When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

31 July 2007

Sunrise From A Plane Window

Sunrise From A Plane Window
Originally uploaded by enrevanche.
JetBlue and Google are running a "photos taken from an airplane window" contest to promote live Google Maps on the seatback TVs.

Here's my entry, taken on July 29th, aboard JetBlue Flight 1100 from RDU to JFK, around 6:30 AM and near the NC/VA border as indicated by Google Maps.

Got the shot with my iPhone.

Secret sauce

Pretty sure I want one of these T-shirts.

Microsoft offers Works for free

Via TechCrunch:
Microsoft has released the new version of Microsoft Works as a free, ad supported office package that will compete directly with Open Office and Google Docs & Spreadsheets.

The Works package offers word processing, spreadsheet and slide (powerpoint) functionality partially based on code from older versions of Microsoft Office.

30 July 2007


Spike a column in your own paper, and the next day it's all over the blogosphere... and the day after that, your competitors are writing about it. The LA Times just found that out.

“The bug at the bottom of the Calendar front in today’s Los Angeles Times says columnist Patrick Goldstein is on assignment,” began a July 24 item on the Web site L.A. Observed. “Not true. His The Big Picture column for Tuesday was killed.”

The site ran the 1,450-word column, which “fell into our hands,” in its entirety. In it, Mr. Goldstein proposed that his newspaper promote itself by following the lead of The Mail on Sunday in Britain, which inserted Prince’s latest CD into 2.9 million copies, and also give away music.

“While the Times still is a profitable business, our revenue was down 10 percent in the second quarter while our cash flow was down, as our publisher put it the other day, a ‘whopping 27 percent, making it one of the worst quarters ever experienced,’ ” Mr. Goldstein wrote. “Times are so hard at the Times that the publisher has proposed putting ads on the front page to generate new revenue.”

New Life on the Web for a Killed Newspaper Column (New York Times, 30 July 2007)

Related: The actual, original column can be read here: LA Observed: Goldstein's Killed Column

...and the women aren't all that attractive, either

From the "This would be funny, only it's happening to me" department:

A private e-mail address, linked to a pseudonym that I use for occasional print and Web articles, has been helpfully subscribed to an "online dating" site.

The word "dating," in this case, seems to have the same euphemistic meaning that the transsexual hookers in New York City's Meatpacking District always understood: "...honey, want a date?" (a line not infrequently delivered in a disconcerting basso profundo.)

Even better: Having logged in with the credentials provided by the semi-literate prankster who set this up (since he or she used my e-mail address, I got all the notifications of account creation, as well as the many "special offers" that begin pouring into my inbox this morning)... there is no way to delete the account from the site via the web interface.

Okay. Scratch one e-mail account, set up another, add some random characters into the name.

Good thing they're disposable these days.

29 July 2007

A brand new bag photo

Update to an earlier post - here's the workday edition of "what I carry."

(Crossposted to Flickr groups What's In Your Bag and The Items We Carry.)

Anyone can play along at home - if you add your photos to the Flickr pool, please give a shout in the comments.

28 July 2007

"I have no confidence in the system"

The first doctor gave her six months to live. The second and third said chemotherapy would buy more time, but surgery would not. A fourth offered to operate.

Karen Pasqualetto had just given birth to her first child last July when doctors discovered she had colon cancer. She was only 35, and the disease had already spread to her liver. The months she had hoped to spend getting to know her new daughter were hijacked by illness, fear and a desperate quest to survive. For the past year, she and her relatives have felt lost, fending for themselves in a daunting medical landscape in which they struggle to make sense of conflicting advice as they race against time in hopes of saving her life.

“It’s patchwork, and frustrating that there’s not one person taking care of me who I can look to as my champion,” Ms. Pasqualetto said recently in a telephone interview from her home near Seattle. “I don’t feel I have a doctor who is looking out for my care. My oncologist is terrific, but he’s an oncologist. The surgeon seems terrific, but I found him through my own diligence. I have no confidence in the system.”
Cancer Patients, Lost in a Maze of Uneven Care (New York Times, July 28, 2007)

Sadly, "I have no confidence in the system" is a very well-informed, thoroughly educated position to take, especially when it comes to any condition where the treatment options are complex.

And the "one person taking care of you who you can look to as your champion" pretty much has to be you (with support from your loved ones, hopefully)... and that at a time when, to put it mildly, you aren't feeling very well.

27 July 2007

Brad Peniston at the Maritime Historical Society on Saturday

NYC-area peeps, Chaotic Synaptic Activity sends the following, on behalf of author Brad Peniston:
The National Maritime Historical Society (http://www.seahistory.org/) has invited me to talk about "No Higher Honor: Saving the Samuel B. Roberts in the Persian Gulf" tomorrow near their New York headquarters.

When: noon, Sat. July 28
Where: The Hendrick Hudson Free Library, 185 Kings Ferry Road, Montrose, N.Y. 10548
-- Phone: 914-739-5654
-- Google map: http://tinyurl.com/2smrqt

The event is open to the public; please come! Brad

The items we carry

manbag contents
Originally uploaded by enrevanche.
My contribution to the excellent Flickr pool, "The Items We Carry."


[See also: The Workday Edition]

Sack up

I've gone hiking in bear country before, and a standard practice there is to hang your food (and the clothes you wore while cooking!) up in a tree, some distance from your camp, so that you don't invite bears into your tent.

(The reason that you hang the clothes you've cooked in, and don't sleep in them, is that if a bear wanders into your camp at night, you, smelling of food, in your sleeping bag, will appear to be something that was packaged by Kraft.)

Anyway... meet Ursack.

Battling hospital-acquired infections

At a veterans’ hospital [in Pittsburgh], nurses swab the nasal passages of every arriving patient to test them for drug-resistant bacteria. Those found positive are housed in isolation rooms behind red painted lines that warn workers not to approach without wearing gowns and gloves.

Every room and corridor is equipped with dispensers of foamy hand sanitizer. Blood pressure cuffs are discarded after use, and each room is assigned its own stethoscope to prevent the transfer of microorganisms. Using these and other relatively inexpensive measures, the hospital has significantly reduced the number of patients who develop deadly drug-resistant infections, long an unaddressed problem in American hospitals.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projected this year that one of every 22 patients would get an infection while hospitalized — 1.7 million cases a year — and that 99,000 would die, often from what began as a routine procedure. The cost of treating the infections amounts to tens of billions of dollars, experts say.


“People don’t believe it’s in their institution, and, if it is, that it’s too big to do anything about, that you just have to accept it,” said Terri Gerigk Wolf, director of VA Pittsburgh Healthcare Systems. “But we have shown you can do something about it.”
Swabs in Hand, Hospital Cuts Deadly Infections (New York Times, 27 July 2007)

I have more than a passing interest in this topic. Both of my parents have contracted HAI's (hospital/healthcare-acquired infections) while patients in hospitals or nursing homes, and an multiple-antibiotic-resistant strain of Klebsiella pneumoniae, acquired during a hospital stay, killed my father.


26 July 2007

Three things can happen...

Over at Knowledge Work, I've posted about how to qualify proposal leads, and led off with the inevitable sports analogy:

Legendary Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, who knew a thing or two about strategy, once explained why he typically ran an offense that relied heavily on the running game, shunning the forward pass:

“Three things can happen when you throw a football, and two of them are bad.”

Qualifying RFP-based leads (Knowledge Work)

Meet "Oscar," your furry little escort across the Styx

When Oscar the Cat visits residents of the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island, the staff jumps into action -- Oscar can sense within hours when someone is about to die.

In his two years living in Steere's end-stage dementia unit, Oscar has been at the bedside of more than 25 residents shortly before they died, according to Dr. David Dosa of Brown University in Providence.

He wrote about Oscar in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"It's not that the cat is consistently there first," Dr. Joan Teno, a professor of community health at Brown University, who sees patients in the unit. "But the cat always does manage to make an appearance, and it always seems to be in the last two hours."
Nursing home cat can sense death, ease passing (Reuters via Yahoo News)

The staff don't believe that anything supernatural is going on; rather, they posit that Oscar is sensitive to some kind of biochemical change that is taking place in the unit's patients as death approaches.

However, definitely check out Oscar's picture in the Yahoo News article cited above. He appears to be a very wise cat, with a great deal of Buddha-nature. You can just tell that the little guy has quite a bedside manner.

Related: Dosa, David M. A Day in the Life of Oscar the Cat N Engl J Med 2007 357: 328-329

24 July 2007

Dad's math book makes the grade

Some parents pitch in with homework when kids get bad grades in math. Nicholas Aggor literally wrote the book.

The Riverview engineer was so distressed when sons Samuel, 14, and Joshua, 13, brought home bad marks, he took it upon himself to rewrite their textbooks chapter by chapter.

Four years later, they are in advanced classes and the Ghana native's pet project has become a passion that's produced a math curriculum for grades kindergarten to nine -- 14 books in all. And soon, it may not be just his kids whose grades are improving.

Dad's math book makes the grade (The Detroit News, 20 July 2007)

Hat tip: deVille

23 July 2007

Opsware founder Marc Andreesen on the HP acquisition

In September 1999, at the height of the dot com boom, a small group of colleagues and I started a new company, Loudcloud, based on the idea that the huge Internet infrastructure buildout then underway -- by startups and big companies alike -- required a new approach to running modern datacenters and computer systems at high scale: automation.

The eight years that have followed have been an unbelievable journey...

Today we have announced that Opsware is being acquired by Hewlett-Packard for more than $1.6 billion in cash, or $14.25 per share.
HP buys my company Opsware for more than $1.6 billion in cash (blog.pmarca.com)

Ron Paul profiled in the NYT

Paul represents a different Republican Party from the one that Iraq, deficits and corruption have soured the country on. In late June, despite a life of antitax agitation and churchgoing, he was excluded from a Republican forum sponsored by Iowa antitax and Christian groups. His school of Republicanism, which had its last serious national airing in the Goldwater campaign of 1964, stands for a certain idea of the Constitution — the idea that much of the power asserted by modern presidents has been usurped from Congress, and that much of the power asserted by Congress has been usurped from the states. Though Paul acknowledges flaws in both the Constitution (it included slavery) and the Bill of Rights (it doesn’t go far enough), he still thinks a comprehensive array of positions can be drawn from them: Against gun control. For the sovereignty of states. And against foreign-policy adventures. Paul was the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate in 1988. But his is a less exuberant libertarianism than you find, say, in the pages of Reason magazine.
The Antiwar, Anti-Abortion, Anti-Drug-Enforcement-Administration, Anti-Medicare Candidacy of Dr. Ron Paul (New York Times, 22 July 2007)

21 July 2007


via Rachel

Soul food in New York

Courtesy of prairiesong, a good article about soul food restaurants in New York City: COMFORT FOOD.
Sometimes you can travel north to go south. As removed as it might seem from the easy pace and wide open spaces of the Southern states, New York City still knows about life below the Mason-Dixon Line. Tucked away on side streets and in basement clubs, an authentic culture thrives, and it welcomes visitors who want to slip away from the bustling city for a few hours of downhome hospitality.

enrevanche demographics

Time for another peek behind the demographic curtain at enrevanche's readers.

Based on analysis of the site logs:
  • Country share: the US leads with not quite 80%, with the remaining 22% (in declining order) split among the UK, Canada, India, Sweden, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Spain, Singapore (Hi, Fiona!), Germany, Belgium, Japan, Israel and Norway.

  • OS share: 65% of you are running Windows XP; a whopping 25% of you are using Mac OS X (results likely skewed by the links we've been picking up from MacSurfer lately; see below.)

    The rest of you (10% in aggregate) are using older or newer Windows variants (Vista penetration: less than 3%) or Linux; at least one brave soul is browsing the site using OS/2!

    OS/2 guy: Rock on with your retro-bad self.

  • Visit duration: most enrevanche visitors linger for between two and three minutes per visit, an absolute eternity in blog-time. (It takes me less time than that to *write* many of the posts.)

  • Top referring sites in the last month, in order:

  • Top search engine: Google.

  • Top Google search strings bringing unwary visitors to the site this week: Westell 327W, Sunrocket

20 July 2007

With apologies to Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan

Kim Plofker swings for the fences:
I am the very model of a modern Libertarian:
I teem with glowing notions for proposals millenarian,
I've nothing but contempt for ideologies collectivist
(My own ideas of social good tend more toward the Objectivist).
You see, I've just discovered, by my intellectual bravery,
That civic obligations are all tantamount to slavery;
And thus that ancient pastime, viz., complaining of taxation,
Assumes the glorious aspect of a war for liberation!
There's much, much more.

Kitty pr0n

This little guy looks like an anime character.

19 July 2007

Spot of trouble on the commute

As I'm sure anyone within reach of the Intertubes already knows, there was a teensy spot of trouble near Grand Central Station last night... a massive steam pipe exploded, sending a geyser of live steam, "mud" (more on that in a second), rocks and miscellaneous debris twenty stories into the air and blasting a huge hole in Lexington Avenue.

I can't hope to add anything to the voluminous coverage of this incident, except to relate another incident that took place in my office last night. The explosion occurred just before 6PM, at the height of the evening rush hour, and shortly thereafter a number of us gathered in the Network Operations Center, where a local news channel was tuned in and patched through to the overhead projector.

The initial images were really startling - the steam-geyser was achieving some incredible heights, and it was evident that the steam pipes had taken out quite a bit of additional infrastructure with them when they blew, as there was an enormous amount of debris in the mix.

"Damn," one of our senior engineers observed. "Looks like it took out a sewer line, too."

One of the new guys objected.

"The news says that's mud."

The senior guy said, "Dude, I've worked in IT for over 20 years now. Don't you think I can recognize a fountain of shit when I see one?"

(P.S. While Doc is on travel, I'm going to be posting occasionally at They Rode On, a blog I encourage you all to check out. Doc's kin to me, but please don't hold that against him. This is crossposted there.)

Not afraid to be service-y: 101 Simple Summer Meals

NYT: Summer Express: 101 Simple Summer Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less


18 July 2007

Counterfeit goods

Government scandal and corruption, North Carolina-style:
State Division of Motor Vehicles Commissioner George Tatum resigned today, a spokesman said.

The resignation comes a little more than a week after The News & Observer reported an allegation that Tatum had helped a friend get a replica of a 1937 Ford truck titled as the real thing.

DMV Commissioner Resigns (Raleigh, NC News and Observer, 18 July 2007)

This is *so* Southern, I can't even begin to cope with it.

Dude resigns in shame and disgrace because he got caught helping a friend counterfeit a pickup truck.

None of the above

Wow. Not all that surprised, but, wow.
The latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that nearly a quarter of Republicans are unwilling to back top-tier hopefuls Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, John McCain or Mitt Romney, and no one candidate has emerged as the clear front-runner among Christian evangelicals. Such dissatisfaction underscores the volatility of the 2008 GOP nomination fight.
AP Poll: GOP pick is "none of the above" (AP via Yahoo News)

GOP rally cheer, early in the third quarter of 2007:

Who do you want?


When do you want them?


NYT: New Potter Book May Have Made Its Way to Web

Photos of what appeared to be every page of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the breathlessly awaited seventh and final installment in the wildly popular series by J.K. Rowling, were circulating around the Web today, potentially upsetting the most elaborate marketing machine ever mobilized for a book.
New Potter Book May Have Made Its Way to Web - New York Times

"May" have made its way to the Web...

Um, yeah.

I, too, would be kvelling with pride


“And then we’re going to the Apple Store.”

Leta suddenly remembers all those times Daddy has taken her to the Apple Store to pass the time, those outings where he would inspect new hardware while she got to play Dora games on an iMac at the back of the store.

“Daddy!” Her tone changes instantly from CURRENTLY DYING to polite conversation over tea at the tennis club. “I’m going to the Apple Store with you! I love the Apple Store.”

Jon staggers backwards two steps, holds his hand over his heart and says, “If I were a normal man? This—” and he points back and forth between himself and Leta signaling what they have between them, “—this would be me teaching my son how to throw a baseball.”

"Because they needed something else in common," Dooce, 17 July 2007

16 July 2007

SunRocket, R.I.P.

Update to an earlier post:

Yeah, Sunrocket's history:

SunRocket, one of the largest start-up companies offering Internet phone service, has ceased operation and is moving its customers to one or more other companies, a person briefed on its status said yesterday.

A message on SunRocket’s customer service line said the company was “no longer taking customer service or sales calls.” Executives of SunRocket, which is based in Vienna, Va., and had 200,000 subscribers as of April, could not be reached for comment.

Barbie Girls

Mattel’s virtual world Barbie Girls hit the 3 million user mark in its first 60 days and is growing at the rate of 50,000 new users a day, according to a report from the Scientific American.

To put that in perspective, Second Life took 3 years to get to 1 million registered users. At its current growth rate, Barbie Girls should pass the number of Second Life registered users between November and January based on Second Life’s existing growth rate. Barbie Girls would also pass World of Warcraft around the same time as well.
TechCrunch: Could Barbie Girls Become The Largest Virtual World?

Techcrunch: Ron Paul's Web 2.0 Campaign

A funny thing has happened on the way to the 2008 US Presidential Elections, and it’s all got to do with Web 2.0.

Ron Paul is a name many will immediately recognize, but for those who don’t, Ron Paul wants to be the next President of the United States of America. Paul’s platform is very, very different to most (if not all) of the other candidates, both from his own Republican Party and the Democrats. Paul is a classic conservative, a believer in small Government and a believer that the individual is more important than the State. He’s also anti-Iraq war, and in a historical sense broadly anti-interventionist as well; Paul is a candidate who believes the Monroe Doctrine is simply wrong.

Paul is also the underdog in the Presidential race, dismissed by the mainstream media and political pundits as nothing more than a kook with no hope at all. And yet if you believe online polls and surveys, Paul will be the next President of the United States.
Techcrunch: Ron Paul: A Distributed Web 2.0 Campaign (16 July 2007)

15 July 2007

Simeon Booker, the Man from Jet

Fascinating feature in today's Washington Post, about journalist Simeon Booker, who (among other things) covered the trial of Emmett Till's murderers in the pre-civil rights era:
Arkansas was scary, but not as scary as Mississippi. In Mississippi, you could end up in a coffin just trying to scribble in your notebook. In 1962, a European reporter by the name of Paul Guihard had been crossing the Ole Miss campus in Oxford, there to cover the protests against troops guarding James Meredith as he integrated the school. Someone blew a hole in Guihard's head with a gun. Simeon Booker was at Ole Miss that autumn. He knew the dark, kaleidoscopic danger of the place. He had been in Mississippi -- at that courthouse in Sumner to cover the Emmett Till murder trial. Till -- a 14-year-old black youth murdered by two white men in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a woman who was married to one of the men -- was Booker's damn story, and he knew it, his fingerprints on the reporting of it from the very beginning. They all knew it, every one of the reporters, the ones from the white press and certainly the ones from the Negro press...

...[H]e was the man from Ebony and Jet magazines, which meant, in a symbolic manner, beginning in the 1950s, he was the man from Negro and black America with a press pass. He was all over the South -- before it became a beat and a newspaper cause -- writing up his stories, getting them printed. When it was happening, when history was rolling like some kind of grainy as-yet-unseen newsreel, he didn't think about it much at all. "You just did the job," he says.

The wheels of the car rolled on then, and the notebooks stacked up in the glove compartment. He covered protests in Birmingham, Ala., civil rights deaths in Mississippi, voting marches in the Carolinas. He went out on campaign trails with the Kennedys. (The Kennedys liked him, learned much about black America from him. He was invited to JFK's funeral.) He covered the young John Conyers in Detroit. He walked down the streets of Harlem with a smile on his face, looking for musicians, looking for Adam Clayton Powell Jr., trying to find a slice of sweet potato pie.

He was so revered that when young black reporters came out of college in the 1950s, they looked him up. Like English department grads trekking off to Havana to find Hemingway.

The Man from Jet - Washington Post, 15 July 2007

Valid question

Yuppie customer: Can we have the tasting menu?
Waitress: You eat everything?
Yuppie customer: Yeah, sure.
Waitress: Gizzard?
Yuppie customer: I'll eat the asshole if you put a tasty sauce on it.
Waitress: We don't serve assholes here.
Yuppie customer: This is New York. How do you stay in business?

--Japanese restaurant
Overheard by: The Professor via Overheard in New York, Jul 15, 2007

14 July 2007

The Google-Postini deal

BusinessWeek's Stephen Baker on Google's purchase of Postini:
Yes, Google's $625 million deal for spam-fighter Postini adds another business application to its portfolio. But when I heard about it, I thought only one thing: Our bosses will gain an ever more powerful tool to search and analyze our e-mails and messages.


As Google storms into the market, more managers will be able to search employees e-mail the way they now search the Web. Imagine being able to call up every e-mail in the enterprise over the last month, for example, that mentions a key competitor and an upcoming product or service. Want to see it as it's happening? Sign up for an alert for certain keywords. It doesn't have to stop there. Once these data are searchable, it will become ever easier for managers to apply advanced analytics to corporate messaging. They'll be able mine these data for the latest trends of words and subjects that employees are writing about. Mapping the social networks inside and outside the company will be a cinch. And as automatic reading programs improve, companies will also be able to track the rising and falling sentiments of their work force.
Google with Postini: Searching Our E-mail (BusinessWeek Blogs, Stephen Baker, 10 July 2007)

Tour de France 2007 - Live Tracker

A great Google Maps mashup, with rider positions and telemetry updated in real time:
Watch the exact position and additional data (heart rate, cadence, speed, power) of the racing cyclists on an interactive map.

13 July 2007

Are you sure?

deVille tips us to this excellent article from Britannica Blog, "10 Ways to Test Facts."

I've cut out and taped the key question from #10 to my monitor:

10. The Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh suggests that we all tape this little note to our telephones: “Are you sure?” The message is meant to serve as a reminder to help stem wrongheaded talk, idle gossip, and pointless argument.

For myself, I keep that question affixed above every computer I own, within sight of my phones. It doesn’t prevent me from being wrong, would that it did, but it has spared me a bit of embarrassment from time to time.

And think of how the world might be if we all had that question before us at all times. Are you sure about those WMDs? Are you sure about that yellow cake uranium from Niger? Are you sure there’s no such thing as global warming? The list goes on, and on...

Britannica Blog, "10 Ways to Test Facts" (Gregory McNamee - June 26th, 2007)

Ladies and gentlemen, the 2007 Hover Wingle

PALAZZOLO SULL’OGLIO, Italy — They have names like the Brilliance BS6, the Landwind Fashion or the improbable Hover Wingle, and though these sedans, vans and sport utility vehicles are hardly as familiar to Europeans as, say, a Volkswagen Golf, they are beginning to show up on European roads.

“I’ve got air-conditioning, ABS brakes and air bags,” said Carlo Scalvini, describing his Hover, a big and boxy sport utility vehicle built by the Great Wall Motor Company, with headquarters in Baoding in eastern China. “And the price is competitive: you pay 10,000 euros less in the end,” more than $13,000.

The enthusiasm of people like Mr. Scalvini could influence the global auto industry and China’s place in it. China’s quiet inroads into Europe are the first test of rich markets by Chinese automakers as they build dealer networks and deliver small shipments of cars to test the reaction of drivers and auto industry experts.

Low-Cost Chinese Cars Making Restrained Entry to European Market (New York Times, 13 July 2007)

On a Wingle and a prayer


Great Wall Motor Company Limited (Baoding, China)... where, in addition to the Wingle, you can learn about other models called (I am not making this up) the Safe, the Sing, the Pegasus, the Deer, the Sailor and the Socool.

China is making huge strides in economic development, but it's clear that sixty years of Communist rule have stunted their vital, strategic branding skills:
The first high-pressure common rail & high-end diesel pickup in China. Creation embodies charm, technology fulfills leadership. As China's first high-end diesel pickup, Great Wall-Wingle creates a new realm of high-grade Pick-up, and goes forward towards the world as the Chinese Pickup leader. Fashion in every detail demonstrates innovative design concepts, creative design and avant-garde daring style, without any meaningless decoration. Brilliant achievements in their careers enjoy life passion.


Originally uploaded by enrevanche.
Doc, at They Rode On, is holding a reader photo contest called "Thirteen ways of looking at a BlackBerry." It is inspired by a picture a friend sent him (and it's quite a good one).

Here's my entry.

I call this piece “Outmoded.”

Pictured, left to right: Research In Motion’s new BlackBerry Curve, generously provided by my employer, adjacent to Apple’s new iPhone, generously provided by me, both displaying a favorite blog.

12 July 2007

Sock-puppetry at Whole Foods

Rumors on stock discussion boards being seeded and spread by sock-puppets are nothing new.

Usually the sock-puppets only claim to have inside information and are looking to manipulate a stock's price.

Sometimes, the sock-puppets actually HAVE inside information, and their goals are... hmm.
In January 2005, someone using the name "Rahodeb" went online to a Yahoo stock-market forum and posted this opinion: No company would want to buy Wild Oats Markets Inc., a natural-foods grocer, at its price then of about $8 a share.

"Would Whole Foods buy OATS?" Rahodeb asked, using Wild Oats' stock symbol. "Almost surely not at current prices. What would they gain? OATS locations are too small." Rahodeb speculated that Wild Oats eventually would be sold after sliding into bankruptcy or when its stock fell below $5. A month later, Rahodeb wrote that Wild Oats management "clearly doesn't know what it is doing .... OATS has no value and no future."

The comments were typical of banter on Internet message boards for stocks, but the writer's identity was anything but. Rahodeb was an online pseudonym of John Mackey, co-founder and chief executive of Whole Foods Market Inc. Earlier this year, his company agreed to buy Wild Oats for $565 million, or $18.50 a share.

Whole Foods Is Hot, Wild Oats a Dud -- So Said 'Rahodeb' (Wall Street Journal [subscription required], 12 July 2007)

10 July 2007

Abuse of "National Security Letters"

EFF has obtained FBI documents showing years of chronic problems with its use of National Security Letters (NSLs). The issue first drew widespread attention four months ago, when the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General released a report [31M PDF] revealing extensive misuse of NSLs in a sampling of four FBI field offices.

These findings were, unfortunately, not surprising to critics of the Bureau's NSL power. Before the USA PATRIOT Act was passed in 2001, the FBI could unilaterally issue these demands only to obtain the records of suspected terrorists or spies. Under the changes made by the controversial anti-terrorism law, however, the FBI can now use NSLs to get telephone, Internet, financial, credit, and other personal records about anybody -- without any court approval -- as long as it believes the information could be “relevant” to an authorized terrorism or espionage investigation.
"EFF Receives First Set of FOIA Documents on the FBI's Misuse of National Security Letter Authority" (Electronic Frontier Foundation, 9 July 2007)

Current, apparent definition of a terrorist: Anyone the FBI would like to get a free pass to wiretap.

Net Radio: time is running out

In addition to Etherbeat throwing in the towel... Rusty from SomaFM is weighing in.
Time is running out. New royalty rates will go into effect on July 15th which are 6 times more than SomaFM's total revenues. If not changed, SomaFM will be forced out of business by the RIAA.

I need you to call SomaFM's congressional representative in San Francisco, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at (415) 556-4862 and ask her to use her office's influence to demand that the RIAA come to a settlement with small webcasters. Identify yourself as a listener to SomaFM which is based in her district. It doesn't look like the IREA will get passed before the July 15th deadline with the RIAA's aggressive and false-pretense lobbying against it. Our only hope now is for a settlement, which ideally will be codified into law later.

The RIAA is blocking the IREA from passing with propaganda and downright false statements. And the worst thing is they're being sneaky about it... trying to pretend that this propaganda is coming from SoundExchange. Because everyone knows you can't trust anything the RIAA says. But the RIAA is the puppeteer pulling the strings on SoundExchange, and makes up the majority of the seats on SoundExchange.

The independent artist representatives on SoundExchange's board support independent internet radio and aren't trying to kill it, but the RIAA cronies have the majority vote.

At this point, it doesn't look like the IREA will pass, the RIAA has been very good in their lobbying. (Well, I should say, they're very good at hiring expensive lobbyists - after all, they're using SoundExchange's money to do it, and all that money comes out of the royalties paid to SoundExchange before the artists see it. Oh, the irony! Internet radio stations are paying SoundExchange royalties which are being used to lobby against net radio, and not actually paid to the artists. Yet they have the balls to tell the artists that it's internet radio that's stealing from the artists.

And even though we play very few RIAA-related labels, the RIAA has successfully made it so that even if we play independent artists, we still have to pay them royalties.

More at http://somafm.com/blogs/rusty and http://somafm.com/crb

09 July 2007

Smile for the cameras

The pervasive-surveillance society comes a little closer to home:

By the end of this year, police officials say, more than 100 cameras will have begun monitoring cars moving through Lower Manhattan, the beginning phase of a London-style surveillance system that would be the first in the United States.

The Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, as the plan is called, will resemble London’s so-called Ring of Steel, an extensive web of cameras and roadblocks designed to detect, track and deter terrorists. British officials said images captured by the cameras helped track suspects after the London subway bombings in 2005 and the car bomb plots last month.

If the program is fully financed, it will include not only license plate readers but also 3,000 public and private security cameras below Canal Street, as well as a center staffed by the police and private security officers, and movable roadblocks.

New York Plans Surveillance Veil for Downtown (New York Times, 9 July 2007)

Science-fiction author David Brin has some very interesting ideas on topics like this.

Canary in the coal mine?

Despite a vibrant local economy, Atlanta homeowners are falling behind on mortgage payments and losing their homes at one of the highest rates in the nation, offering a troubling glimpse of what experts fear may be in store for other parts of the country.

The real estate slump here and elsewhere is likely to worsen, given that most of the adjustable rate mortgages written in the last three years will be reset with higher interest rates, said Christopher F. Thornberg, an economist with Beacon Economics in Los Angeles. As a result, borrowers of an estimated $800 billion in loans will be forced in the next 12 months to 18 months to make bigger monthly payments, refinance or sell their homes.
Increasing Rate of Foreclosures Upsets Atlanta (New York Times, 9 July 2007)

Information Week: Six new VoIP 2.0 Players

In a terrific survey article, InformationWeek's David DeJean examines six new "Voice 2.0" players:
Review: 6 Skype Alternatives Offer New Services (David DeJean, InformationWeek, 3 July 2007)

08 July 2007

Houston, we may have a problem

Sunrocket, the VoIP provider we use for our home phone service, looks to be in trouble.

(See also.)

Hot air about the greenhouse effect

"If you want to save the planet, I want you to start jumping up and down!" Thus Madonna revealed her plan to combat global warming. Clad in a black satin leotard, she gyrated with dancers and simulated sex with an amplifier and a guitar. Along with the Foo Fighters, the 48-year-old Queen of Pop transformed a Live Earth concert that at times had seemed earnest and slow...

The interspersing of musical numbers with lectures on climate change gave much of the show a staccato feel...

It's an inconvenient truth, but mixing rock with recycling is awkward. In a TV interview earlier this week, Matt Bellamy of the band Muse mocked the event as "private jets for climate change."

John Buckley of Carbon Footprint, an organization that helps companies reduce their carbon dioxide emissions, said Saturday that Live Earth will produce about 74,500 tons of the gas.

"We would have to plant 100,000 trees to offset the effect of Live Earth," he said, speaking by telephone.
Live Earth London's Glacial Pacing (Washington Post, July 8, 2007)

On the scene at the Heinlein Centennial

Our man in Kansas City checks in.
A guy with a “Nuke The Moon” T-shirt in line to give blood. How a writer lost one of Heinlein’s cats, and who’s got the last cat now. Who wrote about the size of Heinlein’s package and what happened when Heinlein found out. Who fought with whom in reasearching the man’s life, and who screwed whom over, and who’s got the only copy of the political papers and can’t give them up yet. The amazing kindness and gifts the Heinleins gave to fans and writers of time, expertise and sometimes rent money, including a preternatural ability to somehow know when a writer was in trouble and needed help but wasn’t telling anybody...

Etherbeat, R.I.P.

The audio soundscape on the Net just got a little less interesting: Etherbeat, a net radio station that played wonderful, sometimes obscure jazz, funk and world-beat music, has closed its virtual doors.
It's with a great deal of regret that I am announcing the closure of Etherbeat Radio.

Proposed legislative changes are signalling a new climate for internet radio in which enthusiast stations like Etherbeat can't survive. Besides this, I've just found it to be too much about business and paperwork lately and not enough about music AND I'm all out of cash! So it really is time to move on to something different...

Subscribers were tipped off via e-mail on Friday that this was going to happen--and I got confirmation this morning that the site was closed for business (see above).

The promise of the Internet, for creative types, has always been that with enough connectivity, there is an audience for every taste.

There might not be twenty-five people in your hometown who would have cared to listen to Etherbeat (I'm betting there were a lot more than that) but worldwide, the potential audience might have easily numbered in the millions.

Whatever else it was, Etherbeat was a labor of love, and largely a one-man show; JC poured his heart and soul into the operation, and while there were shortages of cash at the end and exasperation with the legislative machinations currently underway, there was never any shortage of love. You could hear it in the music every day.

As I wrote to my Congressional reps a few months back:
Internet-based broadcasters are filling a culturally important role by providing high-quality alternatives to the homogenized dreck that flows over the public airwaves. They are offering music lovers a choice and presenting an incredibly diverse palette of musical styles and options to their listeners.
With Etherbeat gone, the dreck quotient just went up a little.

The mourners are checking in.

For me -- well, my days will be a little longer without Etherbeat streaming through the speakers of my work PC.

JC, you're the reason I bought a subwoofer for my work rig. ;-) And let me tell you, brother, you sold a lot of records... I can't tell you how many CDs I bought after first hearing an artist on Etherbeat.

Be well, and good luck with whatever's next for you.

07 July 2007

Gizmoz - Meet my avatar

The economics of renewable energy

Cheerleaders for renewable energy are fond of pointing out that patches of desert receive enough energy each year from sunlight to power the entire world. But few deign to explain how the construction of the millions of solar cells required to convert that energy into electricity would be financed. Utility bosses and policymakers tend to dismiss wind and solar power as noble but expensive distractions, sustainable only through lavish subsidies. But new studies suggest that renewables might not be as dear as sceptics suspect.
The Economist: Cheap Alternatives (July 5, 2007)

Tagged again: Thinking Bloggers

Tata, who writes the delicious and funny Poor Impulse Control, has tagged me with a blogmeme: "Thinking Bloggers." About Enrevanche, Tata was kind enough to say:
Barry thinks about things I don't or they wouldn't cross my path. His cat is a humble rock star. I read Enrevanche about once a week. If I skip it, I feel like I misplaced my car keys.
And once you read it, you feel like you misplaced your antipsychotic medication, no doubt (if I'm doing my job right.)

Anyway, here's how this meme works:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote.
To avoid the appearance of (b)logrolling, Poor Impulse Control (Tata's blog) is not on my list, but I will say that I check in at her place at least a few times a week. She can make you laugh, make you cry, spur you to rage or provoke contemplation--the raw, confessional stuff she wrote during her father's last days was absolutely heartbreaking. Day to day, though, she's just one of the funniest, smartest people in the blogosphere. And although our politics appear to be very different, I think we would have a huge time over a big plate of food and several glasses of wine.

OK. Here's the list, in alphabetical order, of Blogs That Make Barry Think:
  1. Chapomatic. One of my oldest friends in the world also writes one of the best blogs out there; reading his stuff convinced me to start blogging. Take Chap's advice about music as if you were Moses on the mountaintop taking dictation straight from God.

  2. Cobb. A self-described conservative and Black nationalist with a serious love for funk and a deep structural knowledge of information technology.

  3. Don Surber. Don writes editorials and columns for the Charleston (West Virginia) Daily Mail, and for years he blogged at Blogspot. He recently began blogging for his employer, and Don's take on the news is always worth reading.

  4. Music and Cats. Musings on architecture, recipes, and loads of beautiful photography, much but not all of which involves kittycats.

  5. Sisu. Sissy Willis comes from a different part of the conservative tradition than I do, but her political posts are always closely reasoned and well argued, and her sublime naturalist instincts and visual aesthetic sense are always refreshing to encounter online. Plus, the woman loves to cook. #1 on the list of bloggers I've never met in person that I'd like to throw a dinner party with.
(Two graphics-oriented blogs that deserve honorable mention: Chowderhead Bazoo and Indexed.)

Happy birthday, Robert Heinlein

Today, July 7, Robert A. Heinlein would have turned 100 years old. (Biography; bibliography/concordance.)

They're throwing a big party for Bob in Kansas City this weekend. I know somebody who's going.

You know, when you're a kid, you read a lot of books and you listen to a lot of music that later, as an adult, you simply can't stand.

Most of the science fiction I read in my youth falls into that category.

Heinlein, on the other hand, just gets better and better.

06 July 2007

He's mainlining with the angels now

Nobody, but nobody, writes obituaries like the English.

Case in point:
Count Gottfried von Bismarck, who was found dead on Monday aged 44, was a louche German aristocrat with a multi-faceted history as a pleasure-seeking heroin addict, hell-raising alcoholic, flamboyant waster and a reckless and extravagant host of homosexual orgies.
Now that, by God, is a lede.

It gets better.

Count Gottfried von Bismarck (Obituary, The Daily Telegraph [UK], 4 July 2007)


04 July 2007

Genealogy as martial art

My family (by blood and marriage) has been having enormous fun with Geni, a collaborative Web-based application for building family trees. The genius, pardon the expression, of the app is that it spreads virally--you enter e-mail addresses of your living relatives as you place them on the family tree, and everyone who logs in sees a view that is relative to them.

So why is the viral-spread aspect so cool? Well, from a starting point of a few dozen folks a few weeks ago, my Geni tree has grown to almost 400 people. Southerners, in addition to the more conservative forms of Protestant Christianity, tend to practice ancestor worship, so this is not unusual, but the Midwestern Jewish side of the family is more than holding its own.

The Geni system sends you updates when people are added to "your" tree, no matter how tenuous the links might be.

Some folks have gotten so enthusiastic about entering family members that there are now people I've not only never met, but never even knew existed, in our tree.

This system notification from Geni is the winner so far:
XXX just addded YYY, your first cousin's daughter-in-law's ex-husband's ex-wife.
That right there is damn nearly a country and western song. Whew!


Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

Here's a pretty decent July 4th podcast from a few years back, when I was actually, you know, podcasting regularly. Enjoy.
Greenwich Village Idiot, July 4, 2005

Happy Fourth of July, everybody!

The Greenwich Village Idiot podcast returns from hiatus with the Independence Day Edition (50:35, 35MB)

podcasting on a hot day

It's mighty warm in the studio.

Direct download: July_4_2005_Greenwich_Village_Idiot.mp3 (or subscribe to the podcast feed)

Music includes:

  • "4th Of July" by Aimee Mann
  • "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" by Bruce Springsteen
  • "All the Way from America" by Joan Armatrading
  • "America the Beautiful" by Ray Charles
  • "American Tune" by Willie Nelson
  • "O Superman (For Massenet)" by Laurie Anderson
  • "Rednecks, White Socks And Blue Ribbon Beer" by Johnny Russell
  • "Revolution 1" by The Beatles
  • "Star Spangled Banner" by Jimi Hendrix
  • ...and spoken word performances by Richard Pryor and the late Bill Hicks
podcasting and catblogging simultaneously
Are we podcasting stars yet?

Also: Barry discovers a way to podcast and catblog simultaneously (special subvocalizations and sound engineering courtesy of Mister Gato.)

Greenwich Village Idiot - the enrevanche podcast

Direct download: July_4_2005_Greenwich_Village_Idiot.mp3

Oh boy: Google acquires GrandCentral

4 July update -- Bumped to add:

While GrandCentral transitions to Google, they have switched from an "open signup" to "invitation only" model. As a current GrandCentral subscriber, I have a few (a very few) invitations to give away; if you'd like to try this service and you're a regular enrevanche reader, drop me a line.

As predicted, Google has actually acquired GrandCentral:
We're pleased to announce that we have acquired GrandCentral Communications, a company that provides services for managing your voice communications. GrandCentral is an innovative service that lets users integrate all of their existing phone numbers and voice mailboxes into one account, which can be accessed from the web. We think GrandCentral's technology fits well into Google's efforts to provide services that enhance the collaborative exchange of information between our users.
Official Google Blog: All Aboard

Related: GrandCentral's FAQ on the Google acquisition

03 July 2007

Thank you, come again!

Originally uploaded by rdr07.
As a promotional stunt for the upcoming Simpsons movie (nifty site, by the way) about a dozen 7-11s around the country have been temporarily transformed into Kwik-E-Marts:
Over the weekend, 7-Eleven Inc. turned a dozen stores into Kwik-E-Marts, the fictional convenience stores of "The Simpsons" fame, in the latest example of marketers making life imitate art.

Those stores and most of the 6,000-plus other 7-Elevens in North America will sell items that until now existed only on television: Buzz Cola, KrustyO's cereal and Squishees, the slushy drink knockoff of Slurpees.


Other recent examples of reverse product placement include Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, which spun out of the Harry Potter books and movies, and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurants, which opened after the movie "Forrest Gump."
"Who needs the Kwik-E-Mart?" - AP story on 7-11/Kwik-E-Mart stunt


Cats among us

Carrie and Gato 1 July 2007
Originally uploaded by enrevanche.
"Anyone who owns a cat is probably an expert in the ways that cats are — and aren’t — domesticated. In fact, no creature exemplifies the idea that domesticated animals chose domestication better than cats, which demonstrate every day just who in the human-feline relationship is doing the choosing... We cannot know exactly what we have made our own — whether it is animal or vegetable — unless we know the wild state in which it originated. Which is another way of saying that without wildness, we have no way of knowing who we are either." - Cats Among Us (Editorial), New York Times, 2 July 2007

Cold-brewed iced coffee

Carrie is an inveterate iced-coffee drinker, even in the dead of winter; I occasionally indulge only in high summer, when it's too hot outside to contemplate anything but a cold drink.

Anyone who likes iced coffee should check out this excellent, brief piece of service journalism in the Times, which describes how to make cold-brewed iced coffee that tastes better than hot coffee cooled down.

(Related: Recipe link.)

01 July 2007

Damn you, Steve Jobs

You know, it seems like there was a whole lot of big talk in these parts recently about being over and done with Early Adopter Disorder, letting other people buy the Rev 1 Apple hardware and do the debugging, and so forth.

No iPhone for me, not yet, no sir.

And I was pretty damned smug on Friday about all the folks standing in line for their Jesus Phones. (I don't stand on line for *anything*. If the restaurant doesn't take reservations and it's full, I go somewhere else.)

My sainted grandmother gave me some good advice once: "Make your words sweet, son, because someday you might have to eat 'em."

And then a guy in our building reported a completely painless experience picking up an iPhone today...

about barry iphone
Hi. I'm Barry, and I'm a gadget-holic. ("Hi, Barry!")

I must admit that the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue was handling a daunting logistical challenge with grace and style. Nobody enables better. The place was *packed* with people... but the longest and most difficult part of the transaction was getting up and down the stairs as the crush of acolytes descended and ascended.

From the time I walked into the store until the time I walked out with the iPhone... eight and a half minutes.

Total time, once home, to download iTunes 7.3, sign up for an AT&T account and switch our service from Sprint, and start receiving calls on my existing cell phone number on the iPhone: 45 minutes.


So far I am completely and utterly delighted.

We're all living in a science-fiction novel; you realize this, of course. :-)