March 9th, 2009

new york

Weekend Report: Kindles, candied baby crabs, and Japanese underwear

I was invited to a dinner party this weekend by my friends Kaz and George, who I was introduced to by LJ buds Mark/bikerbearmark and John/subwoofr (who have since forsaken LJ for the brevity of twitter). They live in a lovely two-floor penthouse in a Hell’s Kitchen walk-up, partially in the Japanese style, so check your boots at the door.

They’re both serious techie bears with every shiny device known to man, including every version of Sony’s Reader and Amazon’s Kindle which got pulled out to compare, so it was fun to get to handle and explore the latest Kindle, which is kinda cool but not for late-adopter me, at least until it becomes a lot more multifunctional, smarter, and with a color display (the b&w is fine if you’re a heavy reader of books, but most of the magazines I read are well illustrated). So get back to me with the MaxiKindle3000 in 2014 or so. I’d probably feel differently if I had a longer commute, but right now I’m 25 minutes door-to-door, and 40 minutes if I walk it, which I do in the spring and fall.

The menu was eclectic and delicious. We started with some great versions of Greek/Mediterranean appetizers, then moved on to a Korean hot pot, the spiciness of which I think helped drive some of my cold demons away. The side salads were Japanese, one was cucumber shaved paper-thin, marinated in gin, and tossed with crushed wasabi peas. The other had strange Japanese “mountain vegetables” – one of which, sliced, looked disturbingly like Dr. Scholl’s Corn Pads – that no one could identify by name, with enoki mushrooms and garnished with quail eggs and (winner of the strangest ingredient of the evening) croutons of candied whole baby crabs. With this we consumed several bottles of wine (my contribution), and finished with an American chocolate cake with buttercream frosting.

Kaz, a veteran of 13 years with Microsoft, had some hilarious stories about and even impersonations of Bill Gates, who he had given several presentations to in his tenure there. The conversation was wide-ranging on all sorts of subjects, including show-and-tells about the merits of Japanese underwear, and a comparison of different lockable ball weights.

It was a delightful evening. My current apartment reached critical mass several years ago with about 5,000 books and too much other media (and I won’t say too many boots and too much gear, but they do take up a lot of room). My next apartment will be large enough to be able to entertain in again.

roz - I'm watching you!

May I take your… SVASTIKA?!

It always burns my biscuits when the Nazis at Photobucket decide to censor one of my images. (It also compels me to repost them, as I’ve done here.) Mostly because you get no warning, and unless you’ve given the photo a very specific name, you have no idea what photo so offended them – it’s just wiped out, gone. I have to do a hunt and search through my Live Journal postings, and since I tend to dump all of my photos for a given year in the same folder, that sometimes nears being an impossibility. Thankfully, the year’s only nine weeks old, so I was able to figure out which one it was.

This image was included in a post regarding the character and costume design for the movie Watchmen (as photographed by Clay Enos for a coffee-table book tie-in merchandise). I have to say I didn’t even see this character in the movie – apparently the Axis powers had a “crimefighting hero” during WWII, too – he probably appeared extremely briefly in the opening montage of historical photos and film clips. I suspect the fetishization of the uniform (including some impressive junk) made it all the more offensive to the Pb censors.

There are many other swastikas if you search for that word at Photobucket (including an aspiring racist flipping off the camera with his ink marker tattoo – and apparently it’s just fine to use the epithet “faggot” anywhere you want on Photobucket), but they’re mostly just the symbol by itself (including many of the sacred “reversed” one), devoid of any historical or personal context. “nazi uniform” will give you only 24 images out of their seven billion, most of them well grounded in historical context, although one girl-on-girl action fetish shot has eluded the delete key so far.

For the record, Photobucket’s 14-page Terms of Use “Agreement” includes the following prohibitions:

Photobucket may reject, refuse to post or delete any Content for any or no reason, including Content that in the sole judgment of Photobucket violates this Agreement or which may be offensive, illegal or violate the rights of any person or entity, or harm or threaten the safety of any person or entity.... on both free and PRO accounts, and regardless of whether the Content is public or private, Photobucket may choose to monitor such Content at any time, in its sole discretion.

The following are examples of the kind of Content that is illegal or prohibited to post on or through the Photobucket Services. Photobucket reserves the right to investigate and take appropriate legal action against anyone who, in Photobucket's sole discretion, violates this provision, including without limitation, removing the offending Content from the Photobucket Services and terminating the Membership of such violators. Prohibited Content includes, but is not limited to, Content that, in the sole discretion of Photobucket:

8.1 is patently offensive or promotes racism, bigotry, hatred or physical harm of any kind against any group or individual;
8.2 harasses or advocates harassment of another person;
8.3 exploits people in a sexual or violent manner;
8.4 contains nudity, excessive violence, or offensive subject matter or contains a link to an adult website;
8.5 solicits personal information from anyone under 18;
8.6 publicly posts information that poses or creates a privacy or security risk to any person;
8.7 constitutes or promotes information that you know is false or misleading or promotes illegal activities or conduct that is abusive, threatening, obscene, defamatory or libelous;
8.8 constitutes or promotes an illegal or unauthorized copy of another person’s copyrighted work;
8.9 involves the transmission of "junk mail," "chain letters," or unsolicited mass mailing, instant messaging, "spimming," or "spamming";
8.10 contains restricted or password only access pages or hidden pages or images (those not linked to or from another accessible page);
8.11 furthers or promotes any criminal activity or enterprise or provides instructional information about illegal activities including, but not limited to making or buying illegal weapons, violating someone's privacy, or providing or creating computer viruses;
8.12 solicits passwords or personal identifying information for commercial or unlawful purposes from other Users;
8.13 involves commercial activities and/or sales without prior written consent from Photobucket such as contests, sweepstakes, barter, advertising, or pyramid schemes;
8.14 includes a photograph or video of another person that you have posted without that person's consent; or
8.15 violates the privacy rights, publicity rights, defamation rights, copyrights, trademark rights, contract rights or any other rights of any person.

The following are examples of the kind of activity that is illegal or prohibited on the Site and through the use of the Photobucket Services. Photobucket reserves the right to investigate and take appropriate legal action against anyone who, in Photobucket's sole discretion, violates this provision, including without limitation, reporting you to law enforcement authorities. Prohibited activity includes, but is not limited to:

8.16 criminal or tortious activity, including child pornography or erotica, fraud, trafficking in obscene material, drug dealing, gambling, harassment, stalking, spamming, spimming, "pyramid scemes," Ponzi schemes, sending of viruses or other harmful files, copyright infringement, patent infringement, or theft of trade secrets;