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Books in which
inclusion here is
People I Know
"The only blog we have to fear is blog itself."
Sunday, October 31, 2004
|Although I have little belief that the scenario will play out this Presidential election, the electoral college could potentially result in a 269-269 tie. In fact, according to the Washington Post,|
A computer analysis finds no fewer than 33 combinations in which those 11 [battleground] states could divide to produce a 269 to 269 electoral tie.Whither then?
According to the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, the selection of President would go to the House of Representatives. Each state delegation gets one vote (which would, under the current House, doubtless select Bush). Of course, with our even number of states another tie is possible, during which case the 12th Amendment specifies a runoff voted on by the full House.
Meanwhile, a simple majority in the Senate would choose VP. So one potential scenario would be a President and VP of different parties (like in 1800, when Aaron Burr served as veep to the very man he ran for President against, Thomas Jefferson). In that scenario, I foresee the VP spending their entire term in the fabled "undisclosed location" for reasons of "national security."
Another X factor is that electors are not bound to vote for whom their states voted, the so-called "faithless elector" (link also include the stories of all 156 past faithless electors). From the same WaPo story:
In West Virginia, one of the state's five Republican electors, South Charleston Mayor Richie Robb, has said he might not vote for Bush (although he calls it "unlikely" he would support Kerry). And in Ohio, the political publication the Hotline reports, one of Kerry's 20 electors could be disqualified because he is a congressman.U.S. politics is like plate tectonics: it's pretty fascinating right along the cracks, but also pretty dangerous.
"First time I've ever been early for work. Except for all those daylight savings days. Lousy farmers!" ~~Homer Simpson
Interesting discussion of Daylight Saving Time on the Wikipedia, featuring the following tidbits:
|So voting doesn't really matter, as it turns out.
Actually, it's all up to the Washington Redskins. Or Halloween masks. Or investors. Or what the kids think. Or cookies.
The Redskins Theory:
The outcome of the Redskins' last home game prior to the election has correctly forecasted who would win the presidency every time since 1936.The Mask Theory:
"The mask sales have been 100 percent accurate," said Daniel Haight, chief operating officer of Buyseasons, which owns Buycostumes.com. "It hasn't failed us yet," he told the Associated Press. Haight's data collecting goes back to 1980 when Ronald Reagan debated President Jimmy Carter.The Investor Theory:
George Neumann, a UI professor of economics and co-director of the Iowa Electronic Markets [says] "These markets have tended not to be wrong...." The Iowa Electronic Markets are Internet-based, real-money futures markets in which contract payoffs depend on economic and political events, including the 2004 presidential election.The Kid Theory:
Since 1956, Weekly Reader students have correctly picked the president 11 out of 12 times, making the Weekly Reader poll one of the most accurate predictors of presidential outcomes in history.The Cookie Theory:
Family Circle’s Cookie Cook-Off has actually predicted the past three Presidents.Ye gods! Can't all these people just shut up!
And I've also heard people mention the Giants as another football predictor. Puh-lease! This is nothing more than the Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc Fallacy writ large (except, perhaps, for the Investor Theory, which is only a money-based Conventional Wisdom weathervane).
Don't these people realize that in the year that the Curse of the Bambino ends, ALL BETS ARE OFF??
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
|Have you ever noticed that most TV station websites look the same? Or, at least, have a few notable characteristics which remain surprisingly unchanged from site to site.
My favorite of these (or least favorite, depending on your criteria) is the Mt. Rushmore-style photo of the local news anchors at the top of most of these sites. I guess since a TV station cannot generally be equated with a lifestyle for branding purposes (in the same way that a rock, country, or classical radio station can), the TV station uses its news hosts as the "public face" of the business.
But regardless of why the websites are the way they are, it's really annoying.
So I started amusing myself recently by collecting the numbingly repetitive examples, like butterflies pinned to a display board.
Enter NewsClowns. Enjoy.
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
|I'm not much of a gamer, but I am a huge fan of the Grand Theft Auto series. They're, as the kids say, sweet.
The latest one, San Andreas, comes out for the PS2 today. Alas, I play the PC versions, so I have an excruciating wait until (probably) 3rd quarter '05 until I can play it.
Take a look at some of the voice talent: Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Penn, James Woods, Peter Fonda, David Cross, and Happy Monday's Shaun Ryder.
Fans of the hilarious Fear of a Black Hat will note that an actor who played one of the Jam Boys, Faizon Love, also does voice work.
I don't yet know if my former WHTG colleague Shelley Miller, who played Lips 106 DJ Andee in GTA3 and a few commercial voices in Vice City, will also be in this one.
Monday, October 25, 2004
|Intoxicated Honey Bees May Clue Scientists Into Drunken Human Behavior:|
Researchers gave honey bees various levels of ethanol, the intoxicating agent in liquor, and monitored the ensuing behavioral effects of the drink – specifically how much time the bees spent flying, walking, standing still, grooming and flat on their backs, so drunk they couldn't stand up....Science may yet answer age-old questions: Does a drone get beer goggles and mate with an unattractive queen bee? Do drunken drones shout rude comments about about a queen's hot thorax, and then end up fistfighting over a misheard sports remark? How bad is a bee's hangover, and do they ever throw up all over the floor of the honeycomb?
Sunday, October 24, 2004
"I'm shocked--shocked!--to find that gambling is going on in here!" ~~Captain Renault, in Casablanca
Simpson had performed her hit single "Pieces of Me" without incident earlier in the show. When she came back a second time, her band started playing and the first lines of her singing "Pieces of Me" could be heard again.Simpson later claimed her "band started playing the wrong song." Her record label blamed a "computer glitch."
Sure, we believe you.
In retrospect, The Boston Globe was startlingly prescient (instead of merely enjoyably snarky) in their listing for the show:
Jude Law hosts "Saturday Night Live," at 11:30 p.m. on Channel 7. Ashlee Simpson is the "musical guest.""Musical guest" in quotes, indeed.
And just for the record, I didn't see the telecast in question. I largely stopped watching SNL when I felt they, not too dissimilar as Ashlee, had become a "comedy show."
|Plague Detected in Colorado Springs:|
The El Paso County Department of Health and Environment has determined that a tree squirrel has tested positive for the plague in the Colorado Springs area.After I read this story, I discovered that the CDC hosts the "plague home page" (I was hoping to get the plague's email address and see the plague's page of hotlinks). From there, I read this little tidbit:
In the United States, the last urban plague epidemic occurred in Los Angeles in 1924-25. Since then, human plague in the United States has occurred as mostly scattered cases in rural areas (an average of 10 to 15 persons each year).In the words of Dana Carvey imitating words of Johnny Carson, I did not know that.
Saturday, October 23, 2004
|Granted, I'm not in the target market since I don't eat meat, but even so...yuck!
Diners lured by super guinea pig:
Scientists in Peru hope a new breed of guinea pig will convert the world to one of their favourite delicacies.It occurs to me, though: when these scientists were taste-testing their new breeding experiment, did they call trial eaters their "guinea pigs"?
Friday, October 22, 2004
|Experts fear escape of 1918 flu from lab:|
The 1918 flu virus spread across the world in three months and killed at least 40 million people. If it escaped from a lab today, the death toll could be far higher. "The potential implications of an infected lab worker – and spread beyond the lab – are terrifying," says D. A. Henderson of the University of Pittsburgh, a leading biosecurity expert.Although, obviously, the volume and rapidity of world travel has exploded since 1918, I thought many experts agreed that the massive, slow close-quarters troopship transport of WWI soldiers was the largest vector in the spread of that truly frightening and deadly flu.
Yes? No? Maybe? Bueller? Bueller?
Either way, let's hope those vials of the 1918 flu are carried with caution. Dr. Jeffrey Taubenberger, chief of molecular pathology at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, said in 1997 of that strain's death toll:
The conservative estimate is 21 million people, but people suggest that it may be forty to fifty million people actually died worldwide.
|You can find an online calculator for mortgages, foreign currency exchanges, and inflation. So why not Murphy's Law?|
|Update on story previously discussed back in September...
Loud Cell Phone Woman Charges Dropped:
Charges were dropped Thursday against a pregnant woman arrested and forced to the ground by Metro Transit Police for allegedly talking too loudly on a cell phone.The official line:
"We didn't want our action to be taken as a reflection on our view about the officer's credibility," said Deputy Montgomery County, Md., State's Attorney Katherine Winfree. "We just felt that under the circumstances, this was the appropriate disposition at this time."You know there's a problem when a transit police union representative is quoted in the article using the phrase "Barney Fife rent-a-cops," if only in the negative.
|Cops track emergency call to malfunctioning TV:|
College student Chris van Rossman got more than he wanted with his Toshiba set when emergency and law enforcement officials came knocking.That's gotta suck. Something tells me the kid will be selling the TV to one of his fellow college students for a suspiciously low price and let them deal with the flat-screen albatross. This could go on indefinitely until a future owner destroys the TV after a particularly raucous kegger.
Selling an emergency transponder, even an inadvertent one, is doubtless perfectly legal, so Van Rossman could just eBay the damn thing and let the headache for federal officials merrily continue elsewhere. Someone from the FCC or other involved agency should just step up and buy the set from him.
Thursday, October 21, 2004
|China takes place on world stage:|
As China gets richer and stronger, the world is coming to share its belief that it merits recognition and respect as a great power.Well, that's almost a no-brainer. Naturally, that looks like the likeliest future scenario. But this sounds ominous:
"China doesn't want to accept US leadership. Confrontation is inevitable."That's a quote from Yan Xuetong, director of the Institute of International Studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
Sounds oh-so-Cold War, doesn't it?
|I wondered why all the side streets were blocked off by police cars when I was driving home from work yesterday:|
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John F. Kerry railed against President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in Pittsburgh yesterday for creating a culture of fear to boost their re-election campaign.... The Democrat [spoke to] a crowd of thousands of students and other potential Western Pennsylvania voters gathered yesterday evening on the muddy lawn of the Carnegie Mellon University campus in Oakland.It never really occured to me exactly how deeply complicated the logistics must be for candidate travel in a Presidential campaign. There were at least 10-12 city police vehicles that I saw blocking side streets along what was presumably Kerry's motorcade route.
|Sex pledges to boost US vote turnout:|
A new campaign to encourage young Americans to vote on election day is using a novel incentive - sex pledges.Love that "safe sex" tack-on to make the initiative seem less lascivious.
|It's a practice which apparently serves as economic stimulator, cultural enrichment program, and even a de facto computer learning course. It's music piracy in Russia:|
"Almost all of my CDs are pirated. I also tried downloading from the web, but do it very little, because I don't want to pay for internet traffic. I think in Russia piracy is not such a bad thing, since it compensates for our low incomes. At least it becomes possible for people to educate themselves about computer programs, for example."Very interesting article.
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
|Inventor Rejoices as TVs Go Dark:|
Altman's key-chain fob was a TV-B-Gone, a new universal remote that turns off almost any television. The device, which looks like an automobile remote, has just one button. When activated, it spends over a minute flashing out 209 different codes to turn off televisions, the most popular brands first.It's almost like a grand art project, innit?
|From the Head Scratcher Desk...
Plasma beam for 90-day Mars visit:
Advocates of a propulsion idea for spacecraft claim that it would enable a 90-day round trip to Mars.The article is distressingly low on details about this plasma beam technology, except to say that beam units would have to be placed in orbit around the Earth and Mars and that these beams would, in effect, power the spacecraft between the planets like laundry between two clothesline pulleys.
Meanwhile, Baby sex link to domestic status:
The living arrangements of parents at the time a baby is conceived may play a role in determining its sex, research suggests.Is it just me, or does this sound ridiculous? The rationale for the statistics is given as:
Male embryos are less robust than their female counterparts, and so require a greater degree of nurturing through pregnancy if they are to survive to full term.Hmmm...maybe... I'm no scientist, but this doesn't sound, well, sound.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
|Bad language alert:
NetGear Inc. is designing a broadband modem for use with a long-range wireless data service called Flash-OFDM that is currently being trialed by Nextel Communications Inc., T-Mobile International and Vodafone PLC."Being trialed"?
That stinks almost as bad as the governmentspeak phrase being "tasked" to mean being "assigned." (as featured in Condoleeza Rice's testimony before the 9/11 Commission, such as "it tasked the director of OMB with ensuring that sufficient funds were available in budgets over the next five years.")
|Here's an article which concisely sums up why non-niche record stores are doomed, and why the music industry refuses to adapt to the brave new world of online music sales.
The short version: without the limited stock of a physical store, catalogue titles generate collectively as much revenue as new, hit-driven music (and perhaps ultimately more lucrative, as catalogue music doesn't require massive promotion costs to generate that revenue). Therefore, it makes much less sense to orient the industry towards massive hits (which is required to drive traffic into physical stores) and more sense to cultivate niche artists with more modest but dedicated fan bases.
Thus, for current music execs: everything you know is wrong. Change or bye-bye.
|Printers betray document secrets:|
US scientists have discovered that every desktop printer has a signature style that it invisibly leaves on all the documents it produces.From that 12th test shall spring dozens of crime novels.
Monday, October 18, 2004
|Just go to this site and read all about how some dude in Nevada tried to claim the moon in 1980 and has been selling properties on it ever since.
Be forewarned: this is not a write-up about the guy, it's the FAQ to the guy's own extremely disorganized and factually vague site. So it's a more than a little headachey.
Sunday, October 17, 2004
|This is my favorite page on the website. It is where I get to stay in touch with you. If you’ve come as a fan, I hope you leave as a friend.
Oh, whoops. Sorry, I just stole that paragraph verbatim from Lisa Whelchel's official website (you know, TV's Blair Warner?)
|Halloween on Sunday troubles some Southerners:|
Across the Bible Belt this Halloween, some little ghosts and goblins might get shooed away by the neighbors -- and some youngsters will not be allowed to go trick-or-treating at all -- because the holiday falls on a Sunday this year.Meanwhile,
The City of Huntsville [AL] is encouraging residents to plan trick-or-treating and other Halloween activities on Saturday, October 30 this year. The decision was made in response to numerous citizen requests, according to Mayor Loretta Spencer....However,
Trick-or-treating should take place in Page [AZ] on Sunday, Oct. 31 this year, "suggested" Page City Council, opting against a Saturday alternative.
"Come with us and you will see
This, our town of Halloween
This is Halloween, this is Halloween
Pumpkins scream in the dead of night
This is Halloween, everybody make a scene
Trick or treat till the neighbors gonna die of fright
It's our town, everybody scream
In this town of Halloween"
~~The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
|In a continuing effort by this website to enlighten readers about up-to-the-minute items that are rightfully being ignored by fellow citizens everywhere, it's time to once more shine our high-beamed spotlight on an obscure industry's inscrutable trade publication.
For this outing, let's take a look at World Trade, a magazine promising editorial content "that the global supply chain/logistics decision maker demands." Yes! Finally! A trade mag on trade!
(Mmmm....global supply chain!)
|I was just reading an article called "Revenge of the pop-ups" about tricks that websites are now employing to get around popular pop-up blockers. Whenever I read such analyses, I usually visit some of the egregious sites mentioned to test out my anti-marketing countermeasures.
This led me to a CNET page showing examples of some of the "floating" ads and "intromericals" they've done for clients. So I clicked on one to test whether I'd even see their ad, a promotion for the ailing TV series Enterprise. It was described by CNET thusly: "This floating ad successfully brings together creativity and consideration of the user experience. With just enough intrusiveness to engage the user, this ad clearly communicates a call to action while incorporating dramatic, visual elements from the show." (sheesh--some "consideration"!)
When I clicked though to the test page, nothing happened (hooray!). However, I noticed one of the articles on the test page: "Is your computer posessed? It may be clogged with junk you don't need or add-ons you never asked for. Get the tools you need to exorcise your machine."
Add-ons you never asked for? Um, kinda like floating ads and intromericals?
Tools you need to exorcise your machine from ads:
Tool number one: Firefox browser. With Firefox, you can right click on ads and block images from specific ad servers. Sweet! (plus the built-in popup blocker)
Tool number two: Flash player uninstaller. Flash can sometimes be cool, but mostly it's a way to make shit move annoyingly on a website. I keep the uninstaller on my computer desktop, so that if I want to install Flash to see a specific website (website developers love to make gratuitous motion), I can immediately uninstall it.
Saturday, October 16, 2004
|Theme park plan for Chechnya:|
Sergei Abramov, who heads Chechnya's pro-Moscow government, said on Friday that the park would be built next year along with a range of cultural and entertainment facilities, including a new football stadium.One can, I think, safely assume that this will not be an official Disney theme park. That company has its own troubles without expanding to Chechnya (although they've already put some thought into anti-terrorist technology).
One wonders if building an amusement park in Chechnya isn't merely growing low-hanging fruit for rebels or other disorder-minded individuals?
|Data Miner Free From U.S. Law:|
A former intelligence official named Ben H. Bell III, is taking his ideas to a private company offshore, where he and his colleagues plan to use some of the same concepts, technology and contractors to assess people for risk, outside the reach of U.S. regulators, according to documents and interviews.Great, now Americans who wrongly end up on terrorist watch lists won't even whatever meager recourse that U.S. law might provide them.
Although Bell insists that "the intent was not to run offshore and hide stuff," the company's CEO, Donald Thibeau, admit such a project is cheaper and easier in the Bahamas.
He also gushed in the article, "We live in a world where data can go anywhere and be warehoused anywhere." Whee! Ain't privacy invadin' fun?
Friday, October 15, 2004
|Earlier tonight, The Daily Show's Jon Stewart went on CNN's Crossfire and hosts Paul Begala and (especially) Tucker Carlson obviously expected a "light" show about a comic and his TV show's new book. What they got was this:|
STEWART: See, the thing is, we need your help. Right now, you're helping the politicians and the corporations. And we're left out there to mow our lawns.When it occurs to them that Stewart is pointing his wit guns in their direction, they actually try to attack Stewart for being a poor journalist (well, Carlson mostly). Which kinda makes Stewart's hackery charge stick, you know?
See, Tucker & Paul fail to realize that they are the raw meat for The Daily Show as much as politicians, if not more so. This is post-McLuhan political satire: the medium IS the message. And The Daily Show understands the gears and levers of how that media works as masterfully as Karl Rove (as Stewart rather simply demonstrates during this appearance).
And just as they don't see that the politicos are playing them for suckers (if they, indeed, delude themselves that Crossfire is more of a news show than a news-themed entertainment show), they can't fathom that a book-plugging comic would dare "lecture" them more or less seriously about the failings of the fourth estate (and Crossfire's little doghouse on that estate) instead of playing the news-themed hype game.
In short, they suddenly started reacting like politicians should react coming on Crossfire--but don't, knowing this is not actual journalism but mere, as Stewart correctly puts it, theater.
The entire transcript is available here. Highly recommended. Genius guest work.
UPDATE: See/hear the actual tape here (thanks to Dave for the tip).
2nd UPDATE: Carlson is trying to portray the exchange as a flop for Stewart. First of all, that makes no sense unless you believe Stewart is an actual newsman; when MTV runs the story with the headline "Jon Stewart Bitchslaps CNN's 'Crossfire' Show," it's a home run for a comedian who hosts a comedy show (and is out on the hustings, as it were, to promote a book).
Secondly, while I have no doubt that Stewart was honest about his belief that newsmedia are abdicating their vital role as an external check on power (according to the above-linked AP article, "Carlson said Stewart continued lecturing the Crossfire crew after the show went off the air"), one wonders if the calculated attack by Stewart doesn't have a touch of Moore-esque media manipulation in the exchange.
After all, in one fell swoop, Stewart generated tons of ink which conveyed his message about newsmedia hackery (although, naturally, most newsmedia are blind to the larger implications of his point, preferring to see the whole things as Stewart vs. Carlson, a personal feud) to an even broader audience than merely Crossfire's, as well as promoting himself, The Daily Show, and (to a lesser extent) the book.
Thursday, October 14, 2004
|US elections: Short name, short odds:|
If you want to find a way of forecasting who is going to win the race for the presidency, look at the lengths and origins of their names. The pattern since World War II has been for candidates with increasingly short, poster-friendly names. And preferably sounding like they could be the lead characters in a mini-series.Just don't bring this issue up with those who want to alter the Constitution to allow Schwarzenegger a run for the Presidency.
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
|I just read a Michael Musto piece on Howard Stern which, in addition to Musto's standard-issue ironically intended over-the-top prose, contained the phrase "it sends out reams of e-mails about its promo events."
"Reams of e-mails"?
Besides the questionable necessity of the dash in "e-mail" (that's, like, sooo 20th century!), should email really be measured in paper quantifiers?
|Just as historic church bells are damaged each time it is rung, there are many situations in which our social fabric is damaged at the ringtone of a cell phone.
Theaters, for instance. (also, in theatres)
France allows theaters and others to jam cell phone signals. Still generally illegal in the U.S. and England, jammers could allow for peace in circumstances where phones are not appropriate.
A BBC article discusses the issue (including an interesting wallpaper to address the problem).
While such signal-jamming would be terrific in many circumstances, there is a downside. According to the BBC article, the practice may be employed to extract money out of consumers: "In Israel it is reported that hotel chains have found them a great way of forcing guests to use the expensive in-room phones."
It might be a small price to pay though. Most deserving of jamming: public rest room cell phone users. Should jamming not be an option, public flogging is probably the best alternative.
UPDATE: The AP has a new dispatch about churches in Mexico using jammers, which also has an interesting round-up of other nations which allow the countermeasure and for what purposes jamming is used.
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
|Locking a group of people up in a confined space for almost a year and a half with limited suplies to test how everything holds up over that time.
No, it's actually The 500 Days experiment, planned by the Russian Institute of Medical and Biological Problems:
Russian space researchers will lock six men in a metal tube for more than a year in an effort to mimic the stresses and challenges of a manned mission to Mars.This sounds like Act I of a horror film. Here's the denouement: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves."
Other Russian Institute of Medical and Biological Problems fun: a year ago Galina Shumilina of the Institute was quoted thusly on International Space Station hygiene requirements: "Even on a space mission, men must take proper care of their appearance. The ISS does not welcome unshaven personnel on board."
Saturday, October 09, 2004
Andenaes struggled to catch up after Fernandez's buying spree. But his fate was sealed when he rolled an unlucky six, moved his wheelbarrow to Tennessee Avenue and lost his shirt.Thus ended the micro-Machiavellian struggle that was the World Monopoly Championship played earlier today in Tokyo.
Antonio Zafra Fernandez, 36, of Madrid pumped his fist in the air after he bested Norwegian Bjorn Andenaes of Oslo in the beloved board game to take home the $15,140 prize — equal to the amount of play money in a Monopoly set.Despite my best efforts, I cannot discover the identity of winning player's token. Was the winner represented by the popular and sporty roadster? Was it the Scottish terrier, seemingly cute but secretly violently wolfish? Perhaps the dreaded thimble?
SIDEBAR: Here's a good history of Monopoly tokens.
|Museum drops 'nude Bush' artwork:|
A cartoon-style nude painting of US President George W Bush has been taken down by a museum in Washington.Here's the 1863 Manet painting for a comparison.
|The Smart cars are coming:|
Over the past decade, the Mercedes spinoff called Smart has emerged as Europe's most daring car company. It has rolled out a four-wheeled motorcycle. It has introduced a novel interlocking design that allows owners to change the car's color panels as often as they change cell phone faceplates. It has opened the world's first online dealership and sells cars out of towering glass vending machines across Europe. And it has experimented with Bluetooth, offering smartphone and iPod integration before any other carmaker.
President Bush in last night's debate:
BUSH: Yes, that's a great question. Thanks. I hear there's rumors on the Internets that we're going to have a draft. We're not going to have a draft, period."Internets"?
A waiter walks by with a cart of pies. Homer Simpson looks at the cart.Meanwhile, the L.A. Times takes a frank look at pies, pie-making, and those who eat pie professionally:
Blended with spices and condensed milk, the pumpkin mixture is poured into pie shells and baked. Pfeifer walks across the linoleum floor, grabs a knife and cuts a slice no wider than his thumb.
Friday, October 08, 2004
|I was just reading some background material before the 2nd Presidential debate tonight, and surfed smack into this little tidbit from MSNBC:|
MSNBC: The burden in this second debate seems to be on President Bush to rebound and even the score with Sen. Kerry.Walter Monday?
Strictly speaking, that probably doesn't technically qualify as a typo, since the error is apparently npot on the keyboard (like, say, typing "npot" instead of "not") but in the ear or brain. Either an MSNBC stenographer misheard "Walter Mondale" or someone (Russert?) had a brain fart.
As it turns out, however, a google search shows that MSNBC is not unique in this odd error. Examples of the same mistake can be seen here, here, here, or here
Thursday, October 07, 2004
|Device translates spoken Japanese and English:|
A handheld device that enables a user to chat in another language - without having to learn any words or phrases for themselves - has been developed by Japanese electronics firm NEC.First Star Trek's communicator essentially come to life as flip-phones. Now the universal translator.
Soon laptops will be tricorder size. Too bad the transporter ain't happening anytime soon.
|"Correction: President Bush Did Not Win Election on October 7"
That's an actual retraction headline posted to the website of Green Bay, Wisconsin, ABC-TV affiliate WBAY:
With less than a month before the presidential election, an Associated Press test article declaring President Bush the winner was picked up by WBAY.com's automated system. The headline of the AP story apparently did not bear that all-important word for the automated filters... "test."See the actual test story here.
|Among the guys who give all rock stars a bad name, add Incubus singer Brandon Boyd. Boyd yesterday attempted to bring a switchblade in his bag while trying to board a plane on his way to a concert in North Carolina. According to his spokewoman, Boyd admitted he accidentally left the knife in his bag and called the incident "my bad."
|D.C. showdown over file swapping looms:|
Technology companies and the record industry are nearing a last-minute showdown on Capitol Hill over a controversial bill aimed at quelling file swapping.Congress had better see, to paraphrase Don Rumsfeld, that Hollywood is now Old Europe. Computer games are the New Hollywood. And Europe is now just a computer game.
Wait. Strike that last sentence. I thought I was following the transitive rule in math.
Anyway, stifling computer and electronic manufactures to appease the copyright industries would eventually prove more harmful then allowing events to run their course.
Also see my previous posts here and here.
Executive Producers of This Post Include Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Demi Moore, and Arnold Schwarzenegger
|'Bogus' film credits under attack:|
Hollywood producers have said they are willing to go to court to stop people receiving bogus "producer" credits.These faux credits are a travesty. They're a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham. Or something.
|The Pope declares communism a "necessary evil."|
|I must say, when Richard Branson announced the Virgin Galactic plans last week, I finally felt we had arrived in the 21st Century. Welcome!
Now the devilish details start creeping in:
Federal Aviation Administration chief Marion C. Blakey this week visited Xcor Aerospace, a rocket developer just down the Mojave Airport flight line from SpaceShipOne's home. She talked of partnership with the new industry and said it was important for the United States to be the world leader.Some of the issues mentioned involve passenger medical fitness requirements and carrier safety record disclosure.
Many might look at space tourism as just another foolish way for the idle rich to piss away more cash. But then, it's taken the better part of the past hundred years for air travel to become the financially competitive method for getting from point A to point B (in probably most instances, flying is now cheaper then or comparable to rail, ocean liner, or bus fares--which wasn't the case decades ago).
The "toy of the spoiled rich" phase is, hopefully, an important step between the experimental/wacko period (which space travel is currently in) and the "available to all" stage.
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
|This desk has been overloaded lately.
Dallas Plans to Open Site of Oswald Killing:
Dallas plans to allow tourists into the underground garage where U.S. President John F. Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was gunned down more than 40 years ago, city officials said on Wednesday.I understand that there's overwhelming, enormous interest in the Kennedy assasination and all connected details, but this certainly seems like an odd tourist attraction.
After all, it's a garage.
Actually, I have no problem with this being turned into a tourist attraction, I just think it's a little weird that the city itself is going to trumpet its most notorious law enforcement screw-up (and among the most notorious lapses in U.S. history).
Of course Federal agents were ultimately responsible for making sure Oswald didn't kill the President. But surely preventing local gun-toting, strip-club owners from entering the jail garage while the nation's most suddenly-infamous killer was being transferred there WAS within the Dallas police's bailiwick.
Dallas interim City Manager Mary Suhm is quoted as saying, "I think it is a mistake to ignore unpleasant events in the context of history." That's probably more accurate of a statement if you replace the mumbo-jumbo-ish "unpleasant events in the context of history" phrase and replace it with the more to-the-point "tourism dollars."
I just shudder to think what the gift shop will sell besides the inevitable hundreds of books written about the Kennedy assasination. T-shirts of Ruby's "Carousel Club"? Oswald "mug shot" mugs?
|Like Amazon has had for awhile, Google is now going to offer full-text printed book searching:|
Whenever a book contains content that matches your search terms, we'll show links to that book in your search results. Click on the book title and you'll go to a "content page," where you can see the page containing your search terms and other information about the book.Great idea, in theory. I was a atwitter when Amazon began offering this feature. After using it about 4 times right after it was launched, I haven't used it since.
Perhaps Google can do it better. But the fundamental problem with book searching is that you cannot go immediately to the source and read it as fully as you might wish (like you can with websites, or with news sources via Google News). And, on the web, immediate gratification is king.
So unless Google can persuade publishers to allow full-text, unrestricted browsing of books for free, then this might only be a novelty rather than a real tool.
|Fish can learn quicker than dogs:|
Fish are much brainier than previously thought - and can learn quicker than dogs.Yeah, but I bet they can't factor quadratic equations. Hmm. Thought so.
|Medieval surgeons were advanced:|
Surgeons were carrying out complicated skull operations in medieval times, the remains of a body found at an archaeological dig show.Ironically enough, the original blow came from the man's insurance agent for not paying spiraling healthcare premiums. That's just a guess on my part, of course, but one backed up by strong evidence. Or it's only backed up by my active imagination. I forget, one or the other.
|Interesting article about the challenges of "web ratings" or evaluating a web site's traffic for advertising purposes: Web Industry Still Flies Blind.|
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
|Peru leader shocks with TV tirade:|
Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo is facing a backlash after TV audiences heard him harangue and insult a presenter in a live telephone call.Maybe his sash was ill-adjusted and too tight.
What's going on with recent peevish TV appearance by heads of state in the Americas?
|Have you ever seen any extremely odd labeling or signage in your local supermarket? Come on, I know you have. It's so hard not to...
In the supermarket the other day, I spotted a box of doughnuts in an aisle display with an odd descriptor on the packaging. It proclaimed itself "SIGNATURE FILLED DONUTS!"
I assumed this meant that these some variety of "filled" doughnuts, and they were the particular manufacturer's signature variety of said doughnut.
But what the hell do I know? They could very well have been pastries filled with actual signatures, all chock full of yummy ink goodness.
And, although this wasn't in a supermarket, I have twice recently seen signage in convenience stores or gas station mini-marts that advertised selling cigarettes at "state-minimum prices or less" with the "or less crossed out or taped over. I guess a representative from the state must have passed through town recently explaining how the word minimum is generally defined. And perhaps how those that don't believe in the concept of "minimum" are welcome to try it out at a state-run minimum-security facility for a judicially determinied period of time.
Sunday, October 03, 2004
|The latest internet conspiracy about the Presidential campaign is that Bush was wearing an earpiece getting fed info during the first debate. Sounds like typical tin-foil hat territory, and frankly, I think someone's been watching too much "24" (which had an episode last season in which the U.S. President wore an earpiece while debating his re-election opponent).
But, man, the proffered audio clip does make one do a double-take. And that would explain some of Bush's oddly long pauses. But Occam's Razor dictates that the simpler explanation (say, being ill-prepared) is more likely than the earpiece theory.
But standing in the way of a conspiracy theory--especially one where all the facts seem, apparently, to back the claim--is kind of like using logic to illustrate to your cat why she shouldn't scratch up the furniture.
|Presidential Election Watercooler Talk:|
In seventeen presidential elections since 1932 the Republicans have never won without Richard Nixon or someone named "George Bush" on the ticket.A fairly scary scenario is if Bush wins re-election (remains to be seen) and if Hilary Clinton runs and wins in '08 (big "if," but certainly plausible--especially if Cheney was Republican nominee), then the terms of Presidential office since 1988 would be Bush-Clinton-Clinton-Bush-Bush-Clinton.
At that point, it should occur to everyone that the system is broken. We're not supposed to have dynasties.
|I was doing a little site maintenance (since I've dumped Internet Explorer in favor of the MUCH superior Firefox browser, I'm trying to reconcile some of the annoying differences in how the different browsers displays this page), and have made a few minor changes. Just a little dusting and vacuuming to make the ol' place here look spiffy.|
Saturday, October 02, 2004
|U.S. Warns of Big Mount St. Helens Blast:|
Government scientists raised the alert level Saturday for Mount St. Helens after its second steam eruption in two days was followed by a powerful tremor. They said the next eruption was imminent or in progress, and could threaten life and property in the remote area near the volcano.Photo is a U.S. Geological Survey shot of the lava dome at Mt. St. Helens prior to the recent activity (see another "before" view here). Here is an "after" image:
The U.S.G.S. website has some nifty explanatory graphics and diagrams on it: volcano types, tephra plume, 1980 eruption ash distribution, and a representation of Mt. St. Helens' lava dome growth. Man, I am SO ready for show & tell!
SIDENOTE: The official U.S.G.S. alert level has been raised to "Volcano Alert (Alert Level 3); aviation color code RED." I sure hope this isn't politically motivated, as has been charged with past alert changes.
ANOTHER SIDENOTE: I just noticed the U.S.G.S.'s name for their server hosting these images is "Vulcan." Cute.
|Brian Sack delves deeply into the pressing question of 'who let the dogs out.'|
Friday, October 01, 2004
|Benigni shooting Iraq 'comedy':|
Italian actor and director Roberto Benigni is to make a film about the Iraq war.As Benigni so aptly put it while accepting his 1997 Oscar for La Vita è bella, "I would like to be Jupiter and kidnap everybody and lie down in the ground making love to everybody...because I don’t know how to express...it’s a question of love." Er, um... or something.