SLAM Bam, Thank You Tony: Reading Nick Hornby's Latest Masterpiece

SLAM by Nick HornbyVery good article today in the Washington Post, about Nick Hornby and his new novel. The novel is SLAM and it is something of a sleeper because you probably won't see it in the regular novel section of your local bookstore. Why?


As in Young Adult, a category of book that book stores tend to shove in the back. That's right, SLAM is published as a Young Adult book. And while I can heartily recommend SLAM to any teenager looking for a good book to read, I can also recommend it, just as heartily, to adults; it definitely challenges the whole idea of categorizing novels. (Shouldn't Catcher in the Rye be YA?)

SLAM is a brilliant novel, regardless of how you categorize it, but I only knew about it because the YA section is on the way to bathroom in my local Barnes & Noble. Now I am recommending it to friends. It is a word of mouth winner, a hidden gem. (Especially if you have a lot of literary friends who don't got to the bathroom at B&N, you get a chance to say "Oh, you haven't read Hornby's latest?")

But seriously,

Love Man: Otis Redding, 1941-1967

Otis Redding 1941-1967Otis Redding died forty years ago today, on December 10, 1967, when his plane crashed during a storm en route to a concert in Madison. He was just 26 years old.

Not only did Otis bring joy to millions around the world with his music, he blazed a trail for independent black artists. He owned his own plane (so he would never miss a gig). He retained the rights to much of his material so that it would continue to provide for his family. Otis was devoted to his fans. We remain devoted to him. Thanks Otis, for all the songs you gave us, including:

  • Respect

  • These Arms Of Mine

  • Pain In My Heart

  • (Sittin' On The) Dock Of The Bay

  • I've Got Dreams To Remember

  • Love Man

  • Chained and Bound

  • That's How Strong My Love Is

  • Mr. Pitiful

  • I've Been Loving You Too Long

  • I Can't Turn You Loose

  • My Lover's Prayer

  • Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)

  • Shake

  • The Happy Song (Dum-Dum)

  • Stay in School

  • I'm Depending on You

  • Your One and Only Man

Thanks as well for the songs you made your own, with performances like "Try a Little Tenderness." Your music has become part of the sound track of our lives. It's hard to think of an artist whose recordings crop up in more movies than yours. Just one of the many ways you will always be with us.

Sad State of the Internet: Criminals on the attack

There is no longer any doubt that as Wired recently pointed out, the Internet has become a huge playground for criminal hackers out to make a buck, something that security professionals have been predicting for years. Consider the number of malware detections reported by F-Secure, not a company given to exageration. Number of malware detections

The total number of detections in the years prior to 2007: 250,000.

Total number at the end of 2007: 500,000.

In other words, it took just one year to double a number reached over a 20 year period.

F-Secure is quick to point out that most of the new malware detected were variants on past code: "Genuine innovation appears to be on the decline and is currently being replaced with volume and mass-produced kit malware."

However, there is not really much consolation or comfort in this. The research indicates that "while new techniques weren't developed—the existing techniques were refined and adapted for much greater effectiveness. There are some very dangerous faces in the big crowd."

As Seen on 60 Minutes: Go XO!

XO on 60 MinutesNice one CBS, a big plug for XO on this evening's edition of 60 minutes. Can't wait to get my hands on mine! I'm not going to put a live link to in here because it looks like they are swamped with hits right now.


p.s. Nice one Negroponte also, and Google, and other corporates who are helping out XO including T-Mobile USA (giving away a year of free access to its nearly 8,500 wireless Internet hotspots in the United States to G1G1 donors) and Electronic Arts (giving the original "SimCity" to OLPC to put on laptops for free).

Just in Time for Cyber Monday: XO give 1 get 1 + a grin that will last for years!

XO ComputerThat's right, for a limited time you can get your own XO laptop [great for your kids or your sister's kids or your own personal use or app dev work] AND a child somewhere in world who has no computer will also get one, courtesy of you. Plus you get a $200 tax deduction AND a year of free T-Mobile Hotspot access. Not to mention a warm sense of satisfaction that will last for years. Just click on the cool machine and DO IT!

UK Child Data Missing: Mother of all data cock-ups?

First let me say that the choice of words in not mine. Apparently it is okay--in the UK--to use the term "cock-up" in a daily newspaper, as in "the mother of all cock-ups that has left half of Britain vulnerable to identity theft." (The Daily Telegraph)

The quote is from an opinion column that summarizes the situation so far. The basic facts are this: Two unecrypted CDs have gone missing, handed to a courier service and never delivered, potentially exposing the names, addresses, dates of birth and National Insurance [Social Security] numbers of the entire UK government child benefit database (this includes the bank account details of more than seven million parents, guardians and carers). As the Washington Post and others point out, that means it could affect more than 40 percent of the British population.

Please note the word "could" because, despite an array of armagedon-style prognostications from pundits, this incident, which is the talk of the nation in the UK at the moment, is not...

Give a Laptop, Get a Laptop: And a great big grin!

Thanksgiving. Christmas. Time to give, thanks and gifts. Time to get. And this year the giving and getting has never been better for geeks. Why? The XO is here.

XO ComputerYes, Oh happy day! XO Day! For the XO is the little laptop that could, as in 'could change the world.'

Come on all of you geeks out there. Get back to the edge. Buy an XO! Forget Wii. Forget Xbox. Forget Playstation and Bezos' Brain Fart (a.k.a. the Kindle). What your soul really wants is the coolest tech gift this year AND a very special feeling, a way to feel good about yourself for years to come: righteousness! And you get that from getting the XO.

That's because the XO is the laptop designed and destined for the developing world, places where they need computers that work and work cheap. The XO is the embodiment of One Laptop per Child and until we reach that target, surely anything else is just a diversion?

And right now is THE time to buy. If you live in North America and buy before Christmas, laying out about $400, roughly the same price as you would for Bezos' electronic version of a paperback book, you can get your own XO, a totally cool and very unique machine, AND have one delivered to a child in a developing country who really needs one. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE...

U. S. Sentencing Commission Considers Shortening Terms for Imprisoned Crack Offenders

Good article here on the debate about the U. S. Sentencing Commission considering shortening terms for imprisoned crack offenders. This may be the end of one of the most obvious forms of institutionalized racism in America. Consider this congressionally imposed rule:
"The mere possession of five grams of crack cocaine requires a court to impose a minimum term of five years' imprisonment, regardless of mitigating factors that may be present in the case. In contrast, the possession with intent to distribute 500 grams of powder cocaine is required to trigger the five-year mandatory minimum."

So white folks who do powder get to slide, while black folks who do crack get serious jail time. Hello? Crack IS cocaine. This is discrimination, pure and simple. The good news is that things may be changing. Too bad about all those families ripped apart by this late twentieth century incarnation of the Jim Crow mentality.

Intellectual Property Inanity: Genes, Surnames, Our Past

I've just finished reading Michael Crichton's Next, a hoot of a book that totally skewers the patenting of genes (along with a lot of other harmful trends in scientific and medical research). He makes a convincing case for ending the patenting of genes and a lot of other naturally occuring material. As the strangely inspired judge states toward the end of the book: