Buy this dress

Either you or someone you know needs to own the sophisticated yet whimsical slip mentioned in the final paragraph:

Leontine opened in November on a cobbled lane in the rapidly redeveloping wilds of the South Street Seaport. Down here, foot traffic is minimal, and last week the snow lay crisp along the sidewalks. Perhaps this accounts for the Sleeping Beauty aspect that struck me immediately on stepping into Leontine’s cavernous white chandelier-hung space.

“Yeah, the last couple of months have been pretty cold and lonely,” Virginia Loughnan, a sales assistant, confirmed, drawing her little knitted shrug around her slim shoulders. “But hopefully with the warmer weather. … We’re going to sell fresh-cut flowers.”

Leontine, like its West Village sister stores, Albertine and Claudine (the three are named for the maids in “Bonjour Tristesse”), sells a mix of vintage and contemporary jewelry, accessories and clothing by hard-to-find designers. Cécile, the heroine of “Bonjour Tristesse,” is an indulged and sexually precocious 17-year-old, on the cusp between child and woman, and this is a fitting description of the aesthetic informing most of the clothing on Leontine’s wrought-iron racks.

Miranda Bennett worked in Ms. Lee’s shops before introducing her label, and her sleeveless black moiré slip with a ruffled Empire waist ($400) balanced sweetness with a knowing sophistication.

In New York, go to Leontine, and outside see Miranda Bennett Design. Buy now and nobody gets hurt.

Leading Economists Agree: Net Neutrality does more harm than good

This is good:

Network neutrality is a policy proposal that would regulate how network providers manage and price the use of their networks. Congress has introduced several bills on network neutrality. Proposed legislation generally would mandate that Internet service providers exercise no control over the content that flows over their lines and would bar providers from charging particular services more than others for preferentially faster access to the Internet. These proposals must be considered carefully in light of the underlying economics. Our basic concern is that most proposals aimed at implementing net neutrality are likely to do more harm than good.

Read the whole thing, it’s only three pages long.

The Kathy Sierra flap

I’m not getting this whole Kathy Sierra thing. Apparently, Frank Paynter set up a blog called Mean Kids where people were encouraged to be rude and childish toward various objects of derision, including Sierra, tech writer of some note. Somehow this derision escalated to death threats, and now we have this:

As I type this, I am supposed to be in San Diego, delivering a workshop at the ETech conference. But I’m not. I’m at home, with the doors locked, terrified.

The thing is, something must have happened to bring garden-variety derision to the level of death threats. Did Sierra provoke Paynter’s mob? Why did she become the object of all hatred instead of somebody else? And why is she sitting at home with the door locked?

I’m not saying it’s all OK to post vicious personal attacks on people’s blogs, just that there seem to be a few dozen facts missing from the story, and now that the blog has been taken down, it doesn’t look like we’ll ever get them.

One consequence of this is “Kathy Sierra” has replaced “Cathy Seipp” as the number one search on Technorati. The threat of death must be more compelling than the fact of it.

UPDATE: Kudos to Valleywag for calling “bullshit” on this Sierra mess. Sierra is playing the “misogyny” card against Chris Locke, when all he did was call her a dipshit. And it appears that he was right. Dave Winer is also standing up for Locke, and he’s to be congratulated for that.

See Chris Locke stand up for himself. As I initially suspected, there’s a Wellbert connection to this deal: meankids has the flavor of the Well’s flame conference, and Locke used to be a Wellbert moderator.

In any event, it appears that Sierra is seriously overplaying her hand, and as a result she comes across as a whiny little crybaby. Misogyny is a bad thing, of course, but that doesn’t mean that all women are exempt from all criticism. Locke said Sierra is “a dipshit”, which is neither misogynist nor inaccurate.

Who’s your daddy?

The illustrious Dr. Frank clued me in on the story about the sheep/human chimera, a man-made creature with 15% human genes and 85% sheeply ones. These critters are an experimental stage in the production of an organ-donor pool for sickly humans.

Now from the journal Nature we find that genetic mixing isn’t just for the laboratory, as Mother Nature does it herself with cute little marmosets:

As a general rule, a man who learns that his children are genetically his brother’s offspring would have good cause for distress. But for one group of primates, that wouldn’t necessarily mean that mum has been unfaithful, a new study finds.

The reason, says Corinna Ross of the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, is that these primates are often genetic mosaics containing some cells that belonged to their siblings. And when those cells happen to be sperm, a male can sire offspring that are genetically nephews and nieces rather than sons and daughters.

This strange genetic mixing could be one of the reasons why these animals tend to raise their families in large collectives, with everyone lending a hand; animals are thought to generally give more parental attention to children with a strong genetic similarity to themselves.

Marmosets, you see, are typically born in pairs of non-identical twins who share a common blood supply in the womb. This leads to genetic migration and chimaerism. So any ideas you may have had about impenetrable walls between species and individuals in nature have to be set aside.

The coming bumper-crop of news

My old blogger buddy Jeff Jarvis is trying to figure out what’s happening to the news, and how to inject a little optimism into the business:

This Friday, I’m giving a keynote at the University of Texas International Symposium on Online Journalism. My topic: “The end of the mourning, mewling, and moaning about the future of journalism: Why I’m a cock-eyed optimist about news.” I’d like your help. Tell me why you’re optimistic about news: what we can do now that we couldn’t do before, where you see growth, where you see new opportunities. (I’ll put the spiel up as soon as I figure out how to export Keynote with my notes.)

Here’s what I’d tell the children:

The good news about the news is that there’s no shortage of news. The best experts forecast a nearly boundless supply of news clear into the next century, so the news conservation efforts of the past (recycling, echo-chambering, and other forms of plagiarism) are no longer necessary and will phase out as soon as we have the means to harvest the coming bumper-crop of news.

And things aren’t just rosy on the supply side, they’re looking real good on the demand side. Previous generations of news consumers had to get by on two newsfeeds a day, one before work in the morning and the other after work. Now we can graze and forage on news all day long without becoming over-educated.

The challenge to news harvesters is in the construction of the apparatus that harvests raw news, processes it, and takes it to market. In previous generations, this process was most efficient when centralized in local news factories, but today and tomorrow the process will become more decentralized, sometimes even taking place on consumer premises under the control of news robots which sift, sort, organize, and filter according to consumer preferences. The process of moving these functions from central offices to consumer equipment is just beginning, although we’ve had working prototypes of the news robot for 25 years.

The revenue picture has never been brighter, as each feed is easily supported by multiple sources of ad and subscriber fees.

The key elements are understanding that decentralization is in fact multiple centralization, and that each center of news processing is a potential revenue generator. That’s all I wish to say at the moment, but you can do the math.

And Hook ‘Em.

Until they’re old enough to drive

I’ve always wondered how the Google kids get to work, and now I have my answer:

Google is improving its green credentials by offering all of its employees a free bike to ride to work.

The bikes, manufactured by Raleigh Europe, will be offered to around 2,000 permanent employees of the search engine giant in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. All of the bikes – plus free helmets – will be branded with the Google name.

Holger Meyer, Germany’s first Google employee, came up with the idea and staff will be able to choose from a range of models including a “cool cruiser” – a folding bike for those that only make part of their trip to work under pedal power – and men’s and women’s hybrids.

I hope the bike giveaway isn’t so exciting that it cuts into nap time.

Shoot first, ask questions later

The FCC has issued a “Notice of Inquiry” on net neutrality, a move that allows them to take comments on an issue in order to determine whether there’s any reason to consider new regulations. While you’d think net neutrality advocates would be happy about this, they’re anything but. This move calls their bluff, forcing them to produce real evidence of harm in the operation of the Internet, not just wild speculation and fantasy. Art Brodsky at Public Knowledge has a typical reaction:

“The Commission should recognize that the goal of Net Neutrality is to restore the protections for consumers and content providers that were in effect when the Internet started and which allowed the medium to become what it has today. Simply because telephone and cable companies are on their best behavior today, while the Commission and Congress examine the issue, is no reason to delay action to protect consumers and content providers in the future from the actions of network operators which have said they will split the Internet into a privileged fast lane, and a dirt road for everyone else. Waiting until the network operators have implemented those plans and then trying to regulate after the fact, as some have suggested, will not be effective in protecting consumers and protecting innovation. “

PK wants regulations because they sound good, not because they do good, and how dare the FCC collect data before enacting them!

The NN movement is unraveling as more of the Internet’s thought leaders come down on the “wait and see” side. Britain and Canada have rejected it, and one by one the states are passing video franchising laws without a trace of NN regulation. Microsoft has left the NN coalition, and Google is expressing public doubts about their position. So it’s becoming increasingly obvious that NN is a vanity campaign by a few old farts like Vint Cerf who fear advances in technology and some shrieking by “public interest” corporations who thrive on fear, uncertainty and doubt.

The FCC is doing exactly the right thing, slowing down the train and asking for the facts. And NN advocates know that course of action is deadly, because the one thing they can’t deliver is actual evidence of a problem.

Hanging the monkey

See A monkey hanger’s guide to Net Neutrality:

During the Napoleonic Wars, 1805, legend has it that citizens of Hartlepool tried and hung a monkey … believing it to be a French spy.

Last year, the US Congress almost “hung the monkey”, too.

The piece is both entertaining and informative. Britain’s take on net neutrality: “an answer to problems we don’t have, using a philosophy we don’t share”

Jane Austen meets Bollywood by way of Tollywood

Jane Austen must be the most prolific dead screenwriter. She’s got to be the most widely adapted novelist, as hardly a year goes by without a new adaptation of her principal novels, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Mansfield Park. BBC seems to do the best all-around faithful-to-the-spirit productions, especially if you like Emma Thompson and Emma Woodhouse, but I like the Indian films.

Everybody’s heard of Bride and Prejudice, the adaptation by the director of Bend it Like Beckham starring Aishwarya Rai, one of the world’s great beauties. It’s a genuinely international production, filmed in Amritsar, London, and LA, and more approachable for the Western audience than genuine Bollywood fare on account of being in English and downplaying the singing and dancing. The whole young girl-looking-to-get-hitched thing is more relevant in modern India than it is in the West, but that never has seemed to be the main point of Austen. If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s worth a rental just to see Sayeed from Lost singing and dancing, and it’s good transition to real Bollywood**.

My favorite Austen so far is the Tamil* language (“Tollywood”) film Kandukondein, Kandukondein, loosely based on Sense and Sensibility. It features a young Aishwarya Rai (unfortunately dubbed, which is weird because she’s Kannadan or Telegudian), the great Mollywood star Mamooty, a Malayalee muslim hailing from Vaikom, and some other great studs and goddesses of Indian film. Tamil is close enough to Malayalam that most educated people (what, you didn’t study Malayalam, Hindi, and Sanskrit in college? Poor sap, I did) can understand a good part of the dialog, but there are helpful Inglish subtitles to fill in the gaps. The plot twists are completely implausible, the singing and dancing are outlandish, and the location shoots in Tamilian padi fields, a Scots castle, and at the Pyramids of Geza are over-the-top. Foreign locations aren’t green screen, they’re real, that’s the way they roll in India.

One of the great lines in cinema is uttered by the friend of a would-be director who’s lost his first job and fears he’s washed-up before he’s started: “Don’t worry, you can always do Malayalam or Telegu filems.” I’ll skip the Telegu for now, but I’m going to have to see some of that Mollywood action. The Bollywood stuff is a long way from Satyajit Ray’s Distant Thunder, but that spirit is supposed to be more or less alive in some of the Malu*** films, especially non-subtitled works with Mamooty such as Bhoothakkannadi. It takes a lot of nerve to make a film in a language spoken by fewer than 40 million people without subtitles.

*Note: Tamil, Telegu, Kannada, and Malayalam are South Indian languages, spoken more or less in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala respectively. The South is the more traditional part of India. Bangalore is in Karnataka, and Madras is in Tamil Nadu.

**Bollywood = Bombay (now renamed “Mumbai”)
Mollywood = Kerala
Tollywood = Madras (now “Chennai”)

***Malu = Malayalam speaker (Keralite)