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highlighted links:

Voluntary and enthusiastic

Twitter Blocking explained

Social Marketing... at last!

The Psychology of Collective Action, Social Media,...

Fwd: [#MRO-489-36585]: com-give.com scam site

Today's "what's this company?" mystery: Safer Alco...

Losing classroom content

Cross pollinating outreach ideas

Equity versus equality

Tempered glass whiteboard ideas




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12.30.2005

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!

12.27.2005

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.

12.24.2005

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!)

12.23.2005

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?

12.22.2005

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 the safety of the citizens of White Bear Lake, I sure hope he's not! Or has been assigned to more appropriate tasks around the police station, like cleaning toilets.

I wonder how he feels, knowing not only that his abusive tactics and investigative stupidity traumatized an innocent girl, but also that his incompetence is single-handedly responsible for leaving a sexual predator loose on the streets?

As reporter Caroline Lowe writes in her blog, there's legislation pending in a couple months that might -- might -- help reign in wannabe-bigshot punk cops like Tim. Or at least give victims a fighting chance against them.

You can also read this half-hearted apology from the new chief, blaming Stevenson's abuse on the fact there were "inconsistencies" in the girl's story. (Note how she chooses to put the word "victim" in quotes.) Nowhere does she mention that those "inconsistencies" lay in the fact that this incompetent cop couldn't figure out how to look at the place in the tape that proves the girl's story!

(Caroline also comments on a similar case in another suburb which, unfortunately for the girl's sake, didn't have any videotaped evidence attached to it. So when they held that girl for an interview that turned into an interrogation, refused to let her see her mother, and promised her she could go only if she just "confessed" that she lied... well, nothing stopped them from dragging her into court for making a "false report"! Fortunately, judge Patrice Sutherland saw through that scam right away.)

It's more than a decade away, but it's terrifying to think what's going to happen to my daughter if someone commits a crime against her and she has the misfortune of dealing with one of these so-called "peace officers" who, apparently, can get off scot-free abusing girls in their own way under the guise of "the law"!

12.18.2005

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! :)

12.15.2005

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!

12.14.2005

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 the building's northern exterior directly above the headraces. The building interior was left essentially vacant.

"On November 9, 1987 the west end of the powerhouse was undercut by the river and the building partially collapsed. Most of the building was torn down in December of 1987 with the remaining part of the structure removed in late 1988."

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!

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.

12.13.2005

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!

12.11.2005

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 given the al Qaeda member a bad grade, one official said."


The description of what happens to you when the CIA decides to snatch you off the street is particularly disturbing.

12.08.2005

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 desensitizing us as we entertain ourselves with forensic autopsies on TV and real corpses in our museums.

"This is art in the culture of death."


With due respect to World magazine... and setting aside the character assassination (and possible actual assassination mentioned in the article, which is certainly a concern)... A corpse is nothing but an empty shell; Christians, of all people, should know that. Burying the dead is a work of mercy because the dead stink... if they haven't been filled with plastic. Donating your body to science (which then inevitably manipulates it in various ways) isn't "desecrating the dead". This kind of mentality logically extends to organ donation or medical intervention in general -- how much do we tamper with the temple of the Holy Spirit? -- and nobody today would want to rule out those practices.

So, I ask again, why is this exhibit "desecration" that should be condemned on religious grounds?

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!

12.07.2005

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 top, but if the Chitika ad box is tall enough that it displays more than one price, you'll see if the second or third price is cheaper. Hope that makes sense! :)



So, until we get that hashed out, don't buy things from Ruth's blog thinking that you're getting the best price!

12.05.2005

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.

12.02.2005

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". Nice. Or should I say, "N.ice". Or is that, "Nic.e"?

Maybe I'm just in a weird mood, but this struck me as particularly silly. And I wonder which athlete married Jesse's toe appendage, and what happened to it to make it conductive? Hmmm.



 


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