Feeling punky today - the usual post-Christmas let-down coupled with an adverse reaction to an excess of desserts plus a lack of sleep. Hope your day is much better. Not much on the web today - we’re getting to that point in the year where everyone’s busy writing Ten Best lists for the weekend. Anyway:


MEDIA What was Newsweek like in its glory days? Full of drunks, apparently. You’d turn in your copy, it would be edited and laid out, then a senior editor would come back from a three-martooni lunch and tear it all up. But it was great because there was lots of money and no one ever questioned your expense account.

Goldman: Way, way back in the day, Newsweek commissioned the Maysles Brothers, who were famous documentary filmmakers, to do a promotional film for the magazine. They hung out with cameras around the offices, followed the whole editorial process. Toward the end of the film there was a scene of the Wallenda dinner, and the Wallies were just hammered. And they still used the film to promote the magazine. I was astonished.

 Thomas: Eventually they moved the dinners indoors, up to Top of the Week [the Newsweek dining room], as a way of keeping everybody from getting drunk and disappearing into the night.

 Hackett: It was also much cheaper.

 Goldman: Russ Chapell was a Nation writer when I arrived in ‘62, not long pre-Graham. He was the best newsmagazine writer I think I’ve ever known. He told me something early in my career. “This is a great job,” he said. “You can do it drunk.” And a lot of Newsweek people did.

It’s a look at the lost culture of the “Mad Men” era, and your liver hurts just reading about it. Reminds me of my first few months working in DC, before Deborah Howell shook up the newsroom culture; some reporters would go to lunch, come back hammered, and type a few words before giving up for the rest of the day.


TECH Heaven forfend a moment goes uninterrupted by the sudden intrusion of a text: here’s a watch that relays your iPhone alerts.

After only a few days of use, it quickly became clear that a smart watch would change how we use our smartphones. Almost immediately, the annoying habit of needing to incessantly pull the phone out of your pocket faded away. Granted, that ritual found itself instead replaced by looking at the watch.

Granted. If it brings back watches, that’s not bad thing. Right now when I take out my phone to check the time, I feel like it’s the 19th century, and I’m pulling out a timepiece on gold chain.

 The next step will be a smart earpiece that talks to your smart watch, which talks to your smart phone.

Then there’s this: you may have read the dire stories about Snapchat, which supposedly encourages sexting because its pictures self-destruct quickly. TechCrunch looked at the stories and the authors and the facts, and wrote:

There are two conclusions we can make. The first is that the same folks who serve you a round of tech news with your morning coffee and bagel are also in a Snapchat sexting ring. The second option is that the very same people who have repeatedly assumed that Snapchat is for sexting, and propagated that myth, don’t use Snapchat for sexting at all.

The idea that the self-destructing photo can’t be captured just means that some people will try very hard to work around it. This may bring back cameras, which have seen their popularity wither due to smart phones. In a year, then, the really hip people will have watches and cameras in addition to their smartphones. This will require fanny packs, but don’t worry: at first they will be used ironically in Brooklyn, and then Urban Outfitters will sell them as semi-ironic trend objects. Full-scale re-adaptation will continue nation-wide through 2015.


ART Some interesting “vintage” Radio Times seasonal covers. Another nice find from Brain Pickings, which has an unfortunate tendency to call everything “Stunning.” I mean, these are nice, but I'm not sitting here with my ears ringing, unable for form  coherent thoughs. 


TOASTY WARM From Smoko, purveyors of cute toast in many forms - really, they make USB sticks and pillows - comes heated typing gloves.


Put that down for next year’s gift list.


MOVIESThe list of rules for hacking movies. This is correct:

Hacking scenes will involve psychedelic user interfaces that look like something out of an early 1990s music video. Remember, hackers never use command lines. That is boring.

True. But the word “psychedelic” isn’t apt. Most movie that involve hacking usually feature some government GUI, which always has a shield and looks Official with lots of bevel-edge buttons. It’s never a standard prompt.


The list omits the cliche of every hacking movie: hacking is accomplished by typing very fast, and the success of the rapid typing is verified when the hacker says “we’re in.” Otherwise it is not a hacking movie.

Alright, I'm done. Time for another glug of Pepto-Bismol. Straight from the bottle.