Thursday, March 31, 2005
ABC's new drama, EYES, on Wed night following Alias and Lost, is pretty good. Tim Daly plays an attractive character, Harlan Judd (bad name -- it works for the Judd's not for him -- it's the weakest link in the show). He's a private eye (duh). And of course he's short of money, on the edge of the law, and has an office that looks like it cost a billion dollars.
There's intrigue, interpersonal dynamics, and a pretty good plot -- actually several interesting plots in the same show. One theft and one case of intimidation were wrapped up. One threat to the future of the firm (actually two to start with, but they turned out to be related) were forestalled. And one big issue (involving at least four characters) was left hanging. That's a nice mix for one night.
It hasn't got the imagination or action of Alias, nor the thrust of NYPD Blue, nor the hokey hook of Blind Justice. But it looks like it's got style and interesting stories. I'm rootin' for it.
Friday, March 25, 2005
"Office" is terrible. It's not funny. It's not pleasant. The writing is limp. The characters are not likable. The actors are not likable. The show is not likable.
Some will try to blame the failure of people to "get it" on the difficulty of transporting successful British humor to America. Nonsense. If an American show (transported or not) is very, very good, it works. If it aint it dont.
"All in the Family" -- with a bigot at the center -- worked. Great writing. Great acting.
"Dilbert" -- a comic strip about bad office behavior -- was usually very funny. Great jokes.
"Best In Show" was a very likable movie with characters that were off, but very funny, and the film had something of the spirit that Office seems to be trying for. Great characters. Great acting. Very likable.
In the show, the Office is threatened with downsizing. Unless they shape up, it may happen sooner than they think.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
LIFE AND DEATH ISSUES
I feel very badly about Terri Schiavo. I believe in life. I think death is terrible.
I am not a lawyer and I am not a doctor. Still, I see insects that seem capable of feeling pain, and try to avoid death, and I find it hard to believe that Terri is not still capable of suffering as she starves, no matter how badly her brain has been damaged.
I think the people who are trying to save Terri's life are doing the right thing -- parents and politicians both.
I do not like abortion, though it seems worse to make it illegal. Yet, I would like to see other alternatives made as attractive as possible to pregnant women who do not want a baby.
I find it difficult to identify any good reason why the same politicians (more or less) who are fighting so hard to prevent abortion and support Terri and her parents are the ones who support guns and favor the death penalty.
As we have seen again, so recently, in yet another school, easily available guns result in the deaths of innocent people. And many people, unable to defend themselves adequately in court, or even innocent, have been killed by legal execution through the death penalty. I should think that the right to life, and the belief in life should extend to every one, and apply to each of these issues.
My best wishes to Terri, and my condolences to her parents.
Friday, March 18, 2005
NPR ON LANCET ON AIDS MUTATIONS
National Public Radio (NPR) (All Things Considered) today did a story on the publication in the journal The Lancet (note that registration is required for access to Lancet content) describing more information about the mutated AIDS virus that we reported on earlier ( 2005-02-12 -- AIDS - Deadly Mutation Found In NYC Patient).
Researchers found from the DNA of the virus that it has both raised defenses against almost all the current medications, and has developed a more aggressive attack, targeting more cells more easily than other known AIDS viruses. It is not known whether the patient had genetic factors that made him more vulnerable.
It was also found that the virus did not mutate in the patient. He caught the virus from some other contact.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
VERY IMPORTANT CONFERENCES: PC FORUM
PC Forum, this year beginning on March 20, is an extremely interesting and important conference.
While QPORIT, this blog, is a collection of random PREVIEWS, PC Forum and the newsletter, Release 1.0, both created by Esther Dyson, are very systematic investigations of the most important developments in the business of high-tech, at the earliest stages.
The conference, PC Forum, brings together many of the most important executives running big companies, deserving entrepreneurs starting new companies, technology and business reporters from big newspapers and magazines, analysts from big investment companies, some other very clued-in people, and a few others.
On the idlewords blog, there is an impression of last year's conference by a first time visitor.
In the early 90's, at PC Forum, I talked with Bill Gates and Paul Allen, had dinner with a co-founder of AOL who sent me a draft of AOL's IPO prospectus, and heard several talks about how important the Internet was going to be, shortly before it hatched from its academic, non-commercial embryonic stage. That is the nature of PC Forum.
Speakers scheduled for this year's conference, starting this Sunday, include,
John Seely Brown, -- Visiting Scholar, USC Annenberg School for Communcation
Scott Charney -- VP, Trustworthy Computing, Microsoft
Jeff Hawkins -- Chairman & Executive Director, Redwood Neuroscience Institute
Bruce Holmes -- Director, Strategic Partnerships, Planning and Management, NASA Langley Research Center
Kim Polese -- President & CEO, SpikeSource
Ann Livermore -- Executive VP, Technology Solutions Group, Hewlett-Packard, and
Jerry Yang -- Co-founder, Director & Chief Yahoo, Yahoo!
There are many more speakers, and many more people to meet -- in the past, around 500 or so of the most interesting people in the world, in the world of high-tech!
Extra note: The edventure web site (EDVENTURE is the parent company of PC FORUM and Release 1.0), in addition to information about PC Forum and abstracts from Release 1.0, contains an excellent calendar of other high tech events.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
BENEFIT WITH JASON J
Pop singer/lyricist Jason J. will be performing a few of his club hits "Here I am", "Emotions", "Just One" and more in honor of "The Lymphoma & Leukemia Society"
Thursday March 24th @ Desmonds - 433 Park Ave South btwn 29th and 30th 11pm.
It’s free to attend, and with any donation you’ll receive a complimentary copy of Jason J’s latest CD.
"Great music, drinks and fun. See you and your friends there and thank you in advance." -- Jason J
Check it out, and take a look at Jason J's web site, www.jasonj.biz . It's got some nice features, and he's got the strong diversified resume of a coming talent.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
IMPORTANT MEETINGS: THE LEARNING ANNEX & BLOGGING
The Learning Annex (TLA) is the most ubiquitous, valuable, entertaining popular non-academic learning institution in the country. It is completely democratic, with flyers everywhere, a convenient website, well-taught classes, and low prices.
Today, Wednesday, there will be a talk on blogging. I'm looking forward to it.
I had the opportunity to meet Bill Zanker, the founder and head of TLA, a while back. He founded TLA 25 years ago, lost control of it because of financial problems, and then managed to regain the leadership of his baby (... now quite a young adult, actually). I believe he is a man who loves to bring education to everyone. He is enthusastic, energetic, and especially optimistic... a real entrepreneur.
I've taken many classes at TLA and they have almost all been both useful and interesting. And the most recent ones have been among the best.
There is a huge variety of "how to's" and other topics, about all the things you'd like to know how to do. And they run in 15 cities in the US and Canada, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
My impression is that TLA is getting bigger and better every year.
Monday, March 14, 2005
inteem! Corp (QPORIT'S PARENT) WEB SITES UPDATED
Today we went live with major updates to inteem! Corp websites.
inteem! Corp is the parent of this blog. (INTEEM is an acronym for INTeractive Entertainment Education and Marketing). inteem's home site is
We also went live with the site for HOW TO PREDICT THE FUTURE -- AN EVENING OF SCIENCE THEATER. That site is
The contact e-mail address for HOW TO PREDICT THE FUTURE is
HTPtheFUTURE @ aol.com.
Two projects that use Flash with audio have also been updated.
1- A Valentine's Day performance of classic love poetry is available online at
2- A seminar on information architecture is available online, with a link from the inteem portfolio at
Please check out these sites. If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or corrections for anything you find, please e-mail them to
qporit @ aol.com.
Saturday, March 12, 2005
FRENCH FILMS IN NEW YORK
There are currently two festivals of French films in New York. The first, by the Film Society of Lincoln Center at the Walter Reade Theater, was the subject of a detailed article in the New York Times on Friday, (3/11). The other is sponsored by the Alliance Francaise. (Both venues, of course, show other French films occasionally from time to time.)
French cinema -- actually all non-English language film -- is very different in its style, pacing, concerns, approach to life, aesthetic, rhythms and structure from the movies we usually see in the theater, on television, and on DVD's.
It can be quite disorienting as well as enriching to be immersed in a different world. Anyone interested in a surprisingly powerful new experience might try going -- not to just the occasional foreign film -- but to try visiting a festival and watching a series of films back to back. It can be something to remember for the rest of your life.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
CBS EVENING NEWS AND SOCIAL SECURITY IN CHILE
Tonight was Bob Schieffer's first on the CBS Evening News. I liked the news report, centered on hard and interesting news, compartmentalized by specific reports from reporters, each seemingly in control of their own story.
Very interesting was a report by Trish Regan on Social Security in Chile. Formerly a business and technology reporter for Bloomberg and Marketwatch, she provided what seemed an evenhanded and knowledgeable report. It is rare in this country to see any report on anything in a foreign country that does not involve war or scandal. A report like this is to be treasured.
The report, however, as titled by the graphic, described the system as a "success," which is not how I understood the story.
First of all, like so many news reports, the segment consisted almost entirely of anecdotal information. That is, the reporter talked to people who liked and did not like the system. From that information there is absolutely no way to make a serious judgement on the success of the system. Way, way too much of TV news about serious issues consists of anecdotal information -- information that is not really precise enough to contribute anything more than a basic concept of some points of view about the topic.
Secondly, in the report itself, the information we get from the anecdotes is that the system worked great for people who are well off and put money into private accounts that grew in average ("average" means some did better, some (possibly much) worse) 10% per year. However, for much of the economy, for self-employed and poorly paid workers, the system did not work well at all.
Since the whole point of Social Security is Security, it seems to me the test of a Social Security system is not how well it does for people who are doing well, but how well it works for the people who are doing the worst.
On that test, based on the report itself, the suggestion from the graphic that the system is a "success" seems dubious.
All in all, I was impressed by the whole show. I've usually been watching ABC Evening News because I like their style. But lately I've been wondering if there was too much of the show devoted to "softer" and less interesting news. I think I'll watch CBS Evening News more often now.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Blind Justice, which premiered on ABC last night, suffered from overexposure caused by excessive promos. I felt I had seen the whole show long before I tuned in.
It turned out that I did, in fact, know almost everything about the show except the plot.
Many mystery plots have the following structure: (1) find clue and realize whom to interview; (2) interview suspect and [continue with (1) and repeat].
This show, though it is interesting to watch, and Ron Eldard, who plays the main character, Jim Dunbar, is very good, still suffered from three problems in the first episode, which the show is going to have to overcome, I think, if it going to succeed. First, too many of the clues depended on the blind man's acute sense of smell, sound, touch, empathy, etc. (ie the writers were trying too hard to empower his blindness), and that will get old, fast. Second, too many of the "realizations" were quite astonishing leaps of detective-atorial brilliance (ie they were unbelievable). And finally, the relationships between the characters will have to become complex enough that there is more to watch in the actual show than is aready evident in the promos.
Despite all that, I have an interest in the characters, and I'd like to see more of them. I'm hoping that the writers will find ways to make their lives and cases more and more interesting in the weeks to come.
Sunday, March 06, 2005
THE WILD CHILD PRESENTS THE LOONY BIN
The Wild Child, a new theater group co-founded by Hannah Wolfe and Chance Parker is presenting its first production, The Loony Bin, written by Tanya Parker, directed by Hannah Wolfe, and featuring Chance Parker, with Debora Balardini, Freeman Borden, Dana Chehansky, Tiffany Clementi, Michael Elian, Heather Platt, Eva Rosa, and Derrick LeMont Sanders.
It will be presented on Tuesday March 8, and Thursday, March 10 at 8 PM at the Weist-Barron Studios, 6th Floor, 35 West 45th Street (between 5th & 6th), in Studio 1. $15 suggested donation.
For more information, call 718-207-9823.
STARBUCKS' PANAMA -- LA FLORENTINA
Starbucks was giving away free samples (whole beans) of a coffee they call, "PANAMA -- LA FLORENTINA".
The short version: I liked it!
I evaluate coffees by the following criteria:
a- Do I like the taste
b- Does it give me a headache (French Roast usually does)
c- Does it wake me up or not
d- Does it keep me alert
e- Does it overdo it and give me a coffee buzz.
The medium sized version: I liked the taste, it did not give me a headache, it did wake me up and I stayed alert without a coffee buzz. It did well on all five tests!
I looked up some web sites on coffee. The ones I found had too many chemical compounds listed, with little indication of the effect of those compounds on my 5 tests. Worse, even the way they tested the effects of the coffee's chemicals were irreproducible at home. So that was useless research.
There were some books that were a little more helpful. (eg Mary Ward, "The Top 100 Coffee Recipes -- A Cookbook for Coffee Lovers" -- It's the introduction, not the recipes, that made this book useful.)
The extent of detailed knowledge about different beans, coffee chemistry, and methods of preparing coffee is impressive and voluminous, but mostly more frustrating than useful. Because little of the history (roasting method and date, specific location of harvesting...) and specific nature of the bean is available to the consumer. (Kenyan from Elgon? Kenyan from Blue Mountain coffees that originated in Jamaica? There's no way to find out, for most sources of coffee. -- Starbucks does have some information on their website about their coffees. Check, for example, the information on "PANAMA -- LA FLORENTINA", and "KENYA").
There are a lot of variables in the way coffee actually tastes. And it is real hard -- unless you are a very serious coffee drinker -- to control most of those variables. Some of the issues are:
a- The kind of coffee bean and the way it was roasted
b- How long it has been since the bean was roasted
c- How long it has been since the coffee was ground, how finely was it ground -- and how it has been stored
e- What method was used to make the coffee (perk, drip, French press...), what temperature was the coffee steeped at, how much coffee was used, and how long did the coffee stay in contact with the water
f- What kind of cup is used for drinking (wax and plastic cups can "contribute" to the taste)
g- How clean is the cup, the grinder, and the bin where the coffee was stored (if you get it at the supermarket, the bin probably has traces of older, stale coffee, and more than one kind of bean -- including possibly remnants of flavored coffee beans)
h- What kind of water (tap, bottled) is used for the coffee
i- How long it has been since the coffee was brewed, and whether it was re-heated
k- What kind of milk, cream, creamer -- and how much (if any) -- is mixed with the coffee
l- What sweeteners and flavors are added to the coffee -- and how much.
Each of these factors makes a significant difference in the way the coffee tastes. Freshness, cleanliness, and high quality ingredients are very important.
Purists get fresh unroasted beans from a specialty coffee supplier, and know exactly how they like to roast the beans (themselves) and grind them, and have a consistent method of brewing the coffee.
I simply grind beans from Starbucks or get Columbian from a supermarket and use a funnel drip with bottled water. I get inconsistent results that usually vary from OK to pretty good. I am never exactly sure why one cup is better or worse than another. My guess is that it depends a lot on the condition of the beans I get from the store, and a little on changes in the temperature of the water, the amount of coffee I use, and how finely I grind it.
(In my own anecdotal experience, it also makes a difference what time of the day I have the coffee; whether it is the first cup or I've already had coffee; and what I'm eating with it.)
The cup of Florentina was stronger than Columbian beans from a supermarket, but milder than most Starbucks coffees. I suspect it was fresher -- more recently roasted -- than most of the coffees I use, because it was considerably richer in flavor.
Saturday, March 05, 2005
Robot Stories is a brilliantly written and directed, independently made feature film by Greg Pak. Having made several award winning and popular short films (many available now on the web), this is his first feature.
Building on his experience with shorts, this feature consists of four short stories loosely tied together by their similar style and mood, their mixed Asian and American characters, and their robotic themes.
Pak's writing is subtle and sophisticated; his characters have rich complex lives, full of desires, problems, joys and heartbreaks; and his robots are mildly comical, yet believable, and with lives almost as rich as the humans'.
A graduate of Yale, and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, Pak is now running FilmHelp, a site with advice and resources for independent filmmakers.
Continuing in a limited but successful theatrical run with film festivals and special screenings, Robot Stories deserves to be discovered now on DVD.
I am hoping to see more feature films written and directed by Greg Pak... and hoping to see them make it all the way to my local theater.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
HOW TO PREDICT THE FUTURE -- INTRODUCTION
Here is a brief audio introduction to our presentation of HOW TO PREDICT THE FUTURE. This presentation will be a one man show (with guests) live as AN EVENING OF SCIENCE THEATER, and will also be available interactively on-line.
More information about this presentation will soon be available here.
AOL -- A WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY FOR VC INVESTMENT
According to an article posted on AOL today, in the next few months VC's will be highly motivated to invest a large amount of money. The article says that VC's have money (more than $10 billion) that was placed with them just before the last boom busted, and which must be returned to investors soon if it is not invested.
Michael V. Copeland is listed as the author of the article, and the article is headed "Business 2.0". However, the apparent link for the article is "Fortune" magazine, and I'm not sure why the link is to "Fortune" and not to the magazine, "Business 2.0".
The link also specifies "ONLY ON AOL" so it may or may not be available directly. Here's the link to the article:
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
A PREVIEW OF NYPD BLUE'S NEXT SEASON
This BLOG is all about PREVIEWS, so usually I do not write about something that is over. NYPD BLUE just presented its last show last night.
But that last show was an interesting one. Unlike CHEERS, for example, in which the last show ended by closing down the tavern, NYPD BLUE (or Nipid as I like to call it) ended by presenting what could have been the preview of the next season. More precisely, it was the preview of what could have been the next season.
The last episode featured the first day of Sipowicz' life in his new job of squad commander. His new job is not battling the low life on the street, but the high life in business, politics, and on the force. He has a new set of responsibilities.
He has grown and changed over the years, as was so well portrayed in the one hour retrospective Special which preceded the final episode.
Also highlighted in that Special was the way the program and the environment for television programming have changed since NYPD first came on the air.
In the final episode, there was talk about sex, prostitutes, S&M, infidelity, and threesomes... But it was all once removed. Nothing was shown. Nothing sexual was dramatized or lived. It was very tame. Politics was dramatized; Sipowicz' conflicts were dramatized; the results of violence, but not the action itself were shown.
NYPD BLUE, of course, was the show that tried to bring a more realistic dramatization of personal sexual relationships, language, and dramatic action to the network television screen. Times have changed. The FCC has put a damper on this whole area of realism. The "wardrobe malfunction" was not the provocation, it was simply the excuse and opportunity for the FCC to publicize its chilling doctrine.
24 and Alias, two of the edgiest shows on network television, seem tamer this year. Catastrophes are there, more than ever, but they are more talked about than lived or dramatized.
So that seems to be the preview of network television for the moment: More politics, more talk, less personal and sexual dramatic action.
There is likely to be some change in direction at the FCC as Powell leaves. It remains to be seen what the direction of that change will be.
In the Special, it was pointed out that co-creator David Milch wrote many of his own demons into the character of Sipowicz, so it is not a stretch to suspect that the subject of the final episode, the moral conflict between Sipowicz' pursuit of the truth and the interference of the bureaucracy, bears more than a coincidental relationship to the conflict between the FCC and network on the one hand and, on the other, the pursuit of creative dramatic "truth" and freedom by the creators of NYPD BLUE.
I only watched a few minutes, so perhaps this description of Greenspan's testimony before a House committee is out of context or misinterpreted:
Greenspan was asked whether, in view of his previous statements about the dangers in the growing concentration of wealth in the wealthiest, the need for growth in productivity throughout the economy, and the importance of education and training as a way to improve the productivity and earning power throughout the economy (Congressional questions are full of whereas clauses), wasn't the reduction in support for education and training an economic issue.
Greenspan replied that decisions are hard, that if you reduce revenues and increase expenses you increase the deficit, and that decisions like this are a Congressional issue.
In other words, he either ducked the question, or (Greenspan's answers are full of ambiguity) said that taking measures to increase productivity and earning power throughout the economy is not an economic issue.
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
A NEW PLAY BY A NEW THEATER COMPANY
Here's some information about a new play from a new theater company that's very promising and worth checking out.
Tales of the Lost Formicans
>ATOLAS THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS
>Tales of the Lost Formicans
>by Constance Congdon
>Directed by Sharon J. Fogarty
>Starring: Rhonda Harrington, Terri Mintz, Bill Weeden, Ed Varley, Claude Deering, Michael Dermansky, Wanda O'Connell
>Opening March 3 at Greenwich Street Theater
>547 Greenwich Street (South of Houston, North of Spring, West of Varick, just south of Charlton Street.)
>Take the 1, 9 trains to Houston Street, from there walk two blocks south to Charlton, and walk west two blocks to Greenwich Street Theatre.
>March 3, 4, 5 at 8pm, Sunday March 6 at 2pm
>March 10, 11, 12 at 8pm, Sunday March 13 at 2pm
>Call 212 868 4444 (smarttix.com) tickets $15
>An exciting play, in which Aliens observe man, and comment on how we live.
>If Aliens can't help us laugh at how we live, than no one can.
SHARON ROFFMAN'S CONCERT SCHEDULE
Sharon Roffman, a notable young violinist, will be playing several interesting concerts in the next two months.
This information is current at the time of posting, March 1, 2005. For updates with Sharon's latest information, please see her website --
http://www.sharonroffman.com (Click on "Random Stuff" for the concert schedule.)
March 3 at 8 PM
Kean University Affiliate Artist Series
“A program of all Schubert chamber music -- I will be playing in the Schubert Cello Quintet .”
For info, 908-737-SHOW tickets are $10
March 11 and 12 at 7 PM
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Paula Robison’s Vivaldi Concert in the Temple of Dandur
“This is a very cool space to play and listen to music in. In Paula's concert, I am playing a Vivaldi violin concerto as well as solos in several flute concertos.”
Tickets are $55, call 212-570-3949
March 19 at 8 PM
JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly, NJ
Thurnauer Chamber Music Society
“I will be playing in the Copland Sextet for Clarinet, Piano and String Quartet, Martinu duets for violin and viola, and Schumann Piano Quintet. I believe there is one other piece on the program which I am not playing.”
For info call 201-569-7900 x. 235, 376 or 374
April 7 at 6:45 PM
Rose Studio at Lincoln Center
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
Bruce Adolphe's Birthday Celebration -- all music by Bruce Adolphe
“I'll be playing a piece for three violins with two of my good friends.”
Tickets are $45 info at http://www.chambermusicsociety.org/events/performance_detail.php?id=327
April 10 at 7:30 PM
Zankel Hall (Carnegie Hall)
"World premiere of a sextet by Michael Tilson Thomas"
For ticket info, http://www.carnegiehall.org/article/box_office/events/evt_5248.html?selecteddate=04102005
April 11 at 8 PM
Kean University Affiliate Artist Series, Union NJ
“A smorgasbord of show pieces by members of the faculty, including me and my two good friends, who have just been added to the faculty, Alex Fiterstein, a great clarinetist and Julie Albers, a great cellist. “
For info, 908-737-SHOW tickets are $10
April 29 at 8
French Institute Alliance Francaise in Manhattan
“My good friend Nurit Pacht started a series here and I'll be playing with her and some others the piano quintet by Cesar Franck. It is an interesting concert centered around the musical life of Marcel Proust. “
Tickets are $15, info http://www.fiaf.org/events/performing_proust.htm#Fri,%20Apr%2029,%202005%20-%20The%20Proust%20Project,%20Marcel
Sharon, a prize winner in the 2003 Naumburg Foundation International Competition, made her symphony orchestra debut in January of 1996 as soloist with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Music Director Zdenek Macal.
Recent highlights include performing as featured soloist in Vivaldi’s Concerto for Four Violins along with Itzhak Perlman at Carnegie Hall, and in a “Live from Lincoln Center” broadcast showcasing the Perlman Music Program in 2003. She was also featured in a special appearance of the Perlman Music Program honoring Itzhak Perlman at the Kennedy Center Awards in Washington, D.C. Sharon has participated in the Marlboro Music Festival, the Taos School of Music, the Aspen Festival and School, the Verbier Festival, and the Perlman Music Program, where she was a student for two years and subsequently a teaching assistant to Patinka Kopec.
Sharon received a Graduate Diploma from the Juilliard School in 2003, where she was a student of Itzhak Perlman and Donald Weilerstein.
Sharon is affiliate artist and associate professor of violin at Kean University, and is a member of the faculty of the Thurnauer School of Music in Tenafly, New Jersey and the Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division. Under the auspices of the Thurnauer School, Sharon created and taught a five week seminar in two New Jersey public schools to inspire third graders to love classical music.