodenwa owner. She searches from morning until night before finding an owner, and long after the sun has set, we follow him back to his restaurant in search of the phone. He climbs up and rummages around a storage cubbyhole, and pulls out a plastic bag containing a dirty, discarded kurodenwa. And now we see the distinguising feature, what makes it a kurodenwa, it has a rotary dial. The reporter fondles it and seems to recoil at the dirty, greasy surface of the ancient artifact. But this phone isn't in active use today, we see the restaurant's phone, it's just like any other modern phone.
Let's search a little harder and try to find a kurodenwa in active use. Our reporter shrieks in delight as she discovers another kurodenwa at another old restaurant, this one is hooked up. We hear the feeble ring tone of the ancient relic, yes, this phone actually works! The owner asserts the old style of phone resists the grease that inevitably clogs up machinery in any restaurant. We see the cash register, completely wrapped in plastic to keep the grease out, they just don't make machines like they used to. Some middle-aged restaurant patrons express their love for the old kurodenwa, it makes them nostalgic for the old days when everyone had one. But as the cook scrambles to answer the phone for an order, we can see we are intruding into their busy work schedule, so we take our leave of this establishment, and set off to find another kurodenwa.
In another interview on the street, we find a kindly old lady, aged 79, who admits she still uses a kurodenwa. The reporter arranges for little Satomi to visit and experience the old woman's phone firsthand. She says you have to take your time using the old dial phones, so you don't make any mistakes, this isn't a phone for people in a hurry. When Satomi is brought into the room to see the phone, she seems to be in shock, she can only mutter sugoi, sugoi! (it's cool). Satomi tries to phone her mother at home, and on her first attempt, dials a wrong number. Oops! On the second try, she connects, and tells her mother honto ni, kakerareta, she really dialed the phone. Satomi says honto ni mawashitara kakerareta, it really rotates when it dials, and also expresses her surprise that it has a real bell when it rings. The kindly old lady laughs in amusement that her plain old telephone is such a curiosity to the modern generation of kids. The young girl, the old woman, and the reporter all give a short bow towards the phone, expressing their respect for this antique kurodenwa that has given faithful service for decades.
Disinfotainment presents its latest video project, a rebroadcast of George W. Bush's 2004 State of the Union Speech. I have painstakingly edited this video frame by frame to remove all the lies and partisan political pandering. QuickTime 6 is required to view this video.

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My Appearance on CNN's Crossfire

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I just appeared on CNN's Crossfire. If you don't believe me, you can see my sign clearly in this video, even if you can't see me clearly.

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The moment I heard Crossfire was coming to Iowa City, I knew I had to attend, and make an attempt to jam the show with my own cryptic sort of message. I have been incensed at Tucker Carlson for a week or so, ever since the "Argyle Incident." Tucker devoted an opening segment on Crossfire to General Wesley Clark wearing an argyle sweater at a campaign appearance in New Hampshire. Tucker tried to make political points from Clark's wardrobe change from a suit to a sweater, he claimed it was an attempt to soften Clark's image and appeal to women voters. Just a week before Tucker's analysis of Clark's wardrobe, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman published rules for serious journalistic coverage of the upcoming election:
Don't talk about clothes. Al Gore's endorsement of Howard Dean was a momentous event: the man who won the popular vote in 2000 threw his support to a candidate who accuses the president of wrongfully taking the nation to war. So what did some prominent commentators write about? Why, the fact that both men wore blue suits.
This was not, alas, unusual. I don't know why some journalists seem so concerned about politicians' clothes as opposed to, say, their policy proposals. But unless you're a fashion reporter, obsessing about clothes is an insult to your readers' intelligence.
And of course, Tucker ignored this sage advice and decided to insult our intelligence by writing about Clark's clothes. Suddenly Clark's argyle sweater was the subject of intense scrutiny from other so-called journalists. Clark finally had to respond to these ridiculous criticisms by declaring it was cold so he borrowed a sweater from his brother-in-law. So much for analyzing his wardrobe for political significance.
But once Tucker gushed forth, the dam broke and political reporters are back to their usual stupid reporting of irrelevancies. So I produced a huge sign just for Tucker:

Report Issues Not Argyle Sweaters

Of course, none of the college students had any idea what the sign meant, so I had to repeatedly explain about the Argyle Incident. I managed to catch Paul Begala's eye as he was standing around getting ready for the show. He saw the sign, pointed to me and laughed, then I turned it around to the other side and he really laughed and gave me a thumbs-up. Tucker was hiding in the bus, but when he came out, I caught his eye too. He was squinting and trying to read the sign, he had a puzzled look like he was trying to figure out what it meant. So I turned it around to show him the other side:

Tucker Wears Army Boots

Tucker's eyes opened wide, and he stuck out his tongue at me. And it's true, yesterday Tucker appeared on camera wearing tan Army-issue combat boots that he got during his brief tour of Iraq. But today he was wearing black dress shoes so I guess he didn't get it. Nothing could demonstrate more clearly that Republicans have no sense of humor.
About 10 minutes before the show was scheduled to go live, I noticed the second camera was taping "sweep shots" of the crowd. As the show started, I could see on the monitor that they replayed a crowd shot from tape. So in case you thought the crowd shots in these "live" shows were actually live, you thought wrong. I guess they wanted to insure that nothing live actually happened on camera, they picked the shot they wanted and replayed it from tape. So if you want to appear in a crowd on Crossfire outdoor taping, you better get there early.
As the show was wrapping up, I noticed a CNN producer lining up a group of people with signs in an area that was roped off. The producer picked only young blonde women, I guess she only wanted "camera-friendly" crowd shots. So I decided to get into that shot. The CNN producer snarled at me in a thick British accent, "get OUT of this shot! You were already in our sweep shot!" I was astonished that CNN's US election news was being stage-managed by a foreigner. I yelled back at her, "this sign isn't for the camera, it's for YOU, Miss CNN Producer, why can't you report the ISSUES instead of the candidate's CLOTHING?" She snarled back "we'll talk about it after the show," and walked away. Yeah right.
After the show, Tucker immediately retreated to the CNN bus, but Paul stayed behind and talked to a few people from the crowd. He was beseiged by campaign workers trying to shove sheafs of papers into his hand. Miss CNN Producer tried to pull him away, it was my last shot so I said, "Paul, why didn't you call Tucker out when he did that stupid report on Clark's argyle sweater?" Paul said, "I did call him on it!" I replied, "Surely you read Krugman's recent essay on political reporting, he said to cover the issues not the wardrobe. Since Tucker's report, the news has been full of stories on argyle and earth tones. It's your job to keep Tucker honest!" Paul laughed, and said, "I'll do my best. By the way, that's a great sign." And then he ran off back to the bus. If nothing else, he showed he's a masterful politician, he totally took the wind out of my sails by fully agreeing with me, and complimented me in the process. What a performance.
The crowd disbanded, I went back to my car, totally frozen from standing around in the cold for an hour, and drove home. Mission Accomplished.

BlogTV: The Japanese Tooth Fairy

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BlogTV is back on the air with another fascinating tale of ancient Japanese customs adapted to the modern era. Our video (5min30sec, Japanese only) from FujiTV may not be suitable for all viewers. Warning: you may not want to watch this video if you are squeamish about seeing adults stick their appendages into their tiny childrens' orifices, causing them to howl in pain.
Tech note: this video requires QuickTime 6, it is my first experiment in mp4 encoding, so if you have any problems watching the video, please contact me via Email.

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When a Japanese child loses a tooth, they are taught an ancient custom, "ue no ha wa en no shita e, shita no ha wa yabe no ue e nageru." Literally translated, this means "throw your upper teeth under the floor, your lower teeth over the roof." The idea is that the upper teeth will grow downwards towards the tooth on the ground, and the lower teeth will grow up towards the roof, and all the teeth will grow strong. This saying has some interesting linguistic and cultural aspects, the character en is the same character used for the word "karma." En no shita also appears in other idioms that indicate something inconspicuous or unnoticed.
But of course, modern Japanese families live in different conditions than the ancient times when this custom started, which is the inspiration for today's video. A desperate mother writes to FujiTV, she lives in a modern highrise apartment and has no way to deposit these lost teeth in the customary places. What should she do?
That annoying woman from Mesamashi Terebi is here to interview typcial modern mothers with the same predicament. How do they handle their childrens' lost teeth? One mother brings out a small wooden box lined with cotton containing the lost teeth, plus one unidentifiable lump that presumably was removed from her child's body. I don't even want to speculate where this lump came from. She opens the box and proudly displays the small trophies, laid out in a line. Another mother shows her arrangements, she keeps these small parts in the glove compartment right next to the Owner's Manual. Another mother shows how she keeps the lost teeth up on top of the refrigerator, next to her kitchen altar. We see her child bow her head in prayer for strong teeth.
Obviously these improvised disposal methods leave much to be desired, and modern times call for modern customs. Two women display wood boxes designed just for storing teeth. One box is in the shape of a tooth with a little blue cap. Another box is labeled "first teeth box,' which contains a tooth chart with one hole to deposit each tooth, next to a spot where you must carefully write the date each tooth was lost.
It would appear that all these small rituals are more for the benefit of the mothers than the children. So let us digress and look at the problem from the child's perspective. We watch as one family sits at the dinner table, the little girl's front tooth is gura gura, it's loose and can wiggle around. Dad reaches over to prod her tooth, and she howls in pain, ya da yo! It is almost time to pull the tooth, and indeed, we watch as Mom pulls the the tooth right out of the socket. The little girl proudly displays her tooth to the camera, with a big gap-toothed grin.
But this family is determined to observe the proper traditions. We set forth in a car, headed for Grandma's house way out in the country. Grandma gushes about what a great thing it is to have lost her first tooth, she is growing up so fast. All the assembled relatives pull the child's mouth open to inspect the empty socket, and determine that this tooth must go en no shita. And of course, Grandma's house has a little opening in the cinder block foundation where she can toss the tooth. Everyone gathers around as she declaims, "yoi ha ni narimasu you da!" and tosses it through the gap. Everyone claps their hands in joyous celebration, another precious Japanese custom has escaped extinction and has been passed down to the next generation.

BlogTV: Deadly Accident

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BlogTV presents a tale of tragedy, a freak accident on a playground that reveals a design of death. FujiTV News brings us the details (3 min, English and Japanese subtitles).

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Children are gathering at the playground, but nobody is having fun. They lay offerings at the site of the tragedy that has claimed the life of their playmate. They pray for their lost friend, and leave flowers and other trinkets, the sort of thing a 7 year old child might blow their pocket change on, juice and candy and cheap toys. The site is now taped off so nobody can play on the deadly equipment that nobody ever suspected was dangerous, buranko, the playground swings.
Computer graphics shows us the events in a detailed simulation, we see that little Ryunosuke slipped forward as he pushed on the swings, it came back and hit him in the chest, crushing him between the metal carriage and the ground.
I looked up buranko since it sounded like an imported word, but it is derived from burabura, a mimetic word meaning "to dangle" or "to swing back and forth." We see a few different types of typical buranko in this video, thousands were built all across Japan. After this accident, the statistics are starting to add up. Obviously there is a design flaw, and a new design for the buranko is now available. The ingenious new circular design is intended to prevent children from being trapped under the carriage.
The camera team moves to a playground, and asks a young child what she thinks about the recent trend towards removing the swingsets, she replies with ya da yo ne which is such a flexible, idiomatic phrase that I'll just translate it as "it sucks!" The kids love to swing, and they especially love playing on this new swingset with the cameraman in front.
But let's get serious here. An engineer explains the virtues of the new circular design, and grovels underneath with his tape measure. He assures us that no child could get injured with this amount of ground clearance. In addition, they have produced a document explaining the correct usage of the swings. I don't know what sort of government bureaucrat thought up that idea, but a set of instructions for a swingset has got to be one of the most unread and useless documents you could ever produce.
But still, the playground mothers express their concerns about the safety of the new buranko. One mother says that overcrowded swingsets are especially risky, and of course the FujiTV cameras have encouraged the kids to overcrowd the new swings, as they show off for the camera. We hear the same young girl again yelling ya da! as some of the larger children push the buranko higher and higher.
BlogTV once again presents George W. Bush's annual 9/11 commemorative speech. As usual, I have removed the pesky words that are always getting in his way.

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BlogTV: Art Stunt 2.0b Completed

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My painting is finished, and this experiment in blogpainting is completed. I am now presenting all the painting sessions in one continuous animation, so you can see days of painting compressed into one minute.

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It surprises me to see my own work develop over time, I get a chance to see things I am normally not aware of. Painters get to bury their own mistakes under a thin layer of paint, and sometimes what may seem to be a mistake may lead the way to new ideas. Now I get to see the development of those ideas over time.

art stunt 2.0b final artwork

Here is a higher resolution image of the final work. Unfortunately, no photograph can capture the richness of the blacks, the subtle transparency of some layers, the changes in matte and glossy surfaces, and the overall detail of the image. These are key aspects of my work.
One of my favorite quotations about drawing (which equally applies to painting) says, "a drawing is a continuous record of thousands of decisions by the artist." This is what art historians call "autobiographical painting." It has nothing to do with the biography of the artist, it means the painting is its own biography, it tells the story of its own creation. I found that statement on a postcard from an exhibition, I kept it on my wall for many years. When I returned to art school, I was pleased to discover this artist, whose statement and artworks I admired so much, was teaching at my art school. I decided to take her drawing classes, and one day during a critique, I quoted her statement back to her. I was astonished at her response, "I never said that!"

BlogTV: Art Stunt 2.0b Session 4

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I put together a short video of my latest painting sessions, just to let everyone know I'm still working and the project is still in progress.

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I'm making a few more radical moves, maybe I changed my mind about where this painting was going. Oh well, at least I've got a record of everything, I always say there's about 5 or 10 good paintings underneath my final paintings.

BlogTV: Art Stunt 2.0b Session 3

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I got a lot of work done in my latest painting session, some ideas are starting to form. You can begin to see how I work, I bring the image down and then back up several times in this animation. I'm not sure I like working in a single color at a time, but this is tempera paint and I don't really have any choice, I have to wait for one color to dry before applying another.

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This new animation is getting rather long, so I made it 3 times faster. Due to the increased speed and higher bandwidth requirements, I'm not sure if 56k modem users will be able to see this animation. If any 56k users could give a report, it would be helpful. Feel free to leave any comments about the painting, the animation technique, opinions, etc. Remember this is an experiment and your input could help shape the results.

BlogTV: Art Stunt 2.0b Session 2

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I did another quick painting session, I appended it to the end of yesterday's work since this video is so short. It's still under 1 minute.

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I used a big flat synthetic bristle brush to block out some big strokes with intensely black sumi ink. Remember I told you this painting was barely started. And there's no hesitation now, sumi is indelible. But this painting is still barely started, and most of this new work will disappear soon, underneath a new layer of paint.
I'm rather pleased at how much easier this session was. It took me about 4 hours to work out the system on the first pass. On the second pass, it only took me about 15 minutes. The resolution is good, the oblique lighting from above is highlighting some interesting qualities, you can see the fresh wet ink, then see the paper buckle slightly as it soaks in and dries.
I had to put some more staples around the edge, the tape partly pulled away and it needed more tension to keep the paper flat. Unfortunately, I knocked the easel and the new camera frame was misregistered. I took precautions not to bump the tripod and camera, but I forgot to secure the easel. It's a huge 20lb. board so I thought the weight would be sufficient to keep it stabile. Fortunately, I got everything back into exactly the correct position.

BlogTV: Art Stunt 2.0b Session 1

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A year ago, I produced an experiment in online art, I called it Art Stunt. I streamed live video of a painting in progress for a week, viewers could watch me paint or tune in over time to see how the work progressed. I considered the experiment a failure, the painting developed too slowly, the video resolution was low, and only by a rare coincidence did the small audience manage to actually see me at work.
I considered these problems, and created a new method using stop-frame animation. I'm photographing my painting with my new digital camera. I have my laptop operating the camera by remote control, every few brushstrokes I can tap a key and it captures a high resolution image. I use Final Cut Pro to process the images into a continuous "intervalometer" animation, one frame every 3 seconds. Now you can watch the brushstrokes appear as I paint them. An evening's work is compressed into 30 seconds.

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Don't judge this painting too harshly yet, I'm just throwing down some light gray underpainting, I'm barely started. I haven't really discovered what this painting is about yet, it will take a few days of bad painting to get it working. This is nonobjective, nonreferential painting, I work without a plan, more involved with the process than the result, hoping something develops as I work. I throw out a lot of these paintings, or use them as sketches for more fully developed work, so it's a little disconcerting to have the world watching over my shoulder when I might end up trashing it when I'm done. But that is the nature of this experiment. That is also why I'm calling this Art Stunt 2.0beta, this is mostly for proof-of-concept.
I can already see a few problems here, but they're minor. The tungsten lighting is a little yellowish and uneven, I could use flash only, but I need a bit of extra light to see what I'm painting. It's good enough for a beta test, I could do better if I had serious lighting, but I'm doing this on the cheap. Still, the effect is rather dramatic. I can see how I first laid down some broad brushstrokes in light gray, then a few thinner ones, then switched to a darker color, then used a smaller, floppier brush for some finer work. I'm not sure I want to know this much detail about how I paint, I never really thought about this before. I'm not sure how this will affect what I will paint, or if this information is even useful. But it will surely be entertaining, so stay tuned and watch what happens.
Update: This story is consistently my top referral from search engines, and I'm sick of people finding my site while searching for methods to commit theft. So I have altered the text of this article to make it harder to locate with search engines. I apologize for this article being a bit hard to read.

Disinfotainment presents the latest horrific discovery in Japan, a new way to secretly steal your c r e d 1 t c a r d data using Wi-Fi technology. This video from FujiTV (4min25sec, English and Japanese subtitles) explains how the wireless s k 1 m m e r scam works.

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S k 1 m m 1 n g c r e d 1 t c a r d numbers isn't particularly unusual, many portable s k 1 m m e r s are in use today, I've even had my own c r e d 1 t c a r d s k 1 m m e d and my own accounts raided for thousands of dollars. Recently a top-class Tokyo hotel made a startling discovery, someone secretly installed a c r e d 1 t c a r d s k 1 m m e r inside the restaurant's normal c r e d 1 t c a r d authorization device. The s k 1 m m e r was connected to a Wi-Fi transmitter so the numbers could be secretly recorded from a laptop computer anywhere within 100 meters. If the restaurant staff hadn't noticed someone tampered with their machine, the crime might never have been discovered, and the thief could have sat outside the restaurant in his car skimming numbers and nobody could ever connect him with the crime.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Similar devices were discovered in 6 other restaurants in Tokyo. The scam had previously been discovered in Malaysia, so of course this new crime wave is blamed on foreign devils. This is fairly typical of Japanese news reportage. I was particularly amused by the Japanese loan word for s k i m m e r, sukima, which sounds more like "schemer." And that's just what it is, the product of an audacious schemer.
BlogTV is back on the air with the latest video from Japanese news. This short video from FujiTV (1min30sec, Japanese and English subtitles) pushes a preposterous new fashion on the public.

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Eating eel, (unagi) is a well known summer tradition in Japan. It is an ancient belief that eating unagi during the hottest days of summer will restore one's vitality and help endurance under the sweltering temperatures. I think this "ancient tradition" was invented by unagi vendors, just as surely as is this new fashion concept, eelskin sport coats.
We are treated to a fitting by a haberdasher, offering the sport coat for the modest sum of 220,000 Yen, approximately $1850. These eels were grown in Canada specifically for their skins, the narrow strips of eelskin are shipped to China for tanning and stitching into larger pieces, and cut into the final product in Japan. It may be hard to see in this low resolution video, but during a closeup of the leather you can see the leather is rough and crudely stitched. Our fashion victim expresses his surprise and says the jacket is extremely light, sugoku karui, an expression you might likely hear when someone describes a light summer food. The comparison is made between the thickness of cow leather and the thinness of eel leather. Perhaps this is an evocation of ancient buddhist prohibitions against eating meat, while no such prohibition against eating fish and eel existed. Certainly nobody ever described grilled unagi, with its syrupy sauce (as seen briefly in the closing sequence) as a light dish.

BlogTV: Back On The Air

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Success! I have finally fixed the streaming video server and BlogTV is back on the air. Now everybody should be able to see the videos, even if they're behind a firewall. I am gradually repairing each video so they work with the new configuration. It will take a while to repair everything, but for now, you can test the new server by trying the How To Start A Crime Wave video, it has already been repaired and should play on all systems. If anyone has problems seeing that video, please leave a comment. I will fix the other videos as soon as possible.
There are a few adjustments still remaining. I'm running the new server configuration off my slowest disk drive, once I get everything adjusted perfectly I'll back it all up and restore it back onto my ultra-fast drive. In the meantime, performance may be a little slower than usual.
Update, July 1: I have repaired all the videos and everything should be working better than ever. If anyone encounters a video that is unplayable, please leave a comment, and be sure to let me know which video, your QuickTime connection speed preferences setting, and the error message you received. This will greatly help me in identifying any videos that need further repair.
Server performance is still poor due to the slow disk drive I've used for this configuration. Some videos may stream poorly from this slow disk, so I will migrate the server back to my high-speed drive as soon as possible. There will be a minor service outage during the migration, and then everything will be running optimally.

BlogTV: How To Start A Crime Wave

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Japanese TV news always shows the strangest things, and covers events in the strangest manner. This FujiTV video (6min40sec, English and Japanese subtitles) vividly demonstrates the one thing that I find totally incomprehensible about Japanese news reportage.

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The crime wave of home burglaries is a constant source of news coverage and analysis. This story is about the recent arrest of a gang of burglars that used a novel technique to break in. The method is called yakiaburi, a very interesting combination of two verbs, yaku and aburu, which both mean "to heat." The video actually shows the yakiaburi technique, first you heat the window for 20 seconds with a small butane torch. Then you spray water on the hot spot, the window silently cracks into pieces. The thief can gain silent entry rather than causing a commotion by smashing the glass.
And this is what I cannot understand about Japanese TV news. In their reporting of the crime, they reenact the methods of the crime in such detail that it is practically an instructional video for criminals. If you never knew how to break into a home, now you are an expert. We see demonstrations in a glazier's office, he prepares typical home windows and shows how easily they can be bypassed. Then he shows another technique, using a glass cutter in a triangle pattern, a neat wedge is silently removed right next to the latch, just enough room for a finger to reach in and unlock the window. The video uses a blur effect to conceal the precise movements of the glass cutter, but the methods are obvious despite the blurring. The glazier finally shows a secure safety glass, which of course costs ten times what the typical window glass costs.
I am continually astonished at this type of news coverage. I suppose they think this modus operandi is already common knowledge in Japan, so it is safe to let the public know how the thieves work. But I still can't help thinking they are educating a whole new generation of criminals with these detailed demonstrations.
I've only ever seen one similar incident in the USA. When I lived in San Francisco, there was a rash of broken parking meters. The local TV station investigated, and discovered some thieves were breaking into parking meters with an automotive dent puller and stealing the coins. And then they demonstrated the actual technique on camera. Within a week, there was not a single working parking meter in San Francisco. The City had to replace every meter in the entire city at a huge expense, and boy were they hopping mad at the TV station. They promised not to ever do anything like that again, but a few weeks later, they showed how to break bicycle locks with a car jack. The same result: a crime wave of bicycle thefts.
I am also painfully conscious that this technique may not be widely known and I may be importing yakiaburi into the US. But that is ultimately FujiTV's fault. Or so I will keep telling myself.

BlogTV: Old McDonald's, Sugamo

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BlogTV responds to the first ever request from a viewer. A correspondent in Japan drew my attention to a recent story he saw on FujiTV, and indeed, my TiVo captured the story. This story (5min25sec, English and Japanese subtitles) is about a McDonalds that caters specifically to elderly customers, and has some interesting observations about language usage in older vs. younger Japanese speakers.

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Japan's commercial culture is a youth-oriented culture, and corporate institutions like McDonalds primarily target young customers. But the Tokyo district of Sugamo is hangout for the elderly, and of course the Sugamo McDonalds must adapt.
Our first linguistic challenge comes from the interviews with the elderly customers. Demosthenes is said to have cured his stutter by practicing speaking with pebbles in his mouth. Here we face the opposite task, we must challenge our listening comprehension abilities by trying to understand old folks talking with a mouth full of Big Mac. I always like to observe the speech patterns and mannerisms of the extremely elderly, but I can't decide if the 92 year old woman is discreetly covering her mouth when she smiles, or pushing her dentures back in.
A nearby shrine attracts the elderly people to Sugamo, and we briefly see the ceremonial cleansing of the temple's statue with water, the figure is Jizo, the wise bodhisattva that protects the weak and innocent. The attendance at this McDonalds doubles on the days of temple observances, which by tradition are days of the month ending in the number 4 (the 4th, 14th, and 24th).
But none of this is within McDonald's control, their clientele is a gift from the Gods. What McDonald's is primarily concerned with is how to sell burgers to these customers most profitably. And we should observe closely, the simple transaction at a cash register is one of the most ritualized interactions in Japan. In such ritualized situations, any deviation from standard routine may cause confusion or even panic. This store has anticipated the quirks of their customers and adapted the process for them. For example, older customers are less familiar with English loanwords like chikin nagetsu so the menu substitutes the conventional Japanese word tori niku (chicken, literally "bird meat"). Drink sizes are not Large, Regular and Small, but the traditional dai, chuu, shou system. A magnifier is available so customers with failing eyesight can read the menu, it goes by the interesting name of mushi megane, literally "insect eyeglasses." In English it is called a Fresnel Lens, apparently the circular ridges of the flat lens evoke the multiple lenses of an insect's compound eyes.
There is an old saying in Japan, "okyaku-sama wa kami-sama," the customer is God. So clerks must be particularly attentive to the everchanging needs of even the most demanding customers. One woman tests the patience of a clerk by changing her order even after it is rung up, she admonishes the clerk to listen more closely. Even a forgetful God that cannot remember an order issued moments ago, must be obeyed strictly.
The story closes with more interviews, everyone is happy and full of hamburgers. A woman in a rakish hat expresses her gratitude for being allowed to rest and relax here, she bows deeply with her hands clasped together as if in prayer, and smiles.

BlogTV: Telephone Locks

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Disinfotainment is occasionally lucky to capture video of recent inventions in Japan. New technological devices can provide an insight into social problems and conditions, the way the inventor solves the problem reveals much about that culture's mindset. Unfortunately, it also shows us their blind spots, as this news segment from FujiTV (4min38sec, Japanese and English subtitles) will reveal. I'll skip most of the translation since English subtitles are available, but there are Japanese language points of interest for students as well.

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Japan has always had the reputation as a safe place where nobody even has to lock their doors and windows. But Japan's burglary rate has increased 30% over the last decade. The newspapers and TV news are full of stories about gangs of foreigners that have learned to pick common Japanese locks, and can burglarize apartments at will. Some of this media coverage is outright racism against lower-class foreign residents, but regardless of the reasons, many households are rushing to upgrade their locks and security systems.
This video announces the latest security system by NTT DoCoMo, a door lock operated by keitai denwa, your cel phone. And what a system it is. You can activate the lock either by remote control, or by dialing on your cel phone. I can immediately see problems here. The lock can be accessed from the outside by anyone with a cel phone, you're merely trading one security problem for another. You're betting that there are fewer phone hackers than lockpickers. The announcer describes the lock as the kagi-ana no nai kagi, the keyholeless lock, it cannot be accessed from the outside. But this could also be a problem, I hope it has a battery so you can still activate the lock in a power failure, fire, or earthquake. But what concerns me more is the privacy aspects. Your phone is creating a complete database of every time you leave your house. I'm not sure I want this data collected. Advanced versions of the system have video cameras accessible by cel phone. The system may not stop a burglar from getting in the window, but the motion detectors will trigger the cameras, and conveniently email you an image of the burglar. These cameras will become attractive nuisances for hackers, especially since they are marketing these security systems to single women that live alone. Somehow I forsee trouble.
Japanese consumers are extremely well educated in the most trivial aspects of every product. In many cases, the presentation and packaging may be as important as the contents, and consumers are extremely particular about their preferences. It appears that this consumer education starts very young, as this video from a popular FujiTV morning show reveals. This video (4 minutes, Japanese subtitles) reveals knowledge sought throughout the ages, the secret Egg Salad Sandwich Recipe.

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Little 5 year old Hazuki-chan has written a letter to the morning show. She has a complaint, her Mommy's egg salad sandwiches are boroboro, sloppy and loose. They're not perfect like the lady-finger sandwiches you get in a store or restaurant. Hazuki-chan whines, why are Mommy's sandwiches so crappy?
First, a little background is in order. Japanese bread is usually sold in loaves with the end crusts cut off, because nobody likes the crusts. The slices are usually extra thick so it's easy to slice the crust off the edges. If you order a sandwich at a shop, it will usually come with the crusts cut off and sliced into four wedges.
As Mommy prepares Hazuki's sandwiches, the announcer observes the problem, he shrieks kuzureta (it's crumbling) as she tries to slice the bread into quarters. Of course proper video coverage must include interviews of people in the street, to see how the average person would attempt to cut their sandwich. They all have sloppy, loose sandwiches, just like Hazuki is complaining about.
Let us instead visit the hallowed halls of the Tokyo Culinary Institute, where dozens of professional chefs are prepared to examine this problem. A master chef demonstrates a common technique, the sandwich is wrapped tightly in plastic cling wrap and sliced right through the whole package. It works well but it's time consuming and wasteful. On the other side of the kitchen, a row of students are mass producing sandwiches, they seem to be working much harder than the professor with the cling wrap. They're chopping stacks of sandwiches into neat halves, using long knives. One woman declares the secret is the special knife designed just for this job, it would be impossible without the proper knife.
But the proprietor of a local izakaya insists that he can make a pefect egg salad sandwich with any old knife. So FujiTV brings Mommy and her old knife along so he can teach her the secret recipe.
The usual ingredients for this sandwich are a slice of lunch meat (looks like chicken or turkey), some lettuce, mayonnaise, and a dollop of egg salad. The threefold secret of the sandwich is thusly explained:
1. The hardest to cut ingredients go on the bottom. That means the lunchmeat goes first, then the lettuce. If you put them on the top, when you try to cut it, it just squishes.
2. Squirt some mayo in the center. This keeps the bread from getting soggy.
3. Hold the sandwich at the edges while cutting the diagonals. Hold the sliced halves together and make a second slice through everything, into quarters.
After all this research, we are reassembled at little Hazuki-chan's lunch table, to place a new set of perfect sandwiches in front of the most spoiled child in all of Japan. Hazuki merely declares they are better than they used to be.

BlogTV: Steve Jobs on CNN

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I was surprised to find Steve Jobs' announcement of Apple's new music service online only in Windows Media Format through MSNBC. But a few minutes later, I happened to see Jobs on CNN, so I rewound the TiVo and captured it for everyone to see.
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This is an experiment in "time-to-live" BlogTV, the interview took place around 2:15, the compression is done and I'm putting this online at 3:40. It takes extra time to prepare streaming video, I could have put it online in about 15 minutes but I must make the video non-copyable in order to preserve my Fair Use rights while not getting stomped on by CNN Legal. This server is also a small experiment on a tiny DSL line so I apologize if there is insufficient bandwidth for large numbers of viewers. If you get the "Not Enough Bandwidth" error message, this means all available streams are already in use, please try again later. If you have other difficulties with the video, please leave a comment. I'd like to hear your experiences viewing the streams, that's why I'm doing this BlogTV experiment.

BlogTV: Rikachan's Makeover

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BlogTV is back on the air, presenting the latest cultural trivialities from Japanese TV news. I apologize for the delay in presenting new videos, but I had some major wiring problems which is the subject of another story at some other time. I've improved the signal quality and the online video quality is better, so perhaps the delay was worthwhile.
Today's subject is the cute little children's doll Rikachan. This video from FujiTV News is 4 minutes and subtitled in Japanese.
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Rikachan was created in 1967, in reaction to American toys like Barbie. It was believed that the leggy, busty blonde teenage image of Barbie might not be suitable for young Japanese childrens' self-image. A younger, shorter, darker-haired version of Barbie was created exclusively for the Japanese market, and it's been widely analyzed as a cultural phenomenon, just as Barbie has. But that is not the subject of this video.
In a fashionable Shibuya art gallery, women and children are delighted with the new exhibition of photographs of Rika. We quickly get a review of the original Rika as she first appeared in 1967, then we see the new photographs. Rika has been given a makeover, dressed up and coiffed by fashion designers, and photographed by a fashion photographer in glamorous settings. This job must have been both a photographers' dream and his worst nightmare. The model is completely pliable, you can cut her hair in radical designs and if you don't like it, throw her away and get a new one. But sewing tiny high-fashion dresses and working with tiny polyester hair must have been extremely difficult for the stylists. The photographer obviously knows a few special effects tricks, he's used "forced perspective" in some photos to make Rika look like a normal size human against a real background scene. We see the photographer shooting Rika against some bushes, he repositions the model and declares that balance is the most important aesthetic element of a picture. Next we see him shooting a row of 4 Rikas standing up on their own, a gust of wind comes along and they fall flat on their face. Yes, balance is definitely the most important element. You can see that working with inanimate models has its ups and downs.
But of course this activity all must have a commercial purpose. A new glamour edition of Rika-chan modeled after the fashion shoot is now on sale, only 7000 Yen ($60). Rika-chan also has released her own perfume, just like any idol that wants to cash in on her fame.
In closing, a newswoman compares two Rika-chan dolls, one is an original 1967 model, the other is the current model. She notes that the new model is blonder, taller, leggier, and with a smaller face. These are all the properties the original Rika-chan doll was designed to avoid, now Rika-chan has come full circle and become just like Barbie.

BlogTV: The Old Capitol Dome Rises

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More than 2 years after a fire that destroyed the Old Capitol dome in the center of the University of Iowa Pentacrest, a new dome is in place. This video was shot by UITV from Phillips hall, I spent many hours in that building and this is the view from my old classroom window. I've compressed the video at 8x so you can see the slow 12 minute sequence in just a minute and a half. Watch the crowds along the bottom and right of the frame. The crane started lifting at 1:25 PM, just as classes were getting out. Students stopped to watch the dome go up, and then rushed off by 1:30 when their next class started.
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The fire that destroyed the dome was tragic, nobody can replace solid oak timbers hewn from 19th century Iowa forests and shaped with hand tools. I'm not sure if I approve of the new dome, I saw photos of the wooden structure and it looks like it was designed on a computer. But now that the dome is covered in gold leaf again, it looks more like the original dome. Still, it will take many decades before it gets that weatherbeaten, hail damaged look of our old dome.

BlogTV Japan: One Man vs. 16,000 Girls

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Can a man stand between a woman and the object of her desire? Can any man stand between 16,000 Shibuya girls and the object of their desire? BlogTV presents the dramatic evidence of what can happen when a few men must channel these young women's lust by interposing their bodies between these women and their target.
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This video (5 min, Japanese and English subtitles) contains so much fast action that it can hardly be captured on screen. Due to the rapid motion, the compression is poor and the original source has a pause due to a transmission problem. But the material is sufficiently compelling that I am presenting it despite these problems. The content has a combination of the factors that make it interesting culturally and linguistically. It has colloquial conversations between people of radically different social status, allowing us to see how the different levels of speech work in practice. We also see a traditional Japanese social custom, in the most modern, trendy context.
In the wee hours of the morning on January second, in front of the hyper-fashionable Shibuya 109 building, a hundred women rush to a closed storefront and form a queue. Something is afoot. Thus begins our first linguistic confrontation between these sassy lasses and the representative of the company, a single security guard. The guard insists in a polite tone they can not queue here, and the girls shriek their dissapointment at being booted out of the front of the queue. The situation is defused, the queue relocated to a warmer location, near the store's basement entrance. By the time the store is ready to open, 16,000 young women are waiting. The store employees are inside, preparing for the onslaught.
As opening time approaches, the throng of women make the glass doors shake as if they are about to burst, and as the doors are opened, a few fearless men stand in between the women and the elevators, linking arms, and yelling at them not to run. But their safety warnings go unheeded, and they are swept right up elevator with the rest of the crowd. Nobody could withstand such a force. The women run into the shops and now we see their goal: fukubukuro, grab bags. Fukubukuro literally translates to "lucky bag" and uses an amusing pair of nearly-rhyming words, fuku means luck, and bukuro means bag. They want their lucky bags, and nothing will stop them.
On the first day of sales of the new year, stores will clear old inventory by filling grab bags with their signature merchandise. Nobody knows what their bag will contain, but since the store's reputation is contained in each bag, there is intense competition to get to the trendiest stores first, and snatch the bags from the best stores before the other girls. Saleswomen toss the bags through the air, and shout through megaphones, enticing the buyers to the point it nearly becomes a riot. A lone man expresses his worry for his daughter, they were separated in the crowd and he fears for her safety. He does not understand the madhouse scene, it was far worse than he expected, and worries that it represents materialism run amok. And most certainly it does. Perhaps he does understand. And as quickly as the crowd arrived, they pay for their bags and run outdoors to rip open their prize and see what they have received. The women compare their goods, one woman complains she could only buy 7 bags because that was all she could carry. Another woman is so excited she starts dressing in her new clothes right out in the street in the cold morning air, and the other women giggle as she tries to wriggle her butt into a pair of pants that are a bit too small. Some women are more satisfied than others, as the value of goods varies from bag to bag. But that is not why these women are here. One woman, when asked what is the best part of buying fukubukuro, says "oshiai," the competition. Another woman shows her torn coatsleeve, ripped during the battle, and she laughs and waves it like a battle flag. But despite the mixed results, everyone has gotten what they came for, the excitement of competition, and the opportunity to rip and slash their way through the trendiest places in Shibuya. The prizes may be inexpensive, but some experiences are beyond value.
Entrance examinations for schools, juken, are a distinctive characteristic of the Japanese educational system. Pressure to succeed on the exams is intense, because success means acceptance in a prestigious private school. This video from FujiTV (15 min in Japanese only) gives us a look at the world of juken, and we can even take a sample juken test ourselves, to see if we are as smart as Japanese kindergartners.
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Our voyage through the world of juken begins at 4AM on a rainy morning, as anxious parents stand in a queue in front of a famous private school. Today is nyuugaku gansho teishutsubi, the day for filing applications for new elementary school students. It is every parent's hope that their children will score well on the nyuugaku shiken (entrance exam) and be accepted into a prestigious private elementary school. All the best schools are connected with the best high schools and universities, so getting into a famous elementary school at age 5 could eventually get you into top university, and determine your destiny.
Quickly the scene shifts to 5 year old children taking the test, and again shifts to gates of Keio and Waseda elementary schools. These young children will not pass through these gates unless they ace this test! And to pass the test, children must study in juku, cram schools. In the back of this cram school session, anxious mothers sit as their children prepare for the test. These are kyouiku mama, an odd phrase literally meaning "childrearing mother" but the meaning implies a near obsession with childrearing. A kyouiku mama will stop at nothing to insure her children have the best preparation for the juken, time and money are no object. Unfortunately, the children really have no say in the matter, and it is the children that must achieve those goals, and live up to the pressures to succeed even at such a young age.
Now we meet young Yuki, our juken examinee, and his family. Yuki comes out and immediately starts bouncing his ball with a fury. His parents explain the advantages that a child will have, if he can pass his juken. We can follow in Yuki's footsteps through cram school, we are even going to take a sample question that is representative of an elementary school entrance exam. Stop the video at about 3:35, or view an enlarged image of the test question. Notice the four balance beams with boxes marked with a circle, x, diamond, double circle, or triangle. Which box is heaviest? You have 60 seconds to solve this puzzle, just like our 5 year olds. Two of the famous FujiTV network anchors agree to take a full test. They score about 45 to 55%. They can't believe children can pass this test.
Back at the cram school, the mothers are also cramming for the exams, the teacher instructs the parents on developing the essential skills their children must master to pass the juken. The children are tested for mental as well as physical condition and coordination. We see a juku taiso (calesthenics) class, and the children bounce their balls and jump around in strict coordination to the teacher's shouting and drumming. Every innocent playtime must be turned into an opportunity for physical and mental development. The difference between passing and failing the juken might depend on a child's rhythm in ball bouncing and playing hopskotch.
But to remedy the slackers, there is a whole industry of instructional materials for the kyouiku mama, covering every aspect of the juken experience. We see a few excerpts from an instructional video that shows how to pass the school interview. We begin with precise instructions on how to enter the room and in what order (father, then child, then mother) and how deeply to bow. Immediately upon observing the courteous bow, the interviewers start furiously writing their observations. Don't let this unsettle you, the tiniest little mistake and the interview is down the tubes! The interview begins with a soft-ball question to the mother, what kinds of things are important in raising your child? She smiles and answers that she is an only child, so it is important to take time for her to play with the neighborhood kids, so she learns to cooperate with others. The child looks up with adoring eyes, like she's the best mom in the world. Now that is how to conduct an interview. Now it's Dad's turn, he's asked if he has any worries about his child's rearing. Dad says he's awfully busy at work, and he worries that he should be spending more time at home with his children rather than spending all his time in cheap love hotels doing drugs with whores. Well, that's not quite what Dad says, but he could just as well have said it, judging by the reacton. The moment he said he put work ahead of his child's welfare, his family was judged to be unsuitable for this prestigious school.
No detail must be overlooked, our first impression is the only impression we will make on the interviewers, so our wardrobe must be meticulous. Conservative black and white clothes are in order, particularly for the children.
We follow little Yuki on his way to cram school. The family hops in the car, our brave little warrior is fed by hand and gulps a juice box on his way into battle. We watch as another juku student practices from a workbook even in the subway. But as we arrive at juku, Yuki is sick. But there is no rest for the weak or injured, the fight must go on. Yuki's mother watches like a hawk as he bravely pushes forward with the practice exams.
A group of kyouiku mama are gathered, to compare what they have spent in preparation expenses. The report spending between 3.5 to 4 million yen, between US$29,000 to $33,000.
Now all the preparations are done, and the test day is here. The families and their children head for the exam, and our cameras cannot follow. The test will take 4 hours, and then there is nothing we can do but wait. The results are posted on a board in front of the school. The excited parents rush to see if Yuki's number appears. They search and yes, there it is, Yuki is accepted! Dad uses an interesting phrase, shibireta, he "slid in." Now all the hard work is over...or is it? As Yuki settles down for a well deserved rest, he is barely aware that he will soon be facing these pressures every day at his new elementary school.

BlogTV Japan: Manga Causes Crime

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Shocking surveillance video has revealed a direct link between manga and crime, and FujiTV brings us the evidence. This short 6 minute video, in Japanese with English subtitles, shows these manga criminals in action, trafficking in their illegal comics, as well as the efforts of the police and decent citizens to eliminate this menace.
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This shaky surveillance video shows the crime in progress, as the manga thieves shoplift stacks of expensive comics from bookstores. The narrator asserts that the bookstores lose 1% to 2% of their stock to shoplifting, representing an annual loss to each store of 2.1 million yen (about $17,250).
Suddenly, store security chases after a band of three manga raiders. The camera dashes and darts forward jerkily, and the faces of the thieves are masked with a video effect, since they are minors. The 3 youths are interrogated by the store manager, and they cough up their loot, but give unconvincing alibis. A burly policeman bursts upon the scene and and is determined to teach those bakamono kids a lesson. They are forced to write a letter of apology to their parents, since they have shamed their family name with such a petty larceny. This will be a black mark upon their permanent record that will follow them for the rest of their lives. Still, their apologies are unconvincing. The band of thieves admits they were strictly in it for the money, they intended to fence their stolen goods.
And here is where the real tragedy of the crime lies. Jr. High and High School children across Japan are learning that the bookstores are easy targets. I myself have witnessed bold teenage children swiping comics at bookstores, it is a fairly common sight. These poor innocent children are being corrupted by the manbiki shakai (shoplifting mindset) that will surely lead them to greater crimes and a life of degeneracy. And such a risk for such a tiny return. That annoying woman from Mesamashi TV appears, showing us how to turn the illegal loot into cash yen at a used manga store. The clerk gives her 16% of the cover price. Then we learn how thieves steal the manga that will have the highest resale value, and how to get lists of the most sought-after manga, and where to sell them for the most profit. I never have understood this particular aspect of Japanese investigative journalism. In the effort to expose the crime, they demonstrate how to commit the crime, and in the process have taught thousands of impressionble youths exactly how and where to shoplift and fence their stolen goods. Oh well, at least their intentions were good.
The expose closes with the stern commentators expressing their concern that this evil crime wave represents the downfall of orderly society. They compare Japan's reputation as a crimeless society against the United States, where it is said to be a shoplifter's heaven and people will steal anything that is not secured. How could Japan have come to resemble the lawless Americans? It is an evil influence that all right-thinking citizens should resist. This manga crime wave shows no sign of ending, but somehow, it must end.
Yet another Iowa Football thug has been arrested. Jermelle Lewis was arrested just after midnight, in front of a bar, for kicking and damaging a car and assaulting the driver, mere hours after winning the title "Hawkeye of the Week" for his standout performance in a game against rival Wisconsin.
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Lewis definitely deserves the honor of Hawkeye of the Week, he represents the finest traditions of Iowa Football: drunken postgame rampages, destruction of public property, assault with intent to commit injury, etc. Congratulation to Lewis, for showing us what Iowa Football is all about!
I found the news coverage of this incident by KGAN to be quite typical of local sports attitudes. KGAN is "Home of the Hawks" and since they televise all their games, they are a booster of the team. Their first concern is how this arrest might affect the Iowa Football team, rather than the threat the Iowa Football team represents to public safety. The sportscaster notes that this is Lewis' first "brush with the law" (that we know of) so the penalty is likely to be light. Lewis was charged with 4th degree criminal mischief and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors. If this had been anyone but an Iowa Football player, they would have been charged with Aggravated Assault.
The fix is already in. Iowa Football Coach Kirk Ferentz has announced he will hush up the incident personally, and mete out whatever private punishment he deems appropriate. Since Lewis' performance helped shoot the team to #6 in the national rankings, and the team has already lost one 1st-string running back, Lewis will certainly continue to play with the team. The typical penalty is to suspend the player for a few months, as long as those months are during the off-season. Fortunately, the Courts are not so forgiving, even under pressure from the Iowa Sports juggernaut. Unlike the last case involving an Iowa athlete, where a rape victim was afraid to come forward, it is likely that the assault victim will have no hesitation to press charges.
As disgusted as I am with Lewis, I am even more disgusted with KGAN sportscaster Roland Glembine. He sees is role not as a journalist, but as a sports booster. He softpedals the story, assuring us that Lewis is a nice boy and deserves a break. I know Glembine is just a third-string reporter in the worst TV station in town, but the public really deserves better coverage of the continuing series of crimes by local athletes. The story should be handled by the main newsdesk, not by sportscasters whose existence depends on sucking up to the coaches.

BlogTV: Electronic Voting Machines

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BlogTV presents a primer on electronic voting machines, and the voting theory. Recently CNN presented a demonstration of several electronic voting machines that will be used in the 2002 elections. Unfortunately, the demonstration merely shows how the machines are used, and does not adequately explore the problems inherent in these voting systems.
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Before we go further, please read this primer on paper ballot systems written by one of the foremost authorities on paper and electronic voting systems, Doug Jones, a computer science professor at the University of Iowa. Jones' series of papers on voting are a revelation. They treat voting like a problem in logic and mathematics, yet are written in plain language that anyone can understand. Jones does an excellent job of explaining an ideal voting system, so I will not belabor those points. Jones also does an excellent job of explaining how the voting system is designed to deter fraud. Let us examine how flaws in these electronic voting systems might be used to commit fraud and overthrow an election.
The most fundamental issue in American voting is the secret ballot. Secrecy must be absolute, nobody is permitted to know which ballot was cast by any individual voter. To insure secrecy, all ballots must be indistinguishable from any other, and must not contain any marks or numbers that might identify any specific ballot to any specific voter. Votes must be deposited in the ballot box in plain view of the voting public. Ballots should not be deposited in the ballot box in the sequential order, if they are deposited sequentially, the ballots should be jumbled together and randomized before counting. Even the voter must not be able to identify his own ballot, so he cannot prove he voted any specific way, so he cannot prove he cast his vote for any specific candidate, this prevents a voter from proving he voted a specific way, to someone seeking to buy votes. Votes must be randomized before counting, or else someone could match a list of incoming voters to the order ballots were deposited.
None of the new electronic voting systems meet these strict criterion, allowing numerous opportunities for fraudulent manipulation of the voting system. The systems were designed primarily to prevent overvoting and undervoting, and not with the goal of preserving security of the secret ballot, nor with the intent of preserving the overall integrity of the voting process.
Note that the voting systems all use an ID number for each voter, and each electronic ballot is tagged with that ID number. Normally, with paper ballots, the voter ID is written on the ballot stub which is detached before depositing the ballot, which removes any identifiable data that can track the ballot to the voter. With electronic voting, each registered voter is assigned an ID, either manually entered into the machine, or contained on a smart-card. There is no way to assure that ballot IDs are not stored with the ballot data. In practice, the ID must be stored with the ballot data. This completely strips away the privacy of the secret ballot. This opens up the system to vote buying. When secrecy is not maintained, it is easy for someone to prove they voted for a specific candidate on a specific ballot, and claim their reward for casting the vote. It also allows partisans inside the system to identify opposition voters and spoil their ballots.
Another violation of our ideal voting system involves the public deposit of votes in the ballot box, to prevent vote stuffing. The electronic ballot box is an incomprehensible device connected to the voting booth with wires. Nobody can see the votes being deposited. There is nothing to prevent an unscrupulous election official from secretly handing someone a dozen smart cards or ID numbers, in the privacy of the shielded voting booth they could vote many times without detection.
There are many other flaws in these electronic systems that are not immediately evident. Jones' paper also focuses on counting the votes, another opportunity for fraud. We cannot know how these electronic vote counting systems work, the internal mechanisms are top secret, and not open to public scrutiny. This is derisively referred to in the computer programming world as "security through obscurity." To prevent fraud, transparency of the system is essential, yet the voting mechanism is absolutely opaque. You have no idea if a rogue programmer has inserted code that discards every 10th vote for a certain candidate. You have no way to verify your vote was recorded, there is no physical record of your vote inside an electronic system. Votes can be manipulated instantly, secretly, and en masse.
This essay cannot possibly enumerate all the flaws in these systems, as the specific details of the electronic systems are not public information. This is the most astonishing fact of all. We have handed the voting system over to computer programmers working in secret, one programming error will affect all voting machines. In a paper ballot system, one unscrupulous official may spoil a precinct's votes, but not the whole system's votes. This is the biggest fraud of all.
My major intent in publishing this essay is to acquaint the public with the fine work of Professor Jones. His essay on paper ballot systems should be read by any voter who seeks assurance that his voting system is properly administered, whether it be on paper or electronic. Please examine his paper at length, and if anyone can suggest other potential flaws in the electronic systems in the video, please leave a comment.
Disinfotainment presents a fascinating look at Japan's latest Nobel Laureate, Tanaka Koichi, as it was presented on the TV news inside Japan. Tanaka won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his groundbreaking work in protein analysis. Tanaka could not be more different than the co-winner, Dr. John Fenn. Tanaka is 43, barely half Dr. Fenn's age. Most Nobel Prizes are usally awarded as the culmination of a long career, Tanaka is one of the youngest ever to receive the Nobel in Chemistry. Fenn is a university professor in Virginia, Tanaka is a mild-mannered salariman engineer at Shimadzu Corp in Kyoto. Tanaka and Dr. Fenn share half the prize, Dr. Kurt Wüthrich, a professor from Switzerland, shares the other half. Dr. Wüthrich's work made the work of Tanaka and Dr. Fenn obsolete instantly, just a few years after their amazing discoveries.
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But none of this is apparent from the FujiTV news coverage of Tanaka. They make no mention that he received a company bonus of only 10,000 Yen (about $90US at that time) for the patent on his process (which is now owned by Shimadzu). No mention is made that Tanaka repeatedly and deliberately flunked his annual managerial reviews. He preferred to remain in his post, quietly pursuing his research instead of being promoted to management.
But Tanaka's quiet salariman attitude has made him a media star, and the media coverage is quite revealing of Japanese attitudes. In our video, we see Tanaka arriving at work attired in a suit and tie, he is obviously not accustomed to dressing up since his tie is so wide, it has been out of fashion since about 1980. He is greeted by his coworkers with cheers of "Banzai" and a bouquet of flowers, and seems a bit disconcerted at all the fuss. The scene switches to Tanaka's family home, where his brother and mother are receiving all the visitors and bouquets. Mrs. Tanaka proudly brings out an elementary school essay little Koichi-kun wrote, describing his interest in exploring the ocean depths in a submarine. While interesting, there is nothing particularly precocious about this essay, except perhaps his application of glow-in-the-dark paint to his illustration. We see an interview with his wife, who says she wishes he would dress better. Next we have the obligatory visit to Tanaka's elementary school, where the new generation of students congratulates him for his prize. Tanaka's niece appears and says he's nice and he always brought her lots of presents when he returned from abroad. During an interview with both Tanaka and his wife, he is asked what he plans to do with the prize money, and he says he'll have to ask his wife. She says he can do whatever he wants with it. He shows the deferential, self-effacing spirit that has made him the humble hero of Japan.
Now we shift to the next day's news coverage. Tanaka is greeted by Prime Minister Koizumi, along with Japan's other new Nobel Laureate, Dr. Koshiba Masatoshi. First the Prime minister shakes their hands in order of age, starting with Dr. Koshiba, in strict accord with formal Japanese customs of respect. They line up in order of age, the Prime Minister in the middle, grasping their hands and declaring them to be like 3 brothers. Dr. Koshiba stands proudly, like any ambitious 76 year old Senior Professor, standing on the shoulders of his junior research assistants (who are the ones who really do all the work). But Tanaka is unaccustomed to such celebrity events. He says he could not even look the Prime Minister in the eye, and was embarassed when the highest elected official in Japan calls him by the honorific title "sensei." The video backtracks a few hours as Tanaka departs from Kyoto on the bullet train. He is clearly not accustomed to luxuries like a reserved seat in the Green Car, and says he has never ridden on this type of shinkansen before. As the train arrives, he claps his hands together with glee, like a child spotting his first shinkansen.
The story shifts tone dramatically as we see a brief excerpt from the famous Nobel speech given by Kenzaburo Oe, "Japan, The Ambiguous, and Myself." Oe's 1994 speech, given in English with excerpts in French, galvanized the world literary community and is still discussed and debated today. Commentators now speculate on whether Tanaka can deliver his Nobel speech in English. They search out his brother, who describes our Nobel Laureate's passing (but not excelling) elementary school grades in English class. Next they interview his old English teacher, who seems a bit put off, and says how rude it is to ask such a question. But the commentators assure us that Tanaka's years of research in Shimadzu's overseas offices have prepared him fully for the task.
Now we come to the closing commentary on this subject. The announcer describes how both Nobel Laureates complained to the Prime Minister that scientific research is not valued highly enough in Japanese society. The announcer asserts that Japanese society only values these researchers once they have gained recognition in the West. Another announcer expresses his wish that Tanaka give his speech in English, so his spirit is more clearly shown to the world.
I found this coverage most typical of the Japanese media. They focus not on his achievements, but on his family. They focus on Tanka's averageness, his dedication to his work rather than ambition for climbing the corporate ladder. He is the nail that never stuck up and thus was never hammered down. Tanaka represents the dreams of every average faceless corporate salariman, and they love him for achieving what they could not.
BlogTV presents the latest slice-of-life video from Japan, about shihatsudensha, the first train to leave the station every morning. Let's hang around the trains at 4AM and see what kind of strange people we can find.
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We first encounter a young woman, dressed to the nines, she is on her way into an after-hours club at 4AM. Most people are getting ready to go home at this hour, but she's just getting ready to start partying. We watch her enter the trendy Velfarre nightclub, and dance til she's ready to drop, or 6AM, whichever comes first. Then she emerges from the club, dressed in a business outfit, and heads off to work. Her eyes are puffy, her hair is in disarray, but she's ready to start her day of work at the office.
Now back to the station, where we find a variety of drunken salarimen sleeping on the benches. Their faces are blurred to prevent their wives and families from embarassment. The reporter gingerly goes up to prod at a couple of them and asks one of them if he can tell us why he's sleeping in the station. He yells out "Provider!" which makes no sense in either Japanese or English. But one salariman is awake and alert. He is climbing the escalator in the wrong direction, apparently he needs the exercise to sober up. After a few minutes he heads off on the train.
Suddenly, there is a huge influx of people dressed in identical white pants, shirts, and hats. The all get on the train, but where are they going and who are they? They are fanatical devotees of rajio taiso, an exercise program that originated on radio and migrated to TV. It is an institution that has endured for decades, in almost any place in Japan you can see people doing calesthenics before work. Two of the women say they've been doing this every day for 20 and 25 years. Hundreds of rajio taiso fans have gathered in a stadium for a group event, they exercise together, and drift away back to their lives. Surely most of them spent far more time getting to the station and back than they spent exercising.
As we head through the station one last time, we encounter a rarely seen figure, ryoushou obaasan, an old peddler woman. She has a burden strapped to her back, it is almost larger than she is. We see other ryoushou obaasan passing through the station, some of them cannot stand up straight even unburdened, after all those years of carrying such heavy loads. This woman is carrying rice and vegetables from her rural home into town for sale, packed in boxes and wrapped in a cloth in the traditional manner. A young woman comes to try to strap on the boxes and she cannot stand up, she is surprised at the weight of the package. We follow her through her trek, arriving at her peddling spot, and back home again. We learn a bit of her history, of how she was forced to peddling to support her family, due to poverty. She has been peddling for 40 years, and declares atashi wa kotsu kotsu kotsu kotsu yatteimasu (I will keep going on and on and on). Her children gather around, expressing their gratitude for her unending labors with a nice back massage. In closing, we see her trying out the load she will carry tomorrow, the same time, same train, same destination, the same as she has been doing for the last 40 years.
I have delved deep into BlogTV industrial video archives and discovered this 1990 ComputerLand sales video. It declares the PC business has reached maturity, and declares the intent to shift from moving PCs to moving networking and consulting. This video was considered ComputerLand's top intelligence at the time, and was targeted at franchisees who had to make huge investments in the CL corporate system to reap the huge profits of networking sales. There are many startling predictions in this video, I'll let the speaker's words stand on their own. A lot of this salesman-speak came from some extremely eccentric influences on ComputerLand, they used consultants like Werner Erhard and integrated techniques from his EST and Hermeneutics courses into their sales videos.
I used the Network Consultant program at our store, we were one of the rollout stores. Nobody was more surprised than me when it was a huge success. We sold tons of huge networks to large corporations, international banks were my particular specialty. Man oh man did I make a lot of money. No actually, I hardly made any money at all, I worked myself to death pushing out tons of hardware and nets and barely made a decent wage. But the ComputerLand owners made fortunes.
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BlogTV: George Bush's 9/11 Speech, Edited

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BlogTV presents a special edited rebroadcast of George Bush's 9/11 commemorative speech. I have taken the liberty of removing all those pesky words that vex him so much.
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BlogTV Art Stunt: Day 10

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I worked a lot today, and decided this painting is finished. This painting is pretty dark, and relies on a lot of transparent effects that won't be visible at this resolution. Oh my aching back, it takes a lot of work to pull all those staples around the edge and clean up the masking tape. But it's worth it. I never quite know how a painting is going to look when I clean up the edges, but I think this one turned out pretty much how I intended. I'll try to get a larger image up on the web somehow.

BlogTV Art Stunt: Day 9

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OK, I goofed off yesterday, and didn't get any painting done so this is still just Day 9. I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about how the project is going. It is rather dismaying to see all this technological apparatus being used on such a small audience. I suspect this experiment has gone astray somehow, but at least I'm gathering some info on how to make it work. I think I'm working in the wrong medium, when I work in oil paint I'll work for hours, but with tempera, I can only work for a few minutes and then everything gets wet and I have to stop. I suspect that people would be more interested in actually seeing an artist at work, so perhaps I should schedule a specific time each day so people could check in and watch. Or perhaps another approach is needed. The video stream is insufficient to see just what I'm painting, and that's not going to change how I paint. Perhaps I need a high-rez webcam, just showing a still image every hour or so, to see more detail and allow viewers to see what is changing in the painting.
But I suspect there is a more fatal flaw in this experiment. Watching an artist paint is sort of like watching someone do menial work, it's boring. It's dirty and messy, and hard work over the long haul. The public only sees the end result, an attractive image, but they don't have any understanding of the days of work and thought behind an image. I guess if people are bored by watching me paint, then the experiment has found its message. Real painting isn't like watching Picasso or Pollock doing a staged performace for the camera, with all the boring parts edited out. This is live, and real. Follow the experiment over time and see what happens.

BlogTV Art Stunt: Day 8

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I have been mostly working in the evenings, sometimes quite late at night, so please keep checking in to see progress on the painting. It's at a slow part, and I have to work carefully. Tempera paint is tricky to work with in color, the underpainting dissolves and "drags up" into the new paint. It's easy to work with when the painting is thin, but not so easy when it gets built up. This is always the problem with gouache and opaque water pigments.

BlogTV Art Stunt: Day 7

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I'm continuing to work with the color tempera, it has some interesting properties. Lately I've been thinking about one of Leonardo daVinci's painting lessons. He described how to build the structure of foliage and trees by laying down layers of bright and dark. I've used that lesson a lot in abstract painting, my work sometimes deals with fields of color putting "visual pressure" forward or backwards. My work isn't about trees or foliage, but I tend to work in blue-green colors so people always assume that it is. But it's not. Anyway, this painting is still in the underpainting stage, far less than halfway to being anything. I like the color tempera, and this size of paper works pretty well for me, but I have to mix huge amounts of pigments. Color mixing is working pretty well, better than I expected. I bought a nice Italian signpainter's brush, it was cheap, and works great at this scale.

BlogTV Art Stunt: Day 6

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I took a little longer break than I'd planned but now I'm back in the studio. I decided to work in color, and on a larger size of paper. This all means more work. I have never worked with color tempera at this size, I'll see how this goes but it could all end up in the trash.

BlogTV Art Stunt: Day 5

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To my surprise, I decided this painting was finished, so I took the tape off the edges and unmounted it. It looks pretty good. I decided it was too boring for viewers to watch me paint in black and white, and I was getting bored too. But I thought it turned out pretty good. And I decided to give the equipment a rest. It's 11PM and it's 90 degrees outside, it's going to be even hotter tomorrow, time to conserve some energy and let the equipment rest a day or so. I'll start a new painting Monday. In the meantime, I laid the painting right on the scanner, so I can show you an actual-size detail, you can see a tiny bit of what I'm up to. I'll try to get a digital camera or something, to show the whole image.

detail

BlogTV Art Stunt: Day 4

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I'm back at work. I've been leaving the video zoomed in so you can see the detail, but it's still too blurry to see what I'm really doing. I'll see if I can get some hirez scans when the work is done, so you can see the final result. I looked at the detail video, it looks like black and white video, but that's because I'm working in black and white. Working in B/W is harder than working in color, and not nearly as much fun. Color can be a crutch sometimes, you can distract people from the problems in your painting with colors. But in B/W, all the flaws are just as distinct as the good bits, so you have to fix things or it all falls apart. I went to the art store and looked at some colored tempera, but they were out of stock on important primary colors, so there would be no way to mix colors properly. I could use acrylics, but I hate using acrylics, if I go to that trouble, I might as well work in oil.

BlogTV Live: Art Stunt Day 3

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The first time I looked at the painting today, I liked it a lot more than when I was painting on it last night. It looks a lot brighter, I was working more in midtones, with a looser, wetter brushwork in spontaneously mixed greys. It's progressing well, but still a long way to go.
Lately I have a bit of pain in my right arm from tendonitis, and it's painful to paint. I've been hauling big buckets of water from my sink to my garden, I had to start lifting the buckets with my left arm because it hurt too much. I wonder how much 5 gal of water weighs? I took some Alleve which is good for deep tendon pain, it should kick in soon and I'll start painting.
I think I'll go down to the art supplies store about 4PM today and get some new brushes. The ones I'm using are too small for this size of paper, and not enough variation in size. I have some huge brushes but they're too big. Hmm.. Maybe I should just buy bigger paper, that would be a lot cheaper. I'd rather work larger. For that matter, I'd rather be working on more than one piece at once, so I could continue to paint on one while the other dried. I prepared a couple of boards like this so I could switch to another board. But I just don't have enough space to do it. It reminds me of an old story I heard about Basquiat. He'd work on one painting at a time, focusing on that until he was finished. Then he hired an assistant, who saw him working. He told Basquiat that everyone works on multiple works at the same time, and his job as assistant was to prep canvases and move stuff around so he could do that. Suddenly Basquiat's output exploded, and his works started referring to each other in a wonderful way.
7:10PM - I bought some new brushes, boy is it expensive to buy wide soft bristle brushes. I'll work in the studio more tonight, so stay tuned. You're invited to open the stream and just leave it running. I figure people actually want to see me paint, so I'll leave a monitor running, and if anyone is connected, I'll make an effort to paint. But the stream monitor only updates once a minute, so you'll have to stay connected for over a minute before I could possibly notice it.

BlogTV Live: Art Stunt Day 1

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StudioCam is now broadcasting live, the project has begun. Now you will be able see me painting. And when I say you will see me painting, I mean mostly you will see paint drying. I spend far more time looking at my painting than actually painting. But you will be able to check in over time and see how the painting is progressing. Painting is a slow process.
I've got my paper mounted and have started to paint. I like to staple paper to a board and put tape around the edges, so when I finish, it has a nice clean white frame. My photography background is obvious. I'm working in black and white mixed media, using tempra, sumi ink, and various watercolors and gouache. I'm working strictly abstractly, which is the hardest way to paint. At this point, it makes little difference to me how the painting looks, most of this will be covered up and repainted 5 or 6 times before I even get an idea where I'm going.
2:40PM - Working in water media is slow, I have to wait for the paper to dry before I can paint further. This forces me to work more like printmaking, planning the image in layers of a single color of paint. I'm more accustomed to oil painting, where you can work wet on wet and get really good effects. I always try to work with water media like it was oil paint. I remember a long chat with Brice Marden that put me onto this theme. Well, I mostly remember it, we both had too way much to drink. But anyway, I asked him about his Cold Mountain drawings, and he said he liked the immediacy of drawing in ink, how it was like calligraphy in that your first mark was the final mark. But in oil painting, you can continuously work the image until it's perfect, you can even scrape it down and start over. I decided to prove him wrong, and work on a single sheet of paper continuously, to work the paper and ink as hard as oil paints. Unfortunately, it's almost as much work as oil painting. More, really, since you have to go to a LOT more work to get nice transparent effects. I wish streaming video had more resolution, it's impossible to see these effects in the tiny, blurry video image. I just found a way to pump up the rez by killing the blank audio and using full bandwidth for video. I'll see how it works. When I stop working and take a break, I'll leave the camera zoomed in so you can see some details.
5:45PM - I'm back in the studio, I'll do more work on this painting tonight, over the next few hours.

BlogTV: Live StudioCam Test

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The StudioCam is live and available for testing. Please click and see if the picture is visible (there is no audio). If anyone comments that they can see the signal, I will begin the project.
Update 9:25PM Apple has just officially released QuickTime 6 and QuickTime Broadcaster. Some features of the Preview Edition may have been disabled, which could explain the streaming problems. I'm upgrading and reconfiguring now, and will continue to work until streaming goes live.
Update 11:15PM The new QuickTime 6 release seems to work, but retains compatibility with QuickTime 5. I will leave the stream running, please click the comment link and let me know if you see the video. Note that you may need to click Play a second time before the stream will start.
(Test successful, links to video removed)

BlogTV Live Broadcast: Art Stunt

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Disinfotainment announces the latest exciting experiment in QuickTime streaming video, broadcasting live from my art studio. I will work on a series of paintings live in front of a video camera, over a period of days. You can check in on my progress, watch as the image develops, and get a quick look at how a painter works. I will comment on my work as it progresses, and viewers are invited to leave their own comments.
Some of the most influential films in all of Modern Art are films of famous painters painting. Films of Pollock and Picasso painting on the reverse side of a glass are particularly famous, and have influenced (for good or ill) many painters including myself. There is something mysterious and unknown that happens when painters paint, something mostly unknown to the art viewing public and virtually impossible for artists to explain. Some artists open their studios once a year to allow visitors, but most artists would never allow anyone to watch over their shoulder while painting. Now I am opening not just my studio, but my easel to the public for realtime viewing. At the end of the experiment, I will offer these works for sale at low cost. By prior agreement, the first $150 of any sales will go towards a commercial license for Moveable Type. You can support the arts, and support Open Source software authors too!
I do not know how this experiment will develop. An experiment wouldn't be worth doing if I knew in advance what I will learn in the process. I am not sure if this will even work. I've upgraded my systems to deliver streaming video more smoothly, but this system is based on a preview version of QuickTime Broadcaster, so it is strictly experimental. I will begin with low-bandwidth streams visible over a 56k modem, and plan on increasing the speed and improving quality as the experiment progresses. Please view the Test Stream and please leave a comment if you can or cannot see the live video stream. Yes, the test stream is too dark, this is just a test stream of live TV, the studiocam looks much better than this. I expect to go live and start painting this afternoon, perhaps in only a few hours if I get reports that the test stream is successful.
Update 2:15PM Still working on setting up live streaming, with mixed results. Please keep testing and leave a comment to let me know if you can or can not see the stream.

BlogTV: Bowie's Strange Request

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Tonight A&E presented a live concert with David Bowie, with call-in requests. I was immediately struck by the similarity to some recent blogger blather. Prominent blog pundits have been raving recently about an incident that occurred at a conference. One of the panelists was surfing the web and discovered someone was writing continuous comments on his live presentation, and commented about it in that same presentation. The bloggers gushed about how the barrier between the audience and the presenter was broken. These self-important pundits declared this a watershed event, one declared it was the end of journalism as we knew it. I hear this sort of ridiculous crap every day.
Tonight as I was watching the live Bowie concert, an interesting thing happened. One of the call-in requests came via cel phone from the audience. Bowie discovered the caller, and invited him onstage, interacting with him both by phone and in person.
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What struck me most about this incident was that Bowie pulled the guy right out of the audience and brought him right on stage. This is in stark contrast to the blog conference panelist who imagined himself to be interacting directly with his audience, while he was really many layers of abstraction from that person who was sitting right in the audience. It's the difference between reality and illusion. The blog pundits are fooling themselves.
On a different note, I was surprised at Bowie's new band. He dumped the cute backup singers/percussionists and replaced them with a woman with a deep voice. Sometimes you can't tell when it's her singing and when it's Bowie. And his new guitarists suck. But boy do they have some nice instruments. I saw a guitar just like my college roommate had, an 1950s Les Paul SG with triple pickups and a Bigsby. Plus a nice vintage Gibson Explorer. Either of those guitars would sell for well over $20,000. Too bad these rare instruments are wasted, the band doesn't have synergy. The Bowie at the Beeb concert from 2000 was much better.

BlogFM: If Blogs Had Music

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This message used to contain an announcement of a short-lived experiment in BlogFM. I attempted to stream ultra-high bandwidth 192k mp3s, it worked fine as long as I dedicated the machine solely to serving audio. I removed the service and will try again once I do some load balancing.

BlogTV Direct Access

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My access logs show that some people are attempting to directly download BlogTV's QuickTime files. Sorry, it can't be done so just stop trying. Even if you knew the names and location of the files, it wouldn't do you any good, QTSS will serve the files but otherwise they are completely inaccessible. That's how QTSS works, it firewalls the content from the public except through controlled access.
For political and legal reasons, I am unable to provide freely downloadable files. BlogTV will be a streaming service only so that I can maintain my legal right to present Fair Use excerpts. This is a compromise, it allows me to present excerpts of copyrighted videos while still preserving the copyrightholder's rights. If I I release redistributable copies, I could be liable for violations under the DMCA. Maybe someday the legal environment for Fair Use will change, but I don't see it happening anytime soon. We apologize for the inconvenience.
BlogTV presents this important public safety warning about exploding eggs. FujiTV's recent exposé Itai SOS [Pain SOS] recreates the disaster that occurred when Akemi-san dared to irradiate and eat the dangerous ovum.
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Itai SOS begins with the image of Akemi-san and her young daughter, we can immediately see that there is a threat to this young family. Akemi has come forward to warn the public about a dangerous irradiated explosive that is right underneath our noses, lurking right on our dinner plate. The drama begins with an actress recreating a fake video "flashback" showing how the tragedy happened, when Akemi tried to reheat a leftover hard boiled egg. Everyone knows that an egg will explode if you heat it in the microwave, so she peeled and pierced it to let the pressure out just like you're supposed to. After heating, she squeezed the egg to see if it was warm and everything seemed fine. She put the egg to her lips and took a bite, and pow the egg exploded, spewing boiling egg yolk fragments as far as 5 meters! Akemi describes her pain, and how her mouth was burned and bleeding so she was unable to cry for help.
FujiTV's SOS program heard Akemi's cry and they are here to help. Two culinary engineers dressed in paper haz-mat suits, protective face masks, and heavy rubber gloves are summoned to perform some experiments. In FujiTV's immaculate stainless-steel kitchen laboratory, three precooked hard boiled eggs are reheated in a microwave oven. The technician attempts to retrieve one egg from the irradiation chamber, it explodes the moment he sets it on the table. A second egg also detonates prematurely, these babies are more unstable than nitroglycerin! On a third attempt, the camera captures the effect in closeup.
A simple animation attempts to explain the physics behind the explosion. A cross section of the egg appears on a green background. As the egg is bombarded with red kryptonite radiation, the infinitesimal amounts of deuterium isotopes in the water in the egg begin a cold fusion reaction, setting off a microscopic thermonuclear detonation. Well, not really, but that is about as accurate as their stupid explanation of the effect.
The explosion really is caused by superheating, a complex phenomenon of the physics of phase changes. When water is heated over a flame, it gradually reaches a boil and turns to steam when the water temperature reaches 212F. But in a microwave, the heat is applied at a subatomic level, the water molecules can reach temperatures above 212F without changing phase from water to vapor. If these "superheated" molecules are jarred or disturbed, they will change from water to vapor in an instant, releasing a huge burst of steam, or even a small explosion. You can sometimes see this effect by making a cup of instant coffee from very hot microwaved water. When you drop in the powdered coffee, the superheated water can boil explosively, the water can gush right out of the cup like a geyser.
Let's revisit this video from a Japanese linguistic standpoint. Listen for interesting phrases that use onomatopoeia, I particularly like "chin suru." Chin suru is from the sound of the bell that goes "chin" when your microwave oven is done cooking. They use the expression chin suru like we'd use a slangy phrase like "to nuke." Akemi uses another interesting phrase, "pan tte hajikeru," to explode with a bang. Instead of an explosive sound, she almost sings the word "pan" with an upward inflection, you can hear her excitement as her voice rises. Onomatopoetic words like pan and chin are quite common in Japanese and add a lot of nuance to the language.
Japanese society is formalized in many respects, the Japanese language has many ritualized aspects that shape every social interaction. A complex system of "keigo" (respect language) is used in every spoken interaction, and this confrontation between a cranky old man and Tokyo city officials is a perfect example. Even a direct confrontation must be done in the most indirect, nonoffensive manner. The old man speaks gruffly in rough abusive words like "bakatare" (asshole) while the officials are always polite, bowing and saying "shitsurei itashimasu" (pardon my rudeness) even after the old man throws one of them in front of a car.
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This old man is furious because because leaves fall on his house and in his gutters and he has to sweep them from his genkan. The genkan is an area inside the front door of every home, where you must take your shoes off and "ascend" into the house. Even though these trees are by a stream across the street, he decides to cut the problem off at its source. He has been sawing limbs off the trees since last autumn, and the city officials are trying to get him to stop it. All along the stream, there is a majestic row of greenery, except in a zone of sickly, gnarled trees for about a block around his house.
Now it is spring, and time for a followup. New damage to the trees is clearly visible, massive limbs have been sawed off, leaving ragged stumps poking in the air. The TV crew asks the old man what he's doing and he boasts that he's going to kill the trees and there's nothing anyone can do to stop him. I wonder how much of this story would have happened without the camera crew egging him on. The old man calls up to tell the City off, with the cameras watching. The City officials know that he's been cutting down branches, he says there are no lower branches left, so now he's just going to kill the trees outright. He speaks a guttural "rachaakane-ya," a corruption of "rachi ga akanai" which is an idiom for "the gate is closed," he is declaring an end to negotiations. The city official responds with about the politest keigo you can use for a prohibition, "kono toki moshiagemashita you ni.. ano.. katte ni o-kiri ni naru you na koto wa narazu." Keigo expressions do not translate well, but literally, it says, "at this time, we have humbly told you things such as.. umm.. doing such things as cutting whatever you want, don't do that." The old man explodes and starts yelling, "yarimasu! bakayarou!" (I'm going to do it! Asshole!)
Now with extra courage from the TV camera behind him, he goes over and takes a little hand axe over and starts chopping the bark all around the circumference of the tree so it will dry up and die. Soon a delegation from the City shows up to try to get the guy to stop vandalizing the trees. The obsequious official gets nowhere with his polite approach, the old man threatens to punch him. To defuse the situation, an even more polite woman says, "shokubutsu wo sonshou suru koto wa kinjirarete orimasu node, sore wa shinai you ni onegai itashimasu." Another extremely indirect prohibition, "things such as cutting of trees are humbly prohibited, we beg your indulgence to not do things like that." She's practically begging him not to hurt the trees. He shoves his nose right in her face and starts howling, "nan datte?! ningen wa ii no ka dou natte mo." (What did you say? The People are always right, no matter what). So he gets mad and throws them out into the street, tossing one of them right in front of an oncoming car. The old man retreats into his yard and closes the gate, literally the "gate is closed" to the City officials. They bow and walk off. The officials explain in the politest possible way that this guy has been warned before, and now he is in a heap of trouble. The video ends with the guy wistfully looking up into the canopy of green leaves, he obviously has only one thought: how long until this tree is dead? Even with the denuded trees, this is a shady and peaceful spot to rest alongside a river, a rare enough thing in Tokyo to make it worth preserving. But the old man can only see one thing, a living garbage factory with only one purpose: to foul his genkan. But even if he kills the trees, the dead leaves will still end up in his genkan.
Postscript: I had presumed that this old man was shown on TV to ridicule the extremeness of his views, but alas, it appears that this is more common than I had suspected. I have been informed that the cutting of trees to remove autumn litter is a subject in Alex Kerr's new book Dogs and Demons. Apparently it is a fairly widespread practice to cut the limbs off trees just before the leaves fall, the trees gradually become top-heavy and stunted. Through anti-environmental acts like this, Kerr argues Japan is at war against nature and itself.

I decided to post a preview of my upcoming project, its release was delayed by more than a week. This video is the result of many weeks of painstaking computer graphics work, a job I did long ago. It has not been seen for many years, and this particular version is now in my sole posession. The story of this video's production is a convoluted tale from a dark time, I will release the story soon, and I will not finish until the tale is told in full. But I have decided to restructure it into a longer multipart tale, to release it over a period of a week or so. Unfortunately, as I began that process, I was delayed by other people's technical problems which were forseeable, some people like to tempt fate. Their problems will not become any part of this story, that last chapter will be expunged. But the curse has already landed on them as well.
The following BlogTV presentation is a rotoscoped version of the first 7 seconds of the Rodney King video. ISDN-speed users should get a fairly clear image, T1 viewers will be the only ones able to see the full effect. 56k users don't even bother, you'll see nothing but a blur, I'm working on a better presentation for ISDN and 56k but this appears to be impossible for 56k. You really need T1 bandwidth for this one. See it now, I'm taking this offline soon, it is not a good idea to publish parts of the last chapter of your story first, especially a first draft.









This is the first 7 seconds of the video, when the cameraman, George Holliday, was fumbling with the zoom and focus. What happened in this blurry section became the major point of the LAPD officers' defense and the crux of the LAPD4 trials. At the moment the camera starts, you can see the ghostly, blurred images of the officers and King. The police officers claimed that King was upright and attacking them during these 7 seconds, but once the video is rotoscoped, even through the blur you can see that he's already going down on the ground and taking blows to the head and getting tazered. The camera finally snaps into focus and stability, the video stops here but Rodney King's ordeal has just begun. Now, for the first time, you will see what really started the Rodney King incident.

I am proud to present two videos from my ancient archives, these videos represent the rise of the Macintosh Computer, and Apple's downfall in the office market. When these videos were released, they were the latest marketing materials I used daily in my job at the largest Mac dealership in the US, but I suspect these videos have not been seen in public for nearly 15 years. I am presenting these two short videos in their entirety, I am claiming Fair Use since these materials are of no current commercial value to me or Apple, I present them for historical interest and to stimulate scholarly analysis of the current state of the computer market. Those who do not learn from History are bound to repeat it.
I expect this presentation to incur the wrath of Apple Legal, and I beg them to be nice. I am streaming these videos so that they can be viewed but not be copied or redistributed, in order to preserve Apple's copyrights along with preserving my Fair Use rights.
Tech Notes: QuickTime required. If you have trouble seeing the streaming video, read this document. This server has only limited bandwidth and only a few available streams. If this clip is popular (as I expect) there will surely be times when the server is overloaded, so please try again. Please be kind to my tiny little server, don't slashdot me or I'll have to shut down temporarily. We Apologize For The Inconvenience.

Apple's Golden Age: The Birth of Desktop Publishing
Apple first attempted to explain Desktop Publishing and the Laserwriter with this video released in 1985. This crude video is a low budget production, but the excitement of the product shows clearly through the testimonials of designers. We are treated to a vintage computing demonstration of Pagemaker 1.0 on an original Macintosh 128 with 2 floppy disk drives. Aldus (the producer of Pagemaker) provided demo disks to dealers so we could perform these exact same demonstrations to customers. The effect on customers was astonishing. Nobody had seen anything like it, it was the killer app. Macintosh sales exploded.

Apple truly had a revolutionary product with the Laserwriter and early Postscript-based programs like Aldus Pagemaker. We take DTP for granted now, it is quite a shock seeing its early state and remembering that this used to be impossible. One of the reasons this marketing campaign was so successful was its tight focus on a specialized, expensive, labor-intensive market. Designers responded to this video due to the intimate presentation of the voices of individual users, and their knowledge of how to directly apply the Mac to their work. This was much in keeping with Apple's new Macintosh GUI philosophy, of focusing on users' interaction with their work rather than focusing on interaction with the computer. DTP programs used real-world metaphors familiar to designers, they could work like they always had, but quicker and more simply.
But Apple had a problem with the roll-out. Apple would only sell Laserwriters through advanced dealerships, which meant you had to sell and support the Lisa in order to get the Laserwriter. I spent months arguing with management at my dealership to convince them to make this investment. Finally we bought a Lisa, shoved it in the corner, and put the Laserwriter in the central position in our store. They flew off the shelves, we couldn't keep them in stock. The Laserwriter didn't really take off nationwide until more dealers got access to the product, when dealership restrictions were relaxed.
Eventually the Laserwriter got up to speed in the market and became one of Apple's most profitable products. Since the Laserwriter was such an expensive item, it tended to be shared in workgroups with Appletalk networking. Many offices reorganized their networks and work processes around Mac DTP systems, it was Apple's entryway into corporate offices nationwide. It truly was Apple's Golden Age.

Apple Loses Its Focus: The "HeloCar" Desktop Media Campaign
Apple and their dealerships had grown fat with profits over the few years that have passed since our first video. It is now 1988 and the Mac II is the top-end product. Apple wants to move into new corporate and creative markets with innovative products like Hypercard, Illustrator 88, scanners, and new color displays. The 1988 video is very polished and professional, it was obviously produced by Apple's advertising agency, it was released in coordination with a massive national TV ad campaign. It looks beautiful, but became notorious as one of Apple's worst marketing blunders.
The video ran into problems immediately. The support materials for this campaign were excellent, but when we showed it to customers, nobody could figure out what the campaign was actually selling. Some people who saw the ad on TV actually thought the HeloCar was for sale. But this confusion was only natural, there was no core product, even Apple didn't know what they were trying to sell. Apple seemed to be on the right track by focusing on how a product could be presented in different media; print, color slides, Hypercard animations, etc. but nobody understood it.

The video does have a few good points. It begins with a demonstration of animated Hypercard storyboards for TV commercials. Everyone could easily comprehend that these simple animated black-and-white images became the TV commercial with Wilford Brimley. Advertising agency workers who saw the video in my shop asked to buy the storyboard software. We had a difficult time explaining, no, this really wasn't a product, it's Hypercard and you make your own storyboard software, it's easy. But Hypercard was too nebulous a product to push in this manner.
The video continues with a corporate executive from Arco explaining the cost savings using the Mac for producing complex corporate documents. The cost savings statistics are riveting, and customers responded positively. But they go off on a tangent about how they have produced thousands of customized maps to show their truck drivers precisely how to drive through each unloading zone. I suspect that these maps were completely ignored by the drivers and regarded as unnecessary managerial interference. There are demonstrations of Hypercard presentations using an overhead projector and LCD panel, this was the only product available for doing serious presentations. Even the LCD projection system was a novelty and very costly at this time. However, I also see an early sign of where this product was headed, when a manager goes to his secretary and says "Make sure each department has a different effect, like a barn door or a wipe." Style is beginning to triumph over substance. The entire concept of DTP is beginning to lose its focus, under the direction of corporate drones that want glitzy presentations to dress up the same old boring useless information. Welcome to the Dilbert Zone.
But most baffling of all was the interactive training demonstration. Now this was an area I knew well, I'd worked developing computer instructional software since 1975, and Apple's product was perfect for this application. Apple wanted to push into corporate training markets and I knew that if anyone could market this, I could. But the demonstration was completely incomprehensible to my customers. A trainer from GTE explains how he uses Hypercard to train engineers to analyze air pressurized underground cable conduits. This example application was beyond comprehension, nobody could wrap their minds around it and see how this applied to their own corporate training needs. It was a complete flop in the market. Yet at the same time, Apple's own training materials were top rate. We usually showed Apple's own training materials as an example, and customers were even more afraid of it, they feared they could never come up to the level of Apple's documents.
The video ends with a charming little segment about a woman living on a remote island, she publishes a small newspaper for the few dozen island residents. Perhaps more clearly than the other segments, it presents the essence of what a Mac does for a single computer user. And perhaps this is not surprising since it most clearly represents what was so great about the original 1985 Mac DTP video. But perhaps Apple inadvertently marginalized themselves with the image of the lone old woman on an island publishing a newspaper read by nobody.
I may seem overly critical of this second video and Apple in general, but I am only reporting how it was received in the marketplace by my customers. My store was the largest Apple dealership in the US and the flagship of a large chain, we tested and rolled out many marketing campaigns and it was considered crucial to a campaign's success that it first succeed at our group of stores. It seems like this second video should have been a smash success, it had all the advantages the first one did not. It was prepared by professionals, it was tested by focus groups so it would appeal to new corporate markets, and backed by the best high-powered ad agency analysts that money could buy. And it was a huge flop. Especially compared to the first video, which is just some people sitting down in front of a camera and saying "hey check out what I can do with Pagemaker."
In retrospect, I can see that Apple was beginning to lose its focus under an expanding professional management system. I recall hearing a lecture in about 1988 from an Apple VP, he spoke about "predictive reaction." He asserted that with new complex machines like the Mac II, it was taking up to 3 years to get a new machine to market, so machines needed to be designed to compete with the other machines that other vendors could ship in 3 years. Apple was truly chasing ghosts.
What Apple really needed was to try to understand its own strengths and run with them, instead of presenting itself as an unfocused jack-of-all-trades. Apple actually ran a competition called "The Apple Advantage" to see if successful dealers could create presentations that showed what made the Mac so insanely great. I used this as an opportunity to teach Apple what they had been missing in the design market. I showed what my media-industry customers cared about most: presenting a visually consistent image in every media they produced. Companies like CocaCola and McDonalds spend billions annually to assure their logos on their products connect visually with their advertising media with a consistent appearance. Now this power was available to everyone, and every document a company produced could be a high-impact point of visual contact with the customer. Apple loved the presentation so much they adopted most of it for their next DTP campaign (but that is another long story). But by then, it was too late. Apple's short-term loss of focus allowed other aggressive competitors to consolidate the office market. It would be a long, dark time before Apple found its true way again.

Special thanks to Nate for help compressing these videos on his nice new Quicksilver Mac. And Steve, I know you'll read this (and if you don't, your people aren't doing their job). Mail me, we should chat. You could use a guy like me.

BlogTV Japan: Otaku Syndrome

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One of the great reasons for studying foreign languages is to see and hear new things from new lands and new people that you could never have encountered before. Once in a while you see something positively amazing. And once in a while you see something that makes you want to gouge your eyes out with red hot pokers.
When I first saw what I am about to show you, I told people about it and nobody believed me. I don't blame them, I wouldn't have believed it. Now, almost a year later, I have captured a followup show, and am providing it on Quicktime streaming video. So now you can see it. And you still won't believe it.

Note: Some people are still reporting trouble viewing BlogTV streaming video, mostly people behind firewalls or NAT routers. I am working on the problem, some solutions can be found in this document. We Apologize For The Inconvenience.













Of all the series running on FujiTV News, one of the most astonishing (and certainly the most revolting) is the series "katazukerarenai onnatachi," literally "women who can't clean up." The show offers these women a deal, in exchange for the utter humiliation of subjecting their disgustingly sloppy lifestyle to intense scrutiny on national TV, they will clean your house. I don't know why any woman would ever agree to appear on the show, but they all seem quite cheerful when admitting the announcer and camera crew into their repulsive homes. Most of the women are disguised with mosaic and voice distortion, but some women have no problem showing their faces or even using their real names. The male announcer always appears in an impeccable grey Armani suit, shin-high rubber boots, and heavy white cotton work gloves. He comes to the door, is greeted at the genkan and admitted to the space, and plunges into these astonishingly untidy places with his camera crew.

Now I'm not talking about your average slobs here. In one segment that does not appear in my online excerpt, the announcer (wearing a mask and goggles) starts scattering a pile of garbage bags piled 4 feet high, and when he gets to the bottom, he finds a discarded, moldy food container with a sell-by date on it: 1997. The room is stacked everywhere with plastic bags full of garbage, the only clear spot is around the futon, it looks like a nest with white trash bags surrounding it like a crater. The announcer presses forward to the kitchen. Now it is getting really sickening. He opens the refrigerator, which has been turned off and not opened for years. Then.. no I really cannot go on. It is too repulsive. I could not even watch it myself, and it takes a LOT to shock me. But anyway, the cleaning crew arrives behind the announcer, and removes everything disposable and cleans the entire house until it is just as obsessively clean as it previously was obsessively dirty. It must take days to finish the job. When the room is finally cleaned, it is immediately obvious that this woman is a Snoopy otaku. Everywhere you look there are Snoopy rugs, wall hangings and posters, figurines, stuffed toys, etc, none of this was visible until the mountain of trash was removed.


But let us move on to the star of our show. "B-san" is a 36 year old female otaku. She is obsessed with collecting manga. She lives in a tiny 6-mat apartment. A year ago, the FujiTV crew visited and found her 6jo room entirely filled from top to bottom, wall to wall with stacks of manga, there was only a tiny tunnel near the door where she slept. There is nothing for the camera to explore, the announcer cannot even get in the door. The cleanup crew comes and observes the walls of the room are bulging, good thing this is a ground floor apartment or it would have collapsed under the weight. A brave workman wearing a hard hat and breathing mask enters the passageway and lies down to demonstrate where B-san slept, there is hardly any room for the camera. He can not lie down, the cavity is formed around the shape of the short skinny woman. A larger crew will be necessary to clear this rubbish pile, several heavy trucks are summoned, and eventually they haul away several tons of manga. First the entryway is cleared, the camera scans over the top of the pile, the entire room is filled to the ceiling. Household furnishings like a bed are gradually unburied. Eventually the house is cleaned, right down to the lowest layer where the camera lingers on the mouse droppings and bugs underneath the mouldering stacks. But everything is restored to squeaky clean, there's even a nice TV and some furniture under all this crap, although the building owner will have to take care of those dangerously damaged walls. Oh dear, how will she ever explain this to the landlord?

Now it is a year later, and the same announcer revisits B-san. We get a quick review of the situation last year, and even in some photographs taken at 6 months out, the camera shows the room mostly clear and empty. But there is a troubling sign, stacks of boxes neatly lining two walls. Now fast forward another 6 months. Today her room is once again stacked floor to ceiling with piles of manga, just like before. As the segment closes, B-san bemoans her inability to change her habits. Even the humiliation of showing her year-long descent into disorder on national TV could not motivate her to change her ways. But perhaps she can serve as an example to others. The video ended with a discussion of obsessive-compulsive disorders, like the people you hear about who are raided by the SPCA for having 200 cats in their house. That otaku with the obsessive Pokemon or Transformers collection on his shelf is only different in quantity, not quality.

BlogTV High Bandwidth Experiment

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I am releasing a new 1-minute video clip, there is a film studies essay that goes with this clip, as yet it is unfinished so I thought I'd start serving the video now and get some feedback. This video combines fast action with long slow scenes with high detail, which makes it more difficult to find an optimum balance in the compression. I've pushed the limit on the 56k clip and it still is hard to capture all the fast motion, let me know if it streams well, maybe I could up the bandwidth a bit more. I've also produced a special extra high quality version for T1 users, one stream should use 10% of my outbound bandwidth so go and hammer on this box and see how it behaves under heavy load. If you have very high bandwidth connectivity, be sure your Quicktime Preferences>Connection Speed is set to T1.
Before you complain about this video clip, yes, I know the lip sync is off, the original film is like that. This scene was obviously redubbed in the studio, and badly. The whole scene before this is out of sync due to a bad redub, at one point you can see Zatoichi chewing and swallowing at the same time he's talking on the soundtrack.

I Want My BlogTV!

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I am working more with QTSS and preparing new files for presentation, and more comments are coming in about BlogTV. The server logs report over 850 views of the clip, yet some people commented that the file was 404 Unavailable. I suspect there was a brief cable modem outage this morning. Also, the hi-bandwidth T1 version of the second video clip will not stream. If you change your Quicktime settings temporarily to ISDN speed, you should be able to see the slower clip. I think I encoded the T1 version incorrectly and the server refuses to deliver it. I am still a newbie at video compression, I'll get these settings fixed up after a few more experiments, so your feedback is valuable. Remember this is a little G3/400 on a cable modem, I have an upload bandwidth cap set by the cable company, so I have limited the server to 10 simultaneous streams. Several prominent blogs have linked to this site, so probably there was a huge crush at about 9AM when everyone came into the office, read the morning blogs over coffee and saw the link and hit my server all at about the same time. Please keep banging on my server so I can test these effects. I am a bit concerned about running this all in the background on my main desktop machine. I use this machine to encode the clips, which drives the CPU load to 100%, so I don't know how this will affect background tasks like QTSS
I am preparing a 1 minute clip of a scene from a Zatoichi movie to demonstrate the use of QTSS in film studies. I'm producing the high-bandwidth version at extremely high quality, in an attempt to push the limits of resolution and frame rate, so I can test the server under the heavier load from serving these larger clips. But it hard to improve on settings for lower bandwidth versions, so most users will not see much difference. I've also noticed I've inadvertently been resizing these clips in an odd way, which might account for some of the fuzziness. I turned off various image "enhancement" features in Cleaner that could introduce any resampling fuzziness, but the optimal compression settings appear to be more of an art than a science. But then, I'm trying to preserve the subtleties of cinematographic technique in this Zatoichi film clip. I guess I better get the Cleaner manual and RTFM. It takes about 45 minutes to compress this clip, and I have to do it 3 times so compression testing is a long tedious process. With luck, I can find a few settings that work well in general and just lock them in.
I should also make it clearer that this particular QTSS trick is not something exclusive to any particular blog softare, it will work anywhere on the web. "Outsourcing" your video to another server is how CNN.com and all the big sites do it. Except in this case, your desktop machine is serving the streams, not a huge server farm like CNN has. You could just as easily put that chunk of HTML into any web page anywhere, on your local server, on your ISP's site, and as long as your desktop machine is up and running, you will be serving video. I wish Apple would publicize QTSS more, they offer similar (non-streaming) Quicktime support on the iTools websites, perhaps they should extend iMovie a little more to include QTSS encoding and management of the streaming folder and run it in conjunction with your iDisk site. Everyone with a cable modem could be running their own streaming server. I hacked this together in just one evening with the QTSS online help files, I just wonder how big this could be if it was streamlined for mass consumer use.
And that brings me to my last topic for the moment, something I call The Napsterization of Fair Use. On blog after blog, I see people commenting about something they saw on TV. But almost none of this content is accessible on the web. I don't want to read a description of the event, I want to see the event, and now my BlogTV gadget will do the job. Bloggers should be able to make Fair Use of short excerpts from almost any copyrighted source, so if I want to comment on something I saw on the CBS Evening News, I should be permitted to digitize a few seconds and restream it. But the media companies want to prevent this type of Fair Use by technological means, they are afraid of the "napsterization of Hollywood" and if Fair Use is eliminated in the process of fighting piracy, they don't care. Commercially released tapes and DVDs are already copy protected to prevent Fair Use, preventing Fair Use applications even by scholars who might use these protected materials in a classroom. Now broadcast TV is on the verge of going digital, new encryption standards will completely copy protect everything on video (except commercials, I bet). As a scholar, this loss of freedom concerns me greatly. Consumers must make a stand, and insist that the Government stop selling our intellectual freedoms to money-grubbing media conglomerates.
Now I better stop ranting and get back to work. Stay tuned to BlogTV for more postings, I should have the Zatoichi clip up soon.

BlogTV: The Aftermath

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My experiment in Quicktime streaming is a smashing success, the Desktop Streaming meme has taken hold in the Blog world, and the world of video has come to blogging. My short video clip has been viewed over 250 times in just a few hours and the load on my server is so small that I can't measure it. Unfortunately, now that I have committed to serving these streams from my desktop 24/7, I have to do some hardware repairs on my CPU. So these clips may be unavailable sometime in the near future while the CPU is shut down for maintenance. In the meantime, I have released a new clip that should stream more smoothly and with a clearer, brighter image. In response to the previous video, here is a statement by Prof. L. R. Gumby.



MacOS X BlogTV: How To Do It

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Setting up your own personal web streaming service to support any standard blog is simple, with off-the-shelf components available for MacOS X. You can post links in your blog pages to streams that serve from your desktop streaming server, no files are stored on the upstream server. You must be willing to put your desktop machine up and online 24/7 with a broadband connection (a cable modem is adequate) as a streaming server. I am currently serving these clips on an ancient Powermac G3/400 with a cable modem. Here's a summary of :
1. Put your MacOS X Apache server up on the net with an IP name. Use dyndns.org to set this up if you are a cable modem user or don't have a real hostname that resolves in DNS. QTSS requires you to have a real IP name, and to have the system and Apache configs correctly set to the hostname.
2. Install Quicktime Streaming Server 4, it's a free download. Install the package, go to your Applications folder and click on the QTSSAdminURL icon, the admin page will appear in your browser. Install the required passwords, and your streaming server is running! Click on the little circle with the question mark, the link will explain all about QTSS
3. Now we need some content. You can use any DV stream you can capture on a Mac. A camcorder with a Firewire port can import video using products like iMovie. I want to import from a variety of NTSC and SVideo sources that don't have Firewire like my DirecTV, TiVo and VCR, so I used the Canopus ADVC-1000 to capture video with Final Cut Pro. Note that the ADVC-1000, like many converters, will not work with Macrovision-protected tapes and DVDs. Copy protection rears its ugly head yet again! There are easy ways around this problem, but it would be illegal under the DMCA to say what they are. Ask your local video geek.
4. Now you need to compress the DV stream into Quicktime, and prepare different versions of the files for streaming at multiple speeds. You could do this entirely with Quicktime Pro, but that process is relatively difficult. I used Cleaner 5.1.1, which has a wizard for creating and compressing Quicktime files for streaming. Even using the Cleaner wizard, you will need to tweak the settings for each speed setting, to pick a compression and frame rate appropriate to each type of video you present. Go in and explore, you can set various Quicktime features like autoplay, play in browser/external player, etc. Be sure to set Cleaner's options to specify the IP name of your streaming server when you create the files. This will be important when the blog server remotely calls your server for the files.
Cleaner will produce two folders with compressed files. One contains a master movie and a text file with the HTML to access the stream, and another folder contains the compressed Quicktime files. One folder is labeled "Upload to HTTP server" and those go wherever you can serve web pages from, either in your root website or your ~/username/Sites folder. Copy the contents of the folder labeled "Upload to Streaming Server" to /Library/QuicktimeStreaming/Movies.
5. Now you are ready to test the stream! Remember that clip of HTML that Cleaner made and you put in your web server folder? Call it in a web browser and see if it runs from your local Apache server. Access it with your full IP name, like <http://hostname.dyndns.org/clipname.html> (I'm assuming you put the file in your root webserver, /Library/Webserver/Documents/) and see if it streams. If all goes well, when you click on the Play button, you will see "Negotiating... Buffering..." and you will know the file is being served as a stream, and is now accessible to the world.
6. So now that you can stream and have a working sample of HTML with proper tags, with a little editing we can use that same HTML in any other web page. Here's the chunk of HTML that will stream the file "gumby.mov" just like in my demonstration (I've cut it into shorter lines for readability)
<OBJECT CLASSID="clsid:02BF25D5-8C17-4B23-BC80-D3488ABDDC6B"
WIDTH="320" HEIGHT="256"
CODEBASE="http://www.apple.com/qtactivex/qtplugin.cab">
<PARAM NAME="src" VALUE="gumby_MSTR.mov">
<PARAM NAME="autoplay" VALUE="false">
<PARAM NAME="controller" VALUE="true">
<PARAM NAME="loop" VALUE="false">
<EMBED SRC="gumby_MSTR.mov" WIDTH=320 HEIGHT=256 
AUTOPLAY=false CONTROLLER=true LOOP=false
PLUGINSPAGE="http://www.apple.com/quicktime/">
</EMBED>
</OBJECT>
To make this file work on the blog server, you must change the master movie pathnames from relative to absolute, and point to your home server (I've marked the pathnames in red to make them easier to locate). In this example, I changed those instances of "gumby_MSTR.mov" to the full URL, like "http://hostname.dyndns.org/gumby_MSTR.mov" or whatever is appropriate for the originating server. I just take the HTML file generated by Cleaner and open it in BBEdit to edit the paths, or I could paste it into a new page in a web editor like GoLive 6 (that's what I use). Wherever I drop this chunk of HTML into my blog entry or web page source, the Quicktime streaming "badge" will appear. Now I can copy and paste that HTML directly into a new story window on my blog's html entry page.
This is a quick test of serving Quicktime from my local desktop machine through my MovableType blog. I can capture and compress Quicktime video clips of anything I record on my TiVo, VCR, or camcorder, and stream them from my desktop computer, the same system where my Movable Type blog runs. Frame rates and quality are optimized for different modem speeds, there are 3 levels, 56k, ISDN and T1, and you will automatically be served the stream matched to your speed. Click the Play button for a short message from Prof. Enid Gumby.



This should work OK on my cable modem as long as it doesn't get too many hits, which is likely since nobody reads this blog anyway. The public is invited to view this experiment and test the load on my QTSS system, but if suddenly this gets to be a bandwidth hog, I'll have to turn it off.
Update: A high-traffic blog linked to this experiment, I've gotten a few dozen hits in the last hour and my server barely feels the load. But then, this is only a 5 second video clip. I've received a few inquiries about how to do this. It's easy with MacOS X, Quicktime Streaming Server is a free download and very easy to use. I'll write up the tech details and post them in another story, it will take me a bit of time to put it together. In the meantime, I would appreciate feedback about how well the streams, image quality, data rates, etc. worked for you.

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