Fourthbranch and the Sally Ann Quinn parlor game

By the grace of God I don’t get TV in my house, and, modulo the occasional exception of a cable intermezzo of a few months’ duration here and there, haven’t for nearly twenty years. But I’m not a Puritan, and so, when I’m on a business trip as I am now, I sometimes put on the tube, and if there’s no baseball to be found I check out what’s up with hoi polloi. So it was that tonight I saw for the first time, on TV, the legendary salonista Sally Ann Quinn.

She was pretty hot, I’ll admit; younger and better looking than I had imagined. After all, she was already a doyenne at the time of Bill Clinton’s first inaugural– a priestess in the cult of High Broderism. It was she who famously pronounced Slick Willy too plebeian, too common, to inhabit the place which we rubes across the land had thought belonged to us, viz, the White House, until Sally Ann Quinn set us straight. So you can forgive my imagining her an old hag.

As an habitual, nay, addicted reader of political blogs I had of course read about her shot across “Fourthbranch” Dick Cheney’s bow in today’s WAPO, in which she said that “some Republicans” were looking for an excuse, presumably medical, to ditch Cheney and replace him with the sweet-smelling dreamboat Fred Thompson. So when I got back to the hotel room tonight after a hard day in the Silicon Valley salt mines and began my futile search for non-Giants baseball and saw her name under the crylon “The Plot against Cheney,” I had to stop and look, as at the proverbial car wreck– this one with a decapitation.

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Utterly shameless self promotion

As regular readers know, I have no shame or restraint. So I am going to make a pitch for nomination for this University of Michigan Tech Writing Award. From the website:

Taking a cue from the open-source movement, we’re asking readers to nominate their favorite tech-oriented articles, essays, and blog posts from 2006. The competition is open to any and every technology topic–biotech, information technology, gadgetry, tech policy, Silicon Valley, and software engineering are all fair game. But the ideal candidates will:

* be engagingly written for a mass audience;
* be no longer than 5,000 words;
* have been published between January and December, 2006.

The guest editor for The Best of Technology Writing 2007 will be Steven Levy. It will be published in fall 2007 by digitalculturebooks, a new imprint of the University of Michigan Press and Library, and available in print and online.


You can fill out the nominating form here. A list of my personal faves on technology (not including straight media policy) from 2006 below . . .

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Such a Deal!

Hey Friends! How’d you like to support a struggling genius AND get a great deal on an excellent book (or two)? Today and tomorrow I’m offering my astounding novels at astounding discounts. If you dig Wetmachine, now would be a good time to show it, for once again the wolves are at the door. And if you just dig a good price on a good book, that works too.

The books in question are my Acts of the Apostles, a well regarded nanotech thriller, ostensibly about Gulf War Syndrome, which I wrote between 1995 and 1999 and published in 1999. Normally this goes for $15, but how does $5 sound, including shipping in North America? I’m offering the same deal on my Cheap Complex Devices and pre-orders of The Pains.

And of course, donations in support of the site (or any individual blogger: Me, Harold, Gary or Howard) are also always welcome.

Below the fold, more about these wonderful books, along with simple instructions for cashing in on these great, nay, scandalously great, deals.

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I was wrong, Second Life Does Teach People (Or, At Any Rate, the IP Mafia) Valuable Lessons for Reality

As regular readers may recall, I have had sharp words for those who can’t tell the difference between MMORGs such as “Second Life” and reality. Nor do I stand alone. Industry Reporter Clay Shirky over at Corante wrote this article a few weeks ago describing how the business press generally appears to have fallen into some sort of Second Life worshipping trance. So it may surprise some to see me lauding Linden Labs’ latest innovation as a fantastic contribution with the potential to make the real world a better place and teach those who need it a valuable lesson in life.

I refer to what the always clever folks at Good Morning Silicon Valley dubbed a “proceed and persevere” letter (the opposite of the “cease and desist” letter). What happened, and why I hope it catches on, below . . . .

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This for John

I got this from John Paczowski’s Good Morning Silicon Valley. I figure a computer virus that makes computers invite folks to random conversations is right up John’s alley.

I should have suspected something when the first IM had perfect spelling and grammar: Next time you’re invited to an IM chat with someone you don’t know, you might try giving them a Turing test. There’s a new worm on the loose that targets users of America Online’s AOL Instant Messenger by chatting with them. According to IM security vendor IMlogic, IM.Myspace04.AIM uses infected computers to send messages to the owners buddy list, encouraging respondents to download its malicious payload. If its intentions are questioned, the infected machine sends follow-up messages that include “lol no its not its a virus.” An unusual technique, but one that IMLogic says we’re likely to see more of. “This is a first,” Andrew Burton, director of product management at IMlogic told “This worm is not widespread, but attackers are just trying out this new technique. We will see one or two instances of an attack, there will be a refinement and then there will be an outbreak.”

Stay tuned . . .