:: Saturday, April 29 2006 ::
I have a very expensive mobile phone from Sprint, the PPC 6700. It has windows, does email, wireless internet, the whole nine yards.
Actually, I should say it did all those things.
It's my work phone, and as they are passing them out to other people, it sometimes falls to me to figure out new things to do with the phone. So when I saw there was an update to the phone, I decided to see if it introduced any new features. I started the process of updating, and about halfway through the computer locked.
Generally speaking, when updating hardware like I was you are shown a dire dire warning which says something along the lines of 'whatever you do, don't turn off your machine while updating'.
So I looked at the phone, and sure enough, it had been completely erased. Down to the hardware. Nothing left but a 'Version 1.00' message on the otherwise unlit screen.
I called Sprint, and they told me to take it to a technician. If they couldn't fix it, I was informed, they would give me a new phone. What they didn't mention was that I would be asked to buy the very new phone.
So we wait to see if the person my company works with can make this go away, or if we are just toast. It's interesting, the idea that a company could give you a faulty product and then just say 'too bad!' when it breaks. But that's the world we seem to have designed.
:: David (21:06 in Michigan, 3:06 in Paris) - Comment
Same old, same old - did some work, planted some herbs, went shopping for random necessaries. The new thing for the day was the grill. We bought one about a week ago, and today we went to the local fishmonger (because I can) and got some salmon to grill. We also picked up some corn on the cob and grilled that as well. Sasha made some lovely mashed potatoes and a salad to go with it, and we had a right proper feast. Now we're off to congratulate a young woman who has passed her preliminary examinations and is ready to write her PhD.
:: David (20:58 in Michigan, 2:58 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Friday, April 28 2006 ::
This is very fun - someone at work pointed out a map showing gas prices by county across the US. Of course, they don't have a slot for the 'over six dollars' category you would need for the UK....
:: David (9:53 in Michigan, 15:53 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, April 26 2006 ::
Wanna see if you can balance France's books? Apparently there's a new game sponsored by the French government that will let you do just that. According to the French budget minister,
In this game each French person can pretend they are the budget minister and make decisions to understand how much each [ministry's] budget costs, education spending, military spending, how it's all organised and see what kind of decision we can make when we want to cut taxes.It's a great idea, actually, and reminds me of something similar I saw here in the states, except the US version was a live action role-playing edition, with each group taking on roles, but with the same goal - educate the people on how tough it is to manage such crazy sums of money. Now the question is, will the budget minister see how people would allocate money if given the opportunity, and then follow their lead? I doubt it.
:: David (21:07 in Michigan, 3:07 in Paris) - Comment
I've been a little less bloggy than usual, and I blame my job. I actually came home yesterday in such a bad mood that I turned in directly. I've been fighting with legacy applications, trying to figure out why random program A, which is badly documented to begin with (because the open source movement, or at least the bits I work with, seems incapable of doing documentation), has been customised beyond recognition - also with little or no documentation.
I also seem to have been cursed with something many people would kill for - the job that is exactly in line with their interests. When I work on websites all day, I come home and think 'I would like to do anything but work on websites'. So I do. Which means I need a new hobby. Perhaps this job will drive me to finally get better at making music...?
:: David (19:08 in Michigan, 1:08 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Just in case you had forgotten, the European Parlaiment would like to point out that "The CIA has run more than 1,000 flights within the European Union since 2001, often transporting terror suspects for questioning overseas", according to a story on the BBC. I think it comes as no surprise to anyone that several of these folk claim to have been tortured after they were whisked away to random destinations with spotty human rights records....
:: David (19:02 in Michigan, 1:02 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, April 24 2006 ::
We went to Egypt about a year and a half ago, and while there visited a resort town called Dahab. Shortly thereafter there were bombs at several places near there, which was a little freaky. Now at least three bombs have gone off in Dahab, early reports suggest 100 people killed or injured. Scary.
:: David (14:29 in Michigan, 20:29 in Paris) - Comment
:: Sunday, April 23 2006 ::
The Economist has done a survey of new media, which is basically what I do in my spare time, and what I do for my work. The introductory article to the survey does a nice job of introducing what is meant by 'new media' and why it matters. It's interesting to see a magazine like the economist doing a piece like this - in some respects I feel as though they are doing it at just the right time - many of the tools have passed into common use and parlance, but only among a limited set. An article like this both promotes them to a wider audience and gives them credibility.
:: David (14:22 in Michigan, 20:22 in Paris) - Comment
OK, this is just scary - jwz (who currently has some slightly disturbing images posted, be warned) pointed me to an article which suggests that more than just flavour may be lost when we breed only for hardy fruits and veggies:
In spite of what Mother taught you about the benefits of eating broccoli, data collected by the U.S. government show that the nutritional content of America's vegetables and fruits has declined during the past 50 years -- in some cases dramatically.
I tracked down the abstract, which is wonderfully dry, suggesting "any real declines [in nutrient content] are generally most easily explained by changes in cultivated varieties between 1950 and 1999, in which there may be trade-offs between yield and nutrient content". Just beautiful - not only are we not getting good tasting food, it isn't even as good for us as the tasty stuff. Just crazy.
:: David (3:59 in Michigan, 9:59 in Paris) - Comment
A full day today - we got up early-ish and headed over to look at air conditioners for the summer, then went to the Toyota dealership and test drove the new Yaris. We took out the four door, but we'll probably buy the hatchback. We wanted something small and cute with good gas mileage, and this fit all the bills, and unfortunately is new for 2007 so we can't buy a used one. So we'll bite the bullet and buy new (the documentation the guy gave us is a hoot - it suggests the car will be worth less than half after five years - not that that matters to me, as I intend to drive it into the ground). I feel less bad buying a very cheap car new than I would if I were buying, say, a mini.
After that, a massive shopping trip, groceries and a grill for the back porch. Finally, in the evening some friends came over and we played games late into the night. Good stuff! And tomorrow, Sasha and I both have massive amounts of work to get done!
:: David (2:03 in Michigan, 8:03 in Paris) - Comment
:: Saturday, April 22 2006 ::
Absolutely crazy statistic for the day, from the New York Times:
Nationally, 34 percent of those between 18 and 34 receive cash from their parents annually, according to a study by the Institute of Social Research at the University of Michigan published in "On the Frontier of Adulthood" in 2005.The stat is from this article, which is all about, well, kids who get money from their parents. If you are interested in seeing more about the study, you can see an abstract here, which seems to have some pretty serious detail, including methodology.
:: David (9:52 in Michigan, 15:52 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Friday, April 21 2006 ::
Brace yourself - a big one on economics here. I've been reading with interest that Nigeria will be paying off its Paris Club debt, leaving it with additional funds to pay for health, education, or, well, servicing its other debts.
The Paris Club, according to their official website, is "an informal group of official creditors whose role is to find co-ordinated and sustainable solutions to the payment difficulties experienced by debtor nations". A less generous perspective might have it either a lapdog of the IMF (and thus a political tool), as seems to be the case with Southcentre, which provides an overview of the relationship between debt and colonisation, and notes
The Paris Club has extremely close ties with IMF, as is apparent from the observer status of IMF at the Club’s meetings, which take place behind closed doors. IMF plays a key role in the debt strategy employed by the Paris Club, which relies on the Fund’s macroeconomic expertise and judgement to implement one of the Club’s basic principles: conditionality. In return, the actions of the Paris Club preserve the status of IMF as a preferential creditor and safeguard the application of its adjustment strategies in developing countries.Another perspective is that membership in the club gives each individual nation a very strong bargaining chip with debtor nations, as the agreements reached are bilateral, that is, each member of the Paris club reaches its own agreement with the debtor nation.
Even as we could see the payment of the debt as a good step forward, we might note that many of the projects the money was intended to fund were not wild successes. As such, the fact that Nigeria is now throwing good money after bad does not necessarily strike me as cause for celebration. On the other hand, getting out from under a mountain of debt is never a bad thing, and while we might wish things had worked out better, at least now Nigeria will be in a better position to move forward.
:: David (22:39 in Michigan, 4:39 in Paris) - Comment
An evening off. Exactly what the doctor ordered. After the excitement this morning, when we went to the vet with our kitten (she had an attack of the sneezies, and we wanted to be sure it wasn't serious), a nice evening spent playing video games and reading is exactly what the doctor ordered. Eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we model Turkey.
Edit: Sasha pointed out that I may have used the doctor phrase a touch too much there
:: David (21:58 in Michigan, 3:58 in Paris) - Comment
Use small words, or pay the price. Collision Detection pointed me to the article Consequences of erudite vernacular utilized irrespective of necessity: problems with using long words needlessly, which did a study showing that as complexity of language increased, perceived intelligence decreased. Interestingly, difficult-to-read fonts also had this effect.
:: David (12:11 in Michigan, 18:11 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Taking a page from Poland, Switzerland has started a sexy swiss guys campaign to woo 'Football widows' during the world cup in neighbouring Germany.
:: David (7:57 in Michigan, 13:57 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, April 20 2006 ::
Things that I had forgotten that are still funny: Snakes on a Plane!
:: David (17:29 in Michigan, 23:29 in Paris) - Comment
So Domino's Pizza was founded here, in this lovely city I call home, and the founder decided it would be nice to mount a little display telling the world what his favourite religion was. When he couldn't get permission for his plan for a 250 foot tall crucifix, he apparently decided to head elsewhere. Now the BBC is reporting that he has expanded the plan, and is building an entire Christian city in Florida.
:: David (8:49 in Michigan, 14:49 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
The BBC has a story which suggests that perhaps the best place to dump radioactive waste is in the habitat of endangered species. Then maybe the humans will leave them alone.
:: David (8:07 in Michigan, 14:07 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, April 19 2006 ::
I love the fact that Sideways still gets so much traction in the American wine world. Rebecca Blood pointed me to a wine seminar (and website) promoting Merlot, or as the website puts it, "Swanson is singlehandedly trying to rescue Merlot from being maligned, re-introducing Merlot as the marvelous and complicated grape fundamental to magnificent red wines made around the world." Quite a task
:: David (8:04 in Michigan, 14:04 in Paris) - Comment
So maybe China isn't such a nice place to be in prison, after all. British doctors have apparently indicated that Chinese prisoners are giving up their organs involuntarily...
:: David (7:43 in Michigan, 13:43 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Tuesday, April 18 2006 ::
Technorati continues to impress - here's their take on word frequency: Posts that contain Hocus Pocus per day for the last 30 days.
Get your own chart!
:: David (22:52 in Michigan, 4:52 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Sasha is teaching a course on the history of witchcraft this semester, and several of her students are writing their final papers are on a film from 1993 called Hocus Pocus. So we watched it this evening. Ouch. Bette Midler plays the lead, uh, baddie, and it was possibly the most painful experience I've had in days.
The entertaining part is that after the film Sasha wanted to analyze the themes it explored.
:: David (22:40 in Michigan, 4:40 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, April 17 2006 ::
What happens when you cross token ring networks and ganja culture? Find out on Slashdot.
:: David (7:48 in Michigan, 13:48 in Paris) - Comment
I used to love the Letter from America that Alistair Cooke did on the BBC. According to Wikipedia it lasted 58 years under his watch, until his retirement in 2004.
As it turns out, this post has nothing to do with that. I thought his show had been changed into the show 'From our own correspondant', but as it turns out I think I was mistaken.
What I am actually interested in talking about, after that bizarre traipse through my mind, is Duke University. 'From Our Own Correspondant' has covered the recent turmoil, with some interesting observations:
I hadn't really heard much about this, which probably tells you how much I pay attention to national (as opposed to international) news. I thought the BBCs coverage was thoughtful, concise, and just about as much as I wanted to know about this particular story.
[...]as I wandered the campus in the company of a global group of students and instructors, something did ring a little false.
It was all rather media driven and redolent of a familiar type of American crisis, with its arguments made for television and talk radio.
Not that the issues were not extremely serious, but one wondered if anyone fulminating in the media really cared about the human cost of it all.
:: David (0:36 in Michigan, 6:36 in Paris) - Comment
:: Sunday, April 16 2006 ::
I'm not sure how I missed it, but last week the BBC did one of their a day in Iraq specials, where they report all the news they can find in Iraq (example: "Al-Iraqiya TV's Good Morning Iraq programme broadcasts an interview with a former Iraqi international basketball player, Munzir Ali Shnawah. He criticises the current infrastructure for basketball in Iraq"), and interview people all over the country (well, where they can go) about their current situation. It's a nice way to get a feel for the country, sort of.
:: David (20:14 in Michigan, 2:14 in Paris) - Comment
Holidays in the US are quite interesting. On the one hand, the US believes itself to be (and therefore, one might say, is) quite religious. So when we went to church this morning there was standing room only. Literally. And while I was out driving the man on the rock 'n' roll music station I was listening to reminded me that today 'wasn't about Peter Cottontail. Sorry. It's about how Jesus Christ died for me'. I kid you not. I seriously expected someone to come in and drag him off the mic, but they didn't. So there ya go.
But this religiousness hits a wall when it comes to the consumer culture. I was out driving to drop Sasha at a meeting (on Easter, one might note!) and decided after I dropped her to go to the store. Which was open. And packed to the gills. Obviously there is a slight disconnect between the idea of the 'holiday' (holy day) and our modern concept of shopping as entertainment.
One of the things I noticed in France was that if one was forced to take a breath from consuming (as one was on Sundays and holidays), it allowed you to focus on other, more interesting things. It also, as I have noted before, provided a reference point, allowing you to say 'today is not a regular day' - it gave the weeks a rhythm. Of course, it also lowers GDP (an aggregate measure of things bought and sold). So when everyone talks about Europe's lower growth rate, I take it with a grain of salt - they refer not only to outdated economic policies, but also to things we in the states might wish we had - like free time.
:: David (17:41 in Michigan, 23:41 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
So Foreign Policy magazine has started a blog. For news junkies like me this is good - a slightly better source of world news from an American viewpoint.
:: David (0:26 in Michigan, 6:26 in Paris) - Comment
:: Saturday, April 15 2006 ::
A little food porn: Sasha's folks came over for dinner, and we had risotta with black truffles, along with a lovely italian red (Montepulciano D'Abruzzo). For dessert, dark chocolate raspberry cups and champagne (moët et chandon).
The only down side is that now we have opened the truffles, and we're fairly certain they should be eaten sooner, rather than later. If any of you know any recipes calling for black truffles let me know!
:: David (23:26 in Michigan, 5:26 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Friday, April 14 2006 ::
I love the way democracy is OK, until it elects someone we don't like. The US has said that American businesses can't do business with the Palestinian government. Good job. That'll surely bring them into the fold.
:: David (14:03 in Michigan, 20:03 in Paris) - Comment
Sasha's folks arrived today - we met for lunch at Zola, a little cafe near(ish) where I work. The weekend should be full, as I also have some info from Paris to look at.
:: David (14:01 in Michigan, 20:01 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, April 13 2006 ::
Google has a new calendar, which combines both your basic calendar function, your evite function (sending an invitation and tracking who will come), and the mashup functionality (where you can put your calendar on another web page where it will show live data). Cute.
:: David (0:45 in Michigan, 6:45 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Slashdot pointed me to an article on Wired which shows that the department of homeland security isn't very secure:
A computer failure that hobbled border-screening systems at airports across the country last August occurred after Homeland Security officials deliberately held back a security patch that would have protected the sensitive computers from a virus then sweeping the internet, according to documents obtained by Wired News.
They go on to point out that the US-VISIT program is nothing more than a kludge of pre-existing computers and databases forced to work long past their expiration date.
Wired reports that the government was not keen on parting with the documents which revealed this blunder and the lawsuit concerning their release is ongoing. What has been released is, according to Wired, "six pages of heavily redacted documents, including one page that is completely blacked out."
The point, Wired says, is that a virus from the public internet made its way onto a network that should be isolated and private. Hackers could as easily follow the same trail, with more devastating effect.
:: David (0:18 in Michigan, 6:18 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, April 12 2006 ::
Is that a 'miss' or a 'mrs'? A decision we never have to make in the US, but in France, one needs to know. Which, the BBC is reporting, bothers some people. I quite enjoy the quote they have from one woman
"It's true if a guy likes me and asks if I am madame or mademoiselle, I know what he means and what he is wants to know behind this question."It would also help us poor foreigners avoid yet another linguistic landmine, to only have one word to use.
:: David (23:50 in Michigan, 5:50 in Paris) - Comment
I was workin' like a fiend this evening, so I could go out tomorrow night with a clean conscience. I was even fielding email from my day job while working on my night job. It was a crazy burst of productivity. Nice.
On the leisure front, we logged in to the game (Seed) we are beta testing. 'Beta', however, is a bit generous. I'll try again in a week or so and see if they have things like 'moving your character' worked out yet.
We're also well into our 'mad Spring cleaning before Sasha's folks get here' mode. Sasha more than I, since she is here during the day, but we've both been cleaning more than is our usual wont. The Kitchen and Den/Office are about as spotless as they're ever going to get, and the living room is a target for tomorrow. Although when we'll have time tomorrow is beyond me, as it is our weekly 'watch TV with Kevin' night. Yay for socializing!
:: David (23:38 in Michigan, 5:38 in Paris) - Comment
Tiger Woods has been involved in a linguistic mishap in the UK, for saying he played like a 'spaz'. If you're an American reader, you're probably confused as to what the problem is.
Read the article to find out what the fuss is about. I'd say the best thing he could do would be to offer an apology along the lines of 'I really had no idea...'
:: David (8:21 in Michigan, 14:21 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Tuesday, April 11 2006 ::
I got an interesting email this evening, informing me that I had been selected to participate in a new MMORPG beta test for a game called 'Seed'. The game website seems fairly rudimentary at the moment, but the game itself seems to be well on its way to being a real live game. I haven't played yet, merely looked at the character creation screen.
I think it could be fun to do for a while, and the price is right (free, in exchange for feedback). Sasha and I will probably use it to occupy some evenings, although perhaps less than their usual beta test cases. We'll see if it's fun, as that will really decide it for us. An interesting tidbit is that the game is being designed in Aarhus, Denmark, where a friend of mine went to University. It's a nice town, if you get the chance.
:: David (0:13 in Michigan, 6:13 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Monday, April 10 2006 ::
Could the fourth Harry Potter movie have been any longer? Two hours and thrity-five minutes! Holy cow! Sasha hadn't seen it (I saw it on the plane, I think, as with most movies I see), so we rented it this eve. It is, to reiterate, a long film.
:: David (23:26 in Michigan, 5:26 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Looks like all the carping at social scientists has been noted. In Foreign Policy magazine, Moisés Naím takes some potshots at the 'dismal science'.
Of course, it's become fashionable to carp at economists. It's also become fashionable for other social scientists to use the same methods - one presumes with the same questionable results. It all goes back to the same adage - 'lies, damned lies, and statistics'. via A&L Daily
Economists take pride in the sophisticated statistical techniques on which they rely to analyze phenomena such as growth, inflation, unemployment, trade, and even the long-term effects of abortion on crime rates. Many are convinced that their methods are more rigorous than those of all other social sciences and dismiss research that does not rest on quantitative methods as little more than “storytelling” or, worse, “glorified journalism.” Anthropologists, some economists jest, believe that the plural of anecdote is “data.”
A survey published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives found that 77 percent of the doctoral candidates in the leading departments in the United States believe that “economics is the most scientific of the social sciences.” It turns out, however, that this certitude does not stem from how well they regard their own discipline but rather from their contempt for the other social sciences. Although they were nearly unanimous about the relative superiority of their profession, only 9 percent of the respondents were convinced that economists agree on fundamental issues.
:: David (19:04 in Michigan, 1:04 in Paris) - Comment
You'd think this was a joke, but you'd be wrong: Brokeback Mountain film considered too explicit for US prison :
Correctional authorities in Massachusetts said the film was unsuitable for a prison setting because of its "sexually explicit scenes".I think some people are in serious denial. This is especially amusing (?) given the article I read recently on the largest prison system in the world. That would be the American one, by the way. For a real lark, look at the chart showing prison populations about midway down the page. China, which at this point has five times the population, has one fifth the prison population. Say what you will, that's a curious statistic.
:: David (8:15 in Michigan, 14:15 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
The New York Times has an article on how students are more and more on their own when they choose to go to an expensive school, and the ways financial institutions are rushing to fill the gaps.
There's an interesting part which talks about a group of colleges trying to negotiate better interest rates for their students - strength in numbers and all that. The image the article paints, of massive organizations battling it out over huge sums of money, makes you wonder what the next generation is going to look like, buried as many of them will be by huge debts.
:: David (1:01 in Michigan, 7:01 in Paris) - Comment
I've been using Yahoo local to track down local restaurants, and also to review them. I think this link should take you to all the reviews I've done in the Ann Arbor area. I'm trying to decide whether to leave them there or move them onto my website (advertising revenue, dontchaknow). I like the fact that yahoo checks other sites for reviews, but the visual aspect of the site leaves a lot to be desired....
:: David (0:03 in Michigan, 6:03 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Sunday, April 9 2006 ::
We decided at some point to use our giant back porch to plant some herbs and flowers and such. We picked up the planters yesterday, and several sets of seeds, and when we got home determined immediately that we had space for about twice as many planters as we had purchased. Initially we got three large planters, about one meter (yard) long each, and I think some time this week we'll go and get the rest. We've planted the parsley, and started the zuccini and cilantro indoors (there's still a danger of frost here). The squirrels we've been feeding have been kind enough to leave some fertilizer for us, as well, so we're pretty well set. I'm relatively excited to be able to plant lots of plants - I'm even thinking of picking up some sweet corn seeds from home and putting them in the backyard - we're pretty sure there's someone who mows who will kill most things we plant, but if we put them in out-of-the-way places I think we can keep a few things from getting cropped.
It's interesting the amount of information one needs to plant seeds - for example, we had to soak the parsley before planting it, to allow the seeds to germinate. Each plant then has its own planting depth and spacing, and of course whether to plant in the sun or in the shade. I don't know how our anscestors did it - or rather, I expect they would wonder how on earth we survive without knowing anything at all. It's sometimes humbling to realize how much I don't know about the world around me.
:: David (23:43 in Michigan, 5:43 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Slashdot pointed me to an interesting article in the New York Times, about how Google is changing the way we write. The article points out that 30 percent or more of the traffic (readers) a newspaper gets may come from search engines. This means that some companies, to drive traffic, are changing things to improve their results on search engines. Not little things, like the 'meta' tags that only computers see. They are changing things like their headlines, making them easier for computers to understand.
The article explains something I had noted, but never thought about - "Some news sites offer two headlines. One headline, often on the first Web page, is clever, meant to attract human readers. Then, one click to a second Web page, a more quotidian, factual headline appears with the article itself. The popular BBC News Web site does this routinely on longer articles."
This is another, excellent, example of how people are failing to adapt computers to real-world applications, and are instead adapting the real world to meet the computer's needs. It's kind of scary to think about. How far will companies go, if their revenue all comes from search engines that don't appreciate humour or irony?
:: David (13:59 in Michigan, 19:59 in Paris) - Comment
:: Saturday, April 8 2006 ::
Well, that's it then - Sasha's birthday is officially (nearly) over. We went out and spent -way- too much money on a very nice dinner, and now time for sleep!
:: David (23:40 in Michigan, 5:40 in Paris) - Comment
It's Sasha's birthday! So we have spent the day eating good food and not being in the house. This afternoon we went to another 15 dollar sandwich shop (well, the same one, sort of - they have a 'roadhouse' in addition to their 'deli'), and then went buying used clothes and new flowerpots. This evening we have reservations at a swanky restaurant (?) downtown. A fun day, overall.
:: David (19:54 in Michigan, 1:54 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Wednesday, April 5 2006 ::
Sasha asked for a bottle of Moet et Chandon's White Star for her birthday, and so we headed off to the wine store to find it. While there, we noted they were running their '20 percent off a case' discount, so we got 12 bottles. The result? A completely full wine rack! Yes, our 100 bottle rack has become ... well, I guess 'just right' for us. You'll notice a couple at the top at an odd angle - that's because a limited number of wine makers use a larger diameter bottle, which doesn't fit in our rack, so we have to rest those on top (or put them elsewhere, which is what we usually do).
:: David (22:38 in Michigan, 4:38 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
So a guy I went to college with is running for state representative. Leigh Greden (www.voteGreden.com) went to Albion around the same time I did, and now wants to represent our particular part of the state in the state assembly. The website would seem to indicate he is running on a platform of platitudes, though the letter I got informing me of the run seems to indicate an anti-foreign-garbage plank (for those not from Michigan, certain organizations have found it profitable to import garbage to our state, from neighbouring states and also (gasp!) from Canada. This has proven unpopular).
I'm not sure if I'm allowed to vote in the primary to which this particular piece of propoganda was directed, as that is usually reserved for registered party members, and I'm damned if I'll call myself either one of the stinking excuses for parties we have here. Regardless, I'm certainly allowed to vote in November, a task I look forward to with relish.
:: David (22:06 in Michigan, 4:06 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Tuesday, April 4 2006 ::
When I was in France, I used to carp quite a lot about the customer service numbers, which were effectively 900 numbers, i.e. calling them cost the customer money, rather than costing the business money (as with an 800 number). While I still think making the customer pay money to get service is not a good strategy, I'm also fairly convinced, as I sit here listening to the hold music of my student loan company, that making the customer pay in time is not a good strategy either. When I finally managed to get to the 'speak to a customer service representative' section (which, by the way, I had to find via GetHuman because their menus didn't seem to have the 'talk to a person' option), the automated voice told me 'the expected wait time for this call is less than... 25 minutes.' Great. Thanks. I'll get a drink. And rearrange my blog. Write an opera. Knit some socks.
:: David (19:05 in Michigan, 1:05 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
The BBC is calling it a legal onslaught, reporting that "The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) is taking legal action against nearly 2,000 song-swappers in 10 countries."
Now, as it happens I have some live statistics for the number of file sharers on one popular network, and according to those statistics, right now there are 20.25 million users online. Busting out my handy-dandy calculator, I see that's .0000987, or less than 1/100th of one percent of the people online at this moment. They have their work cut out for them, I would say, if they intend to protect their outdated business model only through lawsuits....
:: David (18:19 in Michigan, 0:19 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, April 3 2006 ::
If you've ever wanted to know what I do when I'm not blogging, I have uploaded my bookmarks, so you can all start wondering why I track the price of oil and the euro and formerlyRosie.
:: David (22:38 in Michigan, 4:38 in Paris) - Comment
I saw a fairly amusing story today, which sort of stunned me with its obtuseness: researchers in California have discovered that the car pool lane increases, instead of decreases, traffic congestion. You can read the story here, in a newspaper I completely do not know, and you can access a PDF of the original research from Berkeley. The basic research results show that if you take away one of the lanes and give it to people who wont use it as efficiently, the net result is increased congestion. Who coulda seen that coming? In point of fact, I had always assumed the car pool lane was intended to make everyone jealous of the people in the car pool lane. I hadn't see the research, referenced by the article, which indicates that "the most common form of HOV [high occupancy vehicle, or car pool] lane, where general and restricted traffic is not separated by a physical barrier, causes a fifty percent increase in accidents."
Now, please don't misunderstand - I think the research looks pretty good, and I'm sure their results are interesting. I'm more bemused by the fact that anyone is surprised by their findings.
:: David (22:36 in Michigan, 4:36 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Lindsay pointed me to this article in the NYT about people getting tattoos of asian characters that they think mean one thing, but really mean something else (or nothing at all). The article then referenced a blogger whose purpose in life is to stop people from making terrible mistakes.
I've been aware of the problem for some time - pretty much ever since I lived in Japan. It all started with the spice girls; one of the teachers asked me 'why did she get a tattoo of 'tongue' on her tongue?' Which was probably a cultural thing. But the guy I saw in France with the kanji t-shirt where all the characters were upside down - I think that was something else.
:: David (10:17 in Michigan, 16:17 in Paris) - Comment
What a wacky crazy day! Tammy called me out of the blue to say she would be in town, so Sasha and I went wandering the streets of Ann Arbor with Tammy, George, and all three of Tammy's kids, going from... well... from goofy stores to places with caffeine, to goofy stores to places with sugar, to goofy stores. It was a high-octane day. Then we came back and I did some work (hence this post at two in the morning).
:: David (1:58 in Michigan, 7:58 in Paris) - Comment
:: Sunday, April 2 2006 ::
What a sad weekend this has been. First, last night the brakes on my car started making the kind of noises that say 'expensive repair', specifically saying 'you didn't replace your brake pads, so now I'm going to chew the rotors up, and won't that be expensive?' I figure a few hundred dollars.
And then, as if that wasn't bad enough, I woke up this morning to find the daylight savings gods had stolen an hour of my life. That said, it'll now be light until like nine in the evening, but still, finding you had slept until noon is depressing!
:: David (13:08 in Michigan, 19:08 in Paris) - Comment
Time once again to label the generations. This time the term looks to be 'grup' (though truth be told, I prefer yupster).
He owns eleven pairs of sneakers, hasn’t worn anything but jeans in a year, and won’t shut up about the latest Death Cab for Cutie CD. But he is no kid. He is among the ascendant breed of grown-up who has redefined adulthood as we once knew it and killed off the generation gap.
It's your standard 'isn't this interesting, this new generation' article, although it does a much nicer job of giving a balanced overview. Apparently I have ceased to be Gen X, or even Gen Y, and moved into Peter Pan territory. Via a&l daily.
:: David (12:45 in Michigan, 18:45 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
I have survived my bi-yearly visit to the tax man, having driven across the state to have a friend work the numbers and found that I owe much less than one might have feared (though much more than one might have hoped). I am not entirely certain, but I might even be able to get reimbursed for the fees, but that will take some digging to verify. In the meantime, a burden off my shoulders, and with two whole weeks to spare!
:: David (0:38 in Michigan, 6:38 in Paris) - Comment
:: Saturday, April 1 2006 ::
April Fool's Day has started, apparently at midnight. So far the best thing I've run across is the ThinkGeek Grow Your Own 1up Mushroom Kit. Although the front page of slashdot, which is now done up in pink and says OMG!!! Ponies!!!, is pretty good too.
:: David (2:31 in Michigan, 8:31 in Paris) - Comment