Reluctant Habits

Julia Angwin (The Bat Segundo Show #537)

Posted by in angwin-julia, Bat Segundo, interview

Why are we so consumed with providing every moment of our lives to a faceless corporation who will share this data with other companies without our consent? What makes the NSA worse than the Stasi? And to what extent are we determined to become enslaved by convenience? We talk with journalist Julia Angwin, author of DRAGNET NATION, about these dilemmas, the inevitability of mutually assured disinformation, and why the black helicopter lifestyle is becoming more legitimate.
[MP3, 43 minutes]

[Notes and partial transcript]

Samira Kawash (The Bat Segundo Show #522)

Posted by in Bat Segundo, Candy, interview, kawash-samira

This is the second of two shows devoted to Halloween. Did you know that there was once a chocolate bar called the Chicken Dinner? That cigarette companies once considered candy to be a threat to discretionary spending? Or that candy was used by the military for safety purposes? We didn’t either, until we read Samira Kawash’s Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure. We discuss the serpentine history of candy with the Candy Professor herself!
[MP3, 58 minutes]

[Notes and partial transcript]

Nicholson Baker (The Bat Segundo Show #520)

Posted by in Baker, Nicholson, Bat Segundo, interview, Traveling Sprinkler

Nicholson Baker returns to our program for a rip-roaring 78 minute conversation. We discuss TRAVELING SPRINKLER, the many parallels between Baker and Paul Chowder. There is quite a bit of music and audio talk, vivacious arguments for and against Robin Thicke, a lively dialectic on whether or not Algebra 2 should be an educational requirement, and a vital discussion on alternative names for sexual organs.
[MP3, 78 minutes]
[Notes and partial transcript]

Thirty-Five Arguments Against Google Glass

Posted by in Google, Google Glass, Privacy

This 10,000 word consideration presents thirty-five arguments against Google Glass, revealing how privacy, kindness, respect, the disclosure of information, violence, and confidentiality will all change.

Cole Stryker (The Bat Segundo Show)

Posted by in Anonymous, Bat Segundo, Hacktivism, interview, stryker-cole

In this 50 minute radio interview, Cole Stryker discussed Anonymous, hacktivism, the inevitability of ideology, cyberbullying, and the difficulties of investigating a group that doesn’t want to be understood.

Arrested Development

Posted by in anderson-wes, richardson-kartina, The New Inquiry

In this very special and very personal essay, the absolute voice of a new generation describes life’s horrors and why she hates Wes Anderson.

Mike Daisey Lies on This American Life; Theaters Won’t Cancel Performances or Issue Refunds

Posted by in daisey-mike, Theater, This American Life

This lengthy report reveals the extent of Mike Daisey’s lies on This American Life and the responses of theaters to the news.

The Bat Segundo Show: Susan Cain

Posted by in Bat Segundo, cain-susan, interview, Introverts

In this 40 minute radio interview, author Susan Cain discusses Quiet, differences between introverts and extroverts, Jung, conformity, Steve Wozniak, Csikszentmihalyi, and the fine line between introversion and misanthropy.

The Bat Segundo Show: Joyce Carol Oates

Posted by in Bat Segundo, interview, Oates, Joyce Carol

In this 40 minute radio interview, Joyce Carol Oates discusses The Corn Maiden, the history of narrative violence, the allure of vacuum cleaning, and what it means to be a woman writer. The conversation also features a Dickensian exchange involving a “heater.”

Stone Arabia Roundtable — Part Four

Posted by in Roundtable, spiotta-dana, Stone Arabia

Our fourth roundtable installment features Susan Straight remarking upon the book after a death in the family, Porochista Khakpour coming to grips with her Los Angeles past and her academic present, Roxane Gay pursuing the issue of supporting women’s writers, and Judith Zissman investigating memory.

A Conversation with Stewart O’Nan

Posted by in interview, o'nan-stewart

In this lengthy email conversation, Stewart O’Nan discusses Emily, Alone, Richard Yates, creating dimensional characters, and what a writer can learn from John Gardner.

NYFF: The Social Network

Posted by in Film, New York Film Festival

One of David Fincher’s best movies also includes some of the sharpest material that Aaron Sorkin has ever written for film or television. It’s a highly entertaining movie possessed of stones.


Posted by in

The Tropical Movies (2012) In October 2012, I began making the Tropical Movies, a series of documentaries in which a singular idea fixed in our culture is investigated through a series of interviews, eccentric divagation, and other assorted contexts. The Tropical Movies are shot using a one person lo-fi rig in which the camera is as close to to my head as possible, in an effort to provide the viewer with a faithfully vicarious experience. Tropic One: Comic Convention Tropic One explores the relationship between fandom and commerce at New…read more


Linkrot on Steroids: The Problems with URL Shorteners

Posted by in Linkrot, Twitter

As Simon Owens recently observed, — a service that shortened URLs — is now gone. The links that it once helpfully compressed are now useless. For those who may have passed on a link to a pal, tweeted a particularly helpful article, or otherwise stopped an unruly URL from breaking in two because of a monitor’s constraining width, this metadata means nothing. How long will it be before all the other URL shortening services are about as valuable as a maniac with a fetish for smearing Crisco on random…read more


Ellen Ruppel Shell’s CHEAP — Part Five

Posted by in cheap, Roundtable, ruppel-shell-ellen

(This is the fifth of a five-part roundtable discussion of Ellen Ruppel Shell’s Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture. Other installments: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four.) (A podcast interview with author Ellen Ruppel Shell will follow this afternoon. Thanks to all the roundtable participants for their input, Penguin Press for providing us with the books, and for Ms. Ruppel Shell for her time and generosity.) Erin O’Brien writes: I thought one of the most stunning aspects of our conversation was how emotional many of us…read more

Ellen Ruppel Shell’s CHEAP — Part Two

Posted by in cheap, Roundtable, ruppel-shell-ellen

(This is the second of a five-part roundtable discussion of Ellen Ruppel Shell’s Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture. Other installments: Part One, Part Three, Part Four, and Part Five.) Kathleen Maher writes: I am not quite finished reading Cheap, but I have to admit that I’m finding it more interesting than I expected, seeing that I generally don’t read non-fiction and can’t stand shopping — especially for bargains.   I enjoyed the quick history of American department stores and such trivia as the invention of the price tag.  But…read more

BEA 2009: The Truth About Book Piracy

Posted by in BEA, ebooks, Piracy

At BookExpo America, Wet Asphalt’s Eric Rosenfield entered into a lengthy conversation with Brian O’Leary of Magellan Media. And it became necessary to capture their quasi-caffeinated colloquy for reasons that will soon become apparent. I had seen O’Leary earlier in the year at the “Challenging Notions of Free” panel at Tools of Change, along with O’Reilly’s Mac Slocum and Random House’s director of business development Chelsea Vaughan. O’Reilly and Random House had agreed to participate in a study hoping to pinpoint the effects of P2P distribution — namely, the impact…read more


Tools of Change 2009 — Kevin Smokler

Posted by in tools of change

There will be one last (and extremely lengthy) post that will attempt to corral all of my remaining notes concerning Tools of Change, which will include the above panel that Kevin moderated.


Tools of Change 2009 — Plastic Logic

Posted by in tools of change


Tools of Change: Nick Bilton

Posted by in tools of change

The New York Times may very well be the only newspaper that has an R&D Lab. And as Nick Bilton boasted on Wednesday morning at a keynote address, there don’t appear to be any publishers with an R&D lab either. Bilton had called about ten publishers “just for fun” to see if any of them had an R&D department. The receptionists were baffled. But what Mr. Bilton may not understand — particularly in this publishing environment in which ebooks again represent less than 1% of the market — is that…read more


Tools of Change: Smart Women Read Ebooks

Posted by in tools of change

Panelists: Kassia Kroszer (moderator), Angela James, Malle Valik, Sarah Wendell (For related coverage, you can check out my video interview with Wendell shortly after the panel.) So if you’ve been following these lengthy reports, you’ve probably developed a sense that there is a profound disconnect between the geeks who develop the technology and the readers who imbibe it. Jon Orwant may have talked with readers during his magazine editing days, but is he really doing this to the greatest possible extent now? Do web stats and trends of the moment…read more


Tools of Change: The Rise of Ebooks

Posted by in tools of change, Uncategorized

Panelists: Mark Coker (moderator), Joe Wikert, April Hamilton, David Rothman, Russell Wilcox If I had to compare Tuesday’s panel with Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, I would say this. Claire Danes was superior to April Hamilton. Russ Wilcox, a rather cocky gentleman who spoke like some snobby Yale know-it-all with his head held high and dashed off a number of wild and extravagant and unprovable claims, would be comparable to Nick Stahl. The difference is that Wilcox isn’t living off the grid. Indeed, despite the technological benefits of his…read more


Tools of Change 2009: Sarah Wendell

Posted by in tools of change


Tools of Change: Jon Orwant

Posted by in Google, tools of change

Jon Orwant is a highly confident man. Some might say (and a few certainly did to me) that he is one of the great egotists of our epoch. By his own admission, he is certainly not an amateur. But then when you’re the Engineering Manager for the world’s biggest search engine, and you’re white, and you’re rich, and you’re male, and you’re at a conference with an egregious gender divide in place, and the likes of Tim O’Reilly and Cory Doctorow are there trying to throw a few jabs and…read more


Tools of Change: Bob Stein & Peter Brantley

Posted by in Reading, tools of change

The morning started off with Bob Stein, founder and co-director of The Institute for the Future of the Book. It’s worth pointing out that for thirteen years, Stein worked for The Criterion Company, which he founded. Stein observed that he had always viewed the Criterion discs as items that he published and that this notion of “publishing” arose from a then groundbreaking video in 1980 that depicted the moving image with text on a screen. In Stein’s view, there was a McLuhan-like distinction to be made between user-driven media (books)…read more

Tools of Change: Initial Report

Posted by in Uncategorized

During a morning in which news of layoffs at HarperCollins and the future of BookExpo America was severely reduced in time and topography, here at the Marriott Marquis, Tools of Change rolled on. I appear to be the only guy here wearing a T-shirt, but not the only one nursing a hangover. I’ll have some reports of the panels later in the afternoon. But I can report that the crowds here are largely male, that the recent publishing news has left those attending this conference with their hopes somewhat crestfallen,…read more


Forthcoming Coverage

Posted by in Bat Segundo, New York ComicCon, tools of change

In addition to a rather enormous roundtable discussion that I have in the works here (author and book to be revealed soon), I should note that I’ll also be reporting on New York Comic Con and Tools of Change. There will be a considerable number of podcasts and written reports. Our Correspondent, who does not require alternating current and is somewhat adventurous, will most certainly not be confined to Podcast Alley, expecting people to come to him. Our Correspondent will be considerably more pro-active, walking the floor, and interviewing numerous…read more


Human Smoke — Part Five

Posted by in Baker, Nicholson, Human Smoke, Roundtable

(This concludes our roundtable discussion of Nicholson Baker’s Human Smoke. For previous installments: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four. (Many thanks to Julia Prosser at Simon & Schuster, who was kind enough to go along with this crazy idea; Nicholson Baker, for taking the time out of his busy schedule to reply to these many thoughts; and, of course, to all the participants who offered provocative and interesting insights into the book. If you’d like to discuss the book further, feel free to hash it out in…read more


Echo Maker Roundtable #3

Posted by in Powers, Richard

(This is the third in a five-part roundtable discussion of Richard Powers’ The Echo Maker. Be sure to check out Part One, Part Two, Part Four, and Part Five.) Dan Wickett writes: Like Levi, and it seems Sarah, I’m indebted to Ed and his roundtable idea as I’d not read any Powers before, and now have a small mountain of books I look forward to getting into soon. I think Powers has done a magnificent job, with The Echo Maker, in giving his readers a great deal to think about….read more


Vollmann’s Favorite Books

Posted by in Vollmann, William

Here is a list of the best books that Vollmann has ever read (as reported in “Something to Die For,” The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Summer 1993, Vol 13, Issue 2, p. 25): Tadeusz Konwicki, A Dreambook for Our Time Lady Murasaki, The Tale of Genji Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses Lautreamont, Maldoror Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate Tolstoy, War and Peace Yasunari Kawabata, Snow Country Hemingway, Islands in the Stream The Poetic Edda The tales of Chekhov The tales of Hawthorne Njal’s Saga Sigrid Unset, Kristin Lavransdatter Melville,…read more