Posts

Showing posts from 2005

Victimizing the victims

Just came across the Pioneer Press story Somalis fall victim to tax fraud.

So, Ruth and I were trying to figure out... what's the government (via the IRS) going to do to these fraud victims?

Take their money? They don't have any!
Deport them? Back to the country from which they fled as refugees?
Imprison them? All of them?
Imprison just the heads of household? So that the rest of the family goes on welfare?

Looks like the options are either immoral or fiscally stupid... but, frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if our government can figure out a way to be both immoral and fiscally stupid on this one.

Bring on the McCain flat tax, so that people have a fighting chance of understanding their tax returns!

Ginger Alexander (and team) are nice people!

I only caught the tail end of a recent episode the first time around, so I'm glad it popped up again and I was able to PVR it (ooh! a new verb!).

The basic deal is that the Trademark Properties team buys a house that's supposedly empty... but the former owners are still living in it. So rather than being nasty (which they could be), they put the owners up in a motel (if memory serves) and plan to fix up the house and sell it back to them.

And, from what I recall, they're really not doing it to pull a fast one; they're honestly nice, well-intentioned folks.

Yay, Ginger! (And Richard, and Dawn... and the whole gang, really!)

Hmmmm... Think Ginger would do a podcast interview? Probably more likely than Kari Byron. :)

The terrifying Digital Content Security Act

Yet another example of the MPAA getting its claws into our senators aznd representatives (who don't understand this kind of technology) and sneaking in insanely broad restrictions on basic technologies. Read Technology News: Legal Issues : MPAA Applauds Digital Content Security Act: "If it makes its way from Capitol Hill to the Oval Office and becomes law, the measure will outlaw the manufacture or sale of electronic devices that convert analog video signals into digital video signals, effective one year from its enactment. PC-based tuners and digital video recorders are listed among the devices."

Slashdot | The Mythbusters Answer Your Questions

Thanks to the fine folks over at Slashdot, you can hear from Adam and Jamie as The Mythbusters Answer Your Questions

(Sorry, but no discussion of Kari Byron. Just science-related stuff. But still way cool!)

UPDATE (June 2006): I've moved all my Mythbusters commentary over to a different site; you're welcome to browse around here... but for anything new, check out the Mythbusters category on att.ention.net.

Kirsten Kemp: We knew her when...

As we celebrate Christmas Eve with a Property Ladder marathon, now is the time to reflect on years past... like what I revealed in
this post about Kirsten Kemp

I guess everyone has a few skeletons in their closet from their teenage days... but few of us have them immortalized on videotape. (At least not to the extent that Kirsten does!)

How are laws made?

Okay, apparently I didn't pay enough attention to the "I'm Just A Bill" segment on Schoolhouse rock.

I read in the article NPR : Congress Creates Lawsuit Shield for Vaccine Makers: "But hours after the conference was officially closed, Frist prevailed on House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) to insert more than 40 pages of legislative language creating the liability shield, in violation of both the House and Senate rules. "

So, here's my question: How can someone do something that's truly "in violation of both House and Senate Rules"?

I mean, why not say, "Well, I know that we just took a vote and the bill didn't pass... but let's say it did!" But we don't hear of that ever happening, do we?

Either NPR's guilty of hyperbole and it's not truly a "violation of rules", or Frist and Hastert are guilty of a crime... or "House and Senate rules" don't mean anything at all.

Thoughts?

How can Detective Tim Stevenson sleep at night?

You know how riled up I get when malicious or stupid cops do malicious and stupid things, thus giving the vast majority of good cops out there a bad name. Here's another story that's flying far, far below the radar... WCCO-TV: I-TEAM: Children Interrogated Without Parents

Be sure to watch the video!

In case you don't, here's the story in a nutshell: 13-year-old girl gets kidnapped, molested, and dropped off in a parking lot. Surveillance tape clearly proves the suspicious drop-off -- watch it for yourself. Idiot cop, whose VCR at home is probably still blinking 12:00 more than four years later, looks at the wrong part of the tape and doesn't see the drop-off. So he berates the girl for "lying" about the incident.

That particular story doesn't mention the name of Mr. I've-Been-A-Cop-For-12-Years, but this earlier one names him as Detective Tim Stevenson. As of 2003, he was still on the force. Don't know if he still is, and for the sake of t…

Ginger Alexander and Flip This House

I told Ruth, "Given our Kari Byron response... we should blog about Ginger on Flip This House". Ruth's response? "Yeah... what's her name? Ginger Rogers?"

No. She's not Ginger Rogers. Though, who knows -- maybe Ginger Alexander can dance.

Ginger is one of Trademark Properties team -- read about her at the article from GreenvilleOnline.com -Local News-Home remodeling series features Greenville houses - (9/22/2005).

Frankly, I think the show's really interesting. Fun team of folks. Seem pretty good at heart. And something tells me that there's a big Ginger Alexander fan club out there waiting for more information! :)

At least RoboCop was part human!

It puts a dent in the giddy thrill of living in a police state... when your police are incompetent. Check out All Items about Camera Accuracy and read up on the latest; the story of the Minneapolis guy who's been ticketed twice because he stopped at a red light is what caught my attention, but some of the others (like what's going on in Nebraska) get scary!

Kari Byron understands Binary!

Okay, if I were confronted with the proposal of 1000 questions, I'd be scared... but as we read in Kari Byron: 1000 Questions with Brian Dunning, it's really only 8 questions.

And sorta interesting ones, at that!

UPDATE (June 2006): I've moved all my Kari Byron commentary over to a different site; you're welcome to browse around here... but for anything new, check out the Kari Byron category on att.ention.net.

Vague memories of the Mississippi

Thinking back on an odd event a couple decades ago... I rememberd that part of St. Anthony Falls dam collapsed and I was able to walk out into the Mississippi riverbed. The Internet came to the rescue and the foggy memory is now clear, thanks to FSTS Sources - Papers - ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE CENTRAL MINNEAPOLIS RIVERFRONT: PART 1 Archaeological Site Inventory - East Side Mill District: "The Lower Hydrostation formed the eastern end of the Lower Dam. The power potential was rated at 10,000 horsepower with a fall of about 20 feet. The powerhouse was built on a concrete base laid on the sandstone bedrock. Under the turbine roomwere 10 arched stone tailraces. The superstructure was built of a steel framework and masonry walls of salt-glazed tile. It contained one large room 250' x 50'. Most of the power was used by the Twin Cities Rapid Transit Company for streetcars. When NSP took over the plant in 1950, it removed the old turbines and generators and placed 10 new generators on…

Kari Byron and the all-time-great mattress quote

So, what's Kari doing to Buster in that photo? Never mind. According to my TV listing, tonight's repeat Mythbusters features my all-time-favorite quote. Here's how I described it in July when I wrote educating eric: Viagra and Cialis aren't needed with Kari Byron:

"I thought it would be hard to beat Kari's fiberglass shark-making quote of, 'Okay, so far on this little process, we just kind of shellacked, smoothed, and lubed up...'

But tonight (albeit in the context of a dummy flying 200 feet through the air after having been launched from a slingshot) we get to hear the words that every guy dreads -- especially coming from the likes of Kari Byron:

'You're not gonna get the mattress; that's for freakin' sure!'

Don't believe me? I've got the sound clip right here.


Wow. Still gets to me!

So, any Kari-related comments? Go ahead and share them -- click on that "comments" link up there!

Click here for more Kari Byron posts…

Streaming MP3 Files from your website

Having read the site Streaming MP3 Files from your website, I figured I'd try this. So here's a stream of the latest (lousy) Ericast. Remember, it's about the technology, not the content or quality!


So, here's the method that works in IE only:




And here's the method that works on multiple browsers... except that it doesn't, becuase I've probably messed up the code:












A Consuming Experience: Technorati tags: an introduction

Not only is this a good commentary on Technorati stuff (which I still don't get, but that's just because I haven't applied my brain to it yet) but it also talks about some other interesting "folksonomy" issues as well:

A Consuming Experience: Technorati tags: an introduction

Basically, I keep struggling with the push/pull give-and-take of information on the Internet. Just when something like del.icio.us comes along and I figure, "Ah! The wisdom of the masses will help us to parse and sort information!", it gets really popular and starts sagging under its own weight and we need someone like an individual podcaster or bogger to say, "Here's some interesting stuff."

Or maybe we just wait for inspiration to strike out of the blue, then do a Google search on the topic, and keep what we learn to ourselves? :)

Blogger Buzz: Introducing Backlinks

Okay, I'm a bit slow on the uptake, so I missed the news in Blogger Buzz: Introducing Backlinks.

I'll have to play with this template and add those in!

CIA Screw-ups

If you're feeling too comfortable about your life, read Wrongful Imprisonment: Anatomy of a CIA Mistake:

"Unlike the military's prison for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- where 180 prisoners have been freed after a review of their cases -- there is no tribunal or judge to check the evidence against those picked up by the CIA. The same bureaucracy that decides to capture and transfer a suspect for interrogation-- a process called 'rendition' -- is also responsible for policing itself for errors.

"The CIA inspector general is investigating a growing number of what it calls 'erroneous renditions,' according to several former and current intelligence officials.

"One official said about three dozen names fall in that category; others believe it is fewer. The list includes several people whose identities were offered by al Qaeda figures during CIA interrogations, officials said. One turned out to be an innocent college professor who had give…

Some better-researched information on BodyWorks

A quick Google search will turn up a PDF of the August 2003 article in Science magazine, posted at http://www.johnbohannon.org/NewFiles/vonhagens.pdf

So, read and judge for yourself, I guess.

Why the BodyWorlds exhibit is controversial

So, I started to wonder why people kept saying things like, "I don't see anything wrong with this, unlike those right-wing Christian lunatic types". (More or less.)

Here's the argument, from World Magazine - Weekly News | Christian Views:


"What is wrong with mutilating corpses and putting them on display? Virtually all civilizations and religions forbid such treatment of the dead. State laws forbid desecrating the dead. The Geneva conventions consider it a war crime.

"In Christianity, the body is 'a temple of the Holy Spirit' (1 Corinthians 6:19). A human being, who bears God's image, is not to be violated. The dead are to be buried, as was Christ, awaiting the resurrection of the body. In the Christian ethical tradition, burying the dead was one of the seven works of mercy (along with feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, visiting the imprisoned, and visiting the sick).

"But today our culture is desensitizin…

Science Museum of Minnesota | BODY WORLDS

I saw a cable special on this show (Discovery Channel or the like) and thought, "Gee, I really wish I could see that."

Looks like I can! It's coming to the Science Museum of Minnesota | BODY WORLDS.

Basically, some inventor guy figured out a way to "plasticize" bodies and peel them apart, so you can see all the muscles and veins and the like.

Sounds like a good way to really understand how miraculous the body truly is!

The deal that's really best

Ruth just added Chitika ads to her blog, and I was researching "what can be done, where" I came across the excellent and fascinating post of MindFyre - Blog Archive - Are Chitika Ads Misleading Your Readers?

Basically, the "Best Deal" tab isn't the lowest price, but the "highest bidder", which isn't a huge problem when you have an ad block that's big enough to show all the prices... but with a one-price-listed block, it's kinda misleading.

UPDATE: Frye was nice enough to post and comment that I totally screwed this up, which is right -- I had it clear in my mind, but my words just didn't explain reality. And now that I've played with it more, it's clearer, too.It's the "Best Deal phrase on the default Description tab" that isn't the lowest price. But the Best Deal tab actually does show the best deals, assuming you have a big enough ad box that you can see more than one price. The highest bidder still is at the …

Looking for televangelists...

You know what's ironic? I'd consider using the a la carte cable/satellite so that I could find religious programming. But I don't think I'm all that typical. Techdirt:Televangelists Hope To Smite A La Carte Cable.

Besides, I could get that programming by buying SkyAngel, or get it entirely free if I wanted to sink $300 into a Free-To-Air satellite receiver... but I doubt I'll get around to either of those things.

More creative SPAM

I just kinda like this one, I have to admit. Here it is, verbatim, except that I clipped out destination e-mail (which wasn't mine -- I must have been on the BCC) and obscured the sender (because it's probably someone at an innocent domain):


-----Original Message-----
From: Earlene Rogers [mailto:HQEHZETUXBI[at]faw.com.cn]
Sent: Friday, December 02, 2005 5:53 PM
To: [someone else at my work domain]
Subject: let's meet bypass


Greetings

I am moving to w.ork in the USA for 12 weeks
may be we can meet each other and have some fun time
or may be more. I am looking forward to receiving your message
to my personal email cuttie@realmeet.info.
I will reply with a p.ic.
I am nice girl

Do not freply to this email. WriteF to me directly.

nih vectorial compact confabulate fulsome craw allay athlete married jesse toe appendage conducive bloop clearance glans levis


Okay, got that? Don't reply -- e-mail me, where I just happen to have the e-mail address of "cuttie". Nic…

No kissing for Candela

And people wonder why we're so serious about peanut allergies being a big deal? USATODAY.com - Teen with peanut allergy dies after kiss.

BTW, we weren't ever slathering her up with peanut-laced lotion, so that's not the sole cause of the increase in peanut allergies...

When pacifism turns to stupidity

I'm sorry, but I just have to be an equal-opportunity critic when dumb things are said and done in Christ's name. The latest comes from the tragic news of the Virginia Man Among Four Kidnapped in Iraq. He was a member of a team of pacifists in Iraq named "Christian Peacemakers Teams". They were kidnapped by a gang of terrorists calling themselves the "Swords of Righteousness Brigade," which, according to the article grabbed these people and, "claimed they were spies working under the cover of Christian peace activists."

Sadly, unless these terrorists wise up -- and that's not likely -- I'm pretty sure these well-intentioned folks will be the next victims of some beheadings or other gruesome deaths-of-choice at the hands of what we now call "violent extremists".

So, what's the reaction of this group? "'We are angry because what has happened to our teammates is the result of the actions of the U.S. and U.K. government du…

Bird Ethics

Did you know that there are actually "Ethical Standards in Birding"? Neither did I. But there are.

Actually, it's pretty good advice for more than just bird-related situations... though I don't know how well it would appply to things like office-cooler conversation or prime-time television habits.

Kari Byron's stripey hair

So, I'm watching the Mythbusters marathon and was shocked by one thing: the yellow-and-black striped hair that Kari Byron has given herself.

Now, seriously, it must be hard to start out life as a simple intern in some shop run by a couple geeks, and be launched into stardom, so we can't be too hard on Kari because she's a real live person with feelings and such... but, come on! Kari, what were you thinking?

Any thoughts from my dedicated readers? (Go ahead and make a comment!) Does saying "Kari Byron" really say "redhead", or does the black and yellow look work for you?

UPDATE (June 2006): I've moved all my Kari Byron commentary over to a different site; you're welcome to browse around here... but for anything new, check out the Kari Byron category on att.ention.net.

KARE-ing about money over the community

This quote says it all, from the Star Tribune story KARE plans to change show from talk to 'advertainment': "'I am aghast,' said University of Minnesota media ethics professor Jane Kirtley, who at first thought a reporter was kidding about the new format. 'This is the logical extension of the whole pernicious practice of infomercials. If viewers are accustomed to getting [talk show] programming in a very different way, to suddenly change the rules on them isn't fair.'"

In a nutshell, KARE is dropping its morning talkshow and replacing it with something that appears to be indentical, yet is full of paid advertisements.

So I have lots of conflicting thoughts at once:

1) What do you expect from a media giant?
2) I hate to see them go, but I hope that Roxane Battle and Pat Evans (the current hosts) have nothing to do with this, because there'll be huge ethical issues if they do. (Why? Because viewers will assume they're seeing the same new…

Murtha, Clinton, Somalia, bin Laden, Bush and Iraq

Okay, I'm not pro-war, and I'm not one of those "the liberal media is comspiring against everything that's good and true" kinds of people, but it's kinda interesting that nobody is talking about this story: Will the Mainstream Media Cover the Story of Murtha and Clinton on Somalia? | NewsBusters.org: "Murtha and Clinton on Somalia"

Here's the deal. There was a big splash in the media when John Murtha spoke out and said we should get out of Iraq. Fine. But there should be an equally big splash when you connect the dots and see that Murtha was directly involved (by his own account) in our withdrawal from Somalia, and Osama bin Laden (by his own account) used that withdrawal to motivate his terrorists.

Hello! This tells me that "withdrawal from mid-East conflict" isn't a wise course of action!

The Long Tail vs. the Short Spike

Another comment on "the long tail", which isn't a reference to field mice (... and I wonder what AdSense will do with a reference to field mice?). Check out the passing reference to � The Long Tail of Media Attention - The Work Better Weblog - Working Pathways, Inc; the basic point that Garrick is making is that bloggers linking to things here and there builds a much firmer foundation of interest out in the world than mainstream media's "flash in the pan" tendency to cause a blitz that ends really quickly.

But if you read my seeker.TV site, you'll see my old references to something I still believe -- that television provides a "browse and bumble into something interesting" opportunity that targeted niche media like podcasts just can't achieve.

Biblical standard of criticism?

On another blog, someone commented on the wisdom of "Point #4" found in Brian McLaren: A Response to Recent Criticism: "If one of your trusted spiritual leaders has criticized our work, we encourage you, in respect for their leadership, not to buy or read our work, but rather to ignore it and consider it unworthy of further consideration. We would only ask, if you accept our critics’ evaluation of our work, that in fairness you abstain from adding your critique to theirs unless you have actually read our books, heard us speak, and engaged with us in dialogue for yourself. Second-hand critique can easily become a kind of gossip that drifts from the truth and causes needless division."

I agree! Well said, and it applies to far more (inside and outside of the Christian Church) than what Brian McLaren discusses in his letter.

Computing for the masses!

You know, it's been a long time since I've written anything here (for a moment I almost used the dreaded bl__ word that Ruth and I are avoiding so our AdSense ads don't get flooded with irrelevant junk... but I digress).

So, here's another article on the concept that's been kicking around for awhile...The Chronicle: MIT Researchers Unveil a $100 Laptop They Hope Will Benefit Children Worldwide

Drew's Unlimited Memory and Limited Warranty

Wow! Way to go, Drew! For a couple years I've had this vague memory of a Twin Cities band rattling around in my head. So I asked a former roommate of mine with the following note:

Back in 1985, possibly 1984, there was a big cheesy local pop group that became at least somewhat popular nationally (don’t know if they ever had a top-40 song, but I think they did). They gave a concert in the Metrodome, sponsored/promoted by WLOL (or maybe KDWB).

Not the Jetts. Not Prince. Not Information Society. :) It had a guy as the lead singer, and I want to say it was four guys in the band.

I also want to say that their big popular song was titled (or had the chorus of) something like “Never Enough”, but I don’t want to throw you a red herring there.

So, I figured you might have a clue what I’m talking about, considering our last musically-related conversation went something like…

ERIC: “You know, there was this local group that was really popular in 1992 or 1993…”
DREW: “Trip Shakespeare?”
ER…

With teachers like these...

Scott McNealy of SUN Microsystems fame, in his EduCAUSE 2005 keynote, said he put his kids in private schools because he was concerned about the influence parents were bringing into the classrooms. I have no idea what the "influence" was, but when I read the article Teacher's costume scares up complaint, I realized, "With teachers like these, who needs parents to mess up your kids?"

Or, put another way, "Thank goodness a parent stood up and complained about this!"

Solid Abortion Statistics

More on the continuing topic of Abortion in America, where Justin Taylor comments on a recent study: "Far from feeling defensive, however, I found their study to be very illuminating and very well put together, and highly recommend it to all who are concerned about abortion."

I agree. Read Justin's summary, or follow his link to the paper itself.

Microsoft's laughable TOS

While upgrading my MSN Messenger, I actually read the Terms of Service (TOS), conveniently available online at .NET Messenger Terms of Use, Licenses, and Notices.

My personal favorite? Point #3 in this disclaiming paragraph:

"We consider your use of the Service, including the content of your communications, to be private. We do not routinely monitor your communications or disclose information about your communications to anyone. However, we may monitor your communications and disclose information about you, including the content of your communications, if we consider it necessary to: (1) comply with the law or to respond to legal process; (2) ensure your compliance with this contract; or (3) protect the rights, property, or interests of Microsoft, its employees, its customers, or the public."

Put another way, "We promise we won't monitor you, unless it serves our interests in some way."

Slick!

Who was Harriet Miers?

Now, we might never know... but here's a good summary quote to explain the feelings coming from pro-life people such as myself. In Women's group calls for Miers withdrawal-Nation/Politics-The Washington Times, America's Newspaper: "Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat: 'She spoke favorably of the importance of 'self-determination' in cases involving moral issues such as abortion and prayer, yet four years earlier, when running for Dallas City Council, she filled out a questionnaire from a pro-life group stating her support for a constitutional amendment banning abortion. And even more confusing, one year before that, she gave $1,000 to the Democratic National Committee,' Mr. Schumer said."

A MAIO Mystery Painting!

Image
Some of you might remember a few months back I blogged about a painting that turned up in a photo of my uncle's living room from the 1960s:



My loving parents were nice enough to buy me a MAIO print -- one that I'd remembered seeing years and years ago at an antique store, and I couldn't believe it was still there. It looks even better than my uncle's, because the green and yellow tones go with the den (it's hanging over my desk as I type this!) but it's a different one than Larry's. I always wondered if the one that my uncle had was a MAIO or just one of a similar style.

On a whim I looked on eBay, and found this one:



That's definitely a MAIO -- they have a photo of the signature in the eBay listing. And the buildings are absolutely identical to the painting my uncle had... if you start counting them from the right. But this painting on eBay right now is wider than my uncle's! The buildings in his just stop as you move from right to left, and the …

Massive Psychic Therapy

In the pile of comments on a rambling blog post about search engine "optimizing" software, I came across this quote: "--- is a sick man. He need a massive psychic therapy"

What exactly is "massive psychic therapy"?

I could see calling for "extensive psychiatric therapy," sure. That would make sense -- may or may not be appropriate for the guy, but at least we know what you're talking about.

But I'd really like to sit in on a session of "massive psychic therapy".

Know any massive psychics I could talk to?

DNS Woes

My Palm Tungsten works like a champ right now on the EduCAUSE network,
but my laptop no longer does valid address lookup. And I don't remember
the IP addresses of our DNS servers. So I can get to the one server
whose IP address I do remember, but that doesn't help much!Note to self: when bringing a laptop somewhere, jot down the IPs of the
DNS servers and other vital servers I might need to use. :)

MIT's cool stuff!

Just got out of an incredible MIT presentation. Their iCampus
complements their Open Courseware initiative and is very impressive.
They have a DVD logging tool that has potential - keeps the DVD local so
there are no copyright issues. Remote instrumentation would really help
our science depts - or a HS science dept, too!

Lizards in...

Lizards in kings' palaces is an interesting metaphor, but for the
reality that my hotel isn't fit for a king. But that's what greeted me
this morning (or a gecko or salamander or such) - cute little guy!General session was from Ohio State. Cool stuff they're doing, but I
wonder how they handle ongoing support. Too much "support" leaves no
time to invent, but no support kills your inventions. Hmmmm...

Missing Vendors

If I ran the world, iMatte.com would be here demoing their iSkia
projector product, and one of the many 3D LCD vendors (Sharp, DTI, etc.)
would be showing off an autostereoscopic lenticular display. They're
not. :( Their loss, right?

Serious Magic and ovation

SM has a new presentation product in beta called Ovation. Looks slick!
No Flash export yet, but when it comes, Breeze will never be the same.
-
Typed and e-mailed live from EduCAUSE 2005; please forgive any typos or mistakes!

Scott McNealy Keynote perceptions

Got done watching Scott's keynote -- in which he joked about misspelling his econ prof's name, which made me realize that I misspelled Scott's name, which is a bad thing. Remember, "McNeely" is the name of the building at work; "McNealy" is the name of the Sun guy. :)

Glad Blogger lets me edit things. :)

Anyway, it was interesting -- he's way keen on thin-client everything, which is fine but I'm not sure it's the be-all/end-all of academic stuff in particular. And I really resonate with his goal to break down the digital divide... though I think Ubuntu running on old desktops might be a better solution in a lot of environments.

Scott McNealy LIVE

Sitting in row 5 of the Sun CEO keynote! Wow!

All the news that's fit to fake!

Here's a little clip from the blog Crooks and Liars. "Flooding! It's Bad! I need to Paddle a CANOE! oh, wait... PAY NO ATTENTION TO THOSE TWO MEN WHO JUST WALKED PAST ME!"

Wow.

I told Ruth she'd like this, but I didn't ever think she'd laugh as hard as she did.

Room in the garage?

Remember that helicopter I mentioned? I wasn't kidding. If I weren't afraid of crashing and dying a horribly painful death, I'd pick up an AirScooter II Ultralight Vehicle

Ewok Not Included

If you win the lottery, I'd like one of these, please. Just one is all I need -- I need to save room in the garage for the personal helicopter.

Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of the Bible - World - Times Online

Funny -- I was just talking about this on the podcast (Ericast #32 from Ericast.com -- go check it out.).

Anyway, in the article Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of the Bible we read, "Similarly, they refute the apocalyptic prophecies of Revelation, the last book of the Christian Bible, in which the writer describes the work of the risen Jesus, the death of the Beast and the wedding feast of Christ the Lamb.

"The bishops say: 'Such symbolic language must be respected for what it is, and is not to be interpreted literally. We should not expect to discover in this book details about the end of the world, about how many will be saved and about when the end will come.'"

Ironically, all this Genesis and end-times stuff isn't dusty old mythology or the rantings of some dude named John exiled on an island; Jesus Himself talks about both things, a lot. He spends a surprising amount of time talking about mankind's sinfulness in the explicit context of Adam…

Hope for fair exceptions to the DMCA

Though you don't hear about it much, there is hope for those who've been digitally locked out of their content by the DMCA. As discussed in the inappropriately-titled article from Wired News: Any DVDs, Games You Want Cracked?: "If the copyright office finds instances where copy protection prevents fair use of the work, then those copy protections can be legally circumvented."

Now, your chances of actually getting an exception declared for you are pretty slim, but at least they exist in theory...

On aborting 'babies'...

Sometimes, folks' rhetoric gets ahead of their ideology, and they accidentally speak the truth. Case-in-point: the attacks on Bill Bennett's absurd hypothetical in his recent radio program, which he used to try (in vain, given the response) to explain why arguing morality from a so-called pragmatic viewpoint easily results in evil conclusions. Jonah Goldberg observed something interesting:

Notice how so many righteously offended liberals keep referring to fetuses as people. In the New York Times, Bob Herbert proclaims that Bennett considers "exterminating blacks would be a most effective crime-fighting tool." Schultz and McAuliffe say Bennett wants to exterminate "babies." Funny, I thought the bedrock faith of pro-abortion liberals is that fetuses aren't babies.

Oops. Yeah, they forgot that part.

Though, frankly, it probably doesn't matter to a lot of folks who hold a "pro-choice position". I actually had a coworker -- brilliant guy -- …

Journalism 101 - How to Write Good

I came across the following quote in Outcry Prompts Bennett to Delay Talk - Yahoo! News: "He said later his point was that abortion should not be opposed for economic reasons because 'immoral policies are wrong because they are wrong, not because of an economic calculation.'"

I'm willing to bet that what they meant was that "He later said his point was that aborshould should be opposed, not for economic reasons, but because 'immoral policies are wrong because they are wrong...'"

But that's not what the author wrote!

Logo Woes?

If you check out : : Speak Up > Quark Reloaded : :, you'll see why I'm curious about the digedia.com logo that Tom Pankratz and I slaved over.

Does it resemble anything out there? If so, let me know, before I start printing it on coffee mugs.

Sony PlayStation and Christianity

Okay, some marketing tactics are so dumb, they're worth pointing out. Check out the article Sony pulls "Jesus" advert for PlayStation - Yahoo! News. It also mentioned some other way-dumb campaigns. Wow!

The mysteries of AdSense deepen!

I'm back! My wife's b___, which is all about real estate at the moment, was getting some excellent real-estate related advertising on it... until she got a bunch of comment SPAM which said things like, "Great b___!". So, Google decided that her b___ was all about b___s, and has put nothing but b___-related AdSense ads on it.

Now, none of you reading my b___ really care about writing your own b___, let alone planning to pay someone to tell you how to write a b___, so b___-related ads aren't going to ever entice anyone into clicking on them, which means we'll never make any money.

So, we've declared a moritorium on the word "b___" in any of our posts, and will let you fill the L, O and G in for yourself.

Anyway, that got me thinking about my own ads, so I took a look at a fairly popular post from the Katrina days -- educating eric: FX Networks' Oil Storm movie site. And what kinds of ads does it have? "Meet Democratic Singles!".

Wondernig why the feds didn't do more?

This New York Times article says the same thing Ruth and I have been talking about, but in a much clearer way:

Political Issues Snarled Plans for Military Help After Hurricane - New York Times: "'Can you imagine how it would have been perceived if a president of the United States of one party had pre-emptively taken from the female governor of another party the command and control of her forces, unless the security situation made it completely clear that she was unable to effectively execute her command authority and that lawlessness was the inevitable result?' asked one senior administration official, who spoke anonymously because the talks were confidential.
Officials in Louisiana agree that the governor would not have given up control over National Guard troops in her state as would have been required to send large numbers of active-duty soldiers into the area..."

For everyone who says "Bush sucks because he should have gotten forces there sooner," be hones…

The Weatherball is dead!

Sad, sad news from Barbara Flanagan! In the article A ball of old and a big, blue newcomer, Barbara comments on the Weatherball's "twin", but the sad news is about the original itself:

"The Weatherball -- that is, its twin -- lives! The huge, illuminated sign gave the forecast for years atop the downtown Minneapolis headquarters of the old Northwestern National Bank, later Norwest Bank and now Wells Fargo. Sarah Hogan, assistant curator of the Wells Fargo History Museum in Minneapolis, says the original Weatherball no longer exists. 'When the 1982 Thanksgiving Day fire destroyed the downtown Northwestern National Bank building,' she said, 'the Weatherball was removed from the top of the building and put into storage at the Minnesota State Fair. Over the years, the Weatherball deteriorated, and in 2000 when it was discovered to be beyond repair, it was destroyed.'"

Just the other day, I was reading "Twin Cities: Then and Now", and L…

Balanced Hurricane Katrina comments

The best commentary I've seen so far is from John Tierney: A simple Magic Marker strategy might have saved lives, including this quote: "The liberals bewailing the insensitivity and racism of Republicans in Washington sound like a bad rerun of the 1960s, when urban riots were blamed on everyone but the rioters and the police. Yes, the White House did a terrible job of responding to Katrina, but Democratic leaders in New Orleans and Louisiana didn't even fulfill their basic duties."

New Orleans' Old House might still be standing?

The sum total of my knowledge of New Orleans was expressed in a project by the crew of This Old House a few years ago. According to the story here, the house was in the "Algiers Point" neighborhood of New Orleans, which is apparently high-ish ground. (I don't think there any truly "high ground" in New Orleans...)

Recent news stories mention "Algiers Point" as a place that buses were using as a staging ground, so maybe this house is one of the few that hasn't been destroyed?

'Common Grace' and Calvinism

On a fairly deep theological note, there's an excellent article over at Reformation 21: Sam Storms on Katrina, Common Grace, and the End of the Age.

Here's the deal.

The Bible teaches really clearly that people are inherently bad, compared to the infinite goodness of God. And, deep down, we know that's true; we don't have to teach our children to be selfish (as Frank Peretti once humorously explained...)

And yet, people are pretty good. Really, when you think about it, society functions because humanity is pretty nice to itself most of the time, regardless of religious background/interest/involvement.

Why?

The article linked above does a good job of explaining "common grace". Basically, God's light shines on those who love him and those who don't. That doesn't explain why bad things happen to good people (which is explained instead by the overall "sinful" nature of the world)... but it does explain why good things happen to bad peopl…

Today's Adam Savage Quote

I keep from disappointing Rob, here's a quote from the second half of the interview with Adam Savage (of MythBusters fame) by The Sneeze - Half zine. Half blog. Half not good with fractions. : "Well, I equate the web to like being in rush hour traffic. Everyone is really bold inside their box and they're just giving the finger out the window."

I think that's pretty profound! Applies to e-mail, too.

Worship Facilities Magazine gets it wrong

I just got an e-mail touting a conference from Worship Facilities Magazine that leads off with the following direct quote:

Dear Eric M.,

As a technical director, it's your job to support your church's ministries with the best available production equipment...

Wrong. Nice assertion, but wrong. I believe it's my job to steward the funds that people have given to our church to do God's work. That almost always means buying something other than "the best available production equipment".

Interesting.

FX Networks' Oil Storm movie site

Here's the official site for last June's "Oil Storm" movie on FX Networks.

Their synopsis mentions a "Category 6" hurricane. Whatever. Category 4 was good enough to bring on the flood -- the inevitability of which should have been a foregone conclusion with a city that size below sea level sitting in Hurricane Alley.

(Which is not to dismiss the scope of the disaster and the loss of life, which of course is going to most affect the least-advantaged of the city who didn't have the opportunity to drive themselves north ahead of the storm.)

Should have pushed for more fuel cell and bio-diesel research before we got to this point, right?

FOUND IT! Prophetic New Orleans movie!

Okay, it was FX rather than the Discovery Channel. FX Looks Left to Peak at Oil: " Here's just a sampling of the catastrophes packed into two hours: A Category 4 hurricane nearly wiped out the city of New Orleans, devastating the oil facilities at Port Fourchon, 70 miles to the southwest. Then, U.S. oil was routed to Houston, where fog prevented ships from moving. Once the fog lifted, the new Bush-appointed energy czar ordered accelerated processing, which resulted in two container ships colliding and exploding. Next, the United States had to rely on Saudi Arabia for oil and terrorists struck -- first killing oil workers and then destroying two key Saudi oil facilities."

Let's hope that it stops at "Category 4 hurricane" and the similarities end there!

Prophetic New Orleans movie?

Okay, I need my readers with good memories and cable television to help me out on this one. A few months back, there was a fairly lame fictional "docudrama" on something like TLC or the Discovery Channel, about the closing of major oil port on the gulf -- probably New Orleans, but maybe somewhere in Texas. It talked about how there was a narrow river bend, and ship ran aground, and then gas prices went up, then additional tankers of fuel were sent, and one of them wrecked, and it threw the U.S. into a tizzy.

Does anyone remember this? I'm surprised I haven't heard about it, considering how prophetic it was given our current circumstances.

The latest illiterate phishing attempt

Good thing these phishing crooks still can't write good:

"Please Note: If your account informations are not updated within the next 24 hours, then we will assume this account is fraudulent and will be suspended. We apologize for this inconvenience, but the purpose of this verification is to ensure that your ______ account has not been fraudulently used and to combat fraud."

Yeah. Right. Gotta drag me away from the mouse to keep me from clicking on your link, buddy!

Feedburner is still awesome!

Those of you who listen to my podcast know I use a service called Feedburner to clean up the RSS feed and make it podcast-ready. And I love them -- friendly, responsive, nice attitude, great service, all that good stuff. So it surprised the heck out of me when I came across Leo Laporte's blog entry that bashed them to pieces for revealing Leo's TWiT podcast stats, in apparent violation of their own privacy policy.

Well, Leo was wrong.

Here's his apology: It's Not Their Fault | this WEEK in TECH. Long story short, Leo had made his stats public by enabling the "publicize my stats" option in his Feedburner feed. And once they're public, they're public, so one of Feedburner's VPs had no problem commenting on a statistic that Leo already made available to the world.

Sounds fine by me, but Feedburner has wisely decided to just not comment about anything anymore, pretty much. Sad, but I guess that's how you have to run a business that targets n…

Justin Taylor on Abortion

Someone joked on Justin Taylor's blog that, if anyone should represent "evangelical thought", it's not Pat Robertson or Jim Dobson but Justin himself. Here's an example of his writing as published in World Magazine - Weekly News | Christian Views

Pat Robertson = Jim Dobson?

Reading more in that Christianity Today article, you come across a quote about the 700 Club from Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals: "You know his program has one section of it that's a Christian exhortation, and then another section where he's a political pundit."

Absolutely. And at leat Pat Robertson is somewhat transparent about that. Not nearly transparent enough, but he does a much better job than Jim Dobson.

What do I have against Jim Dobson? For those of you who forget, do a quick Google search for Dobson's connection to the NRB and Wayne Pederson, who was elected the president of the National Religious Broadcasters before Dobson led a coup that ousted him in 2002.

(Ooh! Robertson likes coups -- as long as he dislikes the leader being ousted, that is. Maybe he and Dobson can get together and talk about Chavez?)

Anyway, what did Pederson do to earn the Wrath of Jim? He gave an interview to the Star Tribune in which he s…

Pat Robertson, hypocrite

Still working to keep you up-to-date on Pat Robertson... I'm amazed by this one. Granted, I probably hold what some consider to be contradictory views, but a) I don't intend to do that, and b) I'm not blabbing them to millions of people. (Trust me, even though they're on the Internet, millions aren't reading them.)

I'm sure the fact that Pat has major financial holdings in Liberia (wait -- $8 million is peanuts to Pat) has nothing to do with the fact that he denounced Bush for calling for their leader to step down. (Read CBS News | Pat Robertson Slams Bush On Liberia | July 11, 2003).

Of course, there's "duly elected" of the people we like, and "duly elected" of the people we don't like.

Yikes.

Christianity Today gets credit for exposing that particular insight, and is keeping up with the latest...

Connecting babies to languages?

I've been feeling a tiny bit guilty for not exposing Candela to more foreign-language experience (so she could be one of these child prodigies who knows eight languages)... but cool guy Garrick Van Buren comments on a Newsweek article in his blog (Working Pathways, Inc ? The Work Better Weblog ? Archive ? An Emotion Connection Tells Us What Matters) and notes that it doesn't matter. Why? Because neither Ruth nor I speak a foreign language (not well, at least) and Candela doesn't have an "emotional connection" to anyone who does.

A policy against glass will save you!

On the topic of horrible customer service, you can read about my dad's latest encounter in his blog Moeville Musings: Piece of Glass in Kemps Ice Cream. When he called to complain about having bitten down on a chunk of glass, he talked to a customer service rep, and...

"She said, 'There can't be glass in our ice cream because it is against our policy to have foreign matter in our ice cream.'"

Pat Roberson wises up (a little)

News flash! Someone apparently got to Pat and said, "Ummm... Mr. Robertson, sir? You really did say what people say you said." Not many details, but US evangelist apologizes for Chavez remarks - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Conservative U.S. evangelist Pat Robertson apologized on Wednesday for calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, saying he spoke in frustration earlier in the week.

"'Is it right to call for assassination? No, and I apologize for that statement. I spoke in frustration that we should accommodate the man who thinks the U.S. is out to kill him.'"

Good to follow a weak apology with an immediate excuse, Pat.

Pat Robertson: Stupid Liar

I hate to be so antagonistic on my blog -- whatever happened to "Minnesota Nice"? -- but, man, how dumb can you get?!? If you say something in front of hundreds of millions of international viewers, it's really hard to then say, "Oh, I never said that."

Duh!

Read the latest in Pat Robertson Says He Was Misinterpreted - Yahoo! News: "'There are a number of ways of taking out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted by the AP, but that happens all the time.' But a video of Monday's telecast shows that Robertson's exact words were: 'You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it."

Fixing Customer Service

Here's an interesting article on AOL's customer service, which I never liked even back in the 1980s when they were QuantumLink (blast from the past!). As the article AOL agrees to customer service reform | Tech News on ZDNet points out, they had some... "interesting" standards for their customer service reps.: "Previously, AOL would distribute bonuses in the 'tens of thousands of dollars' if representatives were able to retain half the customers who called to cancel their service, according to the attorney general."

Adam Savage interview from 'The Sneeze'

Okay, you just gotta love a site named:

The Sneeze - Half zine. Half blog. Half not good with fractions.

Anyway, thanks to Rob, I came across this Interview with Adam Savage from Mythbusters. In it, Adam mentions something interesting that I can't relate to. Maybe I would be more private if I were that famous. I've known one or two coworkers who fell into this boat, but I'm just more open than his co-host, I guess:

"Well, Jamie's personal life is very much his personal life. He's a very private guy. His relationship with his wife is something I know nothing about because they're very private. But she's a great lady. She's really awesome."

Pat Robertson - 'Innocent as a serpent and wise as a dove'

Beautifully written comments (to see Justin's comments, where this post title came from, be sure to read the full article!) quoted in Justin Taylor's blog, Between Two Worlds: Al Mohler on Pat Robertson's Comments: "...he brought shame to the cause of Christ. This is the kind of outrageous statement that makes evangelism all the more difficult. Missing from the entire context is the Christian understanding that violence can never be blessed as a good, but may only be employed under circumstances that would justify the limited use of lethal force in order to prevent even greater violence. Our witness to the Gospel is inevitably and deeply harmed when a recognized Christian leader casually recommends the assassination of a world leader."

Evangelist Pat Robertson calls for assassination of Venezuelan president

You know, it was Pat Robertson who very nearly single-handedly (he had a little help, but just a little) kept me from becoming a Christian until I turned 21.

Because it took that many years for me to realize that statements of people like Robertson don't represent Christ in any way, shape or form.

Now dictators, assuming they're not benevolent ones, are bad. Sure. Freedom is good. But this?!? Evangelist Pat Robertson calls for assassination of Venezuelan president: "'You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it,'' Robertson said. 'It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop.''"

Bad day at the track...

Image
Those who introduced me to the racing game Flat-Out will know exactly what this picture means. It was pretty spectacular, frankly. Nice view!

Things you never knew about AdWords

Since I'm on the AdSense side of the equation, I never knew this about AdWords (the advertiser side), but here's an interesting quote from the article Google changes irk advertisers, please publishers | Tech News on ZDNet: "In the past, if a keyword being used by a particular advertiser didn't meet a set of performance criteria including the number of click-throughs, the word would be disabled, even if the advertiser still wanted to advertise with that keyword. The changes made last week lower that performance bar. "

Fix your statistics... by removing them?

For years, people have complained about Blogger's statistics page; my blog, which has been around since 2002, always displayed 0 posts. That changed, as evidenced by the page Blogger: User Profile: Eric Larson

Here's what shows up:

User StatsOn Blogger SinceSeptember 2002 Profile Views74

Slick, no? They just removed all the references to number of posts, frequency of posts, etc.

If you can't fix it, feature it... and if you can't feature it, delete it!

Frankly, it's better than inaccurate stats. But still kinda weird!

Justin Taylor on 'The Deliberate Church'

The full text of the book is online if you follow the link at Between Two Worlds: The Deliberate Church, and the first few pages are good enough that I might actually buy it!

Coming from me (who buys nothing... and is trying to cut back on books right now as it is) that's a huge compliment!

Affordable housing is bordering on oxymoronic

A quote from a nice little blog, which belongs on Ruth's site more than mine: The Housing Bubble 2: Lack Of Affordability To Sink US Home Prices: ML: "'The price of an average starter home in the United States has climbed 14 percent over the past year, while the average income for the first-time buyer family has risen just 4 percent, Rosenberg said, calling that an 'unprecedented gap.''"

I love the 1960s! (and 1970s!)

As Google Desktop indexes my hard drive, it's pulling up local copies of the old slides I posted online a few months back.

And I just want to reiterate... I love the 60s! And the 70s! It was a time when furniture like that pictured was considered normal. :)

Illiterate deception from the FRC

The Family Research Council has both guns blazing with their “anti-.XXX domain” campaign. Impressive. I wonder how many people will put blind faith in the FRC’s headline and will think that their work (for which they’re happy to take donations, BTW) will “Stop the XXX Porn Industry Dead In Its Tracks NOW”?

I won’t even mention their bad math (because, of course, we know that creating a new domain is going to double the amount of porn on the ‘Net, right?) or their demand that people turn their e-mail into chain-letter SPAM on their behalf. Wow!

Their plea is below, typos and all – though I wonder if the FRC made a Freudian slip in the hope they can “loose millions in profit” and make that money flow their direction?
(Note that the lack of paragraph formatting is thanks to the new Blogger for Word plug-in, which doesn't seem to work exactly as intended... but it's close!)

We Can Stop the XXX Porn Industry Dead In Its Tracks NOWAugust 18, 2005
The Bush Administration is listening t…

Saving time on time-wasters

If you read Rob's Blog you'd know about Hapland. And if you're like I am, you'll need the Hapland Walkthrough to give you a clue.

Wow! Clever stuff!

Kari Byron traveling San Fransisco looking for fists?

My PVR failed to record the early portions of the Mythbusters shark special when it aired the first time, so I just got to see the clip where the gang decides to go out and buy some latex or silicone or whatever... fists. Kari found some -- described as "novelty items" by the narator, who also mentioned that it was possible to find anything in San Fransisco.

Now, I know a little bit too much about some thing (not through personal experience, fortunately)... so I actually know what these "novelties" would be used for. And, even for the folks who are hunting for Kari Byron information on the internet... I gotta admit, not even they have something like that in mind when they think of Kari.

I hope!

But, man... that scene is... pretty... interesting.

Never thought I'd see Kari working with something like that!
Click for more Kari Byron posts

UPDATE (June 2006): I've moved all my Kari Byron commentary over to a different site; you're welcome to browse around here.…

Kari Byron, vegetarians, and sharks?

So, here's my question: If you're a vegetarian, do you have a problem with "catch and release" in the name of science? Kari seems to be having a good time on the Mythbusters shark special, and I know that some vegetarians have no problem eating fish... and sharks aren't fish... so, really, this doesn't relate to anything, does it?
Click for more Kari Byron posts

UPDATE (June 2006): I've moved all my Kari Byron commentary over to a different site; you're welcome to browse around here... but for anything new, check out the Kari Byron category on att.ention.net.

Jim Dobson still gets PSAs!

It's been a full day, and my Jim Dobson post (educating eric: James Dobson and Republican Politics) still gets nothing but PSAs in the AdSense block -- from my computer, at least.

Is he that bad that nobody wants their paid ads associated with his name? Wow!

St. Paul Pioneer Press | 08/19/2005 | Police recount reckless spree

One question: Why only 40 years?

St. Paul Pioneer Press | 08/19/2005 | Police recount reckless spree: "The nearly two-mile chase lasted 90 seconds, ending when the Envoy crossed into the southbound lane and struck Sandra Baxter's 1994 Ford Taurus. The 36-year-old, who was a half-mile from the home she lived in with her mother and sister, was pinned against the steering wheel and killed instantly....The criminal charges could put Adams in jail for 40 years."

Dragon Global's ShowAnalyzer rocks!

Okay, I've only played with it a little bit, but if you want to strip commercials out of your television recordings, check out Dragon Global - ShowAnalyzer.

I'll write more about it later... but here's another interesting tidbit. It mentions a video player program called Zoomplayer, which is also free. ShowAnalyzer outputs data that doesn't remove, but "marks off" commercials in a way that Zoomplayer can read. So if you're watching Mythbusters, it just magically jumps over three minutes of commercials. And if you click the "next chapter" button, it jumps to the next commercial break.

Very, very slick!

I record everything in ATI's proprietary VCR format, because I want to capture the closed captioning and search on it. (That alone is a very nice function. Looking for your favorite Kari Byron quote? Just do a search in the closed caption text for "kari" and you'll jump right to it... usually.) So, that means I have to exp…

Commercial comments (Blogging from Word!)

Ironically, I’ve got two commercial-related things going on in my mind right now. On the Ericast, I’ve been discussing how commercials are going to get more and more imbedded into content; I think we’re going to drift away from “spot radio” or “spot television”, and even drift away from traditional “product placement”, and move toward a picture-in-picture or screen crawl or other “embedded advertising”.  That way, you’ll be unable to avoid the advertisement… and you’ll want to see it, because skipping it would mean that you’d miss out on the content.  (Imagine, for example, a HGTV demo on sponge-painting that takes up the top 2/3rds of the screen, with the bottom 1/3rd showing things like “BEHR Paint on sale at Home Depot!  20% off!”.)

I might hate living in a world filled with television that looks like that… but it probably would be effective.

But, speaking of, I’ve found a program that removes commercials from MPG files!  And it really works!  I’ll blog it next, from the site.

Why not…

Where'd all the blog ads go?

In my "James Dobson is a moron" post, Google AdSense served nothing but public service ads. I figured they might be engaging in a little good-natured censorship, protecting their advertisers from "endorsing" a page that had the word "moron" in the title. But the much less antagonistic title of educating eric: James Dobson and Republican Politics still serves nothing but public service ads.

What gives? There's got to be something out there on the topic of "republican politics", don't ya' think? And what happened to Google's practice of filling up my pages with blog-related ads when it couldn't find anything topical?

Maybe it'll change if I give it a little time.

Shrink (transcode) MPEG-2 files using ReJig

For those of you who make DVDs or otherwise work with MPEG2 video, the program ReJig looks very promising... but unless you've read this, you're doomed! VideoHelp.com :: View topic - Shrink (transcode) MPEG-2 files using Rejig

I have to play with it a bit more to see how well it works, but I'm hoping to use it to take the programs I've recorded with my ATI card, export them to a oversized MPEG2 file, then compile them down to something that will fit on a DVD.

I'll let you know how it goes...

James Dobson and Republican Politics

Okay, I needed a catchy title. There you go. Here's the issue, quoted in the story Bush administration objects to .xxx domains | CNET News.com: "The Family Research Council, for instance, warned that 'pornographers will be given even more opportunities to flood our homes, libraries and society with pornography through the .xxx domain.' "

How dumb can you get?

If pornographers want to "flood libraries and society" with porn, they can do it plenty-fine now. Don't need any more "opportunities". What a .XXX domain does is allow portions of society (libraries, schools, parents, whatever) to LIMIT the flood, by restricting access to the domain.

Duh!

Porn is on the internet. It's not going to go away as long as we have a bare minimum of freedoms in this country. So why not attach a modicum of regulation to it, so that we have a better chance of avoiding it?

Yes, the article explains that this is the Bush Administration objecting to the domai…

Are the glory days of computing gone?

A colleague just passed along the article Schooled in security | CNET News.com. I remember what might now be look back on as the "height" of the "free computing", when servers for FTP and TELNET and Gopher and this thing called the "World Wide Web" were just out there, open, available to pass files around. When the fact that computers on campus could pass files to each other was considered really cool -- not a security risk.

Don't get me wrong; we're better off now than we were four years ago, so-to-speak. But I do wonder what kind of Internet my daughter will grow up to use.

Passing on Panel Discussions?

In his latest podcast (Blogarithms IT Conversations News: August 14, 2005), Doug Kaye mentioned an interesting anecdotal tidbit: People seem less interested in panel discussions at conferences than they do in single speakers. The panel discussions get lower ratings at ITConversations.com, and... there was some other reason he mentioned it, too. (Okay, so I don't remember. Sorry!)

As I was listening to one of their panel discussions this morning, I had a thought: It was really hard to follow. It takes a lot of mental energy to keep up with who's-saying-what. And I don't even particular care about the who's-who; it would be even worse if I really need to know which person was making a particular point.

Could that be what people are reacting to when they rate panel discussions lower than single-speaker talks?

The return of text in the archives!

By popular demand -- Rob mentioned it -- I've brought back the text in the archive section. So now if you click on the archive months (available from the home page) you'll see more than just the titles (or, in the case of the early posts, just the times and dates!) of my posts; you'll see the entire post itself! See educating eric: September 2002 for an example.

My AdSense revenue will suffer, because you need to go into the post itself (by clicking on the timestamp link) to see contextually-relevant ads... but, hey, at least it's easier to find my old writings!

Robotic graffiti without X-Y plotting!

Okay, I just have to say that robotic stuff is really cool. I came across a little project named "Hektor". These guys figured out how to move a spray can against a wall and automate what it paints.

Now, that doesn't sound too exciting. X-Y plotters have been around for years. But they figured out a way to hang the can from two points at the top of the wall and use gravity to provide the pull in the other direction. By changing the length of the two wires, you can position the can anywhere you want.

Sure, it takes a ton of math to calculate how to get the can where you want it... but that's what computers are good at, right?

It's one of those "That's so simple, why didn't anyone else think of that?!?" ideas. Don't know what kinds of other applications it has -- I can't quite see hanging a router from something like this and carving out a sheet of plywood with it -- but there must be something!

The future of Google Books?

If you haven't yet checked out print.google.com, you should -- full-page images of books upon books upon books. It's like Amazon's "Look Inside" feature, except a billion times better... unless you're an author or publisher, in which case you won't be too happy with it. Which explains the recent development: Google Suspends Copying Protected Books; Publishers Unimpressed - Yahoo! News

Kirsten Kemp, Hollywood star!

When I said, "Set your VCRs", I meant it! As promised, this morning TBS featured one of two appearances of Kirsten Kemp (then "Kirsten Holmquist") as a guest-star on Saved by the Bell.

Times have changed!

And so has Kirsten!

It's an interesting role -- Rhonda Robistelli -- and I guess I can't expect a sitcom from the 1980s (targeted at kids, no less) to epitomize exemplary acting. But, I have to be honest... the whole thing is pretty bad.

On the other hand, any show that launched the careers of Tiffani-Amber Thiessen and Elizabeth Berkley (not to mention Kirsten Kemp!) can't be all bad, right?

More than Kari Byron pictures?

Here's what I don't exactly get about the Kari Byron thing. Everything out there, like this featured site [LINK NOW DEAD], is a pile of screen grabs from Mythbusters. (As an aside, I'm sure Kari regrets posting for that plaster cast of her... um... anatomy. Becuase it seems that those screenshots are the ones that are the most popular. That, and pictures of her in a schoolgirl skirt holding a bunch of balloons... hmmm.)

Anyway, there's one interview out there with Kari, but other than that, there's no content. What we know about her, we know from her web site and from Mythbusters. That's it. I suppose the reason I get so many Kari Byron hits is because folks -- okay, who are we kidding; they're not "folks" but "guys" -- are hoping that someone will do another interview or write-up, and that I'll be that person.

But, hey, what are we looking for? Her favorite color of hamster? As a vegetarian, does she still hate brussel sprout…

Set your VCRs for Kirsten Kemp!

Property Ladder is in reruns (only so much real estate to go around, I guess), but one of Kirsten Kemp's appearances on Saved by the Bell (from her days as Kirsten Holmquist) is set to run on TBS tomorrow (Monday, August 15th) at 6:30 a.m. CDT.

You can bet we'll be recording it on every recording device in the house -- I can't trust my computer's PVR software to work reliably anymore -- and as soon as we can get it processed, you'll see it here, first!

I'm hoping some of her quotes from my earlier post will be in there!

Kirsten Kemp's early sitcom days?

UPDATE: Be sure to check out this post where you can find a screen capture of "Rhonda".

So, folks, why are we interested in finding clips of Kirsten Kemp's early, early acting career on Saved by the Bell when she played "Rhonda Robistelli"? Because it would be a hoot (technical term) to see the following phrases coming out of her mouth, courtesy of the site Saved By The Bell Quote of the Day by Steve Carey:

"The Rhonda Robistelli Compendium, Chapter 1

Rhonda: "Hey Zackee! Hey, what's da rush, button-nose?"

Rhonda: 'Hey Zackee, we gotta talk, hunk o' mine. (To the gang) That boy has got one cute behind, oo!

Rhonda: "Sure, take five. I'll go wash my face and floss (wink) for later."

Rhonda: "Mom's visiting dad in the slammer, and we got the house all to ourselves."

Zack: "I don't kiss on the first date."
Rhonda: "Whoo-hoo, good thing for us - I DO."


(You can find the DVD on Amazon).

Kirsten Kemp (from Property Ladder) was Kirsten Holmquist!

Now it makes so much more sense! After Ruth commented on her blog that Kirsten Kemp said she guest stared in some popular 80's sitcoms, I was confused that there was no sign of her out on the internet. But some dilligent sleuthing (by listing to Ruth and going to Kirsten's web site... and reading the main page instead of her bio) turned up the fact that her name used to be Kirsten Holmquist.

If you look for that, you find a lot more.

Now we just need to find some video clips or screen captures... Any Saved By The Bell fans out there with Season 1 (their "ninth grade" episodes) on DVD? Episodes 4 and 10 from that one, guys! Looking for the "Rhonda Robistelli" character...

Nigerian Scammers love me!

Hey, I know they're a scam (one of many recent articles on the topic can be found at Technology - canada.com). But doesn't it give you a warm feeling to have someone address you as "Sir" -- that never happens to me! -- and say kind things, like...

"I am contacting you believing you are a honest and trustworthy person.I believe you will not betray the confidence I am willing to repose in you, for me to have contacted you even though we've not met before."

Awwwwww. That's sweet! I've never had so much confidence reposed in me before. Not even by my wife, who's pretty good at reposing.

Goodbye, Peter Jennings

The news this morning, topping the story about the shuttle that just can't seem to land, is that ABC News anchor Peter Jennings dies of cancer - Yahoo! News.

I remember Peter Jennings reporting from the London bureau -- Dad would comment on his not-quite-British, but-not-really-Canadian accent -- and remember when he started anchoring the news in 1983. That's where that photo is from -- that's how I think of Peter Jennings.

(I also remember when Dan Rather replaced Walter Cronkite as CBS anchor. Funny, but I don't remember much about Tom Brokaw until he was an established anchor; we must not have been an NBC family.)

Granite counters for real estate in Miami, Florida?

I was thinking about some of the real estate shows (like Property Ladder) that we watch, and these fancy condos and townhomes in places like Miami, Florida or Southern California. And one of the things they always emphasize is doing fancy kitchens with granite countertop.

I even came across a site that claims to have do-it-yourself granite, which seems like a heck of a project to me. (That's where the picture came from; if you click on their link you can see all the tools and things involved in the process.)

So, my question is, what's the big deal about granite counters? Is it -- and stainless steel appliances, too -- going to seem outdated in 20 years? Or is it a good investment?

Kerry Keri Carry Carrie Cari Byron Mythbusters

Ruth realized that there are no sites that refer to the likely misspellings of Kari's name -- Kerry Byron, Keri Byron, Carry Byron, Carrie Byron, or Cari Byron. So we're trying a quick experiment, since this site has become a hotbed of Kari Byron activity.

There are probably more variations on the name "Kari" out there, but that's as creative as I can be at the moment.

So, if you're reading this, you're either a regular reader of mine who's wondering why I've gone insane -- no Prozac or Zoloft or St. John's Wort or Levitra for me, though! -- or you're looking for information on Kari Byron from Mythbusters (a show on the Discovery Channel).

I'm trying to keep all my Kari Byron links here, because some really unlucky folks -- especially those whose searches indicate they're desperate to know if Kari is married -- never get to see the bulk of my Kari Byron material.

You might want to go to Kari's official site at www.karibyron.com, t…