Archive for January, 2009

  • Rob Spectre
  • 31
  • Jan
  • 09

For just under an hour, Google was fucked.  The bread-and-butter search function suffered a configuration issue with its anti-phishing technology causing it to flag the entire Internet as harmful.

In response, that Internet shat its pants.

Blogs freaked the fuck out.  Screenshots were posted everywhere.  And Twitter, the drought wracked Californian hills of the Internet most thirsty for the wildfire of panic, was a chorus of dogs and cats living together mass hysteria.

Source: Tweet Trends

Source: Tweet Trends

Google failing became quite nearly more important than the SuperBowl.

Power outages affecting hundreds of thousands of homes get less press than this forty minute hiccup.  The response was incredible in the original sense of the word; both in number and volume the whole of the information economy seemed beside themselves in histrionics.  Is it schadenfreude?  Taking joy in the public failure of the company that can do no wrong?

Or is it something more fundamental? Did Google quietly become a utility, as vital as electricity, gas and running water?  Have we become unwittingly dependent on this resource to function as a 21st century?  Did our relationship with this resource change from want to need?

Should we have an outage measured in days instead of minutes, we may well know that answer.  In the meantime, these are just hiccups as we continue to drink their mother’s milk, too young to know how dependent on this mother we are.

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  • Alnik Welsh
  • 29
  • Jan
  • 09

We had been sheltered from the sunrise. The heavy curtains, hung over steel-grated windows and doors, concealed a literal view of the external world, and its hostile cold. Its garish light. Six of us departed asylum for the controlled environment of a vehicle I refer to as “mine,” though its true ownership lies in a murk purgatory of credit unions and masters of the universe. I briefly envisioned bankruptcy, and Joe Biden’s granddaughter being given a freshly waxed silver Mazda for her next birthday.

Then there were six of us piled into the very same car about which I was dreaming. It was running; something resembling warm air was heating my face, and i was again forced to confront the bleak grey sky that somehow blinded us. It was time for the community sunglasses: the big ones I kept in my center console exactly for situations like this. A car of insects. Two of us were going home, four would brave the 9 blocks from that residence to the security entrances protecting the Mall.

Photo: Hugh Grew

Photo: Hugh Grew

He had told us the road would not be easy. He had warned us. But amidst the soaring rhetoric of long-fought battles and difficult paths, Barack had not mentioned the tawdry images of his face we would encounter in every store window and on every street corner. His powerful profile reduced to silver studs in a black Hanes T-shirt. $30. He had not advised us on matters such as the wind, or the burdensome coffee shop restroom lines, that forbade the consumption of intranasal powders. We needed no such powders.  All energy desired was a complimentary street drug, transmitted via oscillating electromagnetic fields–flourescent colored gossamer that connected every person within my field of vision. Electro is back, baby. Electro is Obama.

With every block traveled, the gossamer retracted, the numbers connected to it expanded. We moved as one… and we were supposed to be here. We reveled in the joy. Relished the virility. Of the security line, however, we were skeptical. We had somehow missed it, though it stretched for blocks heading South towards the Mall, and swallowed 9th Street from sidewalk to sidewalk.

The euphoria raged, now with a bitter edge of claustrophobia, and a unanimous decision was made to retreat to the next party. Kojak and The Dragon would require a stop for marijuana, regardless, and the speech was to be given in three not-so-distant hours; we had a better chance of watching it in comfort from elsewhere. We began the search for a suitable overseer of the coveted Swearing-In tickets we possessed and I quickly settled on a girl in her late teens.

She may have been, as The Dragon later pointed out, the first attractive woman I saw in the crowd. This was undeniably the truth. But she and her friends were anarchists – recovering anarchists, thanks to a man who had stirred within them a faith in our political system. I saw a fire in her eyes that told me as much. A fire that at another time would have driven bricks through a bank’s windows during a G8 Conference. She deserved a view of our system’s savior. She and her friends couldn’t believe their luck.

Dupont Circle was the marijuana spot and we were parked illegally. Enforcement seemed to be lax on this day; Agent X and I were not concerned. Together we marveled, between keyed bumps of cocaine, at the GZA’s lyricism and the raw potency of the RZA’s production in Liquid Swords. We discussed the positive impact that our new president would have on black culture. We bumped again. Behind us, something stirred.

A dozen masked adults were parading behind us: polar bears with whistles, one pulled a rusting Radio Flyer.  There was possibly an Eskimo. What were they doing? What message was it that the were trying to get across? We were at a loss and we realized that we had also quite possibly lost Kojak and The Dragon. How long had they been gone? The disc playing was no longer Liquid Swords. I looked at the clock and our new president would speak in less than two hours. There was no time for slacking. This called for another bump. Had we been betrayed? This called for more conversation. 30 minutes flew by and we had come no closer to an answer, but still we were not startled by their knocking on my window. I unlocked the doors and we moved, reunited.

Another friend and I had been here when the election results were announced, and the U Street corridor flooded with joyous celebration. Today the crowd had moved to an area from which I had twice narrowly escaped within the last 6 hours but, make no mistake, chaos was brewing inside The Bohemian Caverns. We would stay intact through the Swearing-In, but I could feel individuality lowering onto its haunches. Attack was imminent. The fact that hipster karaoke was scheduled immediately following the speech to, itself, be followed by burlesque dancers convinced me that our homogeny would soon dissipate.

Together, we mocked Rick Warren and, as one, we hung on our new President’s every word. Together, we embraced friends as they trickled in from the Mall and various parties. Collectively and intentionally, we lost ourselves in the haze of more chemicals and alcohol, but little did we realize that we were succumbing to the attack. The more lost we became in the bedlam, the more we reverted to the individuals that we undoubtedly were. The Collective Conscious is chaotic, even when focused on the best of ideas, and we began to recognize the value of our individuality, the worth of our sanity.

12 hours after Barack Obama gave his speech to the nation, we went our separate ways. Stinging from the attack, but buzzing on the change we had become.

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  • Rob Spectre
  • 28
  • Jan
  • 09

When the twenty-three days of bombs and shells and machine gun fire stopped bringing the world down around their ears, Gaza timidly tried to restart life’s routines.  As is often the way with Arabs, they began first with the children.  Estimated by the international aid community as a full 56% of Gaza’s 1.4 million people, they were herded in the week after the ceasefire into schools or parts of schools that survived the Israeli campaign.  UNWRA and Muslim Aid fielded counselors to help the children cope with the psychological trauma.  Of course, most of these counselors were themselves subjected to the three week onslaught.

Photo: Rob Spectre

Photo: Rob Spectre

One wonders what relief they could be expected to provided in the wake of such a disaster.  Or ever, really, in this land where everyone is a professional in suffering.

The scene of that first morning must have surely been perverse.  A moment of silence while bulldozers rumbled in the background.  A school wide assembly for classes quartered or halved.  For the little ones, a play that demonstrated through dance and song the proper handling of the unexploded shells and rockets that still lay in and around their homes.  Getting kids to sing and clap following unspeakable tragedy is in every manual of grief management for the immature.  But when dealing with this grief and this youth, the counter-measures deployed seem mortifyingly inadequate.  Like a Hanna Barbera cartoon of the Hindenburg, it would be almost be funny if it weren’t so cheap.

While the Palestinian adults squeeze out consolation to their kids in Stryofoam cups, Israelis declare a victory that only exists in public relations.  Their stated objective of dismantling the political and military viability of Hamas has not been recognized by even Israeli citizens as remotely close to achieved.  Ironically, the only real political and military losses were suffered by Israel.

Surviving 23 days of shelling by the most powerful standing army on the planet only strengthened the popularity of Hamas, while exposing Fatah to accusations of spying and treachery.  While the international community gears up to assist Palestine, Israel readies a legal team to defend its soldiers against war crimes.  The United Kingdom, France, and the United States have all made overtures over the past week of engaging directly with Hamas while two of the only four Arab nations with formal ties to Israel have suspended those relations.

The civilian toll and questionable munitions have irreparably damaged Israel’s reputation in the West and in the world.  Even if Israel’s count of 700 dead Hamas fighters is to be believed, the ratio implied by the 1,314 killed meets no nation’s standard of proportional force.  The ratio implied by the 412 children suggests worse.  For every two soldiers Israel claims to have killed, one Palestinian child had to die. Such numbers do not question if an army is justified; they question if an army is human.

For those lucky enough to survive, war is now a childhood memory.  Three quarters of a million youth now have permanently seared in their minds the picture of their homes and loved ones in pieces.  Where we remember the occasional detention and crappy music at a senior prom, a whole generation of Palestinians will remember weeks in basements and bombs obliterating evening meals.  You look at those eyes as they sit, still shaking, in their desks in the days after this invasion, hate irradiating their eyes.

You look into those eyes and know the minds behind them have little question of where those memories come from.  They know exactly the men who made their childhoods what they were.  And for each pair, Israelis can count their children’s foes, for they have just compelled the conscription for the next generation of the army of Hamas.

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  • Alnik Welsh
  • 27
  • Jan
  • 09

Editor’s Note: One week to the day of the historic inauguration of our 44th president, we offer this savage first person account.  Written by an operative from inside the Obama campaign and transition team, (d)N0t’s DC correspondent tells of singular twenty-four hours of pure American dream.  A stark, self-destructive burn of celebration and exuberance made heavy by the weight of our national regrets and luminescent by the light of our new shared dawn, this piece delivers in multiple captures the picture of an America changed without a telephoto lens – a young and bold story of success for a country reborn and emboldened.  Penned under the assumed name Alnik Welsh, our author begins mid-bender.

We weren’t supposed to be here. Not at 5am. Not like this. The Hummers parked in an endless row to our right said, “Fallujah.” The tour buses on every corner–haphazardly blocking every intersection, denying any turn I considered–they told me “Orlando.” The black Escalade, with every blue and red burst that stabbed my dilated pupils through my rearview mirror, it screamed “CSI Las Vegas.” I took a suspicious look at my GPS. It still read: “Independence Avenue, North West.”

Photo: Michael Foley

Photo: Michael Foley

I took it with a grain of salt. This was the same device, after all, that had gotten us into this mess. My own experience and instincts had led me from the last party to our temporary resting place in Foggy Bottom. Word of the after-after parties ripped through our SMS, interrupting powder-blue lines of adderall mixed with something that passed – in the District, at least – for cocaine. We were wiredand my Tom Tom was the wireless guide we needed to get us into North East.It failed us somewhere between China Town and the Capitol.

My friend, The Dragon, and I had been in this situation before: last fall, on the stretch of Georgia Avenue between Silver Spring and New York Avenue during homecoming for Howard University. A different occasion and a much different climate, in every metaphorical and meterological sense of the word, but similar in the sense that seasons were changing and excitement was in the air. Cars were not moving.

Today though, there were more feet on the ground, walking with purpose. Maybe they were supposed to be here, the huddled masses we intermittently stopped for as they crossed onto the Mall, walking from our right, guided by the hodge-podge mix of law enforcement that surrounded us. Metro/Virginia/Maryland Police Department. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Secret Service. Maybe these people were meant to freeze until Barack Obama gave what we knew would be an inspiring speech seven hours in the distant future. Maybe they were.

But we had a party to attend; a party away from the flashing lights and throngs that already moved as one. I had given up on raves in the nineties. We cruised along Independence, searching for an escape. Finally guided in the right direction by a kind Metro police officer who must have seen a thousand haggard faces with bright eyes pass his way that morning, we were traveling the speed limit and no longer felt trapped in a perpetual motorcade. We would be back.

The music at the party was electronic, the mood electric. Friends with whom we had gone door to door in November would help usher in a day we had earned in the changing suburbs of Virginia. But it wasn’t only the suburbs that were changing, we knew. The rhetoric was real, the propaganda true. We flipped the switch; we were the shift.

Drinks were quickly downed, strange pills consumed. A Latino soldier sat smiling, his head nodding to the music, eyes wide with pupils like shields protecting his retina. I didn’t know he was a soldier until he showed me the bullet scars while we stood behind the building smoking cigarettes and talking just to talk. Speaking because our mouths refused to not jabber. This was not the average District thug eager to prove his status as real with the display of a bullet hole or stab wound. This was not 50 Cent.

The Soldier’s gaze showed no happiness in its amphetamine gleam as he told me about his cousin. Dead. His brother, seriously wounded when an IED exploded near his Hummer. How did we even get in this discussion? Maybe I was supposed to be with the masses, walking in the cold instead of standing in the cold. Cold. The story continued and I tried not to process what I was hearing; I tried to hold onto it for another, less joyful, day.

The Dragon is a better conversationalist than I, though, and he encouraged the story. The same chemicals that forced me to talk, they forced me to listen and I heard The Soldier say that he had encouraged his brother and cousin to join. He told me he had been given a thousand dollar bonus for each recruit he had a hand in enlisting. He was Judas.

Where was the change? It was inside. The cold disappeared, the music moved me, I was lost on the dance floor.

To be continued Thursday.

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  • Rob Spectre
  • 26
  • Jan
  • 09

As change comes to America, so too must it come to our fight against the future.  Over the past week we’ve rolled out a bumper crop of new features set to ward off the cold winter realities of economic despair and civil tumult.  All three focus on user interaction and engagement; pure cut and pearly white gonzo technology, just add you.

1) FriendFeed Integration

We’re in a still sadly silent minority postiviely batshit over FriendFeed, but our followers the lifestreaming service can now comment on posts in our FriendFeed and see said comments also appear on (d)N0t.  The reverse is also true, making (d)N0t some sort of crazed, carnal gateway drug between one depraved web addiction and the next.

God bless America.

2) Facebook Connect

Hate typing in passwords? Like entrusting your name, likeness,  identity, life history, and personal relationships to some California startup run by eleven year old virgins?  Would you like one solution that solves the surrender of both your security and your privacy at the same time?

Give me convenience or give me death.

Give me convenience or give me death.

Well shit, son, that’s why we got our Facebook Connect on.  We now have a fourth, mysterious option for commenters who hate inconvenience and love Big Brother.  Simply choose Facebook Connect and authorize a Vulcan Mind Meld between our site and your Facebook account.

So long as you are logged in to Facebook, you can post on (d)N0t without having yet another user, password combination to remember or uploading an avatar for the upteen-goddamned-gajillionth time.

3) Ratings

Over the past week, we’ve given a ratings system a go and it has received a very strong response.  Intended to be a completely anonymous content evaluation tool, our quiet trial of the system has so far gone off without a hitch.

On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 meaning “weak,” 5 meaning “gonzo”), all our posts are now available to be rated without forcing login to the site.  Commenting is as always welcome, but your (dis)pleasure can now be registered without going to all the hassle of creating a fake email address.

Some mild anti-fucker technologies are deployed to prevent jackholes from griefing, but as with our comments, ratings are subject to our zero censorship policy.  Unlike the practice some bloggers of the hippie variety, nothing you say or do here will ever be taken down no matter how ridiculous or offensive.

We may hold your opinion in contempt, but we will hold it forever.   Or until such time as stupid can be cleaned digitally.

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