Evil Hateful Linguistic Trend Of Doom

My number one language irritation of 2007 isn’t vowel-less or cutsey bottom-of-the-barrel names of dubious Web 2.x sites. It’s not even moldy old hipsterspeak of “so-and-so’s joint” and “pimped out whatevers.” It’s the trend of adding “-ity” or “-ty” suffixes to words that are already nouns instead of the legitimate use of making nouns from adjectives. For example, “sharity” or “digesty.”

Are you responsible for any of this? If so, please feel free to kill yourself now. Don’t stop to overthink – just take a running start down the hallway and throw yourself out the window.

Biometric uselessness and security theater

Lorna of Lornamatic attempted to purchase a new BMW and encountered a Catch-22 of identity uselessness and privacy holes. She was requested to submit a thumbprint along with copies of her personal data, but none of it is checked for validity – just thrown into a box apparently. She canceled the deal and walked away, but wasn’t able to have her personal data returned (even though no valid contract was signed).

See also: security theater

96 year old mobster pleads guilty

The old mafioso stereotype is Vincent Gigante who spent his later years wandering around Greenwich Village in his pajamas and mumbling to himself. At least supposedly. At 96, Albert Facchiano is still threatening witnesses

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky and Carlo Gambino are long gone. Murder Inc. is out of business. Las Vegas has been so cleaned up it resembles Disneyland. And Havana? Forget about it since Castro took over. But Albert “Chinky” Facchiano, at 96, is still standing. And like Michael Corleone in “The Godfather III,” he is still very much involved in the family business, according to the FBI.

At an age when most people are long retired and happy just to be alive, the reputed mobster was indicted earlier this year in Florida and New York. He is accused of trying to intimidate and possibly kill a witness against the powerful the Genovese family of New York in 2005. He is also accused of helping to run the rackets in Florida.

Charles “Lucky” Luciano convicted of vice charges, is leaving court on June 18, 1936 handcuffed to two detectives after a hearing in New York. Luciano, Meyer Lansky and Carlo Gambino are long gone. Murder Inc. is out of business. But Albert “Chinky” Facchiano, at 96, is still standing and is still very much involved in the family business, according to the FBI. At an age when most people are long retired and happy just to be alive, the reputed mobster was indicted earlier this year in Florida and New York. He is accused, among other things, of trying to intimidate and possibly kill a witness against the powerful the Genovese family of New York in 2005.

It was unclear whether Facchiano intended to break legs with his own gnarled, 96-year-old hands.

He was a boy when Arnold Rothstein supposedly fixed the 1919 World Series. He was a young man during the Depression when he took his first arrest. He was entering middle age during La Cosa Nostra’s go-go years in the 1940s and ’50s, when the Mafia skimmed its share of America’s postwar prosperity. And he was a senior citizen in the 1980s and ’90s when John Gotti and other bosses were taken down by the FBI.

Couple weeks ago he pled guilty

According to prosecutors, Facchiano supervised associates who committed robberies, money laundering, bank fraud and possessed stolen property from 1994 to 2006.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of 30-years in prison and $500,000 in fines, but under the plea agreement, prosecutors recommended Facchiano serve house arrest.

Prosecutors, defense lawyers and Mafia experts have said they can’t remember anyone that age facing crimes committed so recently.

“Is your mind OK?” Cohn asked Fracchiano, who will be 97 on March 10, in court at one point, a question Facchiano appeared to have trouble hearing.

“Oh, yes,” he eventually responded. “I can’t hear, but I can understand, your honor.”

alt.coffee closed

I’m a little sad, but not altogether surprised to hear that alt.coffee is closing. The past year has been pretty brutal on places that cater to the margins of NYC and alt.coffee was about as marginal as you can get. The coffee wasn’t particularly great (strong though!), it was too crowded with Avenue A weirdos, and the wireless was impacted from all the bandwidth leeching, but there was a anarchic charm about the place that I liked. If you squinted your eyes a bit the place resembled something out of a late 80s cyberpunk novel, even if the reality was more like that Daria episode. Still alt.coffee was the only place I’ve encountered that had public access Linux boxes. No great surprise that it was my default NYC office for awhile.

Apparently alt.coffee will re-open as Hopscotch, “a café tailored to the needs of children and families.” I have nothing to say to that.

Things going on while I was reconfiguring the server


The only thing missing from the surveillance video of the SUV driver crashing through an Augusta mall is the Blues Brothers soundtrack. Bonus points to the deputy sheriff who barely keeps from laughing during his interview.

The state of air travel…

Passing through the Zurich (ZRH) airport is like being in a photo shoot for Nokia advertisements. Neutral blue-grey color scheme with a touch of red from the Swiss souvenir shops, well-dressed travelers quietly having a coffee before boarding and in true Enoian spirit there is background music but from a completely indiscernible source. Arriving back at the squalid LAX Bradley terminal after such a great experience is the real culture clash of traveling: missing ceiling panels, dirty carpeting, ambient garbage, and long lines.

Security control at LAX encapsulates everything that is wrong with the State Of Things. TSA isn’t secure at all, but a grown-up version of junior high school hall monitors with guns and just enough humiliation to avoid class-action lawsuits. Several hundred people are lined up to pass through the two passport checkpoints that are open. One guy efficiently does his job, the second takes five times as long and several more watch the proceedings. No one suggests opening up another checkpoint to process more people. At the baggage claim, a TSA guy has his dog sniff at four suitcases only before taking off – ignoring everything else on the carousel. During a delay in processing baggage, a TSA staffer announces to the 40-odd people left waiting that “all baggage has been off-loaded and to see your airline’s lost luggage counter if you don’t have your bag.” It was just a delay and the remaining baggage did show up but her announcement (whether it was a deliberate lie or callous incompetence) upset a few people.

Not surprisingly, international airlines are taking their business elsewhere and in true SoCal-strength NIMBYism, the locals could care less if the $4 billion of international visitor dollars disappears.

Symbolic perhaps that a chunk of the Theme Building collapsed. At least it’s being repaired.

Think that the retail record business is several turns into it’s final death spiral? Think again.

Jose Jimenez scanned the rows of CDs, whose covers mainly pictured men dressed in cowboy hats and Western-style shirts open at the collar.

Jimenez, who is from Mexico, was in a Latin record shop in the New York City borough of Queens. He was searching for the latest from a Mexican band whose forte is accordion- and polka-based music that relates sometimes-true stories about drug trafficking and its social ills. He had recently seen the band play on a Spanish-language television show.

“You listen to the music and start to believe you’re back in your country,” the 36-year-old said, adding that the lyrics speak about what is going on in Mexico these days.

For many Latin Americans like Jimenez, the source for their music – a cultural bridge between their lives in the U.S. and their homelands – is the neighborhood Latin record shop. These stores have proliferated in New York’s immigrant neighborhoods in recent years and have survived even as the retail music industry that caters to English speakers faces grim prospects.

[via Everyday Literacies]

Asinine painter and Stepford Village Idiot, Thomas Kinkade inspires a holiday movie. No word if the movie will include Kinkade’s values such as fraud, alcoholism, and public urination.

Sedition Books in Houston burns to the ground in an apparent arson attack. Houston police blame the victims telling them “if you get too extreme like this, this is what happens” and “if you do this again somewhere else, this kind of stuff is just gonna follow you…”

Without A Park To Range succinctly sums up my mixed feelings about the Hualapa’s skywalk over the Grand Canyon and resulting criticism.

I’m a bit fed up with criticism of the Hualapa’s effort to save their lives. Most condemnation reeks of Anglo racism at worst and misplaced white paternalism at best. One comment on Kurt’s piece really got me going.

“The architects of the El Tovar and the other buildings at the South Rim kept the buildings aesthetically in line with the canyon.”

What a load of crap. The Market Plaza at the South Rim is the size of a K-Mart. Why do we need such a big store in a National Park?

“The facilities the National Park Service built at the Grand Canyon are, for the most part, necessary in order for people to visit the canyon.”

Again I need my hip waders. John Wesley Powell and early travelers didn’t need a city on the South Rim to sustain them. Nor did Clarence Dutton or John Muir or Teddy Roosevelt, who expressed his wish that it remain pristine for future generations.

Today, the Canyon is anything but pristine with houses and pay phones at Phantom Ranch, a water pipeline across the canyon, a bank, an ATM, 11 restaurants, an auto mechanic shop, Internet access, a kennel, a medical clinic, a post office, gas stations, gift shops, six lodges with almost 1000 rooms. There are 228 miles of roads and 1143 buildings. This isn’t “necessary”. It’s excessive and it’s impossible to find solitude on the South Rim.

So back off the Hualapai! I’m fed up with this racist double standard. After everything the US government has done to native peoples, how dare you smugly anticipate the financial failure of their tribe!

My prediction: the skywalk will be out of business within three years. The controversy then will be people screaming at the government on how to best dismantle it, but not before the CLUI installs a guerilla photo exhibit.


The Ford Cortina from Life On Mars is being auctioned off for charity and if I lived in the UK I would totally bid on it. Meanwhile, I patiently await the next episode.

And finally, two lesser-known conflicts going on in the world…

1. Armani attacks Savile Row, dismissing the traditional home of menswear as “a bad English comedy.”

2. Rock & Roll versus “Shadowy Russian Business Interests” in a war to control the factory that supplies two-thirds of the world’s vacuum tubes for amplifiers.

Breaking radio silence

Auto-posted del.icio.us links are the new way to say “hello I’m here, but I’m busy at the moment.” Think of them as the blog equivalent of on-hold background music.

Anyway, I can’t be the first person to think that last night’s story of a potential attack (sorry, CYBERATTACK) on the financial networks is a trial balloon to obscure a legitimate market downturn. Guess that’s just par for the course these days.

A selection of recent headlines

Make up your own “Author X meets Cultural Critic Y” combinations here, because things are just too strange…

These “Warning Signs for Tomorrow” might be a little more urgent and key now: