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May 18, 2007

bookofjoe in the Wall Street Journal? Kinda sorta...


Look at the list above, from my current statistics.

What do you see?

Number 9 is online.wsj.com, if I am not mistaken.

That's the Wall Street Journal online.

I clicked on it and was taken to this page, featuring an article in today's paper.

Hmmm, said I: I'm not mentioned in the article nor have I ever featured Valentino or his work, as best I can recall.

I scrolled down to the bottom of the piece and found this:


So I clicked on "The Handbag Effect..." and was taken here:


Clicking on "The Handbag Effect..." in the upper right took me to my post of last Friday, May 11, 2007.

My question is this: why didn't the Wall Street Journal simply link to Vanessa Friedman's May 7, 2007 Financial Times article as I did and eliminate the middleman, namely moi?

Seems so much simpler.

But I guess my mystification is part and parcel of why I'm down here in steerage while Ms. Friedman and her ilk sip champagne at the captain's table.

But I will note with interest that this sort of thing is happening just a little more frequently these days than, say, a year ago... I wonder if bookofjoe is gradually accelerating to the point of achieving escape velocity.

Which, of course, leads to the inevitable next question: escape from what?

And the next: towards what?

I will keep you posted as I bumble along....

May 18, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Lighted Dental Mirror


Okay, so you want to have a look in there.

You hold an angled mirror in one hand and a flashlight in the other but then what?

Who's gonna push your tongue aside or pull the corner of your mouth?



I don't think so.

This dental mirror with an integrated flashlight is said to be available at supermarkets everywhere but in case yours is the exception that proves the rule, it's $5.99 here.

[via "Monopole" and Arwen O'Reilly/MAKE magazine Volume 10, who emphasize its potential for use outside the oral space, especially for makers of all sorts who sometimes need to illuminate difficult-to-reach places]

May 18, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Larry J. Kolb learns why 'I don't know' is not only the best but the correct answer


I just finished his book "Overworld: The Life and Times of a Reluctant Spy."

It's staggeringly good, completely absorbing, and the best part is that it's all true.

The even better part is that 99% of the story didn't even make it into the book because it's classified: can you imagine what's in that material?

Anyway, the following is from pages 404-405 of the book, in which Kolb's crackerjack attorney, Frank Morris, prepares him for testimony in federal court in a case in which the government of India attempted to have him extradited to stand trial there for alleged misdeeds involving an election to determine the Prime Minister.

"You'll be sworn," Frank went on, "and you'll answer truthfully. But by that I mean truthfully according to the standards of the law, which means pursuant to the rules of evidence." This was the point at which Frank started smiling reassuringly.

"In everyday life," Frank said, "we accept things as true which aren't necessarily true," and just then, Paul Morse, Jr., Frank's blond six-year-old nephew... stuck his head against one of the panes of the closed glass door of the study Frank and I were in and made some faces at us. Frank waved at Paul, I made some faces back at him, and Frank said, "If you were his father, and he asked you if he could eat a chocolate bar that was sitting here on the desk, and you said No, and then you left the room, and when you came back ten minutes later the chocolate wrapper was on the floor, and there was chocolate all over his lips and cheeks, you'd spank his ass. Even if he said he didn't eat the chocolate, you'd spank him. Because, by the standards of everyday life, you'd know he did eat the chocolate. But, according to the standard of the law, you'd only suspect he ate the chocolate, and that is meaningless. For all you'd know, he could've fallen and smashed his mouth on the chocolate bar, knocking the wrapper onto the floor. You weren't a percipient witness to Paul eating the chocolate bar. So, if you were asked in court if Paul ate the chocolate, the only truthful answer you could give would be I don't know."

Damn if Frank wasn't right. And that was a good thing, I was just beginning to realize. I'd testified a few times before under oath, in unrelated matters and under the advice and protection of expensive and what I thought was highly competent counsel. But in light of the new standards of truth, knowledge, beauty, and human frailty Frank was imparting to me now, it was quickly coming clear to me that my previous counsel had let me ramble and speculate shamelessly about things I didn't actually know.

"For example," Frank said to me now, "if you were asked, 'Why did Adnan Khashoggi ask you to help him with this matter?', your answer would be 'I don't know.' Because you don't know. Most of us have enough trouble figuring out why we do things ourselves. There's no way we're competent to know why anybody else does anything. While testifying, don't ever let yourself be tricked into speculating about someone else's state of mind.

"If you happened to be asked, 'Why did Mr. Gandhi go to the restaurant?', your answer could not be 'Because he was hungry' or 'To eat.' Your only truthful answer would be, 'I don't know.' Because, even if Rajiv told you he was hungry, that's just hearsay, and you don't know what went on in his mind that made him go into the restaurant. But, if you were asked, 'Did Mr. Gandhi eat in the restaurant?,' ands you were in the restaurant when he was, and you saw him eat there, your answer would be?"

Finally a part for me. I said, "My answer would be 'Yes.'"

"Correct," said Frank. "Your answer would be 'Yes' and it would not be 'Yes, I saw him eating apple pie in the restaurant.' Because they didn't ask that, and it's not up to you to volunteer anything."

"So, do you understand? Don't speculate about events to which you were not a percipient witness. Don't speculate about another person's state of mind. Don't volunteer anything. Don't ramble. Answer the questions, and only the questions, truthfully. And the only truthful answer you can give to a lot more questions than it might first seem is 'I don't know.'"

The above is as perfect a summary of how to conduct yourself in court as you will ever encounter.

I might note, however, that answering "I don't know" over and over again results in all manner of head-shaking and doubtful expressions on the part of the examining attorney, so much so that you're tempted to try to make yourself look better in her or his eyes by offering more than the above-styled truth.

Oftimes there will be derisory, sarcastic remarks such as "You don't know much, do you?"

Don't take the bait.

Because those looks don't translate to paper and those remarks make the questioning attorney look small when read in context.

Trust me — in the deposition transcript "I don't know" makes perfect sense and is completely appropriate in the context of the ongoing questioning.

One last comment about "Overworld."

The cast of characters is larger than life: Muhammad Ali, Adnan Khashoggi, Presidents Bush 41 and 43, Ronald Reagan, Daniel Ortega, Dan Jenkins, Miles Copeland, William J. Casey, Jan Stephenson (Kolb's first wife), J. Edgar Hoover, Bill Talbert, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, Ben Crenshaw, Rajiv Gandhi, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, Swamiji aka Chandraswami, V.P. Singh, boldface names on and on.

Eye-opening, jaw-droppingly amazing tales of life in a world you and I will most likely never visit.

Just as well — me, I'm fine just reading about it.

I can't speak for you.

May 18, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

iPod nano SpeakerDock


From the website:

DOC MP3 Speaker Dock

Meet DOC — the portable speaker system that delivers full, rich sound with your mini MP3 player!


Simply insert your iPod nano into the dock and listen to tunes in rich, clear sound — anywhere you go.

Compatible with 2nd-generation iPod nanos.

Perfect for travel — includes protective storage case.


Uses 3 AA batteries (not included).

Metallic Green, Metallic Pink, Black or White.



May 18, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

DriverTV.com — 'Baby, you can drive my car' — after a fashion...


Long story short: This past Monday marked its official debut after several months in beta. The site features three-minute-long high-definition video clips of new-car models in action, everything from a Lamborghini Gallardo ($175,000; above) to a $15,000 Chevrolet Aveo.

Bob Tedeschi wrote about the site in the May 14, 2007 New York Times; his story follows.

    Web Videos Let Car Buyers Survey Their Many Choices

    One of the most dreaded buying decisions is becoming still tougher. Auto manufacturers now sell about 280 different cars in the United States, up from 208 at the start of the decade. In five years that number is expected by market researchers to reach 340.

    The Internet’s solution to this problem sounds suspiciously like its answer to everything else these days: more video. But in this case, analysts said, it could help buyers, carmakers and automotive Web sites — at least in the short term.

    More than 70 percent of car buyers do some research online before making a purchase.

    The site that is putting the finest point on the idea of online research is DriverTV.com, which will makes it official debut today after several months in test mode. Based in New York and Los Angeles, the site features high-definition video clips of new-car models, with each video following a uniform script.

    A roughly three-minute video of a $175,000 Lamborghini Gallardo, for example, shows the car from the same angles as a clip featuring a $15,000 Chevrolet Aveo. As a narrator describes the features, interior and exterior shots are coupled with footage of the car driving along a stretch of road in Southern California.

    The site’s parent, DriverTV, began late in 2005 as a video-on-demand offering for cable television companies. But according to Jan Renner, DriverTV’s chief executive, the Web is a better home for the content. Because many cable companies transmit high-definition programs judiciously as a result of the costs of bandwidth, DriverTV’s high-definition content has not been widely distributed to living rooms and its videos look sharper online than on television.

    And unlike cable TV subscribers, Internet users need not jump through hoops to get the service. Even though DriverTV clips cost nothing on cable, subscribers must pay extra for video-on-demand service. Mr. Renner said that given the pace at which viewers are visiting DriverTV.com, he expects the site to reach more than a million monthly visitors within a year. (DriverTV has about 700,000 monthly cable viewers.)

    To generate cash, the site surrounds videos with ads from Suzuki, Porsche and Chevrolet, among other carmakers. The video initiative is not cheap. Radical Media, a maker of commercials and feature films, produces the clips and owns a partial stake in DriverTV. But Mr. Renner said the cost was increasingly necessary to attract car buyers and advertisers.

    “This is just an easier way to digest data,” he said. “The average consumer spends five hours online shopping for a car, and a lot of the other car sites have become cumbersome and data-centric. We think there’s an opening on the market for a place where customers can see and get a feel for the car, in a simple format.”

    Indeed, according to George Peterson, president of Auto Pacific, a marketing research firm based in Tustin, Calif., the videos help provide an answer to what is, for many potential buyers, the most important question: how would it look on me?

    “People may not even listen to the voice-over for the videos,” Mr. Peterson said, adding, “They might be interested in looking at the specs of the car, then the price, and then maybe other cars in its class.”

    Auto executives said most of the sites that now serve prospective car buyers, like Edmunds.com, Cars.com and Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com, had been slow to invest substantially in video until now, in part because they have enjoyed financial success with their text-heavy approaches, while such investments would bring uncertain returns.

    Curt Hecht, chief digital officer of GM Planworks, a unit of the Starcom Media- vest Group dealing with General Motors media planning, said: “It’s in our interest to help folks like DriverTV change the game a little bit. These other sites could have bigger imaginations, quite frankly.”

    Some automotive sites, like Vehix.com, are already leading off a visitor’s experience with video. The site, which is privately held and based in Salt Lake City, devotes the top of the home page to its Vehix TV initiative, that among other things, features a new set of video buying guides produced with the auto research firm J. D. Power & Associates.

    A spokesman, Kerry Lehtinen, said Vehix TV was started two years ago. “It’s been very popular,” Mr. Lehtinen said. “It extends the amount of time people spend on the site, and it’s getting people further down the purchase funnel. The more information they have, the more ready they are to buy.”

    Other sites have approached video in fits and starts. Edmunds.com, for instance, last year began producing “interactive vehicle tours” for new cars, but stopped that effort after “studying our site visitors’ behavior and taking into account their feedback,” a spokeswoman, Jeannine Fallon, said.

    Ms. Fallon would not offer details about the users’ reaction to the Edmunds videos, but she said the site was now working on a new approach to multimedia car profiles.

    David Pryor, vice president for marketing of Porsche Cars North America, said video was especially important for luxury brands like his.

    “The traditional ‘just the facts, ma’am’ approach on the Internet hasn’t been the best for us because we’re an aspirational brand,” he said. “We’re selling the dream.”

    Porsche has tripled its online advertising budget in the last three years to reach the “seven-figure range,” Mr. Pryor said. And as more sites adopt a video-focused philosophy, he said, his online spending would accelerate.

    While that approach might help sell more cars, it could lead to less-satisfied customers in the long term, according to Barry Schwartz, a psychology professor at Swarthmore College and the author of “The Paradox of Choice.”

    When consumers are faced with a large set of options, Mr. Schwartz said, they often simplify their decisions so much that they make poor choices. “In this case, they’re likely to just choose a car by its looks,” he said.

    A better approach, Mr. Schwartz said, would be to offer users the ability to quickly winnow the possible choices, based on important features like size, reliability and mileage, then offer video overviews. Otherwise, he said, “these sites shouldn’t delude themselves into thinking they’re doing a favor to the customer.”

May 18, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

SeeSnake Micro Inspection Camera


Long story short: It lets you look inside walls without tearing them apart.



This link has 13 videos showing applications.

"See it. Find it. Solve it."

Very cool.


May 18, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'Potential Store Fronts' — by Beth Campbell


Look at the photo above, from yesterday's New York Times.

What do you see?

You can see it in person through June 24, 2007 at 125 Maiden Lane in Lower Manhattan (New York City).

If you'd rather spoil the surprise, you can read Randy Kennedy's accompanying Times article, which follows.

    What’s on Sale There? Confusion, but It’s Cheap

    A humble sign on the window of a new storefront in Lower Manhattan yesterday encouraged passers-by to take a trip, one that could be long or quite brief depending on the traveler: “Explore Your Inner Self.”

    Lisa Reynolds, a city social worker who paused in front of the window with her co-worker, Judy Speller, on their way back from lunch, quickly found that there were few ways to ignore this advice. Just a few feet inside the locked storefront lay another storefront that looked exactly like it, down to the neon, the graffiti, the lonesome potted plant in the window and the gum stains on the floor. And just inside that window was another one. And then another and another.

    The little yellow paper note(s) taped to the door(s) that read “Back in 5” was, it turned out, a literal description. The storefront repeats five times, like a hiccup in reality’s hard drive, a little crimp in the space-time continuum secreted away on Maiden Lane between a florist’s shop and a Dress Barn. For Ms. Reynolds, the inner exploration yesterday morning involved trying to figure out whether she was having a brain malfunction.

    “The more you look at it, the more confused you get,” Ms. Reynolds finally said, laughing and cupping her hands around her eyes to stare deep inside. “Is that the intention?”

    Not exactly, said Beth Campbell, a Brooklyn artist who created this storefront-of-storefronts over the last several weeks with the help of the Public Art Fund and several friends and fellow artists. Ms. Campbell’s work often deals in repetition, not so much in the Warhol art-meets-advertising tradition of multiple Marilyns or soup cans but more in the spirit of science fiction that unsettles the senses: wormholes in perception, vortexes in viewing.

    At the Roebling Hall gallery in Brooklyn in 2000 she created two hyper-realistic women’s bedrooms, identical down to the creases in the sheets, and then connected the bedrooms by a hallway. You left one, walked into the next and wondered if you were trapped in a very specialized circle of hell, one strewn with underwear, self-help books, cigarette butts and posters of the Artist Formerly Known as Prince. One critic called it “an obsessive-compulsive’s own private nightmare.”

    Ms. Campbell, 35, said she was partly inspired to create the storefront — which appears to be a vague combination of travel agency and life-coaching service — by the nameless stores she sees in Greenpoint, where she lives.

    “They’re kind of like Fed Ex and UPS places that sell milk and Avon, and maybe you can get your taxes done there,” she said. But the idea arose more from a desire to create a public artwork that did not immediately announce itself as art, one that caught people in mid-stride and played with their expectations and their perceptions of real and recreated, copy and original.

    Yesterday morning when a reporter arrived, Ms. Campbell was attending to a few last details inside the store, or artwork, officially titled “Potential Store Fronts,” which will remain on view at 125 Maiden Lane through June 24.

    “Sorry about that,” she said, coming out of the store, which formerly sold men’s suits. “I’m really not supposed to be inside the piece.”

    As she stood noticing people who began to notice the store, she described the characteristic reaction: slow, skip-step, double-take and head-turn. “Which is always exciting for me,” she said.

    Brynn Jarosh, who works at a corporate child-care center, walked by with two toddlers in tow and did the full stop, staring deep into one of the bay windows, with a sign offering personalized lie-detector tests and another announcing, apropos of nothing in particular, “Growth, in moderately controlled conditions.”

    “It’s funny,” Ms. Jarosh said, “but I never ever would have thought that this was an art installation.” She paused. “I couldn’t figure out what it was, to tell the truth.” Then she added, beaming at Ms. Campbell: “I like it. Good job!”

    Ms. Campbell thanked her. She admits that, as she and her helpers, including her husband, neared the end of 12- and 14-hour days making the storefronts, she did sometimes become obsessive about the details of this particular job.

    She insisted that a thin metal strip be added to replicate one on the street that separates the sidewalk from the entryway. She figured out a way, using glue stick, to mimic perfectly the graffiti that some anonymous artist long before her had etched on the front glass. And last weekend she went back in just to replicate the blackish chewing-gum splats, those spontaneous urban art forms, in front of the door.

    “But maybe you shouldn’t tell anyone that,” she said, smiling. “It sounds a little crazy.”

May 18, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Xip3 Hybrid Revolution Gear — 'Provides three distinct functions of jacket, backpack and pillow'


It's like a Certs commercial on steroids: instead of two — two — two mints in one you get three functions.

Lots more information on the website.

There's even a movie showing a boy converting his jacket into a backpack.

That's all well and good, joe, but where can we buy one?

That's a problem: it's vaporware as of now, best I can tell.

Supposed to cost $450 when it does go on sale.

Contact the manufacturer if you like — info@coregearlic.com — and ask them when it'll be available.

Tell them I sent you — that should guarantee no response.

Just kidding.

Or maybe not.

May 18, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

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