Per Glenn's flood aid posting:
I'd like to have a link to an Amazon.com honor system page, too, but apparently they don't think Katrina victims need that sort of organized support.
Update: Amazon.com apparently changed their tune, but I'm leaving up my earlier comment because of the long delay in getting even this link.
I love content. I collect books, music, DVDs, and I have a massive list of RSS feeds I look at on a semi-regular basis in my reader. However, I don't have a big pile of podcasts. Podcasts are like blogs, they put out real-time interesting information from a giant variety of diverse sources. However, podcasts are not like web pages, RSS feeds, CDs or books. It's hard to jump to the parts you like or branch out to the parts that you want to dig into. Instead you are stuck to your headphones or listening position to work through the 'cast.
For example, there's a podcast called The Cubicle Escape Pod that I enjoy, but in every episode there are parts I'd like to skip, like the explanation of what the Podcast is, “earbud worthy music” and various other things Tufte would call noise. I work my way through it, but I suspect the episodes don't need to be a half hour or more long. Sure, there's a minor amount of advertisements—I'm willing to suffer through that for good content—but there's other noise that can be trimmed away. Also, I'd sure like to be able to click somewhere and visit a link they're talking about while they're talking about it.
There are other problems with podcasts that are designed poorly. For example, Harvard Business Review puts audio files that are over an hour long. There's less “noise” but there's no way to easily jump to an article you would like to hear, unlike when you read the magazine. I listen to audio books because I have an evil commute, but I only listen to books I like. Why should I have to read all of the articles in HBR? It's impossible to search an audio file for the start of an article you like with an iPod, by the way.
Both of these problems could be mitigated by breaking up the podcasts, I suppose, but sooner or later you have an audio file management problem. Sure, you can arrange multiple things into a playlist, or an album, but multiple files don't download and get integrated into iTunes very well. Heck, I often need to tweak the information associated with files because one week the genre will be “Speech” and another they'll be “Podcast”.
So, Podcasts are young. I hope they clean it up soon. For now they are not as nice as books, magazines, and the web. What I think I'd like is web-based random-access presentations that I can download as a single package and play back on my iPod, my computer, or whatever. Imagine, now, that talk radio gets involved in this so you have real-time, but replay-capable, content-enhanced podcasts, with indexes and time codes so you can tell when it went out over the air. That would be a lot more like blogging and would be a lot more enjoyable for me.
I just upgraded to Movable Type 3.2 and it was the easiest upgrade yet! The folks at Six Apart are certainly hearing the pain of the users. As for the new features, I'll have to poke around a bit before I start using them.
A little Friday Catblogging. This cat belonged to the owners of The House on the Hill where we stayed our last night in Oceanside, OR.
Beyond the anemones we have starfish!
Some anemones at low tide.
Probably my best sunset picture of my collection from the shore. Tough to do well!
Leigh Maynard must have noticed I was posting pictures, because he just sent me some pictures he took of me at my Independence Day Bash. Here I am with my intended pyrotechnic splendor. It worked out pretty darn well, I must say.
Ryan liked the water, but it was so windy he hated the sand in his face. It stung! However, going further out from those rocks in the background helped with the stinging sand issue.
This shot is from the lighthouse at Cape Meares, OR.
We've been enjoying the view and weather in Oceanside, OR for a few days. This was a morning shot. There's others for evening coming up.
This bantam is pretty darn funny when he crows. He's pretty much a contortionist chicken when it comes to crowing. Since I have harvested the two big Rhode Island Reds, he considers himself one of the lords of the roost, except he has two bigger brothers and another red that's older.
This one needs his wings clipped. Notice he's on top of a fence.
10: Your annual breast exam is done at Hooters.
9: Directions to your Doctor's office include, “Take a left when you enter the trailer park.”
8: The tongue depressors taste faintly of Fudgesicles.
7: The only proctologist in the plan is “Gus” from Roto-Rooter.
6: The only item listed under Preventative Care Coverage is “An apple a day.”
5: Your primary care physician is wearing the pants you gave to Goodwill last month.
4: “The patient is responsible for 200% of out of network charges,” is not a typographical error.
3: The only expense covered 100% is “embalming.”
2: Your Prozac comes in different colors with little M's on them.
And the number one sign your employer has joined a very cheap health plan:
1: You ask for Viagra, and they give you a Popsicle stick and duct tape.
From Grandma Lissa…
Well, I let the anniversary pass earlier this month without noting it, but I should point out that this blog has been around for over a year now. While I've drawn a few flames and a few spammers, I've also drawn some good comments and some interesting readers. I guess I would mark it as a qualified success.
Lately I've lost a lot of steam. I've been buried with things to do with school and work, among other things. I guess I've been on a sort of extended vacation, not posting every day like before.
In celebration of the anniversary, I've updated the style of the site again. I wanted to remove some of the noise from the page and drive focus at the content. Let me know how's it's working out.
Thanks to all my readers. I'm looking forward to another year.
Wretchard at the Belmont Club takes us down memory lane:
When Hitler's troops reoccupied the Rhineland in violation of its treaty obligations to restore German dignity, stormtroopers parading before the Reichschancellery sang “for today we own Germany and tomorrow the entire world.” The echo of that refrain reverberates in the United Nations.
Why is there an echo? Because the UN funded a bunch of things for the Palestinians, including banners that read “Gaza Today. The West Bank and Jerusalem Tomorrow.”
The irony is exact. The French Left remained passive in what Churchill called the last moment in which Second World War could have been prevented. Instead it allowed that Hitler had a legitimate grievance and met him with renunciations of militarism and expressions of understanding. For what, they asked, could be more German than the Rhineland? One could have rhetorically asked whether a Nazi Rhineland was the same thing.
One can only hope that this victory of a million Palestinians over 8500 Israeli settlers does not embolden them, but with banners like the one above, it must be a false hope. Muslim extremists in the region want nothing more than to eradicate the Israeli state.
I was recently polled by Zogby and answered a lot of questions about the UN. As is typical in political surveys, I wasn't entirely satisfied with the answers offered in the survey. I, for one, welcome the irritant John Bolton will be at the UN, because perhaps it has a chance to make a pearl.
I believe the role of the UN is to grease the wheels of international agreement, nothing more. Zogby's possible answers for the role of the UN, which I don't recall well anymore, were about humanitarianism, military intervention, sanctions and the like. It is when the UN does these other things, like manage Oil for Food, the Bosnian conflict, the IAEA, or push gun control, that it falls flat. The Security Council, in particular, is lousy. I feel the Security Council is an anachronism of the balance of superpowers, and should not have the power to commit the member nations of the UN to anything. Clearly there's no teeth in such agreements, so why do we go through the motions. The UN does not govern its member nations, no matter how much people wish it were true that it did.
Paul over at Wizbang has proposed a personal boycott of the Drudge Report until Matt removes all the annoying popup advertisements. Judging by all the comments Paul's posting received it's a popular idea. Matt's site remains a great source of unusual links, but it's clear that he has ruffled the feathers of his readers.
I use Firefox and still get popup ads from Matt's site. As a result, I added the Adblock extension to Firefox and filtered a bit more. I put in the Tabbrowser Preferences extension to at least open popups in a new tab and in the background. As a result of using all these tools I have not seen popups from anywhere except the Drudge Report and I've filtered a ton of other ads. Matt has managed to reduce the revenue of other web sites because of his tactics!
This arsenal of tools still isn't enough, though. I'm still getting obnoxious popup windows from Matt's site. Drudge is the only site left that still manages to have “cheater” popups appear for me. It's aggravating, so I'm joining Paul's boycott.
Update: petebevin.com tells us how to disable popups from plugins.
I heard about the Defense Department's “Able Danger” project last night on Victoria Taft's radio show and I'm wondering why I don't see much mention of it in the news sites I read. So far, only Fox News seems to be giving it much space, with two articles.
The gist is that a data mining project in the Defense Department figured out that Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the 9/11 hijackings, and other hijackers were bad people and here in the country. When this information was brought to the FBI, they refused it and even covered up the picture of Atta under a post-in note because of Jamie Gorelick's interpretation of the needed “wall” between law enforcement and military information sources. Atta was here in the country legally, therefore Gorelick's edict prevented sharing information about him.
When the Able Danger folks wanted to testify to the 9/11 commission, they were rebuffed. It is a interesting coincidence that Gorelick is also on this commission. As a result, the report of the commission says nothing about Defense's early concerns about Atta.
Representative Curt Weldon has tried to bring this information to light, only getting attention on it recently:
In June, Weldon displayed charts on the floor of the U.S. Senate showing that Able Danger identified the suspected terrorists in 1999. The unit repeatedly asked for the information to be forwarded to the FBI but apparently to no avail. Various news outlets picked up on the story this week.
Weldon told FOX News on Wednesday that staff members of the Sept. 11 commission were briefed at least once by officials on Able Danger, but that he does not believe the message was sent to the panel members themselves. He also said some phone calls made by military officials with Able Danger to the commission staff went unreturned.
He goes on further:
According to Weldon, Able Danger identified Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Khalid al-Mihdar and Nawaf al-Hazmi as members of a cell Able Danger code-named “Brooklyn” because of some loose connections to New York City.
Weldon said that in September 2000, the unit recommended on three separate occasions that its information on the hijackers be given to the FBI “so they could bring that cell in and take out the terrorists.” However, Weldon said Pentagon lawyers rejected the recommendation, arguing that Atta and the others were in the country legally so information on them could not be shared with law enforcement.
Obviously there is more to investigate here, but it sounds as though we weren't as dumb about terrorism as some thought we were, but we were dmb about how we used our information. As a database person (with a recent foray into open source), it bothers me that we have great tools but poor processes when it comes to dealing with information.
One again, I strongly recommend reading the entire 9/11 Commission Report. While it may have weaknesses, it is the unanimous opinion of the commission. Other things may be debatable, but I think we can take what they did say to heart.
I'm sure we'll see more on Able Danger later.
Obviously the the Poker Spammers use google, because they keep trying to post to my previous entry on poker spammers. I get to harvest tones of more patterns to filter and no one gets to suffer here.
I hope that newer versions of MT and Spamlookup continue to up the ante on these jerks, because I have better things to do than filter out their trash.