Max Blumenthal of the Nation approached Michelle Malkin and asked her to sign a picture of Japanese Americans in the Manzanar internment camp. Malkin is the author of a In Defense of Internment, a book about why it's okay for the U.S. to put its own citizens in camps during wars. So, you'd think she'd love to sign a picture of the Manzanar internment camp. Evidently, not...
Mike Stark caught up with Malkin a little later on...
Stark: “What happened, Michelle?
Malkin: “Some punks from the Nation came, and they ambushed me at my book signing.”
Stark: “Heh, that’s real professional.”
Malkin: “Yeah. Such chickenshits.”
Stark: “What did they do?”
Malkin: “Uh, they had a video camera, and they, uh, started, uh, lambasting my book. Assholes. I’m sorry, I’m just like, cursing. It’s made me [unintelligible]. ”
Sadly, No has the audio of Malkin cursing out the Nation reporters to Stark.
New York State senator John Sabini is proposing a ban on spinners, those custom hubcaps that rotate independently of the wheels for, uh, aesthetic effect.
Nick Beaudrot sees the proposed ban as an excess of the nanny state. If it's just an aesthetic objection, I'm inclined to agree.
Regardless of the objective merits of the plan, I'll bet there's also a lot of dog whistle racial and class politics behind this proposal. The impetus to ban spinning hubcaps probably has more to do with dislike of the kind of people who tend to have them than with a sober assessment of public safety priorities.
Let's face it, the last thing New York needs is a fresh excuse for the cops to disproportionately ticket young black men.
However, I think Nick is too quick to dismiss the safety argument. It's not just that these spinners are distracting in the sense of being conspicuous or garish.
Hubcaps that rotate independently of wheels can send misleading cues to other drivers about how fast a car is moving--subconsciously, drivers expect that hubcaps are rotating at the same rate as the wheels behind them. Obviously, there are other cues, and drivers generally compensate just fine. However, it seems plausible to me that a split-second miscalculation based on a spinning rim might occasionally contribute to an accident.
A commenter at endgadget put it well:
morcheeba @ Feb 18th 2007 4:18PM
It's not that spinners are distracting... it's that they inhibit my ability to determine if a car is stopped or not. Yeah, of course I look at the car in general to see if it's moving, but the wheels are a good sign, too. Not only am I looking at the direction the wheel is aimed*, I also look at the top of the wheel, which moves at twice the speed of the car.
Personally, I think they look awesome. But, as a motorcyclist, I need to use every piece of information available to me. Most car/bike accidents are left-turning cars who fail to yield -- I need to know if they see me, and I have found that eye contact is not 100% reliable.
So, summary... put spinners on trunk-mounted wheels (which also look awesome... hey, I'm a child of the 70's!). I love under-car lights. Bring on the LED rims... Put as many distractions on the car as you want -- just don't conceal the intentions of the driver (and, yes, that includes limo tint on the driver's side window).
* Don't get me started on turn signals.
So, cognitive psychologists, do spinners pose a safety risk? An auto customization lobby group says there's no evidence that spinning hubcaps are dangerous. But they're not exactly disinterested. Where should I look for an independent assessment of the risks associated with spinners?
I can see a legitimate cause for concern in theory. There are plenty of anecdotal reports of accidents and near-accidents blamed on spinners.
Even if the spinners only pose a slight risk, I think there's a strong justification for banning them. These are decorations, they should be fun and harmless. It's not fair to ask the public to accept even a slight additional safety risk for the sake of someone's car decorations.
It's not like spinning rims are the only way to decorate your hubcaps. Check out these classy LED hubcaps. They can flash your phone number, "Call me!", or even a full-color picture of the driver. Best of all, it's immediately clear that the driver isn't going anywhere with that pickup line.
Big news: I sold a picture of Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon to TIME magazine. The picture is on the front page of the website as of this writing. (Screenshot attached, click to view enlargement.)
One of TIME's deputy photo editors emailed me yesterday to acquire a picture of Amanda for a story about bloggers. I hadn't read either of the stories until I saw them on the website a few minutes ago.
The picture was taken in Amsterdam in February, 2006. I hope this image captures some of the spark and spirit that draws so many people to Amanda and her work.
Please see Liza's latest roundup on the right wing's DIY Marcotte/Edwards "controversy."
Troy Hurtubise spent $15,000 of his own money on the "Halo suit," which he hoped could protect troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, he has not received a single order. So, he's selling the suit on eBay.
As of this posting the high bid is $11,000 U.S.. Note the important disclaimer: "Very Important--***DUE TO LIABILITY QUESTIONS---THE TROJAN SUIT, ARMOR AND SHIELD ARE BEING SOLD AS MEMORABILLIA AND COSTUME PARAPHERNALIA ONLY. MR TROY HURTUBISE ACCEPTS NO LIABILITY WHATSOEVER FOR INJURIES INCURRED USING THE TROJAN SUIT, SHIELD OR ARMOR FOR ANYTHING OTHER THAN A COSTUME SETTING."
Many questions remain unanswered about Wednesday's bomb scare in Boston. Did the police overreact? How could 400 LEDs hang for 2-3 weeks in 10 cities including Boston without incident prior to Wednesday's panic?
One thing we do know is that Sam Ewen's "guerilla marketing" firm Interference, Inc. needlessly terrorized a city and abandoned two twenty-something artists to face criminal charges that could wreck their lives. Interference knew about the bomb scare but didn't tell the police. Instead, the firm pressured the two installation artists to keep quiet while chaos and fear gripped a major city.
The Boston Globe has revealed that Interference knew about the bomb scare in Boston as early as 1:25pm on Wednesday and emailed the installers, Sean Stevens and Peter Berdovsky, asking them to keep quiet:
According to friends, Stevens and Berdovsky, who perform and install video art, were elated to be hired to hang the magnetic cartoon signs around the city to promote the show "Aqua Teen Hunger Force ." In November, Berdovsky met a man in Brooklyn, N.Y., who asked him whether he was interested in the work, and Berdovsky later recruited Stevens, according to a police report. The two men were to be paid $300 each by Interference.
The two, who live in an apartment next to railroad tracks just off Interstate 93, are huge fans of the show, which features "Mooninite" cartoon figures and animated French Fries, a meatball, and a milkshake.
"They were really excited," said Travis Vautour , 24, of Cleveland Circle. "We saw all the pieces up two or three weeks ago, and we all had a good laugh."
The laughter faded late Wednesday morning when the friends saw television footage of police blowing up one of the signs and realized what was happening. The friends e-mailed links to the footage to one another. About 1:25 p.m. Berdovsky e-mailed several friends and said the advertising firm had told him to keep quiet, friends said. [BG]
Interference did not contact the police. Turner Broadcasting claims that it didn't hear from Interference about the uproar until 5pm that afternoon. Meanwhile, the city of Boston was paralyzed, federal officials were rushing to the scene, and US Northern Command was monitoring the situation at its Colorado Springs headquarters.
According to the Globe article, Interference didn't even have the decency to post bond for Stevens and Berdovsky.
Relatives and friends posted the $2,500 cash bail for both men. They pleaded not guilty to one count of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, and one count of placing a hoax device, a felony that carries a maximum of five years' imprisonment.
If Ewen or anyone else at Interference knew about the bomb scare and failed to inform authorities, that's a hoax. The two artists have been charged with hoaxing, but there's no reason to believe that they realized the Mooninite gizmos would cause a bomb scare. On the other hand, Interference seems to have realized that a bomb scare was underway and allowed it to continue for several hours. You can't have a hoax without an intent deceive. The guys who put up the ads didn't intend to convince the public that their LEDs were bombs. Whereas, it seems like Interference wanted the public to believe in the phony bomb scare as long as possible. Maybe they were just stalling and not hoaxing. I hope a jury gets a chance to decide this question soon.
Good for the Globe for including this quote, "Had they foreseen anything like this happening, they wouldn't have done it at all," Vautour said. "It isn't an act of rebellion; it's just a job."
That's right. Just a job. A crappy one-night assignment followed by criminal charges. This isn't a story about alternative culture or freedom of speech, or even terror hysteria. This is about corporate greed and exploitation.
Update: A lawyer for Interference claims that the company "acted with all due and deliberate speed. CEO Sam Ewen denies that Interference tried to silence the artists:
The statement said that Interference first received word that its marketing campaign had gone awry when Peter Berdovsky, the artist whom it hired to install the signs in Boston, called the firm's office in SoHo "to explain that the marketing campaign had become a story in the local news."
In the e-mail that friends said Berdovsky sent them, he said an Interference executive had asked him to "pretty please keep everything on the dl," slang for down low, or quiet.
But Ewen, in his statement, said his company immediately informed Turner Broadcasting and told officials in Boston and the nine other cities where they could find the signs. "At no time, and in no way, did we ever seek to hide our involvement in this situation or ask or direct others to do so," he said. [BG]
The article doesn't say what time Interference claims that Berdovsky called the SoHo office. Remember that Turner says it didn't know about the bomb scare until 5 o'clock that afternoon, but the first report came in at eight o'clock in the morning, followed by 4 more calls around 1 o'clock that afternoon.
Turner chairman Phil Kent says he heard about the bomb scare from a colleague who saw the news on CNN.
We'll have to wait on the authentication of the emails and phone records for the SoHo office. Of course, if Interference called the police, that should be a matter of public record.
Update 2: Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis issued a statement that at approximately 4:30 p.m detectives "were contacted and were verifying information from representatives from the corporation responsible for this advertising campaign." The commissioner didn't say whether it Interference or Turner made the 4:30 call. By 4:51 pm, Turner was confirmed to have accepted responsibility for planting the devices.
Why did Turner Broadcasting's Mooninite LEDs spark mass panic in Boston but pass unremarked in nine other cities?
We know that approximately 400 devices had been installed in 10 cities around the U.S. including New York, Seattle, and Boston. The illuminated circuit boards had already been up for two to three weeks in Boston and elsewhere before a transit worker spotted a device attached to a girder on Interstate 93.
The video purports to show a street team putting up Mooninite LEDs at various sites around Boston. There are multiple copies of the video on YouTube. I haven't been able to determine who originally uploaded it, or when the movie first went up.
Interference has taken down its entire website since the incident except for a lame note of apology.
It would be interesting to know exactly when the video hit YouTube and who put it up. Thoughts, hivemind?
The world is a just a worse place without Molly Ivins.
I'll always think of her as an educational model and demonstrator of so many important principles in life, many of which turn out to be funny...
We've all got to strive to be as strong, and warm, and rational as she was.
Via Vox Populi of Tampa's Back Door.
If Dale Chihuly and Paul Krugman got high together, the creative fallout might look something like this:
My brother Loren explains: "I thought that you would get a kick out of this camera phone picture. I was downtown the other day, and I saw this hand blown glass item. It's called "George Fucks the World" and will set you back $600. It features a Republican elephant humping a globe with a cruise missile. You pack a bowl into the Middle East, and use the hole in the ozone layer as the shotgun."
Click on the picture to view the full-sized image. It's quite something.