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November 29, 2001

Wireless Week

By Glenn Fleishman

I’ve spent most of this week in Santa Clara at the 802.11 Planet conference, a geekfest for wireless network advocates and builders. The conference was aimed at IT and ISP folk: people building and managing networks inside existing enterprises (corporate infrastructure operations), and people creating wireless adjuncts or wireless-only Internet service for customers. I blogged as much of the sessions as I could at 802.11b Networking News.

Posted by Glennf at 8:12 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 24, 2001

Love That Mule

By Glenn Fleishman

One for the Cluetrain files: Juan Valdez is a real person. Not only Colombian, but also a coffee grower. Is that why those commercials were so charming? A real person sending a real message about his real profession?

Posted by Glennf at 8:59 AM | TrackBack

November 23, 2001

Leonid Showers Bring December Ice Flowers

By Glenn Fleishman

I stayed up late last week with Lynn to watch the Leonid meteor showers (NASA) - and isn’t that site a great example of how government can educate and inform while performing good science? The peak was supposed to be at around 3 a.m. Pacific time. We worried it would be overcast, but by late evening, it was crystal clear. And cold! Seattle tends towards the moderate, but the temperature and weather craziness of the last few years has turned much of Seattle’s fall to spring period into the East Coast: downpours, crisp cold days, red-leafed trees.

We figured we’d make it through that night’s Saturday Night Live, and then go out and watch. I stepped out around midnight and looked at the sky. Our front yard has a fairly unobstructed view south. We’re blocked in slightly by hills and have only a few street lights, so we have less direct light pollution than most parts of Seattle.

I found my old friend Orion several degrees above the horizon towards the southeast. I can find the Big Dipper, Orion, Cassipoeia, and Ursa Minor, and that’s about it. I look up at maybe 30 degrees above the horizon to the south and spot this bright cluster of low-magnitude stars. I can’t figure out what it is, so I head inside and run Starry Night, a piece of Mac software that maps and displays celestial bodies.

I orient the map, click Now to show the current star display (you can have it run live, too), and zoom in on the star cluster I saw: the Perseid Cluster! It was so clear out and low-lit enough that even after just a minute of eye adjustment, I could see dozens of dim stars in that clsuter alone. Later, we could see more stars than I remember ever seeing in Seattle proper.

A little after 1 a.m., Lynn and I bundled up with scarves and gloves, and took a couple of lawn chairs down to the sidewalk. It was damn cold. I eventually went in and got a blanket, too. We saw flashes here and there, and a number of long streaks. Our next-door neighbors came home at some point, maybe at 1.30, and looked at us funny until we explained. Then they were excited.

At 2 a.m., we were spent: sleepy and had seen enough to last us for a few decades of the Leonids. A very pretty, clear, cold night. Ancient fragments of old time streaked across the sky and were gone. More star hearts turn into more people and things.

Susan Kitchens’s account of her Leonid viewing inspired me to write this. She was quoted in the Associated Press, even! (And not from her blog.)

Posted by Glennf at 10:19 AM | TrackBack

November 22, 2001

Honesty and Self-Worth

By Glenn Fleishman

Visit, a site that has put a front-end on all the kinds of giving, donation, and help that organizations need. I noticed today that many comic strips mentioned the URL: it’s a neat site, and one that can help you find out who to help.

This story touched me: a guy finds a wallet with $3,400 in cash and a bunch of ID. He returns it - but he’s honest enough to mention to the reporter that he thought about keeping it. No one but a saint wouldn’t think about it. And then do the right thing. A good tale for Thanksgiving. Happy holiday, y’all: I’m eating seared tuna tonight, but I’ll be thinking of everyone gorged on turkey and triptophan!

Posted by Glennf at 9:32 AM | TrackBack

November 20, 2001

Reading the Book Leaves

By Glenn Fleishman

An article at O’Reilly Networks compares the sales of O’Reilly and Associates books at, Barnes and Noble, and other chains with economic indicators, such as the unemployment rate, NASDAQ average, stock prices of various companies, and consumer confidence. It’s a brilliant and funny analysis told in very dry terms that spells the strong connection between specific consumer and business cyclic behavior and book sales.

I’ve got my own graph I can offer up from, my book price comparison service.

While I’d rather not reveal sales by dollar, you can see the scope of the economy’s effect on my microcosm, too.

Posted by Glennf at 12:32 PM | TrackBack

November 18, 2001

Fast Adds News

By Glenn Fleishman

In a short article in Monday’s New York Times, I discuss the latest features added to Fast Search and Transfer, the company that resells its search engine index and results to power Lycos. It runs its own demonstration site at Search on topics in the news, or use its new dedicated news tab, and receive results from 3,000 media sources which are constantly spidered for freshness. The contents, overall, are expected to be fresher, too.

Posted by Glennf at 9:34 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

A Refreshed AirPort from Apple

By Glenn Fleishman

My Practical Mac column in today’s Seattle Times walks through the revisions to Apple 2-year-old-plus AirPort wireless networking system, released last week. The revision adds support for direct-dialing AOL (useful to millions of Mac dial-up customers), improves aspects of security, supports faster Ethernet, and connects the Base Station and its related AirPort Card to back-end authentication systems used in institutions.

AirPort is compatible with 802.11b or Wi-Fi networking, and Apple’s revision makes it even more so by supporting standard authentication tools (RADIUS, Cisco LEAP), 100 Mbps-only Ethernet networks (through a 10/100 Mpbs autosense port), and longer WEP encryption keys. Apple also told me that they were actively following the issues surrounding 802.11g development (a faster version of 802.11b that will be backwards compatible, but support raw speeds up to nearly five times faster).

The support for 128-bit long WEP encryption keys used for network data encryption is long overdue, if only as a way for Mac users to join supposedly safer PC-based networks. (WEP encryption has been definitively broken, and the longer key only adds linear, not geometric or exponential, calculation time using publicly available cracking software.)

Posted by Glennf at 9:55 AM | TrackBack

November 15, 2001

Anonymous Karma Doofus

By Glenn Fleishman

This Greymatter blog system supports a simple Slashdot-moderation-like option called Karma Points. Like a post? Click +. Hate it? Click -. Results are IP-limited to avoid overvoting. When someone casts a Karma vote, I get email.

I just got a pile of email. Somebody at IP (an address) decided to be a karma doofus and vote negative on about eight of my blog entries all at once. Coward! Doofus! Vandal!

Eh, what do I care? I don’t write because I want people to love what I write. I write because I like to write, and I like to hear what people think of my ideas. So negative karma, while carrying all the baggage of that term, come with the territory.

Actually, it reminds me of the story my grandfather told me about the woman who bought a mattress from his furniture store and didn’t pay for it (which I told in this space some weeks ago). Why come read my blog and bother to vote negative on all of it if you really don’t care for what I say? What, you think I’ll stop blogging?

No, wait, it gets better! After posting that remark, a colleague wrote in here saying that it was a robot following links! Man, this reminds of Douglas Adams bon mot in Life, the Universe, and Everything: “It was hatred, implacable hatred. It was cold, not like ice is cold, but like a wall is cold. It was impersonal, not as a randomly flung fist in a crowd is impersonal, but like a computer-issued parking summons is impersonal. And it was deadly - again, not like a bullet or a knife is deadly, but like a brick wall across a motorway is deadly.”

Posted by Glennf at 4:16 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 14, 2001


By Glenn Fleishman

The editor I’ve worked with on several infographics at Wired was laid off. His name: Paul Boutin. He’s a blogger (we’re all bloggers, wouldn’t you like to be a blogger, too?).

Paul is terrific to work with as a freelancer. He assigns huge domains, like “all issues surrounding reallocation of spectrum for new purposes.” Then he offers guidance, direction, feedback, shaping. He’s supportive, but he won’t take the, “Huh, I don’t know” response. I’ve worked remarkably hard (and been quite well compensated) on the pieces I’ve done for him, and was rewarded by the outcome in print.

An officemate asked me when I mentioned that Paul was laid off, and I said that I thought the magazine had never been actually profitable: “How come?” I realized that despite Wired’s continued relatively full slate of advertising even in the downturn, and its large subscription base, that they sunk a lot of money into Web ventures in the early days, and then were bought by Conde Nast, which may want to ultimately turn a buck on it by repaying their investment through profit.

Posted by Glennf at 3:17 PM | TrackBack

Working Knowledge

By Glenn Fleishman

I’ve been working steadily for a few days. Can you tell? All work and no blog makes Glenn a dull boy.

Posted by Glennf at 9:19 AM | TrackBack

November 11, 2001

Improving Self Image

By Glenn Fleishman

The film Shallow Hal’s depiction of fat people is the subject of an article in today’s New York Times. The article talks about the feelings that avoirdupois-inclined individuals have about the movie. Unfortunately, I think both the article and the spokespeople from a variety of self-image groups don’t understand the narrative of the film.

The people quoted in the article say that the fundamental flaw of the movie is that inner beauty is presented as thin, beautiful people. In fact, that’s not the way the movie works. Jack Black’s character Hal sees Gwyneth Paltrow as thin because it is the only way in which he can map his positive feelings onto someone.

As the film progresses, and he loses his momentary inner-beauty goggles and starts seeing these pretty people as their actual selves, the filmmakers confront us with our own shallowness: we were willing to ascribe all manner of positive traits onto these individuals when they were conventionally beautiful. Now, we must accept them for who they are, knowing - as Hal does - that they’re decent and wonderful.

The movie doesn’t fall back on trite premises and show us those characters as physically beautiful again. Nope, we see the young burn victim, the gangly Peace Corps volunteer, the huge Hawaiian fellow, and so on. Each of them has been revealed to us through Jack’s eyes in a sort of idealized manner, expressed through conventional beauty, but we must accept them as they actually are in the end.

What’s nice about the ending of this film, without revealing too much of it, is that we don’t get what has become an uber-trite necessity for all film finales: a set of quick flashbacks of the whole movie, because, you know, audiences are too stupid to recall events from 60 to 90 minutes before. I’ve seen this device used even on the greatest of films, so I assume it’s a studio invention in those cases.

Not with this movie. At the end, we see Gwyneth in all her glory, and we all love her, too.

Posted by Glennf at 5:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Drop Kick Me Through Those Goal Posts

By Glenn Fleishman

Ken Kesey died yesterday at the very young age of 66 in my home town of Eugene, Oregon. (I’ve been trying to link the local paper’s obit, but they like to hold their news an extra day. Here’s the closest, in the Oregonian (Portland).)

I can’t say that Kesey had a huge impact on my life except through interpretation: the idea of Kesey loomed larger than the works of Kesey. He did, however, give the commencement address at my high school graduation.

Those of you who know me may not be surprised that I was senior class president. I ran under a banner of “No Rhetoric” (I was sick of stupid slogans, and trying to be ironic) and got twice as many votes as the No. 2 candidate. My vice president, a good friend, resigned mid-year as he didn’t feel capable of carrying out the duties and responsibilities of that role. Which were very very few, as I recall. But it was honest of him.

The newly elected (or appointed?) veep was involved with me in some of the graduation planning. He suggested a CEO of a successful local company to speak. If I remember history right, I said, wait a minute. We’re looking for someone great, not just another company president who would be fine. Ken Kesey’s son died in a car accident a couple of years ago, and he’s been in some seclusion. He might be willing to speak in public again. Let’s call him.

I can’t remember who called him; maybe our principal, a smooth-talking, purple cowboy boot wearing fellow (our school colors: purple and white). Kesey said yes. When the program was being prepared, we saw the title of his address: Something about dropping kicking ourselves through the goalposts of life. I found out later that Kesey had been a star athlete in his college days.

I don’t remember the speech at all. Not a word. I’d given my address, as well as played accompaniment on piano for one of the songs. The first and last time I ever performed on the piano in public. (I had had to get to school at about 6.30 am all year for student government class which didn’t start until 7.15. I was taking mostly theater senior year as I’d completed all my academic requirements, and had a 30-minute bus ride commute each way, so wasn’t sitting around with homework to do. So I taught myself how to play piano by practicing for 30 minutes or so every morning.)

Kesey came out in what I recall as a white suit. He gave a wonderful, engrossing speech. But I couldn’t remember a single syllable. In those days, I’m not sure the videography thing was as big a deal; I don’t have a tape of graduation. Kesey was only about 51 at that point, but I thought of him as ancient and mythological.

Years later, I ran into Don DeWitt, my AP English teacher senior year. Don was beloved by a lot of the class, and we had asked him to read names at graduation, which was seen as an honor. He leapt into the role, wearing white tails. Don had been called up by a local radio station which was running a 10-year-ago music special, and they were doing “class of 86” bits in between. Don recalled for them an incident he’d forgotten in the interim: that when he was standing backstage with Kesey after my talk, Kesey said, “That was a smart speech.” It made me happy to hear that backwards and forwards in time.

My dad used to be in a natural foods group (when he sold granola) with Kesey’s sister-in-law, Sue, who runs Nancy’s in Springfield, the next town over from Eugene. They make the wonderful yogurt found all over the Northwest. We always thought of Kesey as a local tradition. He’d grown up there, returned there, had his roots there. It’s hard to believe that we’ve lost the rest of his insight.

Posted by Glennf at 8:14 AM | TrackBack

November 9, 2001

iPod uPdate

By Glenn Fleishman

Apple rewarded us early testers of the iPod by releasing an updater this morning that can either simply update the iPod’s firmware to the 1.0 release version, or completely wipe its drive and restore factory defaults. Both options are useful. The 1.0 firmware disables a feature in my beta version of the iPod that allowed me to copy music back from the iPod to any computer. Apple had said that the iPod wouldn’t allow this because it would enable music piracy.

Posted by Glennf at 10:46 AM | TrackBack

November 7, 2001

Sacrifice Day

By Glenn Fleishman

I spread a meme called “sacrifice day,” which is a day in which, despite your best efforts, you can get no practical work done. I used to resist sacrifice days, and then I realized that to resist is to prolong; to accept is to work with the flow. By accepting one or more sacrifice days a week, I have become more productive. Odd, but it works for me. My sacrifice days are when I run errands, pay bills, answer email, write blog entries, etc.

You can see what I’m building up to.

My officemate Jeff asked for my help in backing up 65 Gb of video material he has on a hard drive that’s on the way out and he needs to return for warranty work. The company wants 15 to 30 days for repair; whatever. That’s totally unrealistic about how people use massive storage. So we figure, okay, it’s a FireWire drive, but all our tape backup drives are SCSI hooked up through SCSI interfaces on PC and Linux.

We’re running Retrospect on the PC, but we don’t have any spare machines that A. can read Mac disks and B. have FireWire. We could put a FireWire card into the PC, but then we’d still have to read the HFS+ format. Oy.

I bring in my newish iBook with FireWire so we can dedicate it to this task. I put it and the PC on a small 10/100 Mbps switch for maximum network transfer. I boot the iBook and the hard drive mounts, but I realize that Dantz hasn’t yet released a version of its client software for backup that works with OS X as a client and Windows as a backup server. (They’re still in beta on the OS X client + OS 9 server, even.)

We upgrade the iBook to OS 9.2.1, but it’s glitchy. The hard drive won’t mount now for unknown reasons when it boots into 9, but it still works into X. I try to get the Windows box to recognize the OS 9 client, but I have to buy the Server version of the backup software to get the ability to not just scan for clients (which scans one subnet) but to actually enter client IP addresses. I figure it’s worth it for backups, as I’ve had the same problem backing up my main OS X machine at work, too!

I’ve now spent more on Retrospect over the years than on operating systems by a large margin. It seems to have been worthwhile.

This whole melange of equipment finally works: I have OS X running with an OS 9 client for Retrospect that Windows XP running Retrospect Server Backup can communicate with. We pop a blank 20/40Gb tape into the DDS/4 DAT drive and I walk away. A while later I check, and there’s a problem with the DAT drive. I try ejecting. No go. I try power cycling and holding down the eject button, no go. Lots of different attempts, and I finally realize the drive is hosed. Needs repair. Is ot of warranty.

Meanwhile, some RAM arrives for the PC and one of the Linux boxes. PC133 512 Mb SDRAM cards at about $60 each including shipping. I decide to put the memory in the PC. It doesn’t like it. Maybe the other memory is PC100. I reboot it. I power down the Linux box, which runs our primary DNS and mail service, as well as all of our in-house Web sites, plop in the RAM, and - it’s dead. Dead dead dead. Power supply failure? Short? Who knows.

I’m slightly panicked. I realize, fortunately, that I’ve got an empty machine that I transitioned the content from to a new box. The old server that was running is a powerful dual-processor machine. Okay. So I pull the boot drive out of the now-dead Linux box, unplug and remove some of the drives from the retired, and boot. Some funkiness. Fix, reboot, fix, reboot. Damn, I forgot to edit the fstab to remove a drive that I haven’t put in place yet! Fix, reboot, it comes up.

Meanwhile, I’ve managed to get the backup of the 65 Gb of data going onto a DLT drive that I have. DLT (digital linear tape) is just as good as DAT (digital audio tape), but I only have 10/20 Gb (that’s uncompressed and max. compressed capacity) tapes for it. So we’ll swap a few tapes. I also have an AIT drive that’s on the box for doing 25/50 Gb backups

This is the kind of thing that makes one old.

Posted by Glennf at 4:19 PM | TrackBack


By Glenn Fleishman

I’ve been trying to automate the process by which I can ping that my blog has been updated. allows bloggers to automatically or manually ping it via XML-RPC or similar protocols. A fellow on the mailing list posted a simple perl script that would ping via its submission form. I use Greymatter for my blogging needs, and it’s entirely in perl. I added a few lines to the Add New Entry part of gm.cgi for those of you in the know:

use LWP::Simple;

$ping = “” .

  “name=GlennLog” .



I added this at line 3372 in the program, although you might make sure that’s the right place. It’s right after a line reading close(FUNNYFEET). No kidding.

You also need to make sure that you have the LWP library installed under perl, which you can get from CPAN.

Posted by Glennf at 11:57 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 6, 2001

Google Alchemy: Word into HTML

By Glenn Fleishman

Google quietly updated all of its distributed indexes this weekend with a major change: the company now extracts and indexes the text from many file formats, including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, PostScript, RTF, Lotus files, WordStar 2000, RFT (and old IBM format), MacWrite, and on and on. The extracted information is also converted in most cases to HTML which you can view by clicking a link next to the result. I was holding off on this item until my brief ran in the New York Times (2nd item).

The addition of these file formats starts out slow: only about 12 million documents out of 35 million non-HTML files indexed are from this set. PDF represents the balance; the company has indexed PDFs since February, starting with a collection of about 10 million, now at 23 million. PDFs are now represented in HTML instead of text, preserving as much of the formatting as practical.

The number two format after PDF is Word; number three is PostScript. This might seem odd if you’re not in the academic environment. Many academics have long published PS versions of their files before and after Acrobat PDF took off, as it was easier across many systems to print PostScript to a printer or view through freeware software than any other format.

Google expects their initial number to grow quickly. If you can imagine the number of Word documents linked to Web pages, it must be in the tens of millions alone. Couple that with the other formats, legacies of past ages in some cases, and a lot of the hidden Web will be revealed.

One key use I’ve already found for this feature is viewing PowerPoint files as HTML through Google’s View as HTML link. PowerPoint files are huge, especially if they have embedded graphics or movies. Google strips everything but basic position, type size, and color. This 230K PowerPoint file, for instance, is just 9K when viewed as text. (Given the nature of that last URL, it’s possible that the link I provide will expire.) Other files will compess much more, from multiple megabits to a few tens of K.

This feature also opens up these documents to people who don’t own the original program. Despite the tens of millions of people and business “seats” that use the Microsoft suite, for instance, there are hundreds of millions who don’t own all the applications. Most people in the U.S. and worldwide still access the Net via dial-up, too, and this squeezing of information could provoke a trend to bypass the original files except after reviewing the condensed, extracted version.

Google tells me that entering information in the Properties dialog box for Office files will assist them in keywording and titling results. Google will also follow the various forms of exclusion, and omit any files specifically or generally requested for them to omit.

I’ve thought about some scenarios where people have linked documents for download via obscure pages that are still in their site hierarchies. Where these files would be invisible until now, suddenly they could emerge as the top match for a given search query and be exposed to the world. Potential embarassment there. This happened a bit when Google opened up its Usenet news archives to searching back to the mid-90s and people’s old, forgotten posts surfaced like an old pet burial in a heavy rain.

You can read a search-engine marketer focused in-depth analysis at Search Day, part of

Posted by Glennf at 9:28 PM | TrackBack

Those Who Forget the Past Are Condemned to Republish It

By Glenn Fleishman

I have a feeling of deja vu reading this article on Simon & Schuster launching their ebook retail Web site. It reminds me of a few years ago when it launched its retail Web site. The same quote, practically, appears (this is not the fault of the writer): how do readers know who published a book? They don’t. The brand is, if anything, with the author or the series (Chicken Soup, Dummies, etc.). Rarely, if ever, with the publisher. I have the good fortune to have written several books for Peachpit Press, which is known by name in the computer book field, and almost wrote a book for O’Reilly - ditto for them. Mass market publishers are fooling themselves yet again if they believe that customers will find them and not head to sites that list all ebooks available. I mean, did anyone ever analyze’s financial returns? Appears not.

Posted by Glennf at 4:15 PM | TrackBack

November 5, 2001

Free, Free, Set Me Free

By Glenn Fleishman

The blogrolling today has been sort of hilarious. I was reading an update to Paul Boutin’s Web log via Radio Userland (it can read XML-based subscription files). He was pointing out to me via his Web log that I should look at an update on his Web log. How funny.

He thought I’d find the reference via my referral logs for 802.11b Networking News. When I checked those statistics, I found a reference to The End of Free. I posted a note to the 802.11b log the other day asking for voluntary contributions to raise the level of reportage I could put on the site.

Years ago, I raised some debate by asking for voluntary contributions to the Internet Marketing Discussion List (which is still archived here). This was about April 1995, as I recall it. The move prompted an article in the now-defunct New York Newsday (which was picked up by newspapers nationally). At the time, it was pretty odd to ask for or charge fees; now, a Web site’s devoted to the fact. (Total haul so far? $27.50.)

Posted by Glennf at 8:20 PM | TrackBack

Fat Is as Fat Does

By Glenn Fleishman

I saw a preview of Shallow Hal today, a poorly named new offering from the Farrelly Brothers. The name isn’t clever, but the movie is. Despite it being about a callow fellow, played by Tenacious D lead man Jack Black, the film isn’t degrading. Who woulda guessed? In fact, it’s full of laugh-with moments, rather than laugh-at. Black’s a nice guy in the film who loves the ladies, but is plain and overeager enough (as is his pal played by Jason Alexander) to escape notice or to warrant escape from. Think the two dancing guys from Saturday Night Live (Will Ferrell and Chris Katan).

Here’s where it gets nice instead of stupid. Black is stuck in an elevator with Anthony Robbins, the self-help guru, who sort of hypnotizes him to allow Black’s warm heart to see the essence of people he hasn’t met. Sounds pretty high concept, pretty cute. The filmmakers exercise enormous restraint, though, and while issuing a lot of fat jokes, they do portray a number of people with infirmities or physical problems (including a burn ward full of kids) in a completely sentimental-free, mockery-free zone. Yes, it’s funny that Black sees a Hawaiian Peace Corps volunteer as fit and handsome, but when we see the same guy is huge, it’s not a sight gag. It’s a simple realization.

The ending needed some work, and a sublot with Jason Alexander’s, uh, atavistic skeleton (won’t reveal the plot point here) was excisable without major film surgery. But I liked it. I cried during some of the very sweet, but not maudlin, hospital scenes. And Paltrow completely understated her performance: she was the same character in or out of the fat suit, and there was no magic transformation at the end when we saw, for instance, Black see her once again as thin. Nope, she was big, baby, and beautiful.

There’s a truly remarkable actor I want to see more of; I can’t seem to figure out who he is from the cast list at IMDB. The guy has spina bifida, but there is never a moment in the film when the camera doesn’t view him with respect and awe. He’s a fine actor, and his physical form is truly unbelievable - especially the skiing at the end. I want to see more of this guy and, a la Verne Troyer, maybe his unusual physical issues will turn him into a star.

Posted by Glennf at 7:51 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 4, 2001

iPod Review (Seattle Times)

By Glenn Fleishman

My full review of the iPod appears today in The Seattle Times. As readers of this space know, I’m impressed. The iPod works as it’s supposed to, takes little to no training, and it’s fun to boot.

Posted by Glennf at 9:39 AM | TrackBack

November 3, 2001

Faux Turkey

By Glenn Fleishman

As Thanksgiving approaches, I plot my non-meat dish. I’m a pesca-vegetarian: I eat fish, but not other meat (no fowl, pork, beef, or other Norman words for food). In 1996, I had a Tofurky feast, which was a mixed bag: the Tofurky was okay itself, and the tempeh drumsticks were terrific. The gravy was inedible and the fourth item was so strange I can’t recall it. I participated in beta testing Tofurky 1997, which featured an odd little turkey shaped tofu lump and some other pieces that weren’t so terrific.

They’ve persisted at Turtle Island Foods, however, and I now love their Tofurky lunch meat. I spotted the Tofurky 2001 in the local Whole Foods the other day, as well as the Unturkey from the superbly named Now & Zen. (I’ve spotted Now & Zen products on United Airlines’s flights in my vegetarian meal, but given that United is now not serving meals in coach on flights of less than 3 1/2 hours, this will cramp my veggie style.)

My main question, though, is why has no one introduced the Faux Turkey brand?

Posted by Glennf at 1:29 PM | TrackBack

November 2, 2001

American Borg

By Glenn Fleishman

Americans have a lack of patience with immigrants and native-born who fail to assimilate into the melting pot. Some parts of our culture profess a love of diversity (a patronizing term, as it condescends to include those diverse elements that aren’t part of our mainstream) or multi-culturalism (ditto). But that love generally deals with academics (read subculture Western and main culture non-Western literature) or tolerance (another patronizing term: don’t beat the crap out of people who dress or sound different).

Non-assimilated cultures within the U.S. speak their own language and may know little or no English (or Spanish, for that matter), maintain extensive ties with often close family in their home country, live in cultural enclaves, send lots of money back out of the U.S., don’t register to vote or vote if they’re registered, and generally live as if they never left home. This pisses Americans off.

Strangely, though, we have a perfectly non-assimilated culture that’s been around for hundreds of years in our midst. Fundamentalist Christians who hold God and their religious ideas above the law. They may be part of families that lived here from the Mayflower or earlier, but they won’t recognize the supremecy of democracy in the material world.

Muslims have been generally easy to spot and thus to criticize for failure to accept our culture; fundamentalists bent on undermining our bill of rights are not. Some of them are even Cabinet-level officials in the government now.

Of course, what’s ironic about this, is that every successive immigrant wave was “easy to spot” at one time: the Germans, the Irish, the Chinese, the Jews (of which I am one - most of my family arrived in the early 1900s from Lithuania, Danzig (Gdansk), and Russia). Each successive wave was seen as non-assimilationist, but they ultimately succumbed.

The fact is, though, that moderate observers of the Islamic faith may never assimilate in that way into our culture. The religion demands a lot of observance, and many liberal practitioners still devote more of their wardrobe and daily life to Islam’s duties than the most fervent in most other faiths.

That observance is often attributed to extremism, when, in fact, it is cultural hygiene. I don’t want to dispute whether the Islamic God is my God or someone else’s God and whether he, she, it, them, or the platonic ideal of good actually historically or religiously requires the observance the Muslims engage in.

But it’s clear that this observance, through community reinforcement, and, in its native incarnation, extreme penalties, has preserved the practice of faith over centuries with little let-up in its intensity of daily routine. Jews don’t have it easy, but the so-called orthodox (who really practice a kind of 10th to 18th century version of mainstream Judaism) have daily prayers and other rituals that consume what I would argue is a less obstrusive, less demanding schedule. And there are millions of observant conservative Jews whose daily religious practice is minimal or non-existent, but who live in what they would consider a religious manner.

This has partly to do with the intermediation of religious life in different faiths. If you’re a Catholic, you’re responsible for your soul, but there are plenty of figures that can talk to God on your behalf: intercede or plead for you. Saints, priests, the Pope, Mary, and so on. In Islam and in Judaism, and in many ecstatic and Christian faiths, there’s no veil between you and God. The rabbi or mullah doesn’t speak to God on behalf of the community: he or she interprets God’s words for the community to make their own decisions about.

Of course, the community may then decide you made the wrong decision. (This is why I like Judaism and Friends Meetings, both.)

When Muslims are singled out, it’s another instance of cultural hegemony and imperialism. The fact that they have their dress after decades of living here, and that they persist in practicing their faith - well, it just annoys folks whose ancestors gave that up 50 or 100 years ago.

Posted by Glennf at 10:04 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 1, 2001

Personal Economic Indicators

By Glenn Fleishman

A few months ago, I posted a chart that showed my writing output by publication. I’ve updated this, for what it’s worth. It’s a good gauge for me to see how the publications of the world are faring, as - as far as I know - none of my regular editors have had problems with me. It’s all about the economy and ad pages to editorial pages.

Posted by Glennf at 2:45 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

If You Worry About What You Post Online, You Should

By Glenn Fleishman

From my referral logs, an interest in peeps: scroll down five rows to find me.

Posted by Glennf at 7:32 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


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