Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Live (after) the Unexplained S&M Party - narrative

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(Accompanying photo is in the entry right before this one.)

10:30 pm, back on the train, Chicago stop on the red line now. The S&M party wasn't nearly as naughty as I thought it might be - in reality, Josephine's dungeon (Illusions) was hosting a fundraiser for a transgendered activist group, and the dominatrices (dominatrixes?) were "on the clock" as far as hostess capacities, but with no clients and no beatings, no nudity, no sex, etc. Someone did get me high, though, and there was a free buffet, and this incredibly beautiful girl gave me her phone number, all with no cover, so who am I to complain, really?

Live - (After) the Unexplained S&M Party

Riding home after the S&M party in Rover North I had been invited to; alas, lots of dominatices, but no actual S&M going on. Details immediately following this entry.

Live from the Unexplained S&M Party

Sheridan el stop, heading to Rizzo's in River North, for what I think is a private S&M party. Explanation in entry immediately following this one.

Live from the Unexplained S&M Party

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(Accompanying photo is in the entry right before this one.)

So here I am, standing at the Sheridan red-line stop, in what
I refer to as my "good" suit, making my way to an undescribed S&M party at a private club in River North, where in all honesty I don't know what will be happening, although it quite could be naughty. How do I find myself in this situation? One of my ex-lovers, unsurprisingly - *Josephine, I'll call her here, who I was sleeping with last summer, and whose day job is as a dominatrix, and who happens to also be the founder of The Mud Queens of Chicago (think SuicideGirl mud-wrestlers). Josephine's always on top of it all in a way I'm not, so I'm always getting random cellphone calls from her for weird exclusive events that she thinks I'll find intriguing. Ah, hot, smart, sex worker and gets me into exclusive events - what's not to love?

So that's where I'm heading, to a place called Rizzo's on East Walton, where apparantly Josephine's dungeon is throwing a party? or fundraiser? or being the entertainment for someone else's party/fundraiser? All I know for sure is that 1) I was required to dress up and 2) Josephine will be in "character" tonight, take that as you will. So, Lord knows I've done some legitimtely very naughty things with Josephine over the last year, so this might be another of them - or might not be much more than a naughty version of Bacardi Night at a fratbar. We'll see. More live updates throughout the evening, if it's bright enough to get photos, and I'm allowed to do so.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Finally - a $1,200 home robot

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White Box Robotics finally has something to market that a lot of us have been dreaming of for awhile - a powerful home robot for $1,200. The PC-BOT Model 914 (and thank you, White Box, for the wonderfully retro-sounding name) has a steel cage with removable motherboard, eight drive bays for adding your own PC equipment, a differential drive system featuring independent front suspension, and can be run from any Windows computer (which you supply). It can accept up to a gig of RAM, has a microphone for speech recognition, has a speaker for speech synthesis, and even has a slot in the top where you can add a WiFi web cam if you want. Let the geekiness commence! (Thanks to MAKE magazine for pointing this out.)

Mayors to Bush: "Screw you, we're ratifying Kyoto"

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From the New York Times: In one of the most public 'screw you's of the entire Bush reign, over 130 local governments in the US (and counting) have decided to override Bush's refusal to endorse the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, and to voluntarily comply with it anyway. This is obviously great news for anyone who cares about the environment, but it also brings up a common complaint about the US that I hear from a lot of Europeans; namely, the impossibly complex relationship that exists here between local governments, state governments and the national government, and confusion over who exactly trumps who when it comes to enacted legislation.

And I'll admit, this is indeed a tricky and messy relationship, one that even few Americans seem to understand. The problem is that there never has been a general consensus in the US over what exactly we are as an entity; even when the Constitution was being written in the late 1700s, half the people writing that document saw the US as a loose federation of self-sufficient states, with a weak national bureaucracy holding it together (much like the current European Union), while the other half saw the US as a legitimate unified nation, one where the former power of states should be subsumed to a strong national government. It's this schism that led to the Federalist Papers, the first ten amendments to our Constitution (aka "The Bill of Rights"), and unfortunately the constant fight that's been happening in the 216 years since, over whether a law passed by a state or local government should hold more importance than one passed by the national government. And let's not forget, exploiting this system is a favorite way to get laws actually changed here; sometimes a local government will deliberately do something counter to what a national law says it can do, simply so that the case will be sent to a federal court, and a definitive ruling made over whether that city can actually do that in the eyes of the law or not. This news about local Kyoto ratification just reminds us of this schism all over again; it's one of the more fascinating things about the way the US works, I think, which is why I thought I'd mention it today.

Another space-tourism company announces first launch date, ticket price

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From Space.com: AERA Corp., one of the half-dozen companies in the US right now in the burgeoning "space tourism" industry, has announced launch details for their six-seater spacecraft Altairis; their first flight is now scheduled for December 2006, and tickets will cost $250,000. And interestingly, AERA is one of the only space-tourism companies that has decided not to build their own spaceport; earlier this year, in fact, the company announced that it had made a deal with the Air Force to launch their ships from Cape Canaveral down in Florida. Would anyone like to hazard a guess on what I'll be asking for that Christmas?

Gillmor puts his money where his mouth is

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Dan Gillmor, already a well-known journalist with the San Jose Mercury News, has also emerged in this "Great 2005 Second Blossoming of Blogs" (as I've been calling it) as one of the most outspoken proponents of "citizen journalism" - that is, of everyday random citizens learning the basics of journalistic style and ethics, and actually reporting some of the news that they usually only consume. Well, he's finally put his money where his mouth is - he's quit the mainstream journalism industry and has started up a citizen-journalism website, called Bayosphere.com. Good luck, Mr. Gillmor!

LBC finally announces first choice

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My friends at the Lit Blog Co-op have finally announced their first choice: Case Histories, by Kate Atkinson. For those who need a reminder, the LBC is a group of twenty litbloggers who have banded together to ask a very intriguing queston - if online book reviewers can have the same impact these days on the bestseller list as paper-based reviewers. Four times a year, then, the group is going to recommend a new book that they think deserves more attention than it's getting, and they're going to give the book that attention, and hope that the increased attention actually results in more sales for that book.

I've been reading a lot of discussion about the LBC in the blogosphere over the last month, by the way, and wanted to bring up a couple of points for consideration - and please realize that I'm not a member of the LBC myself, nor want to be, but do have a number of personal friends who are:

1) It's important to understand that the LBC is primarily trying to get a larger conversation about their picks started, not necessarily to declare themselves as new authority figures and to lord it over other online book reviewers. I've seen a number of complaints from other online literary people now, saying things along the lines of "Why wasn't I asked to be part of the LBC?," which to me always seems to be missing the point. These particular twenty people came together because they all believe in the collective power of gridded conversations on the web; the whole reason they're online people and not paper-based reviewers is that they're not authoritarian or elitist. The LBC won't work, frankly, if it's only these twenty people talking about their pick, and they know this - the whole point of making a pick is to then get people like you and me talking about it as well, and reading it and buying it and posting our own online reviews, and all of us being merely small parts in what will hopefully be a giant conversation about the book. In this context, then, I think it's better not to worry about whether one is "on" the LBC or not, and instead to see it as the worldwide collective experience it is.

2) It's also important to remember, I think, that the LBC is not necessarily saying that you're going to love their picks, but rather that they want people to have a discussion about their picks, whether that's full of supportive or critical comments. They themselves, in fact, are starting their own coverage of Case Histories later this week with something they're calling The Minority Report, which will basically be essays from those in the group who thought the book shouldn't have been their pick. Their willingness to show such dissension within their own group, I think, dispels a lot of the elitist charges that someone might want to throw their way, and helps show that what they're primarily trying to encourage is a simple conversation about the book, no matter what the opinion.

Those in the Pacific Northwest will be happy to know that Powell's is selling Case Histories at their stores for 30 percent off - and only because they're a fan of the LBC, not through any financial arrangement. And yes, I'll be reading the book myself over the next couple of weeks, and posting my own review here in the overall spirit of what the LBC is trying to accomplish. I'm looking forward to it, in fact.

Design your own customized wine

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CrushPad: Design your own premium wine online, have the community winery make it and ship it to you. (Thanks to Rafe Needleman for pointing this out.)