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:: Thursday, August 31 2006 ::

There's an article on the CNN website about the Guedelon castle project, which is an attempt by folks in Burgundy to build a castle using only medieval construction techniques. The author is something of a ham, but the article is still a nice overview.

We visited the site a year or so ago, and took lots of pictures, including one of how the completed castle will look and an overview of the Guedelon work site. As you can see from the picture, there remains a great deal to be done.
:: David (13:31 in Michigan, 19:31 in Paris) - Comment


:: Wednesday, August 30 2006 ::

My Sprint EV-DO Rev A card arrived in the office today. The card is made by Novatel, and it's called the Wireless Merlin S720. When I called to activate it the woman was pretty excited, informing me it was the first one she had activated. For those who don't know, EV-DO is a wireless internet standard, and Rev. A has made it much faster. Wikipedia explains:

In addition to the increase in the maximum downlink (forward link) data rate from 2.4576 Mb/s in Rev. 0 to 3.1 Mb/s, Rev. A has a 12-times improvement in the maximum uplink (reverse link) data rate, from .15 Mb/s to 1.8 Mb/s. EV-DO Rev. A supports low latency services including VoIP and Video Telephony on the same carrier with traditional Internet packet data services.
Of course, even though I now have a very fast card, I don't have a very fast network to connect to - apparently the hyper-fast network isn't to be rolled out until late this year. But it's still fun to have the newest toy on the block, even if all I can really do with it is contemplate the annoying blinky green light.
:: David (14:18 in Michigan, 20:18 in Paris) - Comment


Slyck News, a news site dedicated to file sharing issues, is reporting that the Swedish Pirate Party (Piratpartiet) has published its manifesto for the coming election. It's a very interesting study in parlaimentary politics, basically noting that with a very small number of seats the party can still have a major effect, simply by sticking closely to their chosen issues. Since govenments often have a slim majority, a change in a small party can tip the scale to the other side, leading to a change in government. This means that if they stick to a limited agenda, they could find they have significant influence in that area. There is an English translation of the manifesto available online. I look forward to voting with the American Pirate Party when they are finally put together.
:: David (9:38 in Michigan, 15:38 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]


This story amused me the first time around:

A World of Warcraft aficionado travelling from Chicago to Canada earlier this month to hook up with fellow gamers sparked an airborne terror alert after accidently flushing his iPod down the toilet.
But now that the Register has found a first person account written by the ipod-flusher, the story amuses me even more. Pity the poor guy forced to explain online gaming, World of Warcraft, and guilds to the Feds!
:: David (7:33 in Michigan, 13:33 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]


Ever since we thought about buying a house here in Ann Arbor, we have been watching the housing market with some interest. Now the New York Times has published an interesting article on the subject, complete with an amazing chart showing real housing values over the last century. Calling the last decade a bubble doesn't begin to cover it!

There's also some interesting logic in the article, which discusses the idea that if housing prices fall, or rise slowly, for an extended period of time, wages would eventually catch up. But, as I pointed out a couple days ago, wages aren't rising, which might make the whole 'soft landing' concept more 'pie in the sky' than reality.
:: David (0:24 in Michigan, 6:24 in Paris) - Comment


:: Monday, August 28 2006 ::

I had a busy, busy weekend, running over to Kalamazoo to see family and friends. My niece and nephew celebrate their birthday around this time, so we had to head out and find some presents. Sunday we managed to do some relaxing, although I had Japanese homework (I've started taking lessons again). I'll be starting a French class in late September, so it should be a fairly busy autumn.
:: David (10:38 in Michigan, 16:38 in Paris) - Comment


This may come as a shock to some of you, but the New York Times is reporting that real wages have fallen over the past five years, despite continued growth in productivity.

I know - you've all stepped away from your computers to pace back and forth in order to deal with the surprise this news has engendered. Well, sit down, because there's even more shocking news - it seems profits are up! According to the article, "corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960’s".

Seriously, most of the 'rises' in employee compensation over the past few years have come in the form of employers paying more for health care benefits, rather than in actual pay rises, so the situation is actually much more serious that the picture painted by the report. Needless to say, it is expected this information will be factored in to election campaigns around the country. However, there is some question as to exactly how much it will help Democrats (those in the best place to profit from bad news), as they have so far failed to say anything intelligent on the matter.
:: David (10:35 in Michigan, 16:35 in Paris) - Comment


:: Friday, August 25 2006 ::

Ken Anderson is an anthropologist and a senior researcher at Intel Research. Since 2002 he has studied people's daily routines "in an attempt to understand the role technology plays in their daily lives."

In a paper published with three colleagues, he found more technology ending up in the bedroom. One woman Mr. Anderson kept track of for months had trouble sleeping unless her husband was at her side. So he joined her in bed with his laptop as he continued his work.
The New York Times explores the steady creep of technology further into our lives, hinting that the computer may take the place of the TV as the device of choice for avoiding one's spouse.
:: David (15:40 in Michigan, 21:40 in Paris) - Comment


It figures. I started doing Japanese lessons this week, along with a friend of mine. She blogged about the first class, and I don't really have anything to add - my brain was full by the end of two hours. But I did note that she has apparently already started the homework, which I will probably not get to until Sunday, the day before our next meeting.

I'm actually doing several classes this fall - a Japanese one, a French one, and possibly a second Japanese one, intended to help me remember the basics. Because I think I need to remember walking before I can fly, figuratively speaking.
:: David (7:58 in Michigan, 13:58 in Paris) - Comment


We have been some crazy social butterflies this week - we had a dinner party Tuesday and Wednesday, and tonight did our weekly night out for television. Tomorrow I'm crossing the state to do some gaming and see some friends and family. It's crazy!
:: David (0:30 in Michigan, 6:30 in Paris) - Comment


:: Thursday, August 24 2006 ::

Aw, man! There goes Pluto. Now it's just one of the "small, icy 'Trans-Neptunians'"!
:: David (11:09 in Michigan, 17:09 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]


:: Wednesday, August 23 2006 ::

Bill Clinton wrote a letter to the New York Times titled "How we ended welfare, together". It was ten years ago yesterday that he signed into law the "Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act", also known as 'that giant welfare reform bill of 1996'. In his letter, Clinton touts the successes of welfare reform:

In the past decade, welfare rolls have dropped substantially, from 12.2 million in 1996 to 4.5 million today. At the same time, caseloads declined by 54 percent. Sixty percent of mothers who left welfare found work, far surpassing predictions of experts. Through the Welfare to Work Partnership, which my administration started to speed the transition to employment, more than 20,000 businesses hired 1.1 million former welfare recipients. Welfare reform has proved a great success, and I am grateful to the Democrats and Republicans who had the courage to work together to take bold action.
But the picture is not all rosy, as another article in the same paper notes that welfare reform has missed many people. As well, several letters to the editor rejected the idea that welfare reform has worked. Mother Jones also has an article which covers both the successes and failures of welfare reform, titled Welfare Reform Worked—Mostly.

Regardless of the efficacy of the reforms which happened in 1996, one thing is certain - the population of people who need welfare has changed, and this requires a rethink of the needs of those who still need welfare.

One of the items Clinton mentioned in his letter, and others reference when discussing the welfare debate, is the concept of the working poor - people who are doing just what they 'should', but aren't able to live on it. An older article, on Mother Jones, talks about the two income trap, which is both a book by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Tyagi, and a concept - the idea that the move to a two-earner family has increased, rather than decreased, economic instability in families.
:: David (12:06 in Michigan, 18:06 in Paris) - Comment


I love early mornings! I came in extra, extra early to do some upgrades to the software, and now I'm running out of steam. I find this whole 'running a production server' thing really crazy - always having to worry if people are using stuff when I want to make changes, always being worried I'm going to break things, etc.
:: David (7:32 in Michigan, 13:32 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]


:: Tuesday, August 22 2006 ::

So I installed a new blogging software called pivot, which is a full blown blog authoring tool, which would make every piece of my blog all slick and such. But I can't decide if I should do it - I really like having the total control over my blog that I have. If I implement a blogging software package, it'll go correcting my HTML and such. But it has swanky comments, it can do forums, etc. Any thoughts from the peanut gallery? To see what it looks like, you can have a peek here.
:: David (12:15 in Michigan, 18:15 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[5]


Uh oh - snakes on a slightly troubled box-office plane:

Airborne thriller Snakes on a Plane has topped the North American box office in its first weekend on release.

But the film's modest takings of $15.3m (£8.1m) only took it marginally ahead of last week's champion, Will Ferrell's motor racing comedy Talladega Nights.

All the money info can be seen on the BBC website.
:: David (10:33 in Michigan, 16:33 in Paris) - Comment


:: Monday, August 21 2006 ::

I think it's indicative of the type of place I now live, Ann Arbor, Michigan, that I forgot to mention the zombie attack last Thursday evening (probably also indicative is the fact that the wikipedia entry for Ann Arbor stretches to like thirty pages). I was driving home late, and as I came up the hill near my house, there were a dozen or so people shambling along on either sidewalk, and one person in the middle of the road. I didn't at first notice the zombie makeup, as I was too busy noticing there was an idiot in the middle of the road, walking towards my lane. It was only as we passed that I noticed his outfit. There were more as I came to the corner I needed to turn at, and I had to make a wide right turn to avoid running another one of them down. We looked at each other, made some comment about 'those crazy kids' and finished driving home.
:: David (12:25 in Michigan, 18:25 in Paris) - Comment


:: Sunday, August 20 2006 ::

Apparently Latvia is hosting a Nato summit sometime this year, and to show off their culture little gift bags of some sort will be given to the various delegates. On of the items to be included are some traditional mittens, but a special request has been made: no Swastikas

Swastikas have featured in traditional Latvian knitwear for centuries, variously known as the Thunder Cross or Fire Cross, but its feared that delegates, unfamiliar with local folklore, may take mittens decorated with swastikas amiss.
It's kind of like the trouble Nintendo had with their pokemon cards a while back, when their buddhist symbol was mistaken for a swastika. You can read all about the Latvian mittens on the BBC website.
:: David (19:25 in Michigan, 1:25 in Paris) - Comment


:: Saturday, August 19 2006 ::

Well, there it is. Snakes on a Plane. We went. We laughed (till we cried). It was probably better than Cats. I don't know. There is really nothing to be said about it that hasn't already been said. Snakes. On a plane. There you go.
:: David (23:58 in Michigan, 5:58 in Paris) - Comment


So this could be the coolest silly thing I've ever seen - someone wrote a script which allows you to put up to eight things on Stephen Colbert's 'on notice' board (and let me just say, the fact that Wikipedia has an entry not only for Stephen Colbert, but also for recurring elements of the show impresses me to no end. Or something like that). If you want to make your own, the website is here
:: David (19:07 in Michigan, 1:07 in Paris) - Comment


The new season of the Venture Brothers started recently, and I finally got around to seeing the first episode. The opening montage was quite impressive so I'm putting the video here (courtesy of YouTube). We'll see how long it stays up!

First, some background for those who don't watch - the bald guy with the goatee is Dr. Venture, and the big guy (Brock) is his bodyguard/friend. In the last episode of last season the two sons of Dr. Venture died, and the first two minutes of this video show Dr. Venture's actions in the aftermath of the boys' death.

:: David (18:38 in Michigan, 0:38 in Paris) - Comment


When I was in High School, my dad used to have me wash and wax the cars. I was originally going to say 'used to make me' but I expect there was an exchange of money for my labour.

When I got out on my own, I had a white four door toyota, and while I loved it, it was a mode of transportation, not something to spend hours on with a sponge or chamois. So it had been many a year since I last waxed a vehicle. But, I have a new car now, and the length of time the body lasts is directly related to how well one cares for the finish, so I decided I should periodically wax it, which I did today.

I thought I was going to die.

It seemed like a good idea, and the weather seemed cool enough, but as it turned out it was fairly humid. Add that to my own lack of practice with anything involving upper arm strength, and you have the makings of a class 1 heart attack. I was sweating like a stuck pig, and if there exists any of that elusive substance my father likes to call 'elbow grease', mine is now depleted, having been spread all over my car. I guess this means my elbow will make grinding noises every time I bend or unbend my arm.

Moral of the story? I don't know. Pay someone young to wash and wax your car, maybe.
:: David (14:54 in Michigan, 20:54 in Paris) - Comment


:: Friday, August 18 2006 ::

How exciting! There's a little article - more of an entry - about me in the Bermuda Sun.
:: David (17:35 in Michigan, 23:35 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[7]


Ah, CNN - always good for that high quality news spot. Apparently taking their lead from the Daily Mirror (a British newspaper with a spotless reputation), they cover a story which inspired one person to say

We asked him why he did it and he told us he was very drunk and could not exactly remember what happened.

I feel that once he recovers and understands what he has done he should commit suicide.

Admittedly, it is rather sad and pathetic, what the person in question did, but do we need to cover it? Does it make us wiser, or know more about our world than we did before we read it?
:: David (17:09 in Michigan, 23:09 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]


There's something that occupies the space between weird, poignant, and nostalgiac about hearing 'Little Earthquakes' by Tori Amos in a small corner store (Jefferson Market, for the locals) while waiting for your lunch. Loaded music should not be played in mundane surroundings.
:: David (12:34 in Michigan, 18:34 in Paris) - Comment


:: Thursday, August 17 2006 ::

Shelby pointed me to a blog which describes the experience one person had trying to get back to the US from London at the height of the terror scare. It's quite a read, full of all the zaniness that happens when arbitrary rules, half-explained to the people enforcing them, are put into place. It really didn't sound like a very safe airport to me....
:: David (21:10 in Michigan, 3:10 in Paris) - Comment


Wacky - a blog I used to read while living in Paris has gotten very interesting while I was not paying attention. Writing under the name ('nom de souris' as she put it) of Petite Anglaise, she blogged about her life as a single parent, and the rise and fall of a relationship or two. Mundane stuff. But apparently not mundane enough, for it seems about a month ago she was dooced, even though I never noticed her references to work at all. Now she has become something of a cross-channel cause célébrée, with articles written about her (in French and English), and by her, in the major UK and French newspapers, as well as at least one television appearance.
:: David (18:56 in Michigan, 0:56 in Paris) - Comment


So it seems there were these five guys, fisherman, who were fishing off the coast of Mexico. They started to drift. A few days later two of them jumped off, apparently thinking they would be better off in the open ocean than in a little fiberglass boat. Nine months later, the remaining three fisherman were picked up by a Taiwanese fishing trawler near the Marshall Islands, much closer to Australia than Mexico. You can read all about their crazy ordeal over at the BBC. I actually first heard about this on RFI (Radio France), where it was the lead story.
:: David (7:46 in Michigan, 13:46 in Paris) - Comment


:: Wednesday, August 16 2006 ::

I recently read one of those blogs where each entry is five pages long, and I thought 'how do people do this?' I mean, first, who has the time to write an entry that long, and second, do they think people have the time to read an entry that long? Of course, it depends, as the people who can write can lead me through five pages of reading without effort. But often it isn't those people doing it. And then I looked at the last few entries here, which aren't quite five pages, but do seem to be getting longer... I'll have to be careful not to become one of those people!
:: David (7:53 in Michigan, 13:53 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]


There's an interesting article in the Economist this week, talking about class. The title is 'But did they buy their own furniture?', which confused me at first. About halfway through the article they explain it: "Being the sort of person who “buys his own furniture”, a remark that Alan Clark, a former minister and diarist once reported as directed at Michael Heseltine, a self-made Tory colleague, is still worthy of note in circles where most inherit it."

The article references a couple of recent polls to examine the question of class. According to the poll, "The most useful identifying markers, according to the poll, are occupation, address, accent and income, in that order." Obviously this is for Britain, but I think the results are not too far off for other places.

The other poll they cited had some results I found shocking:

A survey conducted earlier this year by Experian [...] asked people in a number of different jobs to place themselves in the working class or the middle class. Secretaries, waiters and journalists were significantly more likely to think themselves middle-class than accountants, computer programmers or civil servants. Many new white-collar jobs—in vast call centres, for example—offer no more autonomy or better prospects than old blue-collar ones.
The article also notes that 22 percent of white collar workers listed themselves as 'Working class' - a result the article suggests is related to the fact that people "prefer to identify with the class they were born into rather than that which their jobs or income would suggest."
:: David (7:47 in Michigan, 13:47 in Paris) - Comment


:: Monday, August 14 2006 ::

My friend Jas sent me a link the other day to a website. My friend Nikki referred to the website in her blog. And my other friend Jason (in Egypt) seems to have used that same website. What website, you ask? The 'have Samuel L. Jackson call your friends and tell them to watch Snakes on a Plane' website. I had a voice mail from Samuel L. Jackson this evening, and when three of my friends independently tell me about a website, it's officially viral!

I have no idea of the authenticity of this, but the entry for Snakes on a Plane at Wikipedia includes this gem:

On June 3, 2006, Samuel L. Jackson said, while presenting the award for best movie at the MTV Movie Awards, "I'm here tonight to present the award everyone's been waiting for: best movie. Now, this award holds a special place in my heart because next year I'll be winning it for Snakes on a Plane. Now I know, I know that sounds cocky, but I don't give a damn. I am guaranteeing that Snakes on a Plane will win best movie next year. Does not matter what else is coming out. The New James Bond... no snakes in that! Ocean's 13... where my snakes at? Shrek the Third... green, but not a snake. No movie shall triumph over Snakes on a Plane. Unless I happen to feel like making a movie called Mo' Motha-fuckin' Snakes on Mo' Motha-fuckin' Planes."
It's worth reading the full entry to see how legends are made.
:: David (21:41 in Michigan, 3:41 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[9]


If it's summer, it must be time for the Japanese to piss off the Chinese and Koreans with a visit to Yasukuni shrine.
:: David (20:50 in Michigan, 2:50 in Paris) - Comment


So Sasha and I have been watching this goofy show called 'Who Wants to be a Superhero' on the SciFi network, and lo and behold, my friend Jason posts that one of them is from his hometown in really rural Michigan, right by where I went to college. It's a small, small world.
:: David (20:45 in Michigan, 2:45 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]


Holy cow - I don't know how I missed this story - It was revealed on Friday that the Nobel Prize-winning writer Günter Grass had been a member of the SS in World War II. Given his anti-war novels, I don't think anyone is going to accuse him of having been one of the crazy SS people you see in films, but it has nevertheless caused not a little difficulty. Lech Walesa of Poland has suggested Grass should give up his honorary citizenship of Gdansk, for example.
:: David (14:17 in Michigan, 20:17 in Paris) - Comment


There's a really fun article over on the BBC all about CB radio use in the UK. I've often thought about getting a CB unit for the car, but I also recognize that the glory days seem to have come and gone. This article discusses the rise and fall from a very different perspective (who knew it was illegal at first?!)
:: David (9:58 in Michigan, 15:58 in Paris) - Comment


:: Saturday, August 12 2006 ::

Arts and Letters Daily pointed me to an interesting article over at the New Left Review, which discusses why, despite running massive deficits for extended periods of time, the US never has to pay the price for its incompetence. The solution the author offers is that the major debt holders have a vested interest in the status quo:

There is no secret about the identity of the biggest dollar holders. They are the central banks and other financial institutions of Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates. If the dollar is going to crash, one or more of these places is going to have to change its stance towards the American currency. They display such a seemingly reflexive commitment to accumulating and retaining dollars that some commentators have described the current global financial order as ‘Bretton Woods ii’—a continuation by other means of the dollar-centred international order that prevailed in the postwar decades. The label does not itself explain why these states behave as they do. But it suggests that, for whatever reason, they have motives other than maximizing returns on their foreign-currency holdings; that they have a vested interest in the continuation of a us-led financial system.
The article asserts that the biggest player in this game is Japan, and then goes into an extended analysis of modern Japanese political history, which does an excellent job of explaining not only the question posed, but also a myriad assortment of other oddities about modern Japan. Naturally, as the story gets closer to the present day, the analysis is expanded to include Japan's big neighbour across the water, China. The author also goes on to discuss possible future scenarios, which aren't pretty:
There is talk in financial circles in Tokyo that the Ministry of Finance has concluded that global imbalances have become too great; that the limits of Japan’s dollar support capability have finally been reached. A real chance exists that Japan will stop throwing good money after bad in the next dollar crisis and sit on its hands. Of course the price would be heavy—once the dollar goes into freefall and the yen breaks past its historical high water mark of ¥79/$1, Japan will be facing the write-off of much of its accumulated dollar hoard and the potential loss of hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs.
I think the author is actually too gentle, and an actual dollar crisis would be devastating in ways we can't envision. But we'll just have to wait and see - and who knows - maybe a natural disaster will get us first.
:: David (12:06 in Michigan, 18:06 in Paris) - Comment


:: Thursday, August 10 2006 ::

And of course, when we are not dealing with ghosts and shadows, we get to deal with the real thing:

A plot to blow up planes in flight from the UK to the US and commit "mass murder on an unimaginable scale" has been disrupted, Scotland Yard has said.
You shouldn't have any trouble at all finding more info on this story. It's interesting to have this story follow on the one yesterday, because clearly (assuming what is being reported today is true) the UK plot was fully formed, the police had gotten the details and the players, and everything was done smoothly. There are some jitters - one expects the reason no one can have any carry on luggage is because they haven't yet determined what the components of the explosive will look like. But that's fine - they take a fairly reasonable cautionary line for a bit, and then roll it back once they have more details. Compare that to the story of the Egyptian students: 'we don't know anything, there's no evidence, therefore, PANIC'.
:: David (11:07 in Michigan, 17:07 in Paris) - Comment


:: Wednesday, August 9 2006 ::

I give you the top stories at this moment from the CNN website:

  • Israel to expand war against Hezbollah | Video
  • Dem leaders back Lieberman opponent | Video
  • Poll: 60 percent of Americans oppose Iraq war
  • TIME.com: How Hezbollah hijacks the Internet
  • Dobbs: Bush spittin' in the wind at border
  • Fortune: Can Wal-Mart take on OPEC?
  • Camera snaps brutal bottle attack on clerk
  • 11 Egyptian students disappear in U.S. | Read
  • SI.com: Ex-star player arrested after chase | Video
  • Penguins saved in deadly truck crash | Read
  • Celebrities behaving badly, and on camera
  • Jumping sturgeon whacks jet-skier
  • CNN Wire: Latest updates on world's top stories
I would draw your attention to the 11 Egyptian students disappear in U.S., which is a study in how the fear created by the attacks of September 11th and those who wished to exploit the American people has lead to a breakdown in our treatment of immigrants. The basic story is that the kids came in on a student visa, and didn't show up for school. So,

The FBI on Saturday issued a nationwide alert to law enforcement agencies. Included were the students' names, ages, passport numbers and photographs.

"At the present time there are no known associations to any terrorist groups. Approach with caution," the lookout bulletin states.

'We think they're safe, so you better draw your weapon before talking to them'. In addition to the obvious bits like that, the whole tone of the article alternates between talking about the kids as if they were simply kids who had jumped the immigration trail, and armed and dangerous terrorists the US government had lost track of. Check your backyard - they may have a dirty bomb stored there!

My friend Jason can probably comment on this better than I, but from what I've seen there seem to be quite a number of Egyptian kids who would love to come to the states, under pretty much any pretext. Everything about this story, starting with the fact it's a 'top story' on CNN, speaks to the wrongness living in the US these days.
:: David (13:26 in Michigan, 19:26 in Paris) - Comment


:: Monday, August 7 2006 ::

Some of you may remember that about a month ago I got a twelve thousand dollar bill from the IRS. So today I got another letter from the IRS. I put it on the table, and sort of stared at it the way Gandalf stared at the one ring while it lay on the floor of Bilbo's house at Bag End. After a while I worked up enough courage to open it, only to find it was a 'please stand by' letter: "We have not resolved this matter because we haven't completed all the processing necessary for a complete response" (please note, this really is the letter talking - I couldn't come up with language this convoluted. I worry for the future of tax collection in the US).
:: David (22:10 in Michigan, 4:10 in Paris) - Comment


AOL apparently made a little boo-boo this morning, when it released its search history for the past three months to the web at large. In addition to the obvious concerns many people had about their search history being available to all and sundy, there was apparently a concern among the people releasing the data that people might be offended by what the data contained:

CAVEAT EMPTOR -- SEXUALLY EXPLICIT DATA! Please be aware that these queries are not filtered to remove any content. Pornography is prevalent on the Web and unfiltered search engine logs contain queries by users who are looking for pornographic material. There are queries in this collection that use SEXUALLY EXPLICIT LANGUAGE. This collection of data is intended for use by mature adults who are not easily offended by the use of pornographic search terms. If you are offended by sexually explicit language you should not read through this data. Also be aware that in some states it may be illegal to expose a minor to this data. Please understand that the data represents REAL WORLD USERS, un-edited and randomly sampled, and that AOL is not the author of this data.
I love almost everything about this story. AOL has apologized, but the biggest thing in my opinion is that this is not going to be an isolated incident. In fact, it has already happened before. The fact that anyone thinks that their search data might be in any way sacrosanct is what is amusing.
:: David (20:16 in Michigan, 2:16 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]


I know you're going to hear about it a lot of places, but it's pretty cool - Mac has just announced something called Time Machine, which allows you to roll back to a previous version of a file you have changed, or undelete things you accidentally deleted. It'll all be integrated into the operating system, so invisible until you need it. It sounds like it will work with external hard drives, so you can automatically, invisibly back up everything. We'll see what the final specs are once the hype dies down....
:: David (13:50 in Michigan, 19:50 in Paris) - Comment


We made it back - Chicago was crazy packed with people, as it turned out Lollapalooza was there the same weekend we were. It was held on the waterfront, so as we walked along we could hear bands playing. Amusing. We hit the museum and the aquarium, and generally had a relaxing time. The class went well, I think, and I would definitely do it again, as I enjoyed the material. We'll see whether or not I need to do it again - there may or may not be a re-org (who can say?) so I have no idea if there sorts of things will still be on offer (tho I think they will). I also liked the fact that I didn't have to fly.
:: David (9:16 in Michigan, 15:16 in Paris) - Comment


So, for anyone who hasn't been told yet, we're having a big ol' party on the island of Bermuda, September 19th, 2006. You have to make your own way, and find your own accomodations, but it should be a good time. Bring dress clothes (cool ones). It'll be in St. George's. Now you know.
:: David (9:13 in Michigan, 15:13 in Paris) - Comment


:: Thursday, August 3 2006 ::

Well, I survived day one, and only had a few 'I'm in trouble here' moments. All I have to do is get through tomorrow, and then I'm free and clear to see dragons in chicago. And whatever else we find. All the hotels, sadly, appear to be booked in the city center, so we have to figure something else out.
:: David (23:57 in Michigan, 5:57 in Paris) - Comment


:: Wednesday, August 2 2006 ::

I like this a lot:

A lavish wedding in a French town which saw the happy couple showered in confetti made from shredded euro notes has caused outrage.

Residents of the southern town of Sete were up in arms after the bride and groom were covered in confetti made from 5, 10, 20 and 50 euro notes.

I think in the states there would be an uproar, but more of the 'what an idiot' kind than any sort of legal ruckus. And once people found out the bills had been destined for destruction, they wouldn't care anymore - witness what the Federal Reserve does (as explained by Abby Wong of the Federal Reserve Bank in Los Angeles to Pulse Planet):
Where you might see the products of shredded currency today, could be in novelty items, if you see then inside pens, you might see them inside a little bag sold somewhere. We've also seen them inside teddy bears. Typically you're going to see them on roofs - wood shingles on roofs, freeway panels will have a little green tint, sound panels will also have that green tint. You might see them in a fire log in a fireplace...
You can get all the details on the bill-shredding wedding here.
:: David (8:18 in Michigan, 14:18 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]


:: Tuesday, August 1 2006 ::

We're off travelling again - I am teaching a course on building a website using php, mysql, and apache Thursday and Friday. It's located in Wisconsin, so a bit of a drive. I'm not really a big php programmer, and my experience using the phpmyadmin interface to mysql is not all that grand, but I'm hoping the people who show know even less than I do. Otherwise, I expect some pretty bad teaching reviews!

I'm also in the process of negotiating a raise. When I originally joined we said we would re-evaluate after an 'introductory period', and I think six months is a good amount of time.
:: David (23:27 in Michigan, 5:27 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]


We had to break down and move an air mattress into the room with the air conditioner last night. It was hot out there. I probably shouldn't use the past tense, as it seems we are destined for more today. Bleah. The central air at my office barely kept up with yesterday - I'm a little afraid to see what happens today, as temps are supposed to head to the high 90's (36+ for those of you on that other scale). I suspect dinner this evening will involve lots of cool things, eaten in a cool room.
:: David (7:56 in Michigan, 13:56 in Paris) - Comment

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