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:: Thursday, February 28 2008 ::

That's some crazy search. I just added a fun little gadget from a company in beta called quintura, that's building a fun little search engine. You can check it out here. It takes some getting used to, but I actually found it really interesting once I got the hang of it.
:: David (15:46 in Michigan, 21:46 in Paris) - Comment


I know it goes without saying, but if you're planning on robbing a bar, choose one that isn't having a biker meeting in the back room.
:: David (11:13 in Michigan, 17:13 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[4]


:: Tuesday, February 26 2008 ::

Let's see: today we learned that a very reliable measure of housing prices was off ten percent, wholesale prices rose a full percentage point in the month of January alone, consumer confidence is at a five year low (1), oil closed at one hundred and one dollars per barrel (2), and the Euro is at one fifty (3). This train is off the tracks.
:: David (19:09 in Michigan, 1:09 in Paris) - Comment


Just another reason why I love Japan: A 39 year old Japanese man was arrested for trespassing after turning up at a high school dressed in a schoolgirl outfit and a long wig. "When students standing outside the gates started to scream at the sight of him, he dashed inside the school grounds, hoping to blend in with the crowds of teenagers".
:: David (18:32 in Michigan, 0:32 in Paris) - Comment


Lottery winners from Georgia are currently in the headlines - according to AP, they won some two hundred seventy five million dollars. The BBC notes the wife's assertion that:

"I'll be back in jeans and a T-shirt tomorrow," she said. "It is not going to change me at all. Him maybe, but not me - I'm too country."
Apparently the couple did not watch the drawing, and were alerted by their daughter to the win.
:: David (9:41 in Michigan, 15:41 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[5]


The BBC is reporting today that a new meta-study has concluded that "[n]ew generation anti-depressants have little clinical benefit for most patients". This would include prozac and its ilk. The study was conducted, in part, by gathering data from unpublished studies run by the drug companies, who just might have been doing a little cherry-picking. gasp.
:: David (7:24 in Michigan, 13:24 in Paris) - Comment


If you ever needed proof the patent system was broken, the recent win of Blackboard over Desire2Learn should serve admirably. For those not familiar both programs provide an online classroom type of experience. In 2006 Blackboard was issued a patent (wait for it) on the idea that a student in one class might be a teacher in another class. This is occasionally called a 'graduate assistant', and the patent office apparently hadn't heard of it before, so they gave Blackboard a patent on it. Now pretty much every classroom software is in danger of being sued out of existence.
:: David (7:10 in Michigan, 13:10 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]


:: Saturday, February 23 2008 ::

I just finished a fun little book called The Botanist and the Vintner: How Wine Was Saved for the World, which tells the story of the outbreak of Phylloxera in France in the latter half of the 19th century. It's a fun story, with memorable personages and all the bizarre stories of people trying to cure the infestation with, for example, snail slime, that one could hope for. (Disclaimer: I get paid by Amazon (maybe, someday) if you buy via the above link)
:: David (14:28 in Michigan, 20:28 in Paris) - Comment


I vaguely knew I was a problematic blood donor - when you travel outside the US they like you to wait a bit to see if you are carrying some horrible foreign disease. As it turns out, I was wrong about that rule - it's only malaria countries they are concerned about there - but I was right about not donating - I am forbidden, in fact, for life:

You are not eligible to donate if:
From January 1, 1980, through December 31, 1996, you spent (visited or lived) a cumulative time of 3 months or more, in the United Kingdom (UK)
that mad cow disease gets 'em every time! I'm glad gadling hooked me up with the red cross rules, or I wouldn't have known!
:: David (0:16 in Michigan, 6:16 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]


:: Thursday, February 21 2008 ::

Yesterday one of the women I work with said to me, as I was headed out the door, that she loved the license plate on my car. I responded in some manner or another, we chatted a bit, and in the course of the conversation she noted that the reason she loved the car is that it reminded her the she worked with such dorky people. I got called 'dorky' by a librarian. That makes me feel warm inside, somehow.
:: David (22:19 in Michigan, 4:19 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]


I heard a report on NPR yesterday about a disease currently spreading through bats in the Northeast. Where the disease, called 'white nose syndrome', hits, it virtually eliminates the bat colony. The US Fish and Wildlife service has a notice up, detailing what's happened so far and recommendations they have, specifically for the caving community, as there is fear that cavers might spread the disease if they come into contact with it (there's also a small fear that it might be bad for people).
:: David (10:54 in Michigan, 16:54 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]


:: Wednesday, February 20 2008 ::

Saw a really interesting film this evening. Persepolis is an animated "coming-of-age story of a precocious and outspoken young Iranian girl that begins during the Islamic Revolution". Take a look if you have the chance.
:: David (23:53 in Michigan, 5:53 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]


Now that's what I'm talkin' about! CNN had the unmitigated audacity to fire one of their producers for his personal blog, and he is unimpressed. So he's cut loose on his former employer, and the mainstream media in general:

During my last couple of years as a television news producer, I watched the networks try to recover from a six year failure to bring truth to power ... and what's worse, to pretend that they had a backbone all along. I watched my bosses literally stand in the middle of the newsroom and ask, "What can we do to not lead with Iraq?" -- the reason being that Iraq, although an important story, wasn't always a surefire ratings draw. I was asked to complete self-evaluations which pressed me to describe the ways in which I'd "increased shareholder value." ... I watched the media in general do anything within reason to scare the hell out of the American public -- to convince people that they were about to be infected by the bird flu, poisoned by the food supply, or eaten by sharks. I marveled at our elevation of the death of Anna Nicole Smith to near-mythic status and our willingness to let the airwaves be taken hostage by every permutation of opportunistic degenerate from a crying judge to a Hollywood hanger-on with an emo haircut. I watched qualified, passionate people worked nearly to death while mindless talking heads were coddled. I listened to Lou Dobbs play the loud-mouthed fascist demagogue, Nancy Grace fake ratings-baiting indignation, and Glenn Beck essentially do nightly stand-up -- and that's not even taking into account the 24/7 Vaudeville act over at Fox News. I watched The Daily Show laugh not at our mistakes but at our intentional absurdity.
You can read the whole thing (and you should) over at Deus Ex Malcontent. (via slashdot
:: David (23:30 in Michigan, 5:30 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]


Shelby pointed out that Obama has a plan, so I read it, and made copious notes on my response to his plan. The short form: it'll do.
:: David (18:57 in Michigan, 0:57 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[5]


:: Tuesday, February 19 2008 ::

They're calling Wisconsin for Obama, and even as the Economist asks 'But could he deliver?', McCain is serving up his own dose of doubt, saying "I will fight every moment of every day in this campaign to make sure Americans are not deceived by an eloquent but empty call for change". If people didn't want details before, they should certainly start asking for them now.
:: David (23:26 in Michigan, 5:26 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]


I've been waiting until it was official, and now it is: HD-DVD is dead. The press release:

Toshiba Corporation today announced that it has undertaken a thorough review of its overall strategy for HD DVD and has decided it will no longer develop, manufacture and market HD DVD players and recorders.
Obviously this is no Fidel Castro moment, but for people who have been waiting on high definition video until the format war finished, it's a nice moment. Sadly, everyone I know who waded in early bought HD-DVD.
:: David (7:04 in Michigan, 13:04 in Paris) - Comment


Wow. Fidel Castro is retiring. Speculation is that Raul Castro will take over, though the BBC thinks there's some possibility of choosing someone of the next generation. Given the way it has worked thus far I think it will be Raul. I only hope the transition is a smooth one - the last thing Cuba needs is a power grab, as I think there would be too many people on too many sides for that to end well.
:: David (6:53 in Michigan, 12:53 in Paris) - Comment


:: Monday, February 18 2008 ::

xkcd remembers:

:: David (23:03 in Michigan, 5:03 in Paris) - Comment


I spent Sunday revisiting some old friends from my musical past, which lived up surprisingly well to my memory of them - Sarah McLachlan, Lisa Loeb (and yes, I know - at this point in the list you're thinking 'emo kitty is so... emo), and Liz Phair. It was good to hear the old stuff again. I also met some new music while in the UK that I listened to a couple of times this weekend, by a band called Scouting for Girls. Fun stuff with the occasional really bizarre turn of phrase:

I'll never be a guy like He-Man
I'll never be a girl like She-Ra
I'm a fragile beast like *Battle Cat* yeah
'cause when I think Battle Cat, I think... fragile? And why am I thinking of Battle Cat, anyway?
:: David (0:02 in Michigan, 6:02 in Paris) - Comment


:: Friday, February 15 2008 ::

MyBlogLog, the site which does those fun pics showing who visited recently further down on the page, thinks I should let them design my email signature. They suggest the following:

David Barber
MI
US
odoketa@yahoo.com
Visit MyBlogLog and get a signature like this!
Can you imagine if every email you sent had all that crap attached to the bottom of every message? I believe it would result in severe beatings. I like what they've done with the whole 'and these are my social sites'. Tie them to my profile if you like. But not in my inbox, please.
:: David (23:44 in Michigan, 5:44 in Paris) - Comment


It's 10:30pm and the phone rings. Who could it be? Nobody expects... the wine inquisition! A friend had some trouble remembering something tasty we drank together some months previously, so called me up. This actually happens to me more often than I should probably admit. Does that mean I've arrived, or something else altogether...?
:: David (22:31 in Michigan, 4:31 in Paris) - Comment


One of the dangers of living in a town with 'luxury' food stores: Sasha asked me to get five things from the store - milk, eggs, butter, bread, and cheese. I got those five things. I spent over twenty dollars in the getting. The bread: baguette; the cheese: aged gouda and smoked manchego; the milk: organic; the butter: imported french; and the eggs: free range (and brown). Yikes.
:: David (22:06 in Michigan, 4:06 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]


Apropo of nothing, last night we headed out to see a violinist perform at Hill Auditorium here in town. Christian Tetzlaff is apparently well known enough to rate both a New York Times review and a wikipedia entry. I had never heard of him, which in no way reduced how amazing the performance was. It was really, really nice to be reminded how wonderful live performances can be.
:: David (15:50 in Michigan, 21:50 in Paris) - Comment


:: Thursday, February 14 2008 ::

I heard an interview this morning on the BBC with a couple of people about the current state of affairs in Lebanon. You may have heard yesterday that a Hezbollah leader, Imad Mughniyeh, died in a bombing in Damascus. Israel, rightly or wrongly, was blamed for the assassination, and the US said "the world would be a 'better place' without Imad Mughniyeh" who was a "mass murderer and a terrorist". Today, at his funeral, Hassan Nasrallah said that if 'open war' was what they wanted, they would get it. The correspondent this morning noted that although there were forces on both sides of the issue inside the country, this only increases the likelihood of some form of violence, as inter communal violence is also a possibility.
:: David (16:39 in Michigan, 22:39 in Paris) - Comment


:: Wednesday, February 13 2008 ::

A quick thought on bandwidth - you may think it doesn't matter how fast your connection is (unless you have dial-up). But yesterday and today I tried to share some photos from the wedding with a friend in the UK. Both of us were tech savvy enough to know that we could easily stick all the photos we took in a zip file. But as it turns out, a zip file of wedding photos for me was 180MB and for him was 220MB. So I used my super-duper internet connection to upload the photos to my server, and to download his:

222313030 bytes received in 14:41 (246.26 KB/s)
184947463 bytes sent in 1:01:03 (49.30 KB/s)
That's 15 minutes, and one hour, respectively. And because of the length of time it took, the server on the far end disconnected me a couple of times. This is a real problem in the US - sharing photos is not rocket science that only a few people do - it's one of the meat and potatoes applications of the internet.
:: David (15:13 in Michigan, 21:13 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]


My friend Holly called last night (Happy Birthday Holly!), and in the course of a long rambling conversation (the best kind) she revealed that she had recently been offered a job with a maker of helmets for babies, designed to reshape their head into something more pleasant. I, as any rational person would do, disputed the existence of such a device, and so she sent me to the company's website, which confirmed once again Shakespeare's assertion that "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." I especially like that they have created a term - Positional Plagiocephaly - to describe having a flat head. And apparently, having made it a problem (see the government web page on the subject), it is now covered by insurance. Brilliant! According to Lovers and Livers: Disease Concepts in History by Jacalyn Duffin, once this 'disease' hit, referrals for it went through the roof. She also points out how it conveniently once again makes 'working mothers' the culprit, this time for making their kids look funny.
:: David (9:54 in Michigan, 15:54 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]


:: Tuesday, February 12 2008 ::

I'm not going to hate on Arizona, because some of my best friends are from there. But I will offer just a little bit of 'serves them right' by pointing to this article in the New York Times which says the state is seeing significant immigrant flight now that its new, tougher laws on illegal immigrants are in place. To all those who claim immigrants are a net drain on the economy, Arizona may become a clear counterexample.
:: David (14:28 in Michigan, 20:28 in Paris) - Comment


:: Monday, February 11 2008 ::

Well, we got the letter today so it's official. Sasha has been hired by Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. It's about 45 minutes North of Little Rock, has a population of about 50,000, and happily for us appears to have relatively low real estate prices. Woo hoo!
:: David (22:57 in Michigan, 4:57 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[13]


Ah, the joys of our new, artificial life. A new study adds evidence to the fact that artificial sweeteners may lead to weight gain:

In a series of experiments, scientists at Purdue University compared weight gain and eating habits in rats whose diets were supplemented with sweetened food containing either zero-calorie saccharin or sugar. The report, published in Behavioral Neuroscience, presents some counterintuitive findings: Animals fed with artificially sweetened yogurt over a two-week period consumed more calories and gained more weight mostly in the form of fat than animals eating yogurt flavored with glucose, a natural, high-calorie sweetener.
Of course, correlation is not causality, and scientists are still out on the why of the whole thing. But, according to one of the co-authors, "we definitely have evidence that the animals getting artificially sweetened yogurt end up eating more calories than the ones getting calorically sweetened yogurt."
:: David (10:25 in Michigan, 16:25 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[2]


It always hurts when things like this happen: what has been called Korea's most important national treasure, a 600 year old gate into the city of Seoul, burned down in what may have been a case of arson.
:: David (9:41 in Michigan, 15:41 in Paris) - Comment


:: Friday, February 8 2008 ::

Ah, Rowan. You honestly had no idea did you? My friend, people in the West have been whipped into an anti-Muslim frenzy, equating all things Islamic with stoning women and blowing up planes. There was no way your comments that, for example, 'Muslims could choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court', in an interview with the BBC, could ever result in anything but an anti-you frenzy. And now I read that you've been surprised by the "hostility of the response" to your comments. And while the reaction may in part be due to a 'hysterical misrepresentation' of your comments, as the Muslim Council of Britain called it, I fear it is much more due to a hysterical misunderstanding of Islam, possibly induced by those in power for their own reasons.
:: David (16:06 in Michigan, 22:06 in Paris) - Comment


If you get this, good. If not, sorry. But I laughed until I cried.
:: David (14:48 in Michigan, 20:48 in Paris) - Comment


So I was driving in to work this morning, and for some reason the radio station was playing Sultans of Swing, which is an amazing song by Dire Straits. And then it ended, and this came on. And I thought 'my goodness - I just got RickRolled on my way to work! How terrible!'
:: David (14:44 in Michigan, 20:44 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[6]


:: Thursday, February 7 2008 ::

Oh boy! Wal-Mart is planning to expand their presence in the health care industry, starting with our future hometown! The new trick will be to deliver care in partnership with a local provider (to make it more trustworthy).
:: David (14:59 in Michigan, 20:59 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]


Bonus points to Mitt Romney for proving he isn't ready to be president. In his speech announcing he was withdrawing from the race, he said:

I am convinced that unless America changes course, we will become the France of the 21st century - still a great nation, but no longer the leader of the world, no longer the superpower. And to me, that is unthinkable.
Well done. Way to impress our allies with your diplomacy. That's the legacy of George Bush we all know and love right there. And just to affirm it, he equates the democrats with terrorists:

If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win.

And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.

Because, you know, if you're not with us, you're against us.
:: David (14:45 in Michigan, 20:45 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]


:: Wednesday, February 6 2008 ::

As soon as they finish uploading, you can see the photos from our trip to London. Nothing spectacular, especially as I had the camera mis-set for much of the trip (who knew the ISO setting would make the pictures that grainy?) but some fun stuff from in and around London, along with lots of wedding shots. And don't miss the largest unsupported marble staircase in Europe!
:: David (21:15 in Michigan, 3:15 in Paris) - Comment


This is tremendously cool - lifehacker pointed me to newseum a website that shows the front pages from all over the world, using an interactive map to select which ones to display.
:: David (15:09 in Michigan, 21:09 in Paris) - Comment


:: Tuesday, February 5 2008 ::

Just in case you had decided that our kitten cam was the ultimate in pet gadgetry gone crazy, I offer you the ultimate doghouse, complete with email alerts, pressure sensors, etc.
:: David (8:57 in Michigan, 14:57 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[3]


So today is so-called 'Super Tuesday' in the US: the day 24 states decide who they want in the election for president. The cacophony is overwhelming, with the media rushing to outshout one another, and the candidates trying as well. Hillary Clinton was, at some point yesterday, quite in danger of losing her voice, and I'm sure the others are as well. The general impression seems to be McCain will score a knockout and Clinton will score a palpable hit. I put that down so that when the results come in completely different we'll still remember what we thought was going to happen.
:: David (6:50 in Michigan, 12:50 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]


:: Monday, February 4 2008 ::

We hit two stage shows while we were in London, first The Lion King, then Avenue Q. The Lion King had been recommended to us as being more interesting than one might have expected, and Avenue Q was just a random thing we wanted to see. It was interesting because in both cases we knew, more or less, the story and songs, and yet in both cases the show was different from what we had expected, which was nice.
:: David (8:33 in Michigan, 14:33 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[1]


We are back. First and foremost, you should all congratulate Sasha, as she has received a job offer. I'll wait until the 'i's are dotted and 't's are crossed before giving all the details, but it's pretty well a done deal, and that's pretty cool. We had to make some transatlantic phone calls to find out the good news, which was a bit nerve wracking, as with the time zone thing we had to wait almost 24 hours to find out whether it was a job offer, or some other random request.
:: David (8:27 in Michigan, 14:27 in Paris) - Comment - View Comments[4]


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