Tuesday, March 08, 2005

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It's a problem with Firefox.
If I have one more problem with Radio Userland, I'm switching, probably to TypePad. And writing about it in the magazine. First, while I was using Internet Explorer as my primary browser, the program wouldn't accept any of the reg keys Radio sent me. I wound up paying twice for the same year's worth of service. (And, yes, they charged my credit card twice.) Then I couldn't post for about six months. Then I figured out how to post in html without using the various WYSIWYG features. Then a Radio tech fixed that by removing the W3C CSS badge from the bottom of the page. Now why didn't I think of that? Then Radio lost my archives, which I still haven't resurrected. Then it became blind to the folder in which my navigator links reside, claiming it can't find it. And, just as I was about to tackle the navigator problem--finally--I switch to Firefox as my primary browser and discover that I again can't use WYSIWYG and that even if I use html directly, I can't enter a title. And, to answer the obvious follow-up question, no, I can't remove the W3C CSS badge again because it's already gone.

4:31:44 PM    
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Rerun item from May, 2003 and worth every penny
In a world where all else is changing, one thing remains constant: this is still a helluva video.

http://multimedia.honda-eu.com/newcars/300k_player.swf this is the direct URL for the high-quality video. And here are the rest:


The UK Honda Accord advert. Title is the source (i.e. Honda UK) site. The Telegraph's explanations: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=%2Fnews%2F2003%2F04%2F13%2Fnhonda13.xml.

Enthusiast site http://home.attbi.com/~bernhard36/honda-ad.html,

which includes lots of trivia and links.
4:24:50 PM    

  Thursday, January 27, 2005

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Where is Rosie?

January 31 to February 2, 2005: LegalTech New York, New York Hilton on Sixth Avenue. No speaking, just listening and visiting. Usual New York schmoozing.

March 17-18, 2005: Daily Journal LegalWorks San Francisco, Hyatt Regency. Not sure which sessions I'll be chairing. Will keep you posted.

I'm hoping to post more of my schedule when I have a few minutes--probably sometime in June, 2007.

11:47:30 AM    

  Monday, January 24, 2005

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"Evil Twin" Haunts Wi-Fi Users

Is this for real? eWeek reports, "An IT security expert, an academic and the U.K. government's cybercrime unit will give Londoners an introduction to the security dangers of wireless networking on Thursday—with the star of the show being an attack method dubbed the "Evil Twin.'

The Evil Twin is essentially a wireless version of a phishing scam—users think they're connecting to a genuine hot spot but are actually connecting to a malicious server.

Even more interesting to me is the second comment, attributed to theogoldin, who points out that the British expert is confusing authentication with security.

1:27:19 PM    

  Friday, January 21, 2005

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Sabrina's Next Tip

"In his new book, [Washington] Post reporter Robert O'Harrow Jr. shows how the government now depends on burgeoning private reservoirs of information about almost every aspect of our lives to promote homeland security and fight the war on terror." If this doesn't frighten you, maybe you should cut back on your Prozac.

Also check out his piece in yesterday's Post, "In Age of Security, Firm Mines Wealth Of Personal Data." And then visit noplacetohide.net, a web site created by the Center for Investigative Reporting.

8:40:39 PM    
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Sabrina Pacifici has the best name for her Web site

Got two great leads from beSpacific this evening.

Nova scienceNow, the science show that, indeed, does go everywhere, explains who was making those eerie noises in those dunes in Indiana (Michigan?) that hot summer of my eighth year. Actually, I still think it was those gentile kids from the other camp.

I wish I could remember the name of those dunes in  Indiana (Michigan?) Can anybody offer a clue or two?

8:20:22 PM    

  Tuesday, January 18, 2005

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More on the new Mac Mini

Loyd Case in January 14's edition of ExtremeTech Weekly calls the Mac Mini Less than You Think, a brilliant opinion piece  given that it closely conforms to my original post of January 12. It also lends a voice of moderation to the frenzy of greed the new Apple product announcements have (and always have) generated, led, in part by New York Times columnist David Pogue, who, in addition to reporting on MacWorld for the Times, hosted MacWorld Expo's MacWorld Live with David Pogue talk radio show, featuring "the news of the day, exciting guests, David's famous song parodies and plenty of surprises." He was also the star attraction at sessions on Making iMovies with David Pogue and Panther Secrets. See what you missed?

Case also comments on similarly priced, similarly sized PC minis, specifically Cappuccino's PC Series and Logisysus' tiny PCs. To them I would add Shuttle's XPA PCs,: Tiqit's handheld PC, a full computer just a little bigger than an ordinary Pocket PC or Windows Mobile PC; Sony's U series, a  full PC with an 800x600 display, still available only in Japan, I believe; and ajumpminipc's built-to-order (like Dell) lunch box.

2:47:33 PM    

  Wednesday, January 12, 2005

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MacWorld Expo San Francisco

I just got back from a long walk up and down and between the aisles at MacWorld, the tradeshow, not the magazine. It used to be much bigger. Smaller is fine with me and my tootsies, but not so fine for the tradeshow business. I haven't yet taken inventory to see if most of the Mac players were there. If they were, it also doesn't bode well for the Mac platform. The huge Apple booth (pavilion?) in the middle of Moscone's eastern exhibit hall was fronted by a wall of the new mini-mini iPOD Shuffles. People walked up to one, gave a listen, then moved over to another one. Something about random music. They use flash media (a first for Apple)--the same stuff that goes into USB thumb drives and all those media cards, such as Memory Sticks, Secure Digital, Compact Flash and XDisc cards. The Shuffle is basically a thumb drive with headphone jacks and a fast-fprward button. The prices are high, in line with the ethos of the Mac--we're special and so you get cachet points by paying through your teeth for our stuff. But, actually, not as disproportionate as, say, the 40 gig iPOD. The 512 MB iPOD Shuffle lists for $99, the 1 GB lists for $149. For comparison, a secure 512 USB thumb drive sells for about $50 and a 1 GB USB flash drives go for about $100. A lot of people stopped in front of the wall of Shuffles, listened to one, then moved over and listened to another two or three. No one acted overtly enthusiastic, but maybe enthusiasm isn't cool.

There were bigger crowds in front of the row of tables showing the new $500 Mac Mini, which looks like an overblown iPOD power transformer. The Mac Mini costs $499 for the 1.25GHz model with a 40GB Ultra ATA hard drive; $599 for a 1.42GHz model with an 80GB Ultra ATA drive. Add a keyboard, mouse, and monitor (just like buying a PC) and you've got your basic $800 to $1,000 Mac system. Attendees weren't slobbering over the Mac Minis either.

One of the things that, for me, has always differentiated Mac shows from PC shows is the applause. Mac folks used to applaud at those large demos where the stand-up guy (or three blond women in black polo shirts) throw T-shirts into the crowd. Applaud. At sales pitches. Well, today, the Apple guys demo-ing Mac OSX Tiger had to prompt the audience. "Waddya think?" "Is this cool or what?" And then the audience applauded. Not like the good old days.

4:24:40 PM    

  Monday, January 10, 2005

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There is still a lot missing, but I'm happy. Yes, I am.

It looks like I can cross yet another few problems off my list. Unfortunately, I still have a list. But the Radio Userland folks, specifically Lawrence Lee, have worked out most of the major kinks. Personal links, RSS, archives...now I do believe everything will happen. Again. For the very first time. (Where did that come from: "together again for the very first time."? That and "a new idea is an antigen" have been driving me crazy for several years. And no, that's not why. I was like this before.

6:02:56 PM    
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You mean we have to act like grownups here too?
The Poynter Institute, a school for journalists, future journalists, and teachers of journalists, publishes several online columns each day, the most popular of which has got to be Jim Romenesko's Romenesko, a combination of journalism watchdog and gossip columnist. Reading Romenesko is probably the first thing most reporters do in the morning. But that's not why I called you all here today.

Poynter's Steve Outing proposes that bloggers learn what we professional editors, writers and reporters already should know--standards, be they stylistic, graphic or ethical, not only protect the subjects of our jabs and stabs, but also protect the First Amendment (especially in this climate of...what? Germany in the early Thirties?) and the blogger herself. Given the current administration's, um, ambivalence to the the First Amendment, we (bloggers and journalists alike) need all the protection we can get.

Outing refers to CyberJournalist.net's model Bloggers' Code of Ethics, based on the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics for the Weblog World.

After all, we bloggers have no backup, no large corporations and their expensive lawyers will represent us should one of our topics sue us for libel. (I love the idea of reducing a human litigant to a non-tangible.) Even more disturbing, in these days of more government interference, is the fact that there is no precedent yet for giving First Amendment rights to bloggers in the first place. Top First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams believes that reporter-bloggers should be able to use the same shield laws that protect journalists.

Outing's chiastic flipside: What Journalists Can Learn from Bloggers.

While you're at it, check out Polish Your Jewels, an excellent lesson in making every word work.
10:47:48 AM    

  Thursday, January 06, 2005

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Barbara Boxer joins House dems to protest irregularities in the Ohio vote
Way to go, Barbara. Serious questions about an entire state's voting procedures makes us look like a member of the former Soviet Union. Or, maybe, Nigeria.
10:42:42 AM    

  Wednesday, January 05, 2005

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Really Rosie
Somehow, when I broke this blog back in August, I lost the post with Rosie Bultman's baby pictures. I'm hoping this will goose Chip into sending me more.

Who, you may be asking your computer monitor, is Chip? Nothing less than the copy chief for California Lawyer and a wonderful photographer. Rosie is his baby daughter. I'm hoping reposting these will goose Chip into sending me more photos to post, so that the world, or at least the Daily Journal and California Lawyer staffs, can see how she's grown.

A picture named [[filename]]
7:14:42 PM    

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Ever curious
If you're a Mac fan (a separate species I've come to believe), you probably already know about Think Secret, the tight rumor mill of Apple news. http://www.thinksecret.com/ Since I haven't used a Mac regularly for about fifteen years, I discovered said site only because I read that Apple is suing them for disclosing trade secrets, thereby confirming whatever it was they wanted to deny. Maybe they're suing over Think Secret's article on the sub-$500 Mac Apple (http://www.thinksecret.com/news/0412expo2.html) is supposed to announce at MacWorld in San Francisco (groan) next week. (What's so difficult about such an animal? They drop to about $500 because they don't include a monitor. No duh. PC manufacturers have been doing that for, um, almost twenty years.
5:43:48 PM    
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Tricks of the Trade
OK. So I do have titles working again. Progress.

Wanna get the party dancing? Play Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl. " Don't believe me. Go straight to my source Tricks of the Trade. (I'll fix it, I'll fix it. Give me a chance.) Or, if you're carpenter for a day, hold a nail the safer way: There's more than one way to hold a nail for hammering, but the obvious one leaves your thumb vulnerable to a serious whack when the hammer misses. Try it this way: Turn your palm towards yourself, with the nail held between the tips of two fingers. If the hammer misses, you'll hit the flat of a finger instead of the side of your thumb. Yes, it still hurts to hit your fingers with a hammer. But it's nowhere near the pain of hitting your thumb, because the flat of a finger is tougher than the side of a thumb. Pinch the tip of your finger or thumb as hard as you can, first through the flat from nail to pad, then from the sides, and you'll know what a difference this makes. http://www.tradetricks.org/archives/001116.html

Consumers generally won't buy a bicycle with completely smooth or treadless tires, even though the tread pattern serves no purpose and tires would be cheaper to make (and therefore buy) without it.

People think bicycle tires should have tread because car tires have tread. But car tires have tread for a reason. In wet conditions water has to be given a way to flow from under the tire's contact patch, so the rubber can remain in contact with pavement and prevent hydroplaning. A car tire is much larger than that of a bicycle tire, thought, and the water has much further to travel.

Physics dictates that the pressure forcing water from below the car's tire is equal to the pressure of inflation, typically 30-40 psi. With a bicycle road tire, however, inflation pressure is typically 80-120 psi. In other words, in comparison to car tires, bicycle tires have much smaller contact patches and much higher pressure -- the two physical parameters of concern in hydroplaning.

The speed required to hydroplane on a bicycle has been calculated in the region of 90-100 mph. http://www.tradetricks.org/archives/001113.html (Originally from Ask Metafilter (http://ask.metafilter.com/mefi/10953)

Stop me before I cite more.
5:36:00 PM    

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title trolling
There are still a few kinks to work out. One of them is getting the title to publish. Another is getting the links linked. But I can post and I shall and will post.

What does a young anaesthesiologist do in his spare time (of which he seems to have a lot)? He comments (in bookofjoe, http://www.bookofjoe.com/) on things--you know, booster toilet seats, Flatmatic compact sunglasses and reading glasses, olive spoons. Precise links TK (to kum for you non-reporters) but search and ye shall find.
5:22:14 PM    

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Am I back yet?
After a heroic (an heroic?) struggle, I think I've finessed my blog back into letting me post. (I suspect that this is not Radio Userland's fault--or I wouldn't still be here--but, rather, a result of the incredibly confused templates I've created over the last couple of years. I've been too lazy (and, probably, inexperienced) to attack the mess and four months offline has been my punishment. The mess is so bad, I'm embarrassed to keep the CSS at the bottom of my pages.(Cascading Style Sheets: if you don't know what it means, just know that, if done properly, make your blog or Web site readable on any system anywhere. Supposedly.)

There's also an extra period (after the question mark) in the first line that I can't see in editing mode and therefore can't erase.
2:34:45 PM    

  Thursday, August 12, 2004

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Speech Accent Archive

A real find. The Speech Accent Archive plays your selection of accents and sub-accents of native speakers of other languages trying to read the same paragraph in English. It's a great way to learn to pronounce a foreign language--when you see and hear what mistakes they make trying to speak English, you can understand what they do with similar consonants, vowels and diphthongs in their own languges. Fabulous.

This site examines the accented speech of speakers from many different language backgrounds reading the same sample paragraph. Currently, we have obtained 355 speech samples. To explore the features of this site, use the pop-up menu below.

6:55:21 PM    

  Friday, July 30, 2004

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What interests me is the 10, 660 tips from the citizenry.

I had rather hoped that tattling went out with the Cultural Revolution.

China blocks porn websites

July 26, 2004

Beijing has blocked 988 overseas websites and shut down 67 local ones as part of a nationwide campaign to weed out pornographic content on the internet, Chinese media reported.

The websites shut down during the July 6 to 21 special operation included Hong Kong websites. The popular search tool Google was also inaccessible this week.

So far, the Chinese capital has arrested 13 people suspected of operating the websites, the Beijing Youth Daily said on Saturday.

Police received 10,660 tips from the public, a majority of which were complaints about inappropriate sexual content on the internet. Other complaints involved pornographic mobile phone short messages, the report said.

The central Chinese government this month launched a "people's war" against pornography on the internet, giving websites a deadline until September to rid themselves of indecent content or lose their license to publish decent material, such as news.

Officials had so far identified 500 websites across China that carried pornographic pictures and film clips, the China Daily reported.

Hundreds of websites, including the most influential ones, publish "indecent or even pornographic content" to attract users, the Xinhua news agency had reported.

The crackdown on internet porn reflects two top concerns of the Chinese leadership, about the ethical standards of the young and about the subversive potential of the internet.

With 80 million registered users in China, the government is finding it increasingly difficult to control the internet, but that has not stopped it from trying.

State media reported last month that the government had suspended the registration of new internet cafes, following a three-month sweep in which it closed 16,000 existing ones.


12:53:29 PM    
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Like a flamefest come to life. . .. Michael Moore vs. Bill O'Reilly No, I'm not kidding. And yes, it is a Drudge link. Watch O'Reilly Godwin halfway through the interview. [MetaFilter]
11:53:26 AM    
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bookbinding | popup books. Three nice book links from the University of North Texas Libraries: 1. Victorian Bookbinding - Innovation and Extravagance has some gorgeous examples of bookcovers from the Art Nouveau, Victorian, and Arts and Crafts periods. 2. The Great Menagerie is an animated tour of 19th and 20th century pop-up books. 3. Pop-Up and Movable Books - A Tour, showcases pop-up book artists through the centuries, and includes the master of the genre, Lothar Meggendorfer. More about Meggendorfer inside ----> [MetaFilter]
11:50:44 AM    
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Just don't revoke any Nobels. That was the height of knowledge at that time and that's what they were cited for. (Or is it sited? No, I don't think so.)
Yowza. The physicist Shariah Afshar has used a beautifully simple experiment, which no-one seems to have thought of before, to disprove Bohr's principle of complementarity, something which has been pretty much unchallenged for 80 years. He may also have gone some way towards showing that there is no such thing as a photon, and that Einstein's Nobel prize should be revoked. So, big stuff. What do you physicists think? [MetaFilter]
11:49:57 AM    
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Utopia exists only for short periods. Likewise altruism.
Attack of the Hoax Blogs. In today's NYT, my Wired News colleague Daniel Terdiman writes about the growing trend in blogs that purport to be real, but are in fact hoaxes (and yes, he knows they're "weblogs" or "blogs," not "Web Logs," but c'est la editorial policy, mon cher). Link [Boing Boing]
11:47:02 AM    
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Apple Shows Some Mean Colors.
  • CNN: Apple: RealNetworks hacked iPod. Apple Computer accused RealNetworks Thursday of adopting the tactics of a hacker and breaking into the technology behind its popular music player iPod device.
  • So Apple is happy to let you play your music only in the way it permits, if you're going to use its devices. The company says it'll rewrite its software to thwart Real's customer-friendly hack -- and I use that word in the benevolent sense -- that lets people use what they've bought with just a bit more freedom than Apple wishes to grant. Threats to use copyright law against Real are exactly what you'd expect, unfortunately. Apple wants control over online music, and this is just part of the game. What we customers want is cross-platform compatibility: standards. What the companies want is lock-in. They may win, but they're only locking me out -- because I won't play by those rules. Which means I've bought my last iTunes Music Store song until Apple starts paying more attention to what its customers want. [Dan Gillmor's eJournal]
    11:45:00 AM    
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    Cell Phones Becoming Profitless [Slashdot:]
    11:42:29 AM    
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    Fourth Degree. If I write about coverage of the coverage of the bloggers' reporting at the Democratic National Convention, is that meta-meta-meta journalism? [Dan Gillmor's eJournal]
    11:41:06 AM    
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    Yes, but how many of them are in real dining room cars?
    Diner Diaries. Roadside Online. A blog about Diners. [MetaFilter]
    11:40:24 AM    
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    Wow, somebody types in the Fry's newspaper ads and puts them on the Web.. Wow, somebody types in the Fry's newspaper ads and puts them on the Web. [Hack the Planet]
    11:39:26 AM    
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    Do not cross Werner Vogels when it comes to paper reviews.. Note to self: Do not cross Werner Vogels when it comes to paper reviews. [Hack the Planet]
    11:38:47 AM    
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    Apple Gets Real Serious About Harmony.. Ernest Miller: Apple Gets Real Serious About Harmony. (Warning: extreme information density.) [Hack the Planet]
    11:38:27 AM    
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    Tender Stories From Family Position Kerry in a Soft Light. John Kerry's daughters had the thousands of delegates hungry to retake the White House in tears and giggles with warm stories of dad. By By JODI WILGOREN. [The New York Times > Home Page]
    11:35:56 AM    
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    Mobile phone shipments soar. Global shipments of mobiles rose 40% in the first half of the year, fuelled by strong growth in developing markets [BBC News | Technology | UK Edition]
    11:34:53 AM    
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    Better German tubemap.
    Horst sez, "You published a link to an alternative London Underground Map ("what if the Germans had won WWII?") in German on July 29th. Problem is, as any German native speaker might tell you, many of the names of this map are Mock-German rather than real German and don't really make sense. "A while ago I attempted a real translation of the London Underground map into German, with station names being real, literal or etymological translations of the English placenames into German. Most German readers of my map agree that it's funnier than Myrtle's map (the one that you linked to).

    "Incidentally, the translation of the London map into German was part of a project that started with a translation of the underground map of Vienna, Austria into English, which might be of more entertainment value as most of your readers can actually read it. Link (Thanks, Horst!) [Boing Boing]

    11:34:26 AM    
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    Penguin Putnam's racketeering domain-name scam. Katie has owned the domain katie.com since 1996. Penguin Putnam recently released a book about girls who get into trouble with the interweb and called it Katie.com. Now, the clueless dorks at Penguin have decided that they need to strongarm Katie out of her domain so they can do tie-ins with their book (ironically, they scrapped girl.com, the original title, 'cause that's a porn-site, but they figured that a web-developer's site is fair game).
    Today I also had a very unpleasant phone call from a lawyer working with Katie Tarbox, the author of the book. She tried to convince me that I should donate the domain name to them. Somehow this would resolve my problem. OK so not only do I get walked all over, my life invaded by this book, treated badly by the publisher/author who refuse to acknowledge that they've done the wrong thing, but then I get to hand it over to them on a silver plate and I not only have suffered all this aggravation but ultimately have lost the thing that I care about. Exactly HOW does this resolve anything other than give them the thing they want which they have done everything to hijack without any care and consideration for what is right and just?

    Secondly, she tells me that they're planning on launching some school curriculum thing to teach kids about online safety - and they're calling it Katie.com. Are they insane? No wonder they want me to hand it over.

    Link [Boing Boing]
    11:33:25 AM    
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    Greens Greasing Political Wheels. While the Democrats pontificate about energy policies, some activists tool around Boston in cars fueled by restaurant grease. Mark Baard reports from Boston. [Wired News]
    11:31:21 AM    
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    Liberals Want Their Own Network. Emboldened by Michael Moore's success with Fahrenheit 9/11, a group of progressive reporters and media execs plans a TV network to take on Fox News and CNN. They may have the chops to pull it off, but they'll be at the mercy of the cable companies. By Mark Baard. [Wired News]
    11:28:04 AM    
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    Mom brought Google to its knees. This past Monday, July 26, Google was Unavailable to many if not most internet users. The cause was a virus named mydoom, which causes infected PCs to send spam, and in the case of this variant, went to Google and other search engines looking for email addresses to spam. Even the mighty Google couldn't handle the load. Mom called me a week ago. "I want you to take this firewall off of my computer." [kuro5hin.org]
    11:27:03 AM    
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    The World Is Numbers. Explorations of computation: the world is numbers, and the divine a mathematician. Maybe. [Flash, Javascript] [MetaFilter]
    11:26:15 AM    
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    Amazon will not handle book on Bush-Saudi links. Books: Internet bookshop criticised for refusing to stock a book on links between Bush and rich Saudis. [Guardian Unlimited]
    11:25:17 AM    
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    Us against the world. Betty Clarke tells the story of the Libertines. [Guardian Unlimited]
    11:22:40 AM    
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    IE patch 'imminent'. Download.Ject fix less than a fortnight away [The Register]
    11:21:15 AM    
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    Great birthday present, no?
    Information (from 1945) wants to be free. Pages of the Past The Toronto Star has digitized each of its issues from 1892-2001. And they're searchable. And they're online. Unfortunately, access starts at about a buck an hour—but 1945 is free! [MetaFilter]
    11:20:30 AM    
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    I'm dreaming of a black and white world
    The Saudi plan for a Islamic Corps to police Iraq is stillborn.  Here's why:
    • Few countries will participate.  Pakistan is the pivotal player.  Egypt has already declined. 
    • The countries that may send troops are dictatorships.
    • The requirement that these troops will be outside of US military command and control is an unacceptable condition.
    • The number of troops that can possibly be sent will be inconsequential.  The US has 140,000 troops in theater.  As a result, the demand that this deployment is part of a US withdrawal is impossible.
    • These troops will be targets (as are Iraqi forces).  Additionally, these troops do not have the capabilities of the US military for force protection.

    Frankly, there is already an Islamic Corps in Iraq and it is fighting for the other side.  It's little wonder that Saudi Arabia is frantic to build a bulwark against global guerrillas in Iraq.  They have been moving into Saudi Arabia over the last several months... [John Robb's Weblog]

    11:19:11 AM    
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    Go to it, EFF
    EFF's Letter to the Senate on INDUCE [Slashdot:]
    11:17:19 AM    
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    Now this is fascinating. Really.
    Living Without a Pulse [Slashdot:]
    11:16:09 AM    
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    Ingenious spare-parts wheelchairs for the world's poorest nations. The Free Wheelchair Mission is a religious NGO that produces wheelchairs out of $41.17 worth of parts, and makes its plans for same available for free online. The project was inspired by the site of a legless Moroccan woman dragging herself across a dirt road. Now the project works to provide low-cost wheels to all comers around the world. Link (via Gizmodo)
    [Boing Boing]
    11:12:29 AM    
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    The battle for email privacy. You've got company [The Register]
    11:11:02 AM    
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    Your data online: safe as houses. In an earthquake [The Register]
    11:10:33 AM    
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    . . .Rip apart their straw-filled sacks . . .. Help the scarecrows scare the crows in this beautifully done Flash game: A Murder of Scarecrows. [MetaFilter]
    11:09:55 AM    
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    Bad guy vs bad guy
    Real Responds to Apple's Hacking Claims [Slashdot:]
    11:08:55 AM    
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    Microsoft looks beyond Windows. Microsoft has outlined the novel technologies that it hopes will help the company grow in the near future. [BBC News | Technology | UK Edition]
    11:07:39 AM    
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    Sex changes 'are not effective'. Transsexuals' lives may not be improved, a review for tomorrow's Weekend magazine finds. [Guardian Unlimited]
    11:05:29 AM    
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    Segways are brilliant, you idiots. Letters Whatever you say... [The Register]
    11:05:04 AM    
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    The Segway: glorified scooter or democracy on wheels?. Poll The People must decide [The Register]
    11:04:45 AM    
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    Is Cory Doctorow the first person to work with a cow?
    MSFT buys spam company, sues the competition, silences political activists. My cow-orker Annalee Newitz has posted a great editorial on the latest court battles over spam, pointing out the weird, anticompetitive and anti-speech aspects of the spam fight.
    Microsoft is developing what it calls Bonded Sender, a program that would supposedly separate "legitimate" Internet marketers and bulk mailers from spammers. Working with a California company called IronPort, Microsoft will create a white list of Internet marketers who have paid a fee and demonstrated that they have no record of spamming. Companies participating in the Bonded Sender program will be allowed to send their email ads to HotMail and MSN users.

    Given Microsoft's investment in the Bonded Sender program, it seems they may soon be in the business of serving as middlemen between emailer marketers and their webmail users. In other words, it sounds like the software megacorp is about to start competing with Richter. Of course, Microsoft could always call off its suit if Richter claims to have been rehabilitated -- and he pays his Bonded Sender fees!

    In the spam wars, sometimes it's hard to tell the spammers from the antispammers.

    The situation gets even more complicated when you consider the fact that Microsoft will do more than pick and choose winners in the junk email business. Bonded Sender will punish most the people who aren't even sending advertisements -- groups like Internet activists MoveOn.org, who send out millions of emails to alert their members to upcoming political events and issues. If these groups don't pay their Bonded Sender fees, HotMail simply won't deliver their email -- regardless of whether users have specifically opted in to receive it.

    Link [Boing Boing]
    11:01:39 AM    
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    Pretty clever

    How do you weaken the US's grasp on the Middle East? But scaring off their allies, one country at a time.

    FTThe Pakistani government ordered its ambassador in Kuwait yesterday to begin urgent negotiations with a Kuwaiti company, discouraging it from taking Pakistani workers to Iraq after two hostages were killed by a militant group.  Additionally, sentiment is growing against sending troops to Iraq. [John Robb's Weblog]

    10:59:07 AM    
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    Microsoft Challenges Google [Slashdot:]
    10:56:31 AM    
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    Squirrels scream ultrasonically. Ground squirrels emit an ultrasonic shriek to warn others that a predator is nearby. In the current issue of the journal Nature, University of Manitoba researchers report that while bats and whales use ultrasound for echolocation and to track pray, "ultrasonic alarm calls have not previously been detected in any animal group, despite their twin advantages of being highly directional and inaudible to key predators." From a New Scientist article about the study:
    "Ultrasonic alarm calls might be beneficial because many of the birds-of-prey that catch and eat squirrels cannot hear them. Conveniently, ultrasound also has a shorter range than audible sound.

    'It may be used to secretly warn others without alerting a more distant predator,' says (researcher David) Wilson.
    Link (Thanks, Gabe!) [Boing Boing]
    10:53:20 AM    
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    LA Times online unclenches from paid-subscriber-only silliness. In recent months, the Los Angeles Times has taken a hell of a lot of heat from bloggers, media critics, and even some of its own writers over a constipated web content management policy that locked up all "Calendar" section listings to paid subscribers only. They've finally reversed that policy. This is groovy, because links just want to be free, man. Link [Boing Boing]
    10:52:42 AM    
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    The distinction between handheld and cell phone doesn't work anymore...
    ...and leads to problems when you're playing with statistics. Handheld market: Rising or falling?. Shipments of handhelds were either hot or cold. It just depends on who was doing the counting. [CNET News.com - Personal Technology]
    10:49:29 AM    

      Thursday, July 29, 2004

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    Don't read this--it's just a reminder to herself here
    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the browser.. Internet Explorer 7. Dean Edwards does what a team of developers with billions behind them apparently can't -- update IE to work with modern standards. Almost, anyway... as he says, it's still in alpha, and has its quirks, but check out the Pure CSS Menus demo, for example. [MetaFilter]
    6:09:54 PM    
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    Republican Response

    I don’t know which would be worse: the Dems learning to fight like the Republicans (and winning back the White House while they roll in the same muck as the Republicans). Or the Dems taking the high road and playing fair(er) and telling a few more truths than lies (and continuing on their losing streak).

    By e-mail we're told that in an attempt to limit John Kerry's message, the Republicans will release a 12 minute video to embarrass Kerry tonight, and that it will be all over the news tomorrow and this weekend. Anyone know...

    [TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime]

    3:18:16 PM    

      Tuesday, July 27, 2004

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    9:25:49 PM    
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    My personal, private, unexpurgated list (LINK HERE) of  newsfeeds (which I now read mostly within Outlook by using NewsGator (www.newsgator.com)). I subscribe to way too many, but am slowly getting a grip on my greed (but I'm not a nattering nabob of negativity, at least) and deleting all but the essential ones. The format this list is in is immediately importable into any self-respecting newsfeed reader. If you don't want one that becomes just another mailbox in your Outlook email navigation bar (that vertical thing usually on the left), my favorite stand-alone feed reader is Bradbury Software's elegant and powerful FeedDemon.

    By the way, NewsGator has nothing to do with Gator, "...a software product that can automatically fill in passwords and other form-elements on Web pages. But its main purpose is to load an advertising spyware module called OfferCompanion, which displays pop-up ads when visiting some Web sites. Gator boasts that since it's software is always running, it can spam users with "Special Offers" and other ads anywhere they go--even competitors' sites--with remarkable targeting capabilities, since it can spy on what sites the user is visiting." This quote comes from a site with a wonderful name: Counterexploitation. Check it out.

    And, as long as we're discussing password and form-filler programs, Gator may be free, but, given the damage it does and the difficulty of removing it, it's terribly expensive. You want a powerful, efficient and effective form- and password-filler-inner, use Siber Systems free or paid versions of RoboForm (works on Internet Explorer and MyIE2, which was renamed Maxthon or something equally silly.) The cool thing about MyIE2 is the assemblage of plug-ins. With the plug-ins installed, MyIE2 does a whole lot more than Internet Explorer and, even though it sits atop IE, apparently doesn't pass along IE's great body of risks.


    9:22:58 PM    

      Tuesday, July 20, 2004

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    Animusic and cogs: I know there's some similarity somewhere

    This Pipe Dream stuff is far more fun, say, than a new sub-version (as opposed to a new subversion—or maybe not) of Windows. This is what computers are for, not fiddling with new operating systems or manually formatting a word processing document. Check out the cogs post below this for another video that took as much patience and ingenuity as Pipe Dream, but of a different sort.

    The Windows link in the first graf was written by Peter Deegan and so was this. I would trust Deegan and Woody Leonhard with, well, with my computers. I would also kowtow to Fred Langa and you'll see why here, here and here. (Updated 24 July 2004: Woody Leonhard has joined forces—or something—with Brian Livingston, another wise head. Where was I? Oh, yes. The new combined newsletter's title is Windows Secrets Newsletter, and since Brian is the editor and Woody is a contributing editor, it appears to me that Woody sold, traded or gave his Woody's Windows Watch newsletters (and, so far, only the Windows newletter) to Brian. Except for the fact that I'll miss Woody and may even have to buy his books, there's nothing to worry about. We're all in good hands with Brian. Can you parse that sentence?)

    As for me, I'm not ready for Windows XP SP2 yet. I've just installed Microsoft Virtual PC so that I can test SP2 in a tightly enclosed space and not mess with the system I use every day. So hang in there. I'll get around to it. I think.

    And here  is the direct (deep) link to view that Animusic Pipe Dream movie that started this post.

    Oh, and William Safire, eat your heart out. I'll bet you have never written a graf with so many interruptors.

    12:32:47 PM    

      Monday, July 19, 2004

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    I first posted this to one of my previous very personal blogs on May 21, 2003. It warrants re-posting, along with the Animatics post above this.

    In the item below this, you'll find a bunch of links to the background and how-to of this advert. The main thing you need to know is that this is all one shot, start to finish. No edits, no cuts, no digitaling fixing little glitches. It's for real. If you want to know how, check out the next item. But watch the video a few times first.

    http://multimedia.honda-eu.com/newcars/300k_player.swf this is the direct URL for the high-quality video. And here are the rest:

    The UK Honda Accord advert. Title is the source (i.e. Honda UK) site. The Telegraph's explanations: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=%2Fnews%2F2003%2F04%2F13%2Fnhonda13.xml. Enthusiast site http://home.attbi.com/~bernhard36/honda-ad.html, which includes lots of trivia and links.

    2:36:09 PM    

      Friday, February 07, 2003

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    Hot links without the calories (updated and expurgated on 20 July 2004)

    Blawg Unbillable Hours http://www.unbillablehours.com/

    e-gold, e-money, e-bullion http://cambist.net/

    longitude and latitude http://cello.cs.uiuc.edu/cgi-bin/slamm/ip2ll/

    Who knows? http://www.europemedia.net/shownews.asp?ArticleID=14521

    Chinese what? http://www.worldlanguage.com/Languages/Chinese.htm





    6:25:56 PM    

      Monday, December 09, 2002

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    Hard to believe he's gone
    Stephen Jay Gould. "In science, 'fact' can only mean 'confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.' I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms." [Quotes of the Day]
    5:25:14 PM    

      Thursday, December 05, 2002

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    Book Swap Meets
    Book Swap. I recently attended a book swap hosted by some friends. A book swap is exactly what it sounds like: you get together with a bunch of people and exchange books. A book swap is a sort of literary stone soup. Everyone who attends adds a little something, and the result is greater than the sum of its parts. It's surprisingly fun and very interesting to see what gems people dig up. [kuro5hin.org]
    6:23:40 PM    
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    Map of Amsterdam
    Maps designed by mobs. For the last couple of months, volunteers living in Amsterdam have been wearing GPS units which track their movements around town. The data was used to create a road map of the city. Link Discuss (Thanks, Kevin!) [Boing Boing Blog]
    6:21:22 PM    
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    Email Travelogue of India--the best kind
    Crisscrossing India. My friend Vipin - a Sound Engineer, crisscrossed North India with a small documentary crew. The film maker he was travelling with was Saeed Mirza - wellknown in the country for offbeat films and television serials. This is his account of the journey as emailed to some of us. It is one of the truest accounts of the current socio-political situation of the country I have read for a long time. Note: Vipin gave me permission to post this. I corrected only the most obvious typos. They were travelling on a more polished version of a Jeep (Vipin calls it zeep) with an airconditioner. But unfortunately the larger than life filmmaker on the front seat took most of the cool air. [kuro5hin.org]
    5:58:29 PM    
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    The Way Microprocessors Work
    Ars Technica's Technopaedia explains how parts of your computer work. http://arstechnica.com/paedia/index.html
    5:29:39 PM    

      Sunday, December 01, 2002

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    Águas De Março, written by Antonio Carlos Jobim

    É pau, é pedra, é o fim do caminho
    É um resto de toco, é um pouco sozinho
    É um caco de vidro, é a vida, é o sol
    É a noite, é a morte, é um laço, é o anzol
    É peroba do campo, é o nó da madeira
    Caingá, candeia, é o Matita Pereira

    É madeira de vento, tombo da ribanceira
    É o mistério profundo, é o queira ou não queira
    É o vento ventando, é o fim da ladeira
    É a viga, é o vão, festa da cumeeira
    É a chuva chovendo, é conversa ribeira
    Das águas de março, é o fim da canseira
    É o pé, é o chão, é a marcha estradeira
    Passarinho na mão, pedra de atiradeira

    É uma ave no céu, é uma ave no chão
    É um regato, é uma fonte, é um pedaço de pão
    É o fundo do poço, é o fim do caminho
    No rosto o desgosto, é um pouco sozinho

    É um estrepe, é um prego, é uma conta, é um conto
    É uma ponta, é um ponto, é um pingo pingando
    É um peixe, é um gesto, é uma prata brilhando
    É a luz da manhã, é o tijolo chegando
    É a lenha, é o dia, é o fim da picada
    É a garrafa de cana, o estilhaço na estrada
    É o projeto da casa, é o corpo na cama
    É o carro enguiçado, é a lama, é a lama

    É um passo, é uma ponte, é um sapo, é uma rã
    É um resto de mato, na luz da manhã
    São as águas de março fechando o verão
    É a promessa de vida no teu coração

    É uma cobra, é um pau, é João, é José
    É um espinho na mão, é um corte no pé
    É um passo, é uma ponte, é um sapo, é uma rã
    É um belo horizonte, é uma febre terçã
    São as águas de março fechando o verão
    É a promessa de vida no teu coração

    A stick, a stone, it's the end of the road,
    It's the rest of a stump, it's a little alone,
    It's a sliver of glass, it is life, it's the sun,
    It is night, it is death, it's a trap, it's a gun.
    The oak when it blooms, a fox in the brush,
    The nod of the wood, the song of a thrush,
    The wood of the wing, a cliff, a fall,
    A scratch, a lump, it is nothing at all.
    It's the wind blowing free, it's the end of a slope,
    It's a bean, it's a void, it's a hunch, it's a hope.
    And the riverbank talks of the Waters of March,
    It's the end of the strain, it's the joy in your heart.
    The foot, the ground, the flesh and the bone,
    The beat of the road, a sling-shot stone,
    A truckload of bricks in the soft morning light,
    The shot of a gun in the dead of the night.
    A mile, a must, a thrust, a bump,
    It's a girl, it's a rhyme, it's a cold, it's the mumps.
    The plan of the house, the body in bed,
    And the car that got stuck, it's the mud, it's the mud.
    Afloat, adrift, a flight, a wing,
    A cock, a quail, the promise of spring.
    And the riverbank talks of the Waters of March,
    It's the promise of life, it's the joy in your heart.
    A point, a grain, a bee, a bite,
    A blink, a buzzard, a sudden stroke of night,
    A pin, a needle, a sting, a pain,
    A snail, a riddle, a wasp, a stain.
    A snake, a stick, it is John, it is Joe,
    A fish, a flash, a silvery glow.
    And the riverbank talks of the Waters of March,
    It's the promise of life in your heart, in your heart.
    A stick, a stone, the end of the load,
    The rest of a stump, a lonesome road.
    A sliver of glass, a life, the sun,
    A night, a death, the end of the run.
    And the riverbank talks of the Waters of March,
    It's the end of all strain, it's the joy in your heart.

    10:09:52 PM    
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    Eek! Get off the bus
    Professor Irwin Corey. "If we don't change direction soon, we'll end up where we're going." [Quotes of the Day]
    10:05:56 PM    
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    Great is not the word
    Moses Hadas. "I have read your book and much like it." [Quotes of the Day]
    10:05:07 PM    
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    Out Gores Gore Vidal
    Ambrose Bierce. "Calamities are of two kinds: misfortunes to ourselves, and good fortune to others." [Quotes of the Day]
    10:04:15 PM    
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    Hacking Humans at the Card Table. Magic has been around for millennia--the art being probably as old as humanity itself. Throughout the span of time and cultures, magic has manifested itself in many forms, and its roots run deep. Before magic was relegated to the domains of amusement and recreation, it was the medium of the priests, the shamans, the wise men (and women), the sages, and the magi of old. These practitioners of legerdemain, these prestidigitators, were among the first social engineers, the first hackers of humanity. [kuro5hin.org]
    9:54:17 PM    
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    The Cause of RSI. An intriguing, but unresearched, speculation as to the cause of Repetitive Strain Injury. Could it be the light action and short travel of modern keyboards and mice that cause the trouble? Dysponetic activity (inappropriate and misdirected as well as unconscious muscle bracing) is implicated in the aetiology of RSI. How much of this is due to the need to support the weight and muscle tone of one's fingers to avoid inadvertent key presses? [kuro5hin.org]
    9:52:41 PM    

      Friday, November 29, 2002

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    Fabulous Chinese video site
    Movies, TV series, translations of books from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore--large and wonderful. Lots and lots of film reviews. In English about Chinese language products. SPCnet
    10:21:59 AM    

      Thursday, November 28, 2002

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    China Weblogs
    China Hand The China Hand Hangzhou T-Salon Micah Sittig's China, California, Books and Other Miscellany 54ZiBoy China photos Addicted to Life Big White Guy in Hong Kong Bokane: The Misadventures of a Clueless American in Harbin Sinoblogs: Weblogs in, about and on China; done iwth screenshots instead of plain links. Interesting approach and good links. PaoGao's Journal
    11:14:23 PM    

      Wednesday, November 27, 2002

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    Noelie Altito. "The shortest distance between two points is under construction." [Quotes of the Day]
    6:34:40 PM    
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    Robert McCloskey. "I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." [Quotes of the Day]
    6:33:55 PM    
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    Edward R. Murrow. "When the politicians complain that TV turns the proceedings into a circus, it should be made clear that the circus was already there, and that TV has merely demonstrated that not all the performers are well trained." [Quotes of the Day]
    6:33:28 PM    
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    Sumptuous Servings of Food and Chemistry. Dr. Wolke, 74, is a retired University of Pittsburgh chemistry professor and researcher and a leading writer about the chemistry of food. By Claudia Dreifus. [New York Times: Health]
    6:30:46 PM    
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    What if you could live your life over again?. Alter Ego What if you could live your life over again? This straightforward virtual life simulator is fun and involving, and I almost wonder if I didn't learn a thing or two in the process. Wonderful implementation of the concept. [MetaFilter]
    6:10:36 PM    
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    Inversions. Scott Kim's Inversions - an inversion is a word or name written so it reads in more than one way. [MetaFilter]
    6:09:48 PM    
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    Snow obsessions. Wilson A. Bentley spent half a lifetime photographing snowflakes. The Smithsonian rejected his huge collection of photographs, on which his book was based. Now Buffalo, New York, a major snow capital, will feature Bentley's work in its "Winter Wonders" exhibit. More snowflakes can be seen on Cal Tech's snow crystals site (last cited in MeFi last January). Another city obsessed with snow is Asahikawa, Japan, home of the Austrian-inspired Snow Crystal Museum. The scientifically inclined may prefer this paper on the formation of ice-crystal patterns.

    6:08:24 PM    

      Sunday, November 24, 2002

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    Wolves and dogs and cats. understand us--even better than our cousin chimpanzees. Well, at least when food's involved.
    As to how wolves became dogs, the current understanding seems to be they tamed themselves--in a Survival of the Friendliest. Here's more on animal linguistics. As for cats, well, Stephen Budiansky in The Character of Cats suggests they aren't even really tame. Hence, unlike dogs, cats haven't bothered to pick up our language--they've taught us talk instead. Take the test and see. A woof out to Australian Broadcast Coporation's five part Animal Attraction series is called for here. C--Miao baby! [MetaFilter]
    8:50:47 PM    
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    Charles De Gaulle. "How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?" [Quotes of the Day]
    8:49:08 PM    

      Thursday, November 21, 2002

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    Bob Edwards. "A little learning is a dangerous thing but a lot of ignorance is just as bad." [Quotes of the Day]
    3:11:35 PM    
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    Douglas Adams. "It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes." [Quotes of the Day]
    3:11:12 PM    

      Tuesday, November 19, 2002

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    Sir Edward Appleton. "I don't mind what language an opera is sung in so long as it is a language I don't understand." [Quotes of the Day]
    8:20:27 PM    
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    Lord Brabazon. "I take the view, and always have, that if you cannot say what you are going to say in twenty minutes you ought to go away and write a book about it." [Quotes of the Day]
    8:20:09 PM    
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    Friedrich Nietzsche. "Talking much about oneself can also be a means to conceal oneself." [Quotes of the Day]
    8:19:47 PM    
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    Paul Gauguin. "Life being what it is, one dreams of revenge." [Quotes of the Day]
    8:19:10 PM    
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    A Boy, a Mother And a Rare Map of Autism's World. Tito has severe autism. But he writes eloquently and independently, about what it feels like to be locked inside an autistic body and mind. By Sandra Blakeslee. [New York Times: Health]


    November 19, 2002 A Boy, a Mother and a Rare Map of Autism's World By SANDRA BLAKESLEE

    OS ANGELES — Tito Mukhopadhyay sits in a darkened laboratory, pointing at flashes of light on a computer screen. On his right is a neuroscientist, one of several who are testing Tito's ability to see, hear and feel touch. At his left, Tito's mother, Soma, watches quietly.

    Tito, who is 14, often stops the testing with bursts of activity. His body rocks rhythmically. He stands and spins. He makes loud smacking noises. His arms fly in the air as if yanked by a puppeteer. His fingers flutter.

    Everyone waits.

    Tito reaches for a yellow pad and writes to explain his behavior: "I am calming myself. My senses are so disconnected, I lose my body. So I flap. If I don't do this, I feel scattered and anxious."

    Tito has severe autism, a disorder that occurs when the brain mysteriously fails to develop normally in infancy and early childhood.

    Born and raised in India, Tito speaks English with a huge vocabulary. His articulation is poor, and he is often hard to understand. But he writes eloquently and independently, on pads or his laptop, about what it feels like to be locked inside an autistic body and mind.

    "Tito is a window into autism such as the world has never seen," said Portia Iversen, a co-founder of Cure Autism Now, a Los Angeles research foundation that brought Tito and Soma to the United States in July 2001 and continues to support them.

    Autism experts are studying him, amazed to discover, for what they say is the first time, a severely autistic person who can explain his disorder. "Tito is for real," said Dr. Michael Merzenich, a neuroscientist at the University of California at San Francisco Medical School, who has run extensive tests on Tito. "He unhesitatingly responds to factual questions about books that he has read or about experiences that he has had in detail and in high fidelity."

    "I've seen Tito sit in front of an audience of scientists and take questions from the floor," said Dr. Matthew Belmonte, a neuroscientist and an autism expert at Cambridge University. "He taps out intelligent, witty answers on a laptop with a voice synthesizer. No one is touching him. He communicates on his own."

    Nor is Tito a savant, an autistic person with a single extraordinary talent like the mathematically gifted character in the movie "Rain Man."

    "Tito thinks and feels and has opinions like all the rest of us," said Dr. Samuel Smithyman, a psychologist in Los Angeles who is Tito's personal analyst. "He defies the assumptions we have about autism."

    Tito was assessed with well-validated diagnostic tests and meets all the criteria for autism, said Dr. Sarah Spence, a pediatric neurologist at the University of California at Los Angeles.

    Like many autistic children, Tito appeared to develop normally. He learned to sit and walk like other babies. But by the time he was 18 months old, he was showing signs that he was not like other toddlers, especially in the way he distanced himself from social settings and did not talk.

    After his severe autism was diagnosed at age 3, Soma decided to educate him anyway, using methods she would make up as she went along.

    "I saw that Tito had very good memory with roads, position of objects in the room, and also he would make complex patterns with match sticks," said Soma, as she prefers to be called. "I just wanted to divert his interests toward communication and learning."

    For 10 years, she and Tito lived in small apartments in Mysore and Bangalore, where she taught him, day and night. Although Tito wanted to hide in a corner and watch a ceiling fan, Soma took him for daily walks amid the colors, smells and sounds of local markets.

    Tito's father, who lived and worked in a distant city, visited occasionally.

    Soma first taught Tito to recognize letters and sounds on an alphabet board, choosing English over more difficult Indian dialects. Then she tied a pencil in his hand and showed him how to make each letter, often refusing to let him eat until he could do so.

    Around then, a method called facilitated communication, in which a parent or teacher holds the wrist of an autistic person as he or she taps messages on computer keys, had been widely discredited. Critics said teachers were prompting autistic people to respond through a kind of Ouija board effect.

    "I was desperate to show people that Tito's poems came from him and not me," Soma said. "I put myself in other people's shoes and knew we needed genuine proof that he could write independently."

    The mother also read Tito stories and books — Aesop's fables, Thomas Hardy novels and the complete works of Dickens and Shakespeare — and demanded that he write his own stories in return. Tito continues to write poetry and essays every day. His first book, "Beyond the Silence," was published two years ago in Britain by the National Autistic Society.

    "I need to write," he said recently, scrawling the words on a yellow pad. "It has become part of me. I am waiting to get famous."

    Since traveling to the United States, Tito has visited six laboratories for neurological testing. Because he cannot hold still long enough for brain imaging, he cannot offer researchers pictures of his mind in action. Instead, he gives them clues about his mental states in poems and essays that can then be explored in specially created tests.

    "When I was 4 or 5 years old," he wrote while living in India, "I hardly realized that I had a body except when I was hungry or when I realized that I was standing under the shower and my body got wet. I needed constant movement, which made me get the feeling of my body. The movement can be of a rotating type or just flapping of my hands. Every movement is a proof that I exist. I exist because I can move."

    Tito seems to lack a sense of his own body, the kind of internal map, Dr. Merzenich said, that normal children develop in their first few years. The maps involve brain regions that specialize in the sense of touch and movement and are widely connected to other areas, and they are highly dynamic throughout life, changing in response to everyday experience.

    By imaging the brains of higher functioning autistic people who can stay still in scanners, researchers in the laboratory of Dr. Eric Courchesne at the University of California at San Diego found that autistic people had mixed-up brain maps.

    Although a normal person, for example, has a well-defined brain area that specializes in face recognition, some autistic people have face-recognition areas in parts of the brain like the frontal lobes, where no one had dreamed they could be laid down. The same is true of maps that help plan movements. This means body maps are formed in autistic children, but they may be scrambled differently in each person.

    In imaging experiments starting at the University of California at San Francisco, Dr. David McGonigle, a radiologist, is exploring the hypothesis that some autistic children may have scrambled body maps. Many cannot identify parts of their bodies in a mirror. Even if they know "nose," for example, when asked to point at the nose they may put a finger to an ear. They also tend to be clumsy. With eyes closed while standing, they wobble and stagger.

    Ms. Iversen, whose 10-year-old son, Dov, is severely autistic, notes that maps for face recognition form early. "I smile, you smile, and maps are formed," she said. But if you do not have a faithful mental map of your own face and body, she said, you cannot read the expression on someone else's face.

    The inability to interact socially is a core problem in autism. People who lack normal body maps may not be able to build consistent mental models of the world, Dr. Belmonte said. They may not be able to integrate sights, sounds, smells, touches and tastes. This is what Tito is talking about when he writes that he cannot perceive the world with more than one sense at a time.

    "I can concentrate either at what I am seeing or what I am hearing or what I am smelling," he wrote, not long after he began meeting neurologists. "It felt nothing unnatural to me until I realized that others could simultaneously see and hear and smell."

    In Dr. Merzenich's lab, Tito has had extensive testing to explore his unusual perception. Sitting in a darkened room, he listens to beeps followed by flashes of light on a computer screen.

    Most people can sense the sound and the light, even when they are separated by only a fraction of a second. But unless the light follows the sound by a full three seconds — an eternity for most brains — Tito never sees it. "I need time to prepare my ears," he told Dr. Merzenich. "I need time to prepare my eyes. Otherwise the world is chaos."

    Tito says that people with autism, at least those who are like him, choose one sensory channel. He chose hearing. Most of the time, Tito attends to the sounds of language and to oral information, which may help explain his gift for poetry. Vision, Tito said, is painful. He scans the world with his peripheral vision and rarely looks directly at anything.

    Other autistic people like Dr. Temple Grandin, a professor at Colorado State who earned a doctorate in animal science, specializes in vision. "When I talk about anything new, I have to look at the picture in my mind, and then language narrates it like a slide show." Dr. Grandin said when she met Tito in Dr. Merzenich's lab, where they were tested side by side in September.

    For Tito, willing his body to do things is a particular problem, Soma said. "If he's sitting on the couch and I ask him to go to the kitchen, he cannot do it," she added. "But if he hears me open a bag of cookies, he moves like a gazelle on pure impulse."

    That is another sign that Tito's brain is disconnected, Dr. Merzenich said. Children gradually develop higher circuits to control their impulses as the frontal lobes mature and connect to circuits that developed earlier. Each stage rests on earlier circuitry; if that is abnormal, later-to-develop regions may never be organized correctly.

    Still, Tito's behavior and writings dispel a popular notion that autistic children do not feel empathy, Ms. Iversen said. Tito has feelings and notices emotions, she said, but he can be stoic about his disorder. When a mother at a large autism meeting asked Tito for his advice to parents, Tito replied simply, "Believe in your children."

    Most experts say they believe that abnormalities in several genes contribute to developing autism, along with environmental factors that have yet to be fully identified. Many parents say the first symptoms, like the lack of eye contact, as in Tito's case, do not appear for about 18 months.

    This accident of timing has led some to associate vaccines given at that age with the onset of autism. But it is equally plausible, many experts say, that the symptoms appear at that time because that is when the brain naturally reaches new levels of complexity. If primary sensory regions like the auditory cortex have prenatal defects, entire pathways of subsequent brain organization would not form properly.

    Researchers have measured swarms of electrical discharges in the primary hearing regions of autistic children while they sleep. Such epilepsy-like activity may affect the way the brain organizes its circuitry in childhood.

    Others note that the brains of autistic children are larger than average and that the brain's basic building blocks, called cortical columns, contain many more cells than normal and make excess connections to other cells.

    Such hyperconnectivity may cause autistic children to become overwhelmed by details because their minds are never free to integrate the whole picture. Moreover, their brains are wired in such a way that they are prone to associate things that do not normally go together.

    Tito says that at 4, he was looking at a cloud when he heard someone talking about bananas. It took him years to realize that bananas and clouds were different.

    As researchers continue to study Tito, Soma works with a small number of children in Los Angeles to see whether her teaching methods can help others.

    Unlike many educators who try to slow things for autistic children, Soma demands rapid responses, which she says prevent the child's brain from being distracted.

    It is too soon to tell whether she will succeed. But parents like Ms. Iversen have been impressed. When her son first used the spelling board, Dov broke his muteness, asking for a navy blue blazer and algebra lessons. When she asked him what he had been doing all those years when he couldn't communicate, he pointed out letters to spell "listening."

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    8:11:51 PM    

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    George Will. "Football is a mistake. It combines the two worst elements of American life. Violence and committee meetings." [Quotes of the Day]
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    Colette. "A happy childhood is poor preparation for human contacts." [Quotes of the Day]
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    6:37:32 PM    

      Wednesday, November 13, 2002

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    George C. Marshall. "When a thing is done, it's done. Don't look back. Look forward to your next objective." [Motivational Quotes of the Day]
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    Dr. Robert Schuller. "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" [Motivational Quotes of the Day]
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      Tuesday, November 12, 2002

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      Sunday, November 10, 2002

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    Fred Allen: "[Television is] the triumph of machine over people." Fred Allen.
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    posted by ugly_n_sticky at November 10 9:14 AM. What do moedy, cruxtaposition, daugahyde and posolutely have in common? Don't bother looking up at dictionary.com, Merriam-Webster OnLine or britannica.com. All these words are newly made up words and only the pseudodictionary knows them. Don't know what NSFW means? Want to submit a new word creation of yours? You have no clue and want to brush up your vocabulary? Try the randomerizor and get smart! [MetaFilter]
    6:23:04 PM