Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Air America Radio

Give NPR a rest and check out Al Franken's Air America Radio.

Good ol' Al dreams of being the anti-Limbaugh. His show, wonderfully named The O'Franken Factor, airs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Eastern).

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

A Little Like an Imp, or Maybe the Grinch

Policy aside, I kind of like Donald Rumsfeld. I just enjoy the idea that the Secretary of Defense is an angry grandpa. Smiling pains him.

I Liked The One With the Giant Film Reel Turning Into a Spaceship

Although the Governator settled on one of the more subdued offerings for the California quarter, I was a big fan of some of the earlier, gaudier designs.

Enjoy the geographic juxtaposition of Golden Gate Bridge collage, a hodge-podge of SF and LA confusing to Californians and non-Californians alike.

Sadly, has the HTML page, but not the pictures for all 20 semi-finalists. Some of those were classic examples of Free Time + Photoshop = Trouble.

Monday, March 29, 2004

One State, Two States, Red States, Blue States

Sibilous led me to's Map of the Fundraising US. This map shows how various areas of the US send their dollars to Republicans and Democrats for this year's Presidential election. A surprise: Whereas northern cities like Boston, New York, & Chicago are bastions of Democratic economic support, Cincinnati's dollars lean the furthest Republican -- outpacing Dallas, Houston, and Atlanta.

The map serves as a great reminder to Democrats of just how effective the Republican party is at fundraising.

One of the creepier features of is Neighbor Search, a tool you can use to get names, addresses, occupations, and donation amounts for people living in a particular geography. In short, it takes information that your neighbors may have thought to be private, and airs it out for all to see.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Lessig on Kerry

I'd like to see Kerry taking campaign advice from Lawrence Lessig.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Because Manhattan Needs More Buildings

Not that I root for any New York sports teams, but as a future New Yorker, I'm excited the NY Jets are ready to build a stadium in Manhattan.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Mars Water = Free Shrimp @ Long John Silvers

For those of you who were broken hearted in 2001 when Mir missed Taco Bell's Free Taco for Everyone in America target, mark May 10 on your calendar, setting aside some time between 2 - 5 pm.

This brief window is when Long John Silver's will make good on the promise it made in January to reward its customers with a free giant shrimp if conclusive evidence of water was found on Mars.

These Cool Days

I'm thrilled to see my friends at Isotope Records flexing their impresario muscles.

Wednesdays @ Ruby Skye are now dedicated to Soul Search'n, an Isotope showcase featuring The Supplicants.

A Break with Tradition

Generally, I only blog news tidbits when I feel like I can connect the dots -- juxtaposing something online and current with supporting pieces of information.

Rarely is a piece of news so interesting, so compelling, that I simply say, "Look at this," and link to the article sans comment.

Well... Look at this:

Richard Simmons cited for slapping man

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

No Classes on Evolution at St. Regis
As If There Weren't Enough Tests

While the Georgia Department of Education was considering replacing evolution with non-science, 11 of its teachers were out getting fake master's and doctor's degrees from St. Regis University.

The whole Georgia evolution flap reminds me of those who attack gay marriage because it damages marriage as an institution. Just as Georgians would wise to target rural poverty, instead of evolution, as a principal threat to their educational system, gay marriage critics' argument that they're combatting gay marriage to fight a threat to a social institution just doesn't carry water.

Even if I agreed with these critics, I'd say that rampant divorce, reality-TV show marriages, and Vegas weddings are a greater threat to socially sanctioned monogamy than two people who love each other but have slightly incompatible bedroom equipment. Why aren't protesters queuing up outside the Chapel of Love?

If gay marriage critics were focused on the real culprits harming marriage, they'd echo Andy Rooney -- who wishes it was harder to get married.

A Lucky Horseshoe for Haru-urara

Just glance at the heartless URL that CNN chose for this story about Haru-urara, a loveably losing racehorse in Japan.

The writer beats around the bush at the end of the story, avoiding direct mention of the fate awating other unsuccessful thoroughbreds; moreover, the writer doesn't point out that unfortunate Japanese horses face a danger unknown to their American peers.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Confident and Counterfactual

Knowing how partisan I can be, I'm always a little leery whenever I see only slivers in the eye of the GOP. I generally anticipate that a future version of me will be level-headed enough to self-critique my partisan rhetoric of the moment.

This time around, I simply do not think that a future me will consider 2004 criticism of Bush/Rove's campaign as an overreaction.

As the general election campaign rolls into action, I'm already fed up with the half-truths emanating from the White House. The Bush Administration's selective presentation of the facts constitute attacks of a thoroughly manipulative and doggedly political nature. I agree with Tom Daschle, that the attacks the White House has launched on Valerie Plame, Paul O'Neill, and now, Richard Clarke constitute an "abuse of power."

As the campaigns battle for the hearts and minds of the 15% swing populace, I anticipate that the Bush Administration's selective telling of the truth will only grow more conspicuous.

Today's highlight:
Reuter's takes issue with Bush's claim that Kerry's proposed elimination of tax breaks for individuals making more than $200K is really an attack on small business. (Whenever a news wire needs to take that strong an editorial stance, you know they're trying to undo some serious spin.)

Monday, March 22, 2004

A World of Few Words

To President Bush, gay marriage and assassinations in the Middle East are both deeply troubling.

Let's see... Which is more troubling to you -- two people who love each other or thousands of agitated Palestinians?

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

The Extent of Revisionist History

The web is a very forgetful and forgiving place.

Without Google's cached pages or the Internet Archive, the web would have almost no memory.

You'd never be able to revisit how CNN first responded to 9/11, reexamine what they said as the Iraqi War began, or remember how now-defunct companies sounded during their heyday.

Sadly, this historical record is fragile. The Internet Archive is only as good as Amazon (its owner) decides it should be. Google's cached pages refresh regularly, only showing a window into the brief past. Moreover, webmasters can prevent these pages from being generated in the first place.

By creating a robots.txt file, webmasters can tell these services which pages they don't want catalogued.

Last fall, I heard that the Bush Administration was preventing the creation of this de facto historical record by making large portions of off-limits to archiving services.

I heard this news, believed it probably to be true, and moved on.

Only just now did I discover the immensity of If you printed out the list of pages and directories that the Bush Administration wants off-limits to history, it would take 31 pages!

For a window into how protective the Bush Administration has became during this term, the Internet Archive has documented the growth of their robots.txt file.

For the first 8 months of his term the Bush Administration didn't see the need to block much of anything, as evidenced by their robots.txt file from August 29, 2001. Suddenly, on September 1, 2001, they started blocking archiving and caching functions for a list of pages that has grown and grown.

What happened at the end of August 2001 to start this trend?

Name My Supporters? How Much Time Do You Have?

Kerry's claim of foreign leader support is yet another general election gaffe by the Democrats, an opportunity for Bush to shift the focus away from the current state of affairs.

The more that Democrats defend Kerry's words, they less they discuss how a change in the White House will hasten cleansing of Bush's various messes.

The best way for Kerry to put a rest to this issue is highlight the Pew Research Center, which surveyed people in the US, England, France, Germany, Russia, Turkey, Pakistan, Jordan, & Morocco to get a cross-section of attitudes about the United States. This survey, performed annually, illustrates how global opinion regarding the US is growing dramatically more frigid.

Moreover, it finds that:

Large majorities in every country, except for the U.S., hold an unfavorable opinion of Bush.

Foreign public opinion should not dictate American elections, but more worldly Americans should see it as their duty to highlight these findings to their less-traveled compatriots.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Keeping Granny Online

If you're like me, you're basically a one-person IT department for any relative you have over the age of 40. For me, holiday trips home typically include a minimum 4-hour meditation on whatever computer problem has my parents or grandparents beleaguered at the moment.

To address this problem and ones like it, John (my intrepid brother-in-law) has founded Instride Systems, a company that makes software for sharing your desktop with someone while you are IM'ing them.

John's software lets you grant remote control of your desktop. Once your helper has control of your desktop, you see your mouse moving onscreen as they work, trying to solve your problem. The whole time they're taking these actions, the two of you can IM back-and-forth.

John's software is currently in beta, so you can try it out for free. Go ahead. Give it a shot.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

The Justice League vs. The Legion of Bush

I agree with The Progressive. Kerry should name his cabinet and run as a team.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Extreme Makeover: Pathological Liar Edition

Let's say you're Jayson Blair.

How do you touch up your image after everyone in the world knows you're full of hot air?

Impersonate Samuel Jackson.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

The Most Subtle President Since Cal Coolidge
Is that Flag Warm When You Wrap Yourself In It?

My initial reaction to these well-produced Bush campaign ads is, "What? Bush was President during 9/11? How come he never brings that up? You know, he really should mention it from time to time. You know, just to remind us."

Some days, I just wake up astonished that half the American electorate falls for this stuff. I agree with The Independent that:

If the human race as a whole, rather than 50 states plus the District of Colombia, could cast a ballot this coming November, John Kerry would surely win the presidency by a landslide.

We'll just have to see if roughly one half of the American electorate wakes up to this reality before November.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Always Bet on Red

The most reassuring sign that Mars once teemed with life is not coming from a Red Planet rover.

The most telling indicator is that Ladbrokes is no longer taking bets on the topic. In their eyes, the odds of past life on Mars have steadily improved from 1,000-1 in the '70s to 16-1 in 2003.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Days of Burritos, Days of Bacon

I was cheered mightily when local gourmet Hoff set up Sibilous last week, a chronicle of his Bay Area food experiences.

Part of Hoff's inspiration comes from baconpilgrim's Journal, the story of one man's journey through the world of sliced and smoked meats.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Transferable Excellence

Although their equipment may be constructed under questionable working conditions, Nike's advertisements occasionally say something interesting about the human condition. Nike's new What If? (NY Times, reg. required) campaign is an enjoyable, wordless commentary on achievement and high achievers.

(Warning: To appreciate this ad, you must be at least passingly familiar with Lance Armstrong, Andre Agassi, Marion Jones, Randy Johnson, Serena Williams, Michael Vick, and Brian Urlacher. You must also forget just how average Michael Jordan is at baseball and Terrell Owens is at basketball.)

Aristide's Last Stand

Details are hazy regarding President Aristide's sudden departure from Haiti on Sunday. Although Aristide seems to think he was kidnapped by US forces, the Bush Administration denies this account, claiming that Aristide chose to leave.

The same accounts that claim Aristide was kidnapped portray him as a man willing to fight to a violent end, a choice that would have almost certainly meant the end for his contingent of bodyguards.

Whereas you may think these bodyguards were die-hard Haitian partisans, loyal to their President even as the walls came crashing down, Aristide's bodyguards are American contractors, employees of US security firm The Steele Foundation. Haitian rebels would probably have cared little that these soldier/contractors were just doing their job -- it's likely that they would have met the same bloody end as the desperate man they were hired to protect.

Aristide may not be a villain on par with other despots around the world; however, as long as the US allows corporations to deploy bodyguard/mercenary teams for protection of global VIPs, there will always be the possibility that some of these teams will find themselves too close to the business end of some Marine's M16.