August 2005 Archives

3108 (World Blog Day)

As promised, here are today’s five world blog day nominees:

Technorati tag:

You Know It's Early In The Semester...


…when it’s 10 p.m. on a school night and there’s only one person in the student lounge.

World Blog Day (or, Tag, You're It)


So I’ve been tagged by Haitham to do BlogDay 2005.

What is it? Well, most of the world writes dates day/month, rather than the way it’s done in the US with month/day; an enterprising Israeli blogger noticed that 31/08—August 31— kinda looks like the word ‘blog’ if you squint a bit. So the idea is that on August 31, bloggers will recommend five blogs from outside their normal sphere to read—or, as the founder puts it, “blogs different from their own culture, point of view and attitude.” It’s a worthy idea, entirely compatible with the goals of Global Voices.

I’m tapping Lia, Anne, Searchie, my brother, Mdm. Crumpet and Whybark to carry this onwards.

Technorati tag:

... for ever and ever, Ramen.

The Times writes about the great Flying Spaghetti Monster.

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Couldn't Have Happened To A Nicer Network

Joi Ito passes on a report that a man being interviewed on Fox News Channel, when asked why he hadn’t yet evacuated New Orleans, replied “none of your fucking business”, live, on the air.

Here’s the video link.

I wonder how much the FCC will fine Fox for that, eh?

It's here already?

I’m really not mentally prepared to head back into the classroom in about an hour.

Of course, that doesn’t really matter…

Wasn't There A Twilight Zone Episode About This?

The Times reports that a new display at the London Zoo includes homo sapiens sapiens. There is one key difference for the zoo’s new acquisitions, though:

Unlike the zoo’s other inhabitants, the humans are allowed to leave each night at closing time.

Just Put In Some New Carpet


If things look a little bit wonky, you might want to hit ‘reload’ and/or clear your cache a few times.

I’d like to thank Martin Doudoroff and Lia Bulaong for being test victims and providing useful feedback during the development and design phase.

Some brief notes on the the whole very rapid processes:

  1. MT 3.2 is noticably faster than 3.1x (and much much much faster than the beta versions of 3.2). Plus, the ‘save & rebuild’ template option makes making changes a much faster and simpler process.
  2. The site was pretty much 100% designed and built for Safari. Fortunately, it also looks almost exactly the same in Firefox, and virtually mostly the same in IE 6. Having said that, if you’re on Windows, go get Firefox. It’s a far better browser than IE, it’s faster, more standards-compliant, and is so much more secure. Plus it’s very extensible.
  3. This is not a fixed-and-done revision—I expect to make many more minor changes over the next few weeks as I figure out what’s not-broken-but-could-be-better and so on (and, if you see anything that is actually b0rked, please lemme know).
  4. One of the reasons why development was so fast was because, with the exception of the link colors, the only colors I had to deal with in designing the site were white (#FFFFFF) and black (#000000). This is part of the less-is-more wave that’s sweeping the web.
  5. I did think about putting a nav bar at the top of the screen, ala Kottke or Jay Allen but decided against it for two reasons: 1) it’d basically require that I drop my ‘no labels’ design philosophy (or, as Martin calls it, ‘ugly and context-free’) and 2) it’d be a lot of work to do. I leave it as an exercise for the readers to determine what was the more important factor.
  6. Yes, the banners are all new.

Waltzing Away

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Clever man: USC quarterback Matt Leinart is taking a two-credit ballroom dancing course as his entire class load this semester.

Leinart lead USC to the national championship last year and had been expected to forgo his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL; however, passed up that opportunity (he probably would have been the #1 pick in the draft, had he entered) in favor of one more year at USC (and really, can you blame him?). But there is a football-related component to his classwork: learning the foxtrot and the tango can only help him with his footwork.

UPDATE: Almost forgot the most interesting part of the story: ESPN is now using trackbacks to monitor who links to their stories. One assumes that the fact that they’re not publishing those trackbacks is how they’re planning on dealing with trackback spam…

ECommerce of the Future

Ladies and Gentlemen and everyone else, I present the latest wave in internet commerce: The Toast Shop

Pat Robertson, A "Horrible Twit of a Man"

Ok, I Think I Worked Out Most Of The Bugs...

So far so good.

Next up: redesiging the site.



So how badly did I bork this upgrade?

It Talks!

| 2 Comments is live right now.

The thing that I’m wondering—now that it seems pretty clear that both Yahoo! and Google are busy building internet-based application platforms, otherwise known as operating systems—is does this mean that the legendary thin client is, at long last, in sight?

(thanks to esinclair for the heads-up)

Yes, I'm Being Grumpy Here

I need a vacation. Preferably one with complimentary massages. And drinks with umbrellas in them.

Great Balls Of Fire!

Perhaps the only thing cooler than a medieval trebuchet is a trebuchet that throws flaming bowling balls.

Bad Is Good! (Well, Good For You)

My former boss and GV honcho Ethan Zuckerman just wrote a very long and rather interesting post titled “Bad Software Is Good For You”.

Very interesting reading.


BTW, we’re less than 100 comments away from the 3,000th comment on Long-time readers will know that the 3,000th commenter gets a bunch of free stuff as a prize.

No ballot-box stuffing….

Pop Goes The Weasel

Whybarkarino points to a fascinating article in the Times about the real estate market and the bubble it’s riding.

The best part is what happened to the former mayor of Amsterdam Dutch Prime Minister.

In Case You're Wondering...

I’ve been putting a bunch of pictures up over at my Flickr feed. So go check them out.

Oh, The Times, They Have A-Changed


When James Bond and Auric Goldfinger head off to go golfing, Goldfinger mentions that Oddjob is not a very good caddy, adding that “golf is not yet the national game of Korea, aye?”

Boy, times sure have changed…

Kissinger Would Be Proud

It seems to me that driving in New York City is a micro-application of Realpolitik in real-time.



On the road most of today, heading back down to the Big Apple.

Question: if New York is ‘la grande pomme’, does that make Boise ‘le grande pomme de terre’?

Whatevers of the World, Unite!


So, we were wondering… what’s the techincal difference between a peon and a serf?

That's Entertainment!


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Calling All Foodies


So I’ve got a week left in Boston and I realize that I really haven’t exploited the restaurant resources of this town. What are the places in Boston I must hit before I exeunt to head back to school? I had dinner at Legal last night, and I’m probably going to hit Casa Romero sometime in the next few days…

Fear The Flying Spaghetti Monster

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Here’s an open letter to the Kansas Board of Education asking them to give time to a very alternative theory of evolution.

It seems to me to be just as valid as Intelligent Design theory.

Going Back Back Back Back

In the comments to this post, Ethan Zuckerman pointed to the Accordian Guy posting a mashup of Yes and Sir Mix-a-Lot called “Owner of a Lovely Butt”.

Which is a very long way of introducing west coast bluesmen Charlie and The Nightcats’ own ode: The Booty Song (I Love To Watch You Walk Away)

This Quote's Too Good to Pass Up

Shark v. Octopus

Dude, if all nature specials were like this, no-one would watch anything else.

From The Guardian:

“[The Lord of the Rings] appeals to both men and women. Even though many women have thought of this as a male genre - something in the film makes it work very powerfully with female audiences.”

Judging from the reaction of many of the women I know who saw the films, that “something” is named Viggo Mortensen.

Internet Goofery


Like all internet quizes, I would hardly regard the results as gospel…

The Expatriate
Achtung! You are 23% brainwashworthy, 22% antitolerant, and 33% blindly patriotic
Congratulations! You are not susceptible to brainwashing, your values and cares extend beyond the borders of your own country, and your Blind Patriotism (“patriotism” for short) does not reach unhealthy levels. In Germany in the 30s, you would’ve left the country.

One bad scenario — as I hypothetically project you back in time — is that you just wouldn’t have cared one way or the other about Nazism. Maybe politics don’t interest you enough. But the fact that you took this test means they probably do. I’m gonna give you the benefit of the doubt.

Did you know that many of the smartest Germans departed prior to the beginning of World War II, because they knew some evil shit was brewing? Brain Drain. Many of them were scientists. It is very possible you could be one of them, depending on your age.

Conclusion: Born and raised in Germany in the early 1930’s, you would not have been a Nazi.

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 15% on brainwashworthy
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 28% on antitolerant
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 50% on patriotic
Link: The Would You Have Been a Nazi Test written by jason_bateman on Ok Cupid

(via pg)

The music of Gavin Bryars is inevitably described using the words listed in the title of this post. And that’s not entirely inaccurate. But at the same time, that’d be like describing the music of Philip Glass as “repetitive” or Morton Feldman’s scores as “slow”. Yes, it’s slow-developing, and yes, it does seem drenched in melancholy. After all, one of his recordings is titled After The Requiem.

But there’s much more to it than that, and careful listeners will be well rewarded by his very thoughtful music. Some of Bryars’ music reminds me of a more tuneful George Crumb, actually. This particular piece is an adaptation of a instrumental interlude for a proposed (apparently never written) opera based on Thomas de Quincy’s The Last Days of Immanuel Kant.

Busted, Pt. ∞

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Broken Flowers is the best movie I’ve seen all year.

The soundtrack’s not bad, either.

Janet Leigh, Please Pick Up A White Courtesy Phone

This is Shower Scene, from Saint Etienne’s Finisterre, which I reviewed back when it came out.

So here’s a puzzle: Tales From Turnpike House, the latest St. Etienne long-player, is available on the UK iTunes Store, but isn’t available in the US iTunes store, even though there doesn’t appear to be any movement on any front to have this disc released on this side of the Atlantic. It’d seem to me that releasing something like this on iTunes would be a cheap and easy way to determine if there’s a market for it…

(as a side note, people who bought Tales From Turnpike House from iTunes also bought The Feynman Lectures on Physics, The Very Best of Edith Piaf, and a live album by Los de Abajo, a Mexican poli-punk band…)

Almost Posted This Elsewhere

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It took an unusual level of self-control to not post this link to Global Voices.

I'm Rubber...

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Greatest condom ad ever? We report, you decide.

At The Two-Thirds Mark...

If the playoffs started today, the Yankees would be at home… watching them on TV.

Most Surprising Team: The Red Sox. If you judged how a team was doing by reading local press coverage, you’d think the Bosox were in third place and fading fast. They have a losing record in their own division. Their ace has missed half the season and still hasn’t returned to the rotation; their closer couldn’t close a screen door and is now out with knee surgery; middle relief has mostly been relief for opposing batters; their slugging first baseman has a grand total of 4 home runs for the season and has been publicly unhappy; their single best player has been loafing in the field and publicly demanded a trade. Yet somehow they’ve pulled off the second-best record in the AL and are 4.5 games up on the second-place Yankees. Of course, it helps that they’ve scored the most runs in the majors.

Second-Most Surprising Team: The White Sox. 14 games up? They could coast and play under .500 ball the rest of the way and end up with a 97-65 record. To catch them, the Indians would have to go 40-15—a .727 winning percentage—and that would only tie the ChiSox.

Comeback Player (so far): Nomar. I’d earlier written that it looked like he was out for the season; now it looks like he’ll return within a week. Too bad the Cubbies are five games out of the the wildcard…

Most Pathetic Division: The NL West. The Giants apparently played 10 games under .500 in June and July yet still managed to gain 3.5 games in the standings. Division-leading San Diego is under .500, with only a winning record against their own division.

My Brother Has A Slightly More Sympathetic View...

My brother is slightly more sympathetic to the vapid family written about below.

But not much more.

It's Not Just Me, Is It?


So there’s this article from the Wall Street Journal about an American family’s struggles in adjusting to expat life in interior China. Is it just me, or are the family’s attempts to adjust, to put it very politely, half-assed?

I know that moving to an entirely alien environment is extremely tough, stressful, etc., but the best way to handle these kinds of challenges seems to me to look at them as opportunities. Seriously—how many families from the midwest get the chance to go half-way across the world and experience entirely new cultures and ideas?

Instead, they barricaded themselves inside the Hilton for nine months and refused to eat the local cuisine (hey, if it’s good enough for 32 million Chinese, it’ ain’t gonna kill you to try it). Food needs are handled by a closet full of Hormel cans. Chinese lessons are two hours a week, which might be good enough to learn jive but is essentially useless for learning Chinese.

So instead of embracing a 5,000-year-old culture, a country with a population four times that of the US, and trying to learn from it, they’ve instead retreated and tried to recreate a simulation of “normal” life behind the walls of an exclusive gated community. I somehow think that they’re not getting everything they could out of the experience.

Rick Bruner reminds me of a Calvin Trillin story: his wife once said that she likes chinese food but she doesn’t think anyone could eat it every day. Trillin fired back that that only a billion people do so, every day.

And The Wheel In The Sky Keeps On Turnin'

This is a very cool Flickr-based color wheel.

And in other flickr news, their new “cluster” technology for disambiguating tags is a really very interesting way of analyzing the data they have aggregated as tags.

They’ve also introduced interestingness, which does generate some very, well, intersting pictures, but since they (rightly) haven’t released exactly how interestingness is calculated, I find it more of a curio than anything else right now…

Yah, So I Might Have Misheard It.

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I spent years wondering why Eric Clapton would want to be someone’s four-letter man.



I can now spell “Uzbekistan” without having to double-check it.

Still working on “Kyrgyzstan”, though.