In a scene reminiscent of the Cartoon Network bomb scare that paralyzed the Boston area in January, police shut down a strip mall yesterday in this small western suburb after employees at a Bank of America branch mistook a botched fax for a bomb threat.
Frustrated shop owners said the branch overreacted to the strange fax, which turned out to be an in-house marketing document sent by the bank’s corporate office.
“The women at the bank should have handled it a little better,” said Nick Markos, owner of Townhouse Pizza and Roast Beef, who estimated that he had lost $1,000 to $1,200 because of the lunch-hour evacuation. “She blew it all out of proportion, and all of us business owners had to pay for it.”
America has become a country of sissies, so easy to scare it’s just funny. And since so many politicians base their campaigns on fear, I don’t expect the stream of news like the above to end anytime soon.
A few years ago, my folks and I were at the Tate Modern in London when they bought me what remains one of the best books I own: A heavy, four-inch thick Magnum Photos retrospective, full of more than a thousand of the best photographs of the last half-century. It’s without question one of those few books I plan on carrying with me from apartment to apartment, one that will always be spared the clutches of eBay when it’s time to choose what stays and goes.
That’s why it’s great to hear that Magnum Photos turns 60 this year. The cooperative is behind some of the most iconic photographs the world has seen: a lone dissident staring down tanks in Tiananmen; Brooklynites watching the towers burn on 9/11; and the portrait of the Afghan girl with the haunting eyes that might just be one of the most famous images in the world. But they do the mundane just as well as they do the momentous. Magnum’s photographers have managed to catch world leaders in moments of repose, but their shots of ordinary life are just as powerful.
Early this month, 18-year-old Allison Stokke walked into her high school track coach’s office and asked if he knew any reliable media consultants. Stokke had tired of constant phone calls, of relentless Internet attention, of interview requests from Boston to Brazil.
In her high school track and field career, Stokke had won a 2004 California state pole vaulting title, broken five national records and earned a scholarship to the University of California, yet only track devotees had noticed. Then, in early May, she received e-mails from friends who warned that a year-old picture of Stokke idly adjusting her hair at a track meet in New York had been plastered across the Internet. She had more than 1,000 new messages on her MySpace page. A three-minute video of Stokke standing against a wall and analyzing her performance at another meet had been posted on YouTube and viewed 150,000 times.
“I just want to find some way to get this all under control,” Stokke told her coach.
Three weeks later, Stokke has decided that control is essentially beyond her grasp. Instead, she said, she has learned a distressing lesson in the unruly momentum of the Internet. A fan on a Cal football message board posted a picture of the attractive, athletic pole vaulter. A popular sports blogger in New York found the picture and posted it on his site. Dozens of other bloggers picked up the same image and spread it. Within days, hundreds of thousands of Internet users had searched for Stokke’s picture and leered.
This is the picture that all the ruckus is about:
And I cannot comment better than this one on metafilter:
Know what? Everybody’s right — the picture is great. She’s strong, toned, and given her record, obviously a sports achiever to admire. I’m sure many of us wish there existed as powerful and beautiful an image of ourselves. It’s a very fine photo of an athlete in the prime of her powers.
Wouldn’t it be nice if it stopped there? Wouldn’t it be nice if she could look back on her years of (most likely) getting up at all hours of the morning for workouts, spending her afterschool time and weekends at meets while friends her age were working and partying, spending her disposable income on gear and travel, staying up late not to chat on the phone but to finish her homework so she would be ready for the same routine the next day, and all while being thought of as a strong, beautiful student athlete, rather than as eye candy for a bunch of lazy slobs sitting around drooling over the internet? It’s not her complaint that’s out of line, it’s our collective cultural bias toward sexualizing the public female image.
I’m quite serious. No one is saying the woman isn’t good-looking — just that she didn’t seek attention as a sex symbol. She sought attention for excelling at a difficult sport, and I agree that she worked hard for it. Sorry to rain on the irony party, but this IS what it’s like for a girl: no matter how good you are at what you do, you can never escape judgement, one way or the other, for the reaction of men to your physical appearance.
It’s tiresome. I don’t blame her (or her parents) for reacting as she did; I’m only sorry that it seems most men have to have daughters before the existence of this phenomenon starts to dawn on them.
Processing keys can be used to make software that allows users to make unapproved uses of their HD-DVDs, like backing them up, playing them on GNU/Linux systems, and running them on mobile and handheld devices like iPods. The movie studios use the AACS scrambling system to prevent these uses, preferring to ban some of these uses and attach pricetags to others.
The last processing key leak created an Internet firestorm when the AACS licensing authority sent hundreds of legal threats to sites that published the key. The strategy backfired: within days, more than a million pages had published the key, ensuring that more people knew how to break HD-DVD players than owned the devices.
AACS has the capacity to “revoke” a processing key. When they do this, all HD-DVD players are unable to play new discs unless they get an update (woe betide you if your DVD player is on your boat, in your cottage, or at your grandparents’ place where there is no Internet access). The big question is whether the AACS can revoke keys faster than hackers can extract them.
It’s a race. AACS is losing.
Six days before the revocation of the original processing key, a company in the Caribbean updated its DVD-ripping software with a new key. Apparently, they had broken this key long in advance and held it close to their chest, awaiting a revocation event. The revocation was nullified before it even took effect.
Doom9’s new key was released yesterday — it’s unclear whether it’s the same key — and it already appears on more than 244,000 pages. I’m betting that this breaks a million by Friday.
AT&T feels it worthwhile to drum up anticipation in the few weeks ahead of the iPhone’s release, the company’s COO (and future CEO) Randall Stephenson said at a conference today. The executive was convinced that the Apple device would be a “game changer” for the cellphone business and make many customers — and operators — rethink their approach to phones. Many casual users were now more receptive to smartphones and other multi-purpose devices than they were in the past, Stephenson said, which reportedly merited far more publicity and praise than had already been given so far.
“I don’t know what your expectations are for the iPhone, but I would tell you they’re probably too low at this point,” he claimed.
Every single company that builds phones, on every event where the press could ask questions about new products, the first question always was “how does it compete with the iPhone”. Check google for people who wrote webpages “why I will (not) buy an iPhone”. Everybody has been talking about it non-stop since januari,and this guy thinks expectations have been too low?
I guess I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue…