:: Friday, June 30 2006 ::
I feel it necessary, based on the number of times we've watched or listened to it, to provide a link to the music video for Soccer Practice, by the Gay Pimp. It's memorable, to say the least, and the song itself is quite good. And let's face it - in these troubled times any song that exhorts young men to 'join the army' has to be a good thing, right?
:: David (0:35 in Michigan, 6:35 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, June 29 2006 ::
Well, I finally had my 1000th visitor to the blog since I put up the sitemeter stats (i.e. since sometime in May). It happened yesterday, and it looks like the lucky winner was in the UK, specifically in Great Malvern, Worcestershire (or at least that's where their ISP lives). I'm afraid there's no prize, though. Maybe for visitor number ten thousand. Or maybe I'll just wait until I'm rich and famous, and then I can just give prizes to everyone!
:: David (13:22 in Michigan, 19:22 in Paris) - Comment
About friggin' time!
You can read more just about anywhere right now, but the quote above comes from the New York Times.
The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that President Bush overstepped his authority in ordering military war crimes trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees.
The ruling, a rebuke to the administration and its aggressive anti-terror policies, was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, who said the proposed trials were illegal under U.S. law and international Geneva conventions.
:: David (10:51 in Michigan, 16:51 in Paris) - Comment
Much as it surprises me, the New York Times has written an interesting article on Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's planned visit to Graceland. I had assumed it was just the Prime Minister, having some fun, but apparently Bush will be going along. The article talks about the way Bush manages relationships and diplomacy, and how his methods are more effecive in the short term than over the long haul.
:: David (7:39 in Michigan, 13:39 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, June 28 2006 ::
...And just in case one set of kitten photos every four months isn't enough for you, you can get a kitten fix daily at the appopriately-named the daily kitten.
:: David (22:36 in Michigan, 4:36 in Paris) - Comment
Anaïs probably doesn't remember, but in February she asked if I was going to be putting up pictures of our kitten. I said soon-ish. I don't really think four months counts as soon-ish, but I put some up anyway.
:: David (22:31 in Michigan, 4:31 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
A fine afternoon spent at the Secretary of State's office, getting Sasha's address and our car's license plate changed. Wednesday is the day the offices are open late during the week, and we actually had trouble getting in to the building because the queue had wrapped right around in front of the door. Once we were in, though, it was fun to watch as new people arrived and made the same face I imagine we made when we realized the queue stretched all the way around their very large office. It was good that we had to wait, however, as midway through our sojourn Sasha realized that her license had expired in April. So we were in fact getting her a new license, not just an address change.
An amusing event occurred as we were reaching the front of the line, and I write it here so later I can tell you the ending: the Secretary of State, for reasons that escape most people, does not accept any form of credit card. The young man in front of us had apparently not realized this. Thus, when he was asked to pay, he was unable. So he turned around and asked of the world at large "Does anyone have three dollars?" I, being the pseudo-kind soul that I am, gave him the three dollars, and my address, so he could pay me back. He swore he would pay me back (literally - "I swear I'll send a check"). I thought it would be amusing to see.
In the end it was only about an hour from start to finish, and now our little car will be slightly more distinctive. I'll post the photos when we get the plate.
:: David (20:35 in Michigan, 2:35 in Paris) - Comment
:: Tuesday, June 27 2006 ::
I blog too much. I may need to cut it down some - one month of posts is a heck of a lot of wordage! In related stuff, I'm probably going to roll out some changes to the blog come the 1st of July. I've been re-writing the software to accomodate technorati, which thinks my comment forms are the permanent links to my blog entries.
:: David (23:45 in Michigan, 5:45 in Paris) - Comment
I was distracted, for reasons I can't now remember, by the fact that you can find hand painted copies of Western art, mass produced in China. The story is old, but until now I hadn't gone looking. The websites go from polished, to... not. But they all definitely prove one thing: if you make an oil painting from a bad photograph, it still won't look good! That said, I'm tempted to fill in my collection of Mucha reproductions with painted versions....
:: David (23:36 in Michigan, 5:36 in Paris) - Comment
Get ready! In early 2008 the Smart is coming to the U.S. of A! I'm not sad we bought the Yaris, given how long it is to 2008, and how much I like having the storage area in the back for hauling chairs and air conditioners, but if we find ourselves in 2008 looking for a new car so Sasha can get to work too (heaven help us if that should be the case!), the Smart is top of my list!
:: David (17:43 in Michigan, 23:43 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
My window faces the west, which is the direction from which storms come. Right now there is a monster thunderstorm headed my way, and I've just been watching it roll on in. It's quite lovely.
:: David (14:52 in Michigan, 20:52 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
There's something just plain crazy about the idea of nearly 50 thousand workers leaving a company at once, but that's what General Motors has done. Apparently the number was much higher than expected, a sign that folks know when to abandon a sinking ship. Amusingly, an analyst cited in the article suggests that GM may need to hire temporary workers, offsetting many of the gains made by shedding so many workers. An additional question rose in my mind when I read that 30 thousand of those workers are retiring with benefits - a hugely expensive proposition for the automaker, given the yearly increases in health care costs in the US.
:: David (8:22 in Michigan, 14:22 in Paris) - Comment
You know, with all the rhetoric, and ire, and so forth, you would think the media would be following the Mexican elections more closely. I mean, they even have a hook, as one of the guys is being drawn as an ally of that perennial US favourite, Hugo Chavez. But there's little, or none. So I give you some links:
The BBC does a nice profile of the main contenders as well as a Q & A on the elections.
Of course, much of the rest of the government will also change, but with the exclusion of the mayor of Mexico City (who, like mayors of most big cities, will probably have a fairly high profile), I don't know how much those will matter on an international level.
:: David (8:10 in Michigan, 14:10 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, June 26 2006 ::
Argh! The web servers have been on the blink, so yesterday and today (already at 8 am) I've had to play around with them and make them work. I really need a better grasp on unix system administration, which isn't really what I thought I was signing up for when the whole game started, but which is something I could find kind of fun anyway.
:: David (8:13 in Michigan, 14:13 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Sunday, June 25 2006 ::
I added a few links along the side - a couple of people with blogs that weren't linked before. I'm still working on the organization, and I'm thinkin of doing some kind of menu system so I can make the links on the side a little less long.
:: David (21:25 in Michigan, 3:25 in Paris) - Comment
:: Saturday, June 24 2006 ::
We just watched an old movie, which was billed as a romantic comedy. However, one of the scenes in the film was quite remarkable, and so we went looking to see what others had said. We found the following in
American Jewish Yearbook, 1996 (pdf)
Once Upon a Honeymoon (1942), the story of a romance between an
American reporter (Cary Grant) and a former American burlesque
queen (Ginger Rogers), who is at the outset married to a Nazi
ideologue (Walter Slezak). The film features a brief, remarkable
scene in a concentration camp where the Hebrew prayers of Jewish
inmates are overheard. Again, in both films, these were rare
expressions of candor quite out of key with mainstream ideology.
The IMDB entry didn't mention that part, but it added a real layer of interest to the film - especially given that the film was made before the end of the war, so nobody really knew how it was going to turn out. Also amusing was the patriotic bit where they say the pledge of allegiance - without the "under God" bit, because it hadn't been added yet!
:: David (22:56 in Michigan, 4:56 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Let's see. What did I do today? Well, I woke up. I washed my car. Read a book. Oh yeah - I got an eleven thousand dollar tax bill from the IRS. Ho hum. Just another day in Ann Arbor.
:: David (18:13 in Michigan, 0:13 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Friday, June 23 2006 ::
So, the other day we got a letter from a local cemetary memorial maker. It started out "Dear Family of David Barber" and continued "This is a difficult time in your life, and we do not wish to intrude. Other companies will be contacting you about purchasing a cemetary memorial." As were they. I was a little creeped out. Today Sasha found the obituary of the person they had intended to contact:
David G. Barber
So now I know pretty much the exact stuff that will someday be sent to my loved ones. Weird.
Barber, David G. Ann Arbor, MI Age 49, died April 13,
2006 at Arbor Hospice Residence.
:: David (18:31 in Michigan, 0:31 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Lots and lots of snooping! The BBC is reporting on a story the New York Times broke this morning on the US government's snooping through millions of financial transactions made worldwide. According to the NYT article,
Data from the Brussels-based banking consortium, formally known as the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, has allowed officials from the C.I.A., the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies to examine "tens of thousands" of financial transactions, Mr. Levey said.As soon as I saw that SWIFT was involved, I became much more concerned - in the US we don't recognize it, but in the UK it's a word synonymous with debit card. Whether this means that the US government has had access to all those transactions I don't know, but I'm very curious. In what is becoming standard practice for the White House, a denunciation was issued
We are disappointed that once again the New York Times has chosen to expose a classified programme that is working to protect AmericansIt would be funny if it weren't so sad. I just don't see how we're ever going to get control back - the US government is now so far into everyone's personal business at every level that I can't imagine them ever deciding to stop. And given their demonstrated inability to manage ever simple databases, heaven help the people who get caught up in the next wave of random arrests for having the same first initial as a suspected terrorist.
:: David (15:38 in Michigan, 21:38 in Paris) - Comment
Another aspect of the minimum wage issue discussed in my last post is social mobility. A & L Daily pointed me to this essay in Policy Review which looks at theories of natural ability and moral fiber:
If the great social conundrum of our time is the calcification of a class society into a caste society, with the simultaneous rise in social inequality and slowdown in social mobility, then the great policy problem is how we can encourage individual mobility.
It's a dense article, but well worth a read.
:: David (8:50 in Michigan, 14:50 in Paris) - Comment
It really disturbs me that I learned about this story from The Daily Show, but what can you do?
Apparently the US senate yesterday rejected a bill which would have raised the minimum wage - the first such raise in nine years. The arguments were the same as always - republicans claimed raising the minimum wage would have a negative effect on the number of people hired, Democrats said maybe earning ten thousand a year wasn't enough to live on.
It amazes me this question is still hanging around. Not because it is an easy question to answer, but because so much energy has been wasted blathering on about it, and so many smart people have looked at it from so many angles. You would think at least the basics could be agreed on by all.
Long and the short is that I think the low minimum wage allows employers to force the most vulnerable among us to take jobs at a wage that is less than the job is actually worth. The fact that there is virtually no social safety net in the US means that at the lowest levels we are literally telling people to choose between eating, and working for a wage barely high enough to keep them alive. I tend to think competition is good, but I draw the line at things I would consider illegal or immoral. We would never allow an employer to threaten an employee, and yet that is, de facto, what is happening at the lowest rungs of society. We are allowing employers to say 'take this, or fend for yourself'. And with no social safety net, 'fending for yourself' in the US is a dire prospect indeed.
It is, of course, fair to argue that 'take this, or fend for yourself' is what is said to all of us. The difference is options. I took a job with lower pay than I really wanted, because I had space to do so. Earning, say, ten thousand less than you really want is a very different prospect for me than for someone who only earns ten thousand. Additionally, the number of people with my skill set is considerably smaller than the number of people with the skill set necessary to work in a minimum wage job - meaning competition will always be greater at that end of the spectrum, and wages will be commensurately depressed.
The more I write, the more I am convinced that what is needed is not a higher minimum wage, but a more encompassing social assistance package. The downside, of course, of doing that is that you would draw people out of the labour force. Exactly the same effect, people argue, as a minimum wage increase....
You can see the video from last night's daily show if you want to know how I found out about this story.
:: David (8:33 in Michigan, 14:33 in Paris) - Comment
Sometimes you just wonder how people end up in such strange circumstances. Take, for example, this guy:
A renowned US antiques expert has admitted stealing nearly 100 maps worth $3m (£1.6m) from major institutions, including the British Library.
I noticed this story on the BBC, and it attracted my attention because I tend to expect 'experts' to be the people protecting these things. Now what I would like to know is what he was doing with the maps - collecting, or selling. The fact that he has "homes on Martha's Vineyard and in Maine" makes me wonder if it wasn't the latter....
:: David (7:36 in Michigan, 13:36 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, June 22 2006 ::
So my company recently got an intern to do some web work. She's located in different offices than I am, so to train her on the software she was going to be using, we set up a videoconference. Now, the videoconferencing software doesn't do audio as well as our phone system does, so we usually go through the regular phone system for audio. So, when it was time for the meeting I asked the intern to call me.
Our phone system uses the fairly standard practice of requiring a special number at the front (in our case a nine) to get an outside line. Thus to dial a phone number one might dial 9-1-734-555-1212, for example.
The intern had some trouble with this, but finally managed to get through to me, and we started the training. A few minutes in, there's the sound of a big dog barking, and the intern turns to face an obviously large male who has entered the office, along with the supervisor of this particular branch. Questions are asked, and the intern has started to turn a little green. I finally pick up some phrases from the conversation they are having. Specifically the words "nine one one" as in the number one dials in the US to call emergency services. Apparently in trying to dial my number, the intern had accidentally called the police, and when they tried to call back all the lines were busy, so they sent a police officer to investigate. The dog was actually the manager's dog, who was in the office, and who apparently doesn't like strange police officers showing up. Without a doubt the funniest thing I have ever experienced. And the really amazing thing is that the intern was able to then continue with the training (although how much stuck remains to be seen).
:: David (13:55 in Michigan, 19:55 in Paris) - Comment
There's an article on the BBC which discusses the EU policy toward winemaking:
The article isn't terribly balanced, although every now and again the author pauses to consider what would be the consequences of turning off the subsidies altogether: "I wonder if we really want [...] French agriculture so efficient that it produces cheese of the same quality as you get in the US." It's a tough question, given that the business fluctuates from one year to the next.
I'm in a distillery in the heart of Burgundy, one of France's most prestigious wine regions. If you're British, or a citizen of another EU country, that's your tax money going up, not in smoke, but in an aromatic waft of steam.
Europe is producing more wine than people want to drink. Most Europeans are drinking less wine, and those that aren't - like the British, Irish and Swedes - are turning to the New World. So the EU spends half a million euros every year turning wine we don't buy into spirit that's not needed, so that the vineyard owners can make a living.
:: David (7:23 in Michigan, 13:23 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, June 21 2006 ::
According to Google Maps, the distance from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Northfield, Minnesota (where I was this week) is 653 miles. This can be driven, says the computer, in about 11 hours and 24 minutes. Or it can be flown, says the David, in 12. It took me from 5 AM to 5 PM. As I noted earlier, the first leg was rough and slow. The second leg was slightly, but only slightly, better. Of course, if things had gone as planned I imagine it would have been a whole lot faster....
:: David (20:47 in Michigan, 2:47 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
I won't tell you anything about it, just tell you the name: The Pirate Party of the United States.
:: David (13:46 in Michigan, 19:46 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
I got up extra early this morning to ensure I caught my flight. The first leg was the bumpiest I've ever been on, and took twice as long as expected due to us being redirected hundreds of miles out of our way to avoid a big storm. Of course this meant I missed my Chicago connection, so I got to spend four hours in the airport living it up (i.e. eating terrible food and killing time). Hopefully I can avoid this the next time I come (in July, perhaps...).
:: David (13:27 in Michigan, 19:27 in Paris) - Comment
Ah, those crazy French politicians. I read in the Times this morning that Villepin had some very strong words for M. Hollande. According to the Times Villepin said "I denounce, Mr. Hollande, the superficiality, and I would even say, looking at you, cowardice! Cowardice! There is in your attitude, I say it again, cowardice!". Le Monde is reporting this afternoon that Villepin has apologised for the incident (in which he actually said "Je dénonce la facilité, et je dirai même en vous regardant, la lâcheté, la lâcheté qu'il y a dans votre attitude"). He is quoted in the article as having issued the following apology: "Si certains mots vous ont personnellement blessé, je le regrette et je les retire" (if some of my words have personally injured you, I regret it and I take them back).
:: David (13:23 in Michigan, 19:23 in Paris) - Comment
:: Tuesday, June 20 2006 ::
Done. And exhausted. Last night and tonight I have been reminded what happens if one talks all day. You get a sore throat. I have the world's earliest flight in the morning, so I'm likely to be a wreck tomorrow. Such is life. So long as I can get back home and relax, and maybe never do this again (until the next time).
:: David (22:46 in Michigan, 4:46 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, June 19 2006 ::
When they reserved the hotel for my event in Minnesota, they ran out of regular rooms at the hotel and had to give us one of the swanky upgrade rooms. I naturally made certain it was mine. So yesterday and today I shall enjoy the wonders of an in-room whirlpool. Actually, I'm not sure the whirl part works, but having a large bathtub reminds me how much I loved onsen in Japan.
:: David (23:00 in Michigan, 5:00 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Well that was certainly something! I had quite a long day, and it isn't at all over, as we are going to create a review sheet to show what folks should have gotten from day one. I had hoped to go to a swanky restaurant in the area, but it is closed on Mondays, which means I may need to go solo on Tuesday. Sad.
:: David (18:57 in Michigan, 0:57 in Paris) - Comment
:: Sunday, June 18 2006 ::
A funny thought - according to the Economist, 36% of Democrats favour Hillary Clinton's candidacy compared with just 16% for Al Gore. And apparently Al Gore is "her nearest rival". I have no idea what to do with that. The man did a very good thing not running in 2004. I think he would do a very good thing not running in 2008. That said, however, I'd probably prefer him to Hillary. Thank goodness the Dems are going to do so poorly in 2006 - it will perhaps give them another chance to honestly reshape themselves (since they blew the first couple).
:: David (18:25 in Michigan, 0:25 in Paris) - Comment
The World Cup, Group G is just bizarre. There are four teams, and they are as follows:
Now, if you had asked me about those four countries, I'd have said France, then the Swiss, then the other two. Clearly I would have been mistaken. I can't believe South Korea managed a draw with France. It's crazy. But if they go on (and they probably will), I'll be pulling for them every step of the way!
South Korea|| 4|
Switzerland || 1|
Togo || 0|
Speaking of underdogs, I see Australia is still in the running, which must be exciting for them. I hope they make it.
And of course, there's the USA. The Register recently ran an article entitled The US soccer team will always stink, and while I think that's a bit harsh, 2006 does not look to be their year.
:: David (18:08 in Michigan, 0:08 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
I flew to Minnesota this morning. I went by way of Chicago. I have now decided that there is no question at all that flying and driving to Chicago take the same amount of time. It took three hours to get to the runway in Chicago, and I'm quite certain it would have been another hour to get a rental and actually drive into the city. So there you go. And given how inefficient flying is anyway (especially short-haul flights), you might just as well take the car, as it will save gas (for more on this, the Economist recently did an article on aircraft emissions).
:: David (17:35 in Michigan, 23:35 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Saturday, June 17 2006 ::
There is a tremendous article in the June issue of Harper's magazine, written by Ben Metcalf. It poses a very simple question, a question of free speech. Actually, it poses a question of free speech by posing a question. I was actually nearly breathless when I read the key paragraph:
Am I allowed to write that I would like to hunt down George W. Bush, the president of the United States, and kill him with my bare hands?
I actually stopped reading. I had a moment of panic, as if by reading the article I had been implicated in a crime. And that was what made it so interesting. The article goes on to explore the free speech implications of whether even asking the question is in some way a crime, and whether it should be. Along the way it takes (verbal) potshots at the president and the American right, all the while emphasizing (as I wish to emphasize, just in case) that in no way does the author actually wish to harm the president.
This article, by itself, made subscribing to Harper's worthwhile. I can only imagine what fun I have in store for me in the rest of the year's issues.
You can read the full article here.
:: David (21:49 in Michigan, 3:49 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
The dreaded 'what is it you do' question. We went to a party last night, and a colleague of Sasha's had brought a friend, who I believe was in that weird 'temporary job'-type place. When the inevitable 'what do you do' question arose, he was at something of a loss. In the states we have built so much on this opening gambit that for those that can't answer it well it can be a real killer. I quite enjoyed, when I first came back from Japan, responding 'I'm unemployed, and living with my parents', but it was a real mood-killer for those trying to get a conversational opening. How do you respond? On some level that response (and responses like it) seem a personal tragedy - in a world where you are defined by your work, if your work is meaningless, then so is your life. But since many of us are not brilliant conversationalists, we continue to use the age old openings - in the same way that pickup lines never really change (and for the same reasons!)
So the question was posed in my comments, and I suppose I've never really mentioned what I do in direct terms. This is partly a generic fear of being dooced, and partly because it seems so dull to talk about work on one's blog. But I'll give it a shot.
The organization I currently work for is interested in uses of technology in higher education. They attack this subject in several ways. New programs that might be used in a higher education setting are installed on their servers so that people in higher ed can evaluate them, use them for a while, see whether they like them, and find new ways to do one of the oldest jobs in the world - teach. I administer the servers and the software for those programs - generally speaking they are pseudo-web-2.0 type programs, i.e. programs that are intended to form communities, which give everyone their own login and their own space to be creative, as well as communal space where people can work together.
In addition to this very technical aspect, there is also an element of teaching which goes on - it's all very well and good to offer lots of technology, but if noone can use it, it really isn't going to help, really. So the organization also offers classes to people to help them learn new (and not-so-new) technologies and software. Hence my trip to Minnesota tomorrow, to teach people how to use SPSS to analyze data. Neither the program nor the concept (statistical analysis) is new, but a lot of educators still aren't there, and as statistical analysis continues to expand its role in the humanities etc., it becomes more and more necessary for people to be able to use these tools.
And finally, as with any small organization, as one of the technology people I am expected to do all those little things that tech people do, like making the printer go and somesuch. It's funny, because no matter what role I have at an organization I will always have that responsibility, I think. It simply happens to those with the know-how.
So there it is, in a not-so-small nutshell. You may now go about your business. Move along!
:: David (11:28 in Michigan, 17:28 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Friday, June 16 2006 ::
I kind of feel like I put in an honest day's work today. I'm exhausted, and it isn't even the time I usually leave yet (6pm). I had to prepare all the worksheets, booklets, etc. for my workshop on Monday (which I leave for Sunday morning) in Minnesota. We had all kinds of other stuff going on, so I had to do a lot of paper pushing myself, running back and forth to the copier, etc. etc. It was crazy, but it was kind of nice to have a product at the end which didn't live on a computer. I'm looking forward to the workshop with something between optimism and fear, as I don't know how prepared I am for the type of questions that might be levelled at me. My statistics are rusty and my SPSS is even more so, so it could be a rout. But on the other hand, I feel comfortable with what I do know, and I like speaking to people, and I have other people doing the whole show with me, so it could be just fine. We'll see what happens....
:: David (17:37 in Michigan, 23:37 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
According to the BBC, scientists have successfully compressed carbon dioxide to form a glass-like substance. The results are of interest not only because they might tell us more about what happens inside the gas giant planets of our solar system, but also because of some of the possible technological applications of the material The article seems to indicate a super-strong glass is created. A more technical description can be found at Physics Web, which also told me the name of the article: "Amorphous silica-like carbon dioxide".
An additional application mentioned in the BBC article that resonated rather strongly involved the storage in solid form of carbon dioxide removed from the air, in order to combat global warming. That caught my eye rather strongly, because I know for a large number of people, stopping global warming has never been about changing people's behaviour; rather, it is about technology doing the job for us. The have been plans floated to store CO^2 underground for some time now - the concern was whether it would escape over time and defeat the purpose. Storing it in a stable solid form would probably be a much better (or more attractive) idea. I've a feeling a lot of people would be willing to throw a lot of money at this to make the problem go away - just so long as they don't have to change their lifestyle!
:: David (7:36 in Michigan, 13:36 in Paris) - Comment
I saw the headline US creates new marine sanctuary, and my brain immediately tried to figure out how you create a sanctuary for soldiers - was it some sort of euphemism? Of course, it's actually about a new protected region of ocean near Hawaii.
:: David (0:30 in Michigan, 6:30 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, June 15 2006 ::
Fark pointed me to a site fresh from 1997 - Amazon Grocery. Yes, apparently once again the whole 'delivering groceries' thing is going to be tried. This time, however, Amazon seems to have caught on to the idea that they should only list products they can make a profit on - like dried seasoning packets, boxed pasta meals, and energy drinks. But what I really like about the site is the disclaimer at the bottom of every page:
While we work to ensure that product information is correct, on occasion manufacturers may alter their ingredient lists. Actual product packaging and materials may contain more and/or different information than that shown on our Web site. We recommend that you do not solely rely on the information presented and that you always read labels, warnings, and directions before using or consuming a product. For additional information about a product, please contact the manufacturer. Content on this site is for reference purposes and is not intended to substitute for advice given by a physician, pharmacist, or other licensed health-care professional. You should not use this information as self-diagnosis or for treating a health problem or disease. Contact your health-care provider immediately if you suspect that you have a medical problem. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. Amazon.com assumes no liability for inaccuracies or misstatements about products.
I think the short version goes 'if you're going to die after eating stuff you bought here, don't sue us!'
I already buy some of my groceries online (our coffee all comes from Sovrana, for example), so what Amazon is doing seems to me like a good idea. If they really want to impress me, they could work up a distribution chain allowing them to deliver perishable goods! And then burn through a billion dollars in venture capital, and then fold overnight. That would be cool!
In the interest of full disclosure, the Amazon link pays me if you buy stuff. Which would make me happy. Someday. If enough people do it. Probably.
:: David (8:07 in Michigan, 14:07 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Wednesday, June 14 2006 ::
In France, we always used to love reading the description on the bottles of wine, which talked about the growing conditions, flavours, etc. etc. of the wine. There was some seriously purple prose. None of it, however, prepared me for what I found on the back of a bottle of iced tea I recently purchased:
I like the fact that Deep South is a proper noun. I dread to speculate on the institutions and organizations I have supported with that purchase. It would actually be very funny to know, because I purchased it in one of those upscale grocery stores all the bobos of Ann Arbor frequent, and I'm sure they would all be horrified their store carried something that supported anything of that stripe.
Growing up with Grandma Audine was a blessing! Her faith in God, love for family and home-cooking was enjoyed by her family and friends in Alabama. Audine made the best iced tea you ever drank!
She passed her recipe on to me when I was just a young lad. Carrying on her tradition of great tasting tea is our promise to you. It is all natural, fresh-brewed and contains no preservatives! From the Deep South to your mouth!
:: David (20:34 in Michigan, 2:34 in Paris) - Comment
I thought my French was abandoning me when the announcer told me how much the value of EADS' stock had fallen after the Airbus A380 was further delayed. At noon it was down thirty-two percent. I wasn't positive that I had understood correctly until it was re-stated as having lost a third of its value. Ouch! It seems that until they start re-couping all that money they spent developing the A380 (12 billion Euros at last count) they don't have the resources to focus on some of the areas they should have been - like smaller planes. At least that's the way Reuters described it. I'm not entirely sure it's all down to delays - it seems to me that management may have put a few too many eggs in one (big) basket. Reuters points out that long haul planes are only ten percent of the market. Admittedly, they're a sexy ten percent, but still....
:: David (14:14 in Michigan, 20:14 in Paris) - Comment
Well, I was hoping for a win, but I'll take a draw, especially given the way the game went: Tunisia and Saudi Arabia tie, 2-2. I like Tunisia, and I wanted them to win, but when you get four yellow cards (to zero for the Saudis) and have the ball for ten minutes less than your opponent, a tie is really as good as you can get.
:: David (14:04 in Michigan, 20:04 in Paris) - Comment
Slightly different treatment, it seems, can be expected by suspected terrorists depending on where they live:
Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, found guilty in March 2005 of conspiracy over the [Indonesian] bomb plot, was released in Jakarta after serving 26 months in prison.
202 people, 88 of them Australian, died in that attack. The Australian Prime Minister is less than amused: "I want them to understand from me on behalf of the government how extremely disappointed, even distressed, millions of Australians will be at the release of Abu Bakar Ba'asyir".
I'm not entirely clear what his role in the attacks was - it seems most western intelligence agencies believe he was the head of the group that did the attack, but the trial seems to have not done a very good job linking him to the group. Was this because of a badly run trial, or because there was nothing to find? It's also interesting to compare this result, where someone is accused of being a terrorist, found guilty, serves time, and is released, to the US model of accusing someone of being a terrorist and then locking them away forever without a trial. Sadly, in this case I'm not sure which would have been the better solution. I guess we'll wait and see what happens next in Indonesia....
:: David (7:49 in Michigan, 13:49 in Paris) - Comment
:: Tuesday, June 13 2006 ::
Dinner out with friends - we went to La Shish, whose owners have found themselves in a spot of trouble with the law - something about tax evasion and funding terrorists. The food was nevertheless tasty, and plentiful - I may never rise from this chair. Now we are home, plotting what to do with the rest of a beautiful evening.
:: David (21:26 in Michigan, 3:26 in Paris) - Comment
So, for those of you that don't know, the World Cup is currently taking place. Today France will play Switzerland (in about half an hour, in fact). Since I generally follow the world cup on the BBC World Cup website, I knew that the BBC was streaming all the matches, both audio and video. So today I decided to see if I could listen to the France-Switzerland match.
Now, streaming television and radio has become very contentious. In the old days (a decade ago, I guess) it was easy to find your favourite radio station online and listen. Now the record companies have stopped all that, their money-grasping execs putting an end to one of the most obvious applications of the internet. The BBC has to follow those rules, so it has software which determines, via your IP, whether you are in the UK or not. If you are, you can listen. If you're not, you can't. Simple.
Except nothing is really simple on the internet. Using something called a proxy server, you can pretend to be anywhere. The concept is fairly simple. I tell my computer to use a proxy - a computer (based in the UK). That computer will then take any request I send it, make the request for me, and send me whatever the response is (e.g. the france/switzerland match).
Obviously, this is not legal. Which was why I was so amused when I found BBC Proxy - a proxy service which charges for their services, and explicitly states they exist to route World Cup matches out of the country. I assume someone will be visiting them shortly, but on the other hand, maybe nobody is checking, which I'm sure is what they are betting on!
:: David (10:43 in Michigan, 16:43 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Seriously good news for coffee drinkers: coffee protects your liver from some of the damage caused by alcohol! From the story: "For every cup of coffee participants drank each day, the researchers calculate they were 22 per cent less likely to develop alcoholic cirrhosis long term, strengthening earlier findings by the team and [...] other groups."
:: David (9:25 in Michigan, 15:25 in Paris) - Comment
Well there's something you don't see every day:
Ségolène Royal, the French Left's main presidential candidate, has been elected the world's sixth sexiest woman, beating scores of international sex symbols including Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Hurley and Penelope Cruz.
It goes without saying it was a French magazine that did the poll (the French edition of FHM). It was a British newspaper which reported the story, and an American magazine's blog which pointed me to the story. Quite an international gathering!
:: David (7:55 in Michigan, 13:55 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Proof that I am a geek - I leave work at a reasonable hour, come home, and then spend several hours working on my blog program. It's actually a lot of fun, because it forces me to periodically pick up perl and remember how much I've forgotten. And since I work on php most often at work, but we'll be moving in to Ruby on Rails shortly, it's good to keep the old perl brain oiled.
:: David (1:47 in Michigan, 7:47 in Paris) - Comment
:: Monday, June 12 2006 ::
Sasha wrote up our little kitten's big adventure in a letter home to her mom, reproduced here for your reading pleasure:
We had quite the adventure today - thankfully, no one
was injured. Minakitten was out on the back porch
when one of the neighbor cats came by. She was so
excited she was sitting at the very edge of the porch,
so I went out and coaxed her back inside. Of course,
she immediately ran back out, and we thought that,
since the neighbor cat had gone away, it would be
okay. But sadly, we were mistaken - we heard this
scrabbling sound and a whumph, which was her falling
off the porch! I ran out on the porch and looked
down, and David headed down and around the house. I
made it down shortly after making sure that she was
moving. Fortunately, she was only a little winded and
may have scraped her back leg slightly, but as soon as
I started trying to pick her up, she was off and
running. She didn't make it far before I got her and
took her back upstairs, where she promptly ran towards
the back door, yelling to be let back out again!!
Needless to say, she has lost her back porch
So far, she hasn't been too terrible about the back porch. That said, it's been less than a day. If she injured herself, we've seen no sign, as she's been batting around the cat toy with lots of vigor!
:: David (8:48 in Michigan, 14:48 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
How not to get a job in the internet age:
Curious about the candidate, [the recruiter] went to her page on Facebook. She found explicit photographs and commentary about the student's sexual escapades, drinking and pot smoking, including testimonials from friends. Among the pictures were shots of the young woman passed out after drinking.
It takes, one presumes, quite a lot to get fired from one's job for what one says online. Not getting hired, on the other hand, is relatively easy.
:: David (8:05 in Michigan, 14:05 in Paris) - Comment
So you may have heard, a while back, about the person who realized that because the ability to hear high frequencies decreases as we age, there are sounds that teens can hear that adults generally cannot. This realization was used to create a device to keep the storefront clear of loitering teens, without annoying the (presumably older) paying customers. Now someone has gone one step further, and created a ringtone using the same sound. There's a sample of the sound up on the story's website, and unless it's a joke, it works, because I couldn't hear anything at all.
:: David (7:45 in Michigan, 13:45 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Sunday, June 11 2006 ::
An exciting day, with some work done in the morning, and then lots and lots of gaming (punctuated with some kitty adventures to be discussed later). Mara and Kevin came over to spend an afternoon (and evening) playing train themed games, including Iron Dragon and Ticket to Ride - Europe. Lots of good, clean fun. Now it's sleepy time.
:: David (22:35 in Michigan, 4:35 in Paris) - Comment
I've seen a few articles now on 'crowdsourcing' - taking a job that an individual does, splitting it up into myriad components, and then farming each piece out to the cheapest person, generally via internet. Wired did a big article on it, and I've also seen some interesting variations, like putting jobs into videogames (I've heard that a company will let you do work within World of Warcraft, for example). I've a sneaky suspicion we'll be hearing a lot more about this in the coming months, as it has the potential to turn an awful lot of industries upside-down.
For an example of how it works, and/or if you want to earn some money, visit the Amazon mechanical Turk site. They'll pay to your bank account, or in Amazon gift certificates....
:: David (14:22 in Michigan, 20:22 in Paris) - Comment
That'll teach me to have three cups of coffee at midnight!
:: David (4:07 in Michigan, 10:07 in Paris) - Comment
There's an interesting article in a San Francisco newspaper about how Bank of America is threatening to withold severance pay from employees who don't train their (Indian, outsourced) replacements. According to the article, which was pointed out to me by the folks at slashdot (who tend to be tech workers), BoA has noticed that training their replacements leads to unhappy workers, and they indicate they are trying to be sensitive to this fact. Not that they will be stopping the process, mind - they are just trying to be sensitive.
The interesting part of the article for me, however, was several paragraphs down, when it is pointed out that the company is being forced to 'internationalize' their American workers, i.e. make them more culturally sensitive.
BofA employees were summoned to "team huddles" last month to learn more about working with Indians. The meeting leader's guide for the get-togethers said the goal is "to build a diverse and inclusive workplace and to prepare associates to meet the challenge of working globally."According to the article, it is expected that nearly 200,000 workers will be expected to take part in some sort of 'cultural awareness' training by the end of this month.
This is a relatively interesting thing to me, the idea of training more Americans to work in an international context. I wonder, if this whole game continues and business becomes truly worldwide, if it will herald the beginning of cultural understanding in the US. I expect not, but it's a nice thought.
:: David (0:08 in Michigan, 6:08 in Paris) - Comment
:: Saturday, June 10 2006 ::
OK - one goofy story, and then I work:
The photo is the best part, showing the cat sitting at the bottom of the tree looking up, and in the tree this giant black bear holding on for dear life. The complete story is on the BBC website.
A black bear got more than it bargained for after straying into a family garden in the US state of New Jersey.
The unwelcome intruder was forced up a tree - twice - by the family pet, a tabby cat called Jack.
:: David (20:16 in Michigan, 2:16 in Paris) - Comment
It's almost hard to laugh at, despite the absurdity. A triple suicide took place at the American gulag at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Interpretations vary depending on your allegiance:
The camp commander said the deaths - the first at the camp - were planned in "an act of warfare". Rights groups said they were driven by despair.The idea of suicide as 'an act of warfare' is almost, almost, laughable. Does this guy realize what a joke he became the instant he uttered those words? Monty Python's 'suicide squad' would apparently not have amused him.
:: David (20:08 in Michigan, 2:08 in Paris) - Comment
I'm slightly ahead of the curve:
Nabaztag, a Wi-Fi-enabled rabbit able to talk, sing, light up in different colours and wiggle its ears, is the latest entry in the new field of “smart objects”. The idea is that chic household items present information unobtrusively and in ways that can be taken in at a glance. Nabaztag can, among other things, wiggle its ears to indicate the arrival of an e-mail from a particular address, light up according to the weather forecast or stockmarket activity, and read out news headlines or messages. Made by Violet, a smart-objects firm in Paris, Nabaztag was first launched last year in France, Switzerland and Belgium, but is now available worldwide.I just heard about this a few days ago, because a friend in Paris has one. One of the premium services allows you to have the bunny read you RSS feeds (like the one for this page). I hadn't realized until the Economist article that it was a Parisian company, as they are available now at ThinkGeek.
The great thing about these is that they allow you to get an environmental cue about certain online things. The tough part, of course, is figuring out how to use that in an efficient manner - if the darned thing yells at you every five seconds, it probably isn't making you more efficient. But done right, I bet this could really make your life easier, especially if you get lots of email, only some of which you care to know about.
:: David (18:46 in Michigan, 0:46 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Friday, June 9 2006 ::
A vaccine against cervical cancer, called Gardasil, has been approved by the FDA. The logical thing would be to give it to all girls around age 9-15 or so. Sadly, it's not clear that will happen:
North Carolina, for instance, spends $11 million annually to provide every child with seven vaccines. Gardasil alone would probably cost at least another $10 million.
:: David (11:02 in Michigan, 17:02 in Paris) - Comment
There's an interesting article on Foreign Policy, entitled Soccer’s Sex Slaves. It's not nearly as sensationalist as the title might make you believe. Except that it is. Sort of.
The subject, ostensibly, is all about a story that has been raging for a while now. As the article puts it, "Are women being smuggled into Germany to work in the world’s oldest profession?" With the World Cup being held in Germany, there have been rumours that extra help was being recruited to ensure that there were no lonely football fans. The article then goes on to explore the bigger question of how to deal with prostitution. Germany has chosen one route, legalization. The US disapproves:
The United States defines all prostitution as “inherently harmful and dehumanizing,” and blames the world’s oldest profession for “fuel[ling] the growth of modern-day slavery by providing a façade behind which traffickers for sexual exploitation operate.” Just this week the State Department used the release of its annual report on human trafficking to slam the German approach. The practical consequence of this policy is that nongovernmental organizations fighting human trafficking and HIV/AIDS must explicitly condemn all sex work to get U.S. federal funding.
The article raises some interesting points, and does a good job in a relatively short space of examining the question of prostitution.
You might then ask why I seemed to express reservations about the article. Mostly it's because I feel as though it is feeding a media frenzy about prostitution during the world cup. In the same way that all the media coverage of hoodlums seems to make it an acceptable form of rebellion in the UK, while in the US the concept seems more or less not to exist, it seems to me that all the coverage of World Cup 'john' traffic has made the norm 'watch a match, then visit a prostitute'. By creating a more thoughtful article on the subject, while working within that framework, it seems like FP has lent its weight to the framework, making this behavior seem even more the norm.
:: David (10:53 in Michigan, 16:53 in Paris) - Comment
:: Thursday, June 8 2006 ::
Ségolène Royal has a blog, I am informed. I had heard recently that she (who, for those who do not know, is one of the powerhouses of the Socialist party in France) had made comments that the 35 hour work week wasn't working. Apparently (according to Le Monde) she made them on her blog. It looks bad for everyone when the folks on the left start to abandon the 35 hour work week.
:: David (17:48 in Michigan, 23:48 in Paris) - Comment
Some thoughts on the American dream:
'If class warfare is being waged in America,' [Warren Buffet] has written 'My class is clearly winning.' When even the rich are starting to think they are getting too many tax cuts, then you know something has gone very wrong.
Some thoughts from the Observer on inequality in America.
:: David (17:39 in Michigan, 23:39 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
I think Microsoft may have been dropped as a child. I was trying to get a copy of the new Vista operating system, to install on a system at work, and at one point was directed to the Beta Experience website, where I can apparently enjoy "the pleasure of testing". If this is not the dumbest thing in the known universe, it must be very close to it.
:: David (13:59 in Michigan, 19:59 in Paris) - Comment
We headed over to Kevin's last night, as he is back from New York, and we have a party scheduled for this evening, and watched the last (two hour) episode of Everwood. The New York Times wrote a review (with lots of spoilers, if you care), in which they do an apt job of summing up one way of looking at the show:
"Everwood" has been a heart-rending and at times breathtaking show, but absolutely never has it been a go-for-it American pep rally. Instead, "Everwood" is for the low-key, the patient, the passive, the recessive, the melancholic, the nostalgic, the homebodies.Which is a wacky way to say it, but one that works.
:: David (8:31 in Michigan, 14:31 in Paris) - Comment
Recently, one of the visitors to my blog was directed there by a search for 'the dave barber show'. Intrigued, I wondered whether I had a show. In fact, apparently, I do. Or rather, some guy named Dave Barber has a show, apparently right here in Michigan. Or rather, had a show in Michigan. According to one report I found, he's just joined a talk radio station in Rhode Island. I'm assuming this is the same guy who, in 2002, sued because a basketball game was so bad he lost his faith in the sport. Whoa. Ah well - like your family, you can't choose people who have the same name as you.
:: David (0:38 in Michigan, 6:38 in Paris) - Comment
:: Wednesday, June 7 2006 ::
I can't decide what to do with this article on a new strategy for dealing with homelessness. On the one hand, the idea seems so obvious it hurts - if they are homeless, give them a home. Nothing special, nothing fancy, but a place to call their own. On the other hand, does it then lead people to think the problem is solved? Out of sight, out of mind.
:: David (17:39 in Michigan, 23:39 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Ah, the United Nations. On one level, I don't know why I bother talking about them, as they function inefficiently at best, and obstruct progress at worst. But as with all international organizations, any communication is better than none at all.
I am, however, somewhat fuzzy as to whether what the US ambassador to the UN does is 'communication', or merely spewing bile. Apparently the UN secretariat is also fuzzy on that point, and expressed this, among other difficulties they had with the US, in a speech. The US, in the form of John Bolton, was obviously not amused:
Fundamentally, very sadly, this was a criticism of the American people, by an international civil servant, and it's just illegitimate.Actually, what the deputy secretary general said was "The prevailing practice of seeking to use the U.N. almost by stealth as a diplomatic tool while failing to stand up for it against its domestic critics is simply not sustainable", and "Much of the public discourse that reaches the U.S. heartland has been largely abandoned to its loudest detractors such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News"
:: David (15:25 in Michigan, 21:25 in Paris) - Comment
:: Tuesday, June 6 2006 ::
I got a most amusing email from Sasha, which I thought I would share:
So, I was reading this article from the BBC,
and I noticed they had a photo of the kid from The
Omen on there, and I thought, gosh, didn't anyone tell
that kid that he didn't have to act at the premier?
So, I went to IMDB and checked out all the premier
photos they have here
I had actually seen the photo of the child at the BBC, and had thought 'my goodness! He came in character!' Perhaps he is a method actor....
And sure enough, that kid does not smile. Creepy
child. I wonder if he walked into casting and the
directors were like, "There's our kid! Look, he
doesn't even know how to make facial expressions that
don't look evil and possessed!"
I think this photo, of the director advising the kid,
actually confirms my theory
:: David (21:16 in Michigan, 3:16 in Paris) - Comment
Too soon! If we'd had patience, perhaps we could have had a Smart! Autoblog is reporting that the Smart may launch in the USA, with a final decision due in June. That said, I'm pretty pleased with our 'giant' car, and if the Smart does come out, well, they should have made their minds up two years ago! Besides, they won't be selling the really sexy Smart in the US anyhow.
:: David (18:11 in Michigan, 0:11 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
Work on the Three Gorges Dam continues, with the BBC reporting that
dam was demolished, leaving the actual (and just completed) dam to
hold back the waters. The video is fairly impressive. I'm not entirely
sure about the idea of using almost 200 tonnes of explosives that close
to a dam that has a huge metropolis
just behind it, but all things being equal, it seems like par
for the course - building a dam that big close to a population
center, displacing almost a million people along the soon-to-be reservoir, etc.
You may or
may not know that I went along the reservoir route back in 2001,
when they had just gotten underway.
I took lots of photos,
which really don't do justice to the area. Along the way you could see the areas which had been cleared
of people, and the markings of where the water would be.
:: David (14:19 in Michigan, 20:19 in Paris) - Comment
So we went to pick up the license plate for our car yesterday, and had a special surprise along with it. When we were buying the car, at one point the salesman (who I shall call Bill from here on out) referred to an incident where he had folded the window sticker from the car and put it in an envelope for a buyer, and they had become quite irate that he had folded it. The conversation then proceeded to what exactly they had planned to do with it - frame it or something?
So, of course, when we got to the dealership in addition to the license, there was our window sticker, nicely framed. We laughed until we thought we would pee ourselves. Now we just need to figure out what to do with it....
:: David (9:06 in Michigan, 15:06 in Paris) - Comment
A rule of thumb - if you plan to defraud people out of money on eBay, make sure they don't live nearby. Otherwise they might gather a group of burly friends and arrive at your door seeking payment.
Having lost money on eBay before, I can respect what this guy did, even if it was quasi-legal at best....
:: David (9:02 in Michigan, 15:02 in Paris) - Comment
First Word, now Excel. The BBC is reporting that Google has launched a web-based spreadsheet program on a limited basis, with rollout, one expects, to come over time. It has to be said, this is pretty big stuff - previously, when they bought Writely, it was possible to suggest that google was merely getting a nicer interface for their mail program. The addition of a spreadsheet app, however, makes it pretty darned clear (for those who weren't already there) that Microsoft Office will soon have a very inexpensive (free) competitor.
:: David (7:59 in Michigan, 13:59 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Monday, June 5 2006 ::
A friend just forwarded me a pseudo-scientific paper entitled On the Effectiveness of Aluminium Foil Helmets:
An Empirical Study. The abstract really says it all:
Among a fringe community of paranoids, aluminum helmets serve as the protective measure of choice against invasive radio signals. We investigate the efficacy of three aluminum helmet designs on a sample group of four individuals. Using a $250,000 network analyser, we find that although on average all helmets attenuate invasive radio frequencies in either directions (either emanating from an outside source, or emanating from the cranium of the subject), certain frequencies are in fact greatly amplified. These amplified frequencies coincide with radio bands reserved for government use according to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Statistical evidence suggests the use of helmets may in fact enhance the government's invasive abilities. We speculate that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason.It probably goes without saying that the images really add to the paper's humour factor....
:: David (23:06 in Michigan, 5:06 in Paris) - Comment
Apparently Stephen Colbert gave the commencement address at Knox College over the weekend. The college has posted a transcript, where you can find gems like:
though their servers seemed a little overworked the last time I was there, so be gentle.
But the best reason for me to come to speak at Knox College is that I attended Knox College. This is part of my personal history that you will rarely see reported. Partly because the press doesn’t do the proper research. But mostly because…it is not true! I just made it up, so this moment would be more poignant for all of us. How great would it be if I could actually come back here—if I was coming back to my alma mater to be honored like this. I could share with you all my happy memories that I spent here in...Galesburg, Illinois. Hanging out at the Seymour Hall, right? Seymour Hall? You know, all of us alumni, we remember being at Seymour Hall, playing those drinking games. We played a drinking game called Lincoln-Douglas. Great game. What you do is, you act out the Lincoln-Douglas debate and any time one of the guys mentions the Dred Scott decision you have to chug a beer. Well, technically 3/5 of a beer. [groans from audience]
You DO have a good education! I wasn’t sure if anybody was going to get that joke.
:: David (15:23 in Michigan, 21:23 in Paris) - Comment
Well, after most of the day has passed I can say without fear of being too wrong that we missed the whole boat - the website was down for a totally unrelated reason to the expected one, and still isn't back up to my knowledge. On the upside - nice to know it wasn't me. On the downside - would have been nice to be able to do something with it!
:: David (14:33 in Michigan, 20:33 in Paris) - Comment
So while perusing Slashdot to see how long we had to wait to get to the bottom (or off the front page altogether), I ran across a tremendously amusing video which demonstrates what happens when you combine mentos and coke. 500 mentos and 200 litres of coke, to be precise. Apparently the sequence recreates a well known fountain in Las Vegas, but regardless of what it recreates (or if it recreates anything at all), it's a laugh riot.
:: David (8:46 in Michigan, 14:46 in Paris) - Comment
:: Sunday, June 4 2006 ::
Well, this is fun - I just got a call from my boss (at 11pm) letting me know that one of our people made slashdot. What this means is that we have to be ready tomorrow morning for traffic like our servers haven't seen. Thankfully the link isn't to us directly, but we are mentioned in the article, so we expect some people to link over to us to see what we're all about. Exciting, but slightly stressful. Early morning tomorrow, I think....
:: David (23:45 in Michigan, 5:45 in Paris) - Comment
A Sunday like any other. Our friend Kevin is away on holiday, so we're visiting his cat (and watching snippets of Roland Garros on his television). There's a dinner party for some of Sasha's colleagues this evening, and we'll be grilling fish and sharing the venison I brought back from my folks' house. We did some planting this morning, putting out the green peppers and the oregano, and planting some edamame.
We've gotten a lot more elaborate with dinner parties than we used to be - we're up to three wine courses and three food courses. It's still not up to our friends Desney and Derek's level, but we're working on it!
:: David (13:32 in Michigan, 19:32 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
:: Saturday, June 3 2006 ::
The BBC is reporting that the Czech elections have resulted in a deadlock, with neither side taking a clear victory. Given how ugly the election was (with fisticuffs, accusations of mafia connections), and, of course, pistols at dawn, this is probably not going to lead to a very stable government. But at least it's been fun for the rest of us!
:: David (23:54 in Michigan, 5:54 in Paris) - Comment
Oh - by the way - speaking of Meg Cabot as I was, she's in town (Ann Arbor, Michigan) tomorrow at the Arborland mall to do a book signing, etc. So if you're feeling fiesty, there you go.
:: David (16:54 in Michigan, 22:54 in Paris) - Comment
If it's an election year, it must be time to trot out the gay marriage ban! I think I'm going to ignore it this time around, rather than getting worked up about it - it's so transparent as to be laughable. If our ratings are in the dumps, we better stop talking about issues and find something or someone to hate/fear. And that whole immigration thing didn't work as well as we'd hoped (the hate/fear is a little too hot, and then who would clean all the politicians' apartments?) Wake me up when the elections are over, the Dems have lost (again), and we can talk, ever so briefly, about real change.
:: David (16:52 in Michigan, 22:52 in Paris) - Comment
:: Friday, June 2 2006 ::
Woo hoo! I can now play with statistics to my heart's content! Not only do I have a copy of SPSS on my work computer (for the course I'll be helping with in a few weeks), I also now have a Google Analytics account, with which to track, trace, count, and generally obsess over. Let the pretty pie charts commence!
Seriously, though, I do have some interest in designing the site to be useful to the random web wanderer - why else would my website be so damned big?
:: David (20:30 in Michigan, 2:30 in Paris) - Comment
I love the way the American media can look at a smoking gun and see
only 'assertions' and 'allegations'. The Haditha saga continues, with
the BBC finding damning footage refuting the claims of the military as
to how the victims died. The
CNN report notes,
way down in the middle of their story "U.S. investigates more claims of Iraq killings"
A BBC report on Thursday ran video of the apparent aftermath of the incident,
obtained from a Sunni political group. The BBC says the video shows dead bodies
with gunshot wounds.
I couldn't even find mention of the evidence on other websites, though MSNBC has
a rather long story about 'echoes
of past military atrocities'. It looks as though the American news sites will
cover the thing, carefully, gently, until it becomes something mostly forgotten,
and the report can just be slipped in, like the one today about the
dog handler at
Abu Ghraib being acquitted of all but two charges
(or as the news stories have reported it, 'being found guilty of dereliction of
duty and aggravated assault'). It's all how you spin it.
:: David (10:49 in Michigan, 16:49 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
I went looking yesterday for a computer that I could leave on 24-7 without using too much electricity. It seems like a straightforward question - sometimes you don't need a whole lot of computing power, but you need a little (say, just enough to run windows, but not well or quickly). It makes no sense to run a computer that uses enough energy to kill a horse if you don't have to, and it seems like something that would be right up energy geeks' alley - given how totally complicated doing a simple solar power project is these days, it seems like these guys would have turned their eyes to computers, which are a huge waste of electricity. But it seems like noone has. Am I missing something? Given that battery life is directly related to how much power the computer uses, you'd think this question would have been solved ages ago. And AMD has all those ads now touting how energy efficient their servers are. But if you want info, or you want an energy efficient computer for yourself, at this point it seems like you're out of luck. It's crazy!
:: David (10:18 in Michigan, 16:18 in Paris) - Comment
Meg Cabot pointed me to an article about a real-life girl who found out she was a princess. Somehow it seems less romantic than in the movie/book - something about the paparazzi and the unflattering photos and the fact that you only get to be 14 once, and hers is now officially blown in a crazy mad media frenzy.
:: David (10:12 in Michigan, 16:12 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments
I'm glad someone else noticed how bizarre this was: an article in Spiked talks about how... troubling... it is that a couple of rich westerners could go to a poorer country and demand changes to border controls, security arrangements, and everything else, and actually succeed in having the changes happen. Spiked is calling it celebrity colonialism.
Even the Prime Minister of Namibia, Nahas Angula, who surely has better things to do than worry about Brad and Angelina (or Brangelina, in tabloid-speak), has weighed into the debate. ‘The lady is expecting’, said Angula, shortly before Jolie gave birth. ‘You guys are harassing her.... Harassment is not allowed in Namibia.’The author then goes on to put the whole mad affair in context, pointing out how absurd it is that these nations feel beholden to the rich and famous, and drawing in some other examples of celebs using Africa as a pretty backdrop.
:: David (8:26 in Michigan, 14:26 in Paris) - Comment
OK - the Geoffrey Chaucer blog is funny. The merchandise for said blog is funnier. Who doesn't want a shirt that says 'All your Aquitaine are belong to us'? (for those who don't know the pop culture reference, go here.)
:: David (8:10 in Michigan, 14:10 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments