lördag, februari 05, 2005

[forecast] How to Predict the Superbowl Outcome, How Hard to Laugh at Those Po' Eagles

Now, the Super Bowl. Here are three facts that favor the Patriots (from Hei Lun, Begging to Differ):

  1. Super Bowls tend to be high-scoring.
  2. Super Bowls tend to be blowouts. The average margin of victory is 15.9 points. In Super Bowls with two weeks between the game and the championship games, as is the case this year, the margin of victory is 16.8 points. Ten of the 31 Supers Bowls played with two weeks' rest have resulted in a margin of victory of 20 points or more.
  3. The favorites win an overwhelming percentage of the Super Bowls. Looking though the old scores, I counted three upsets in 38 years: Jets over the Colts in 1969, Broncos over the Packers in 1998, and the Patriots over the Rams in 2002. If you count the Giants' win over the Bills in 1991, then that makes four upsets, but in retrospect that Giants team have gained more respect while the Bills team has been marred by their subsequent Super Bowl failures.

Conclusion: favorites tend to win and win big in the Super Bowl."

And My Prediction: New England Patriots 35, Philadelphia Eagles 17. How hard should we laugh at those po' Eagles? Pretty hard. They lucked out in a soft season. But their luck's about to run out...

[phil] How to Annoy Your Favorite Ayn Rand Groupie

Via Crooked Timber: "If you want to annoy your favorite Ayn Rand groupie,
direct him or her to Scott McLemee's speculations, about where Rand got her ideas (Scott doesn't do permalinks - so if this link decays rapidly, don't blame me). "

Reader feedback:
-- The Cult of Ayn Rand, the reading of which I found to be a savage pleasure (having disavowed my teenage love for her quite some time back), suggests that her motifs came primarily from American business fiction of the 1920’s. Apparently this genre, with businessman as hero, was quite popular back then. It appears to have fallen out of favor after 1929.

-- Alan Greenspan was once a Randian. And now he’s in charge of the Fed.
-- Yeah. Robert Reich is quite funny about that (Greenspan) in Locked in the Cabinet.
-- I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, having once been a Randroid myself. I think the reason I fell for the egoist kool-aid is that Rand identified what seemed to me to be a particularly pernicious and hard-to-fight style of civic corruption: the con man with a line of appealing bullcrap and friends in high places. She then cooks the books to make the problem seem to be the contents of the bullcrap, rather than the favors from the powerful.
I can’t prove the above, but I offer as supporting evidence the notion that there has seldom been a truer real-world example of a Rand bad guy than George W. Bush. And so many “objectivists” revere him.
-- Best restroom graffiti I ever saw in college was “Ayn Rand is L. Ron Hubbard in Drag.”

-- Give in to the dark side. You put yourselves before others every day, you might as well make it a virtue and live the good life. Else stop being so hypocritical and start donating most of your cash to the poor oppressed you wish someone else would help.
Heh, and when anyone talks about confiscatory tax levels I’m always reminded of what happened when Ben and Jerry's tried to limit the salary of their CEO to $500,000.

[strategy] How to Win the Superbowl

"We know the Pats are a beautifully coached team when Belichick has time to think. But are they still the best team in the NFL when Belichick has no time to think, and the players have to rely on their instincts?

The point of thin-slicing -- the art of making accurate predictions from very "thin-slices" of experience, is that it's something that only experts can do. I talk about a guy, in "Blink," who can listen to a couple have a random conversation with each other for 15 minutes and -- on the basis of that "thin-slice" -- predict with 95 percent accuracy whether that couple will be together or divorce seven years down the road.

But that's an expert, someone who has spent his life studying marriage. I can't do that. So my thin-slice of the Pats-Eagles matchup won't be useful. I learn most of what I know about sports form ESPN.com! Nor am I, then, particularly interested in the opinions of the general sports fan either.

But we come up with a half-dozen people in football whose opinion we really respect: How does Bill Walsh see this matchup? Or Joe Gibbs? Or Tony Dungy? Or Bill Cowher? (Who, after all, played them both). If Cowher said that he worried more about playing the Eagles than the Pats, I'd take the Eagles and the six or seven points, thank you very much. And if Bill Simmons took the Eagles, I'd feel even better about my pick. (Like that's ever going to happen.)" <Interview: Malcolm Gladwell>

[strategy] How to Train for the Superbowl

"Police officers will tell you that you must practice dialing 911 at least once a week. Because if you don't, when a burglar is actually in the next room, believe it or not you won't be able to dial 911: you'll forget the number, or you'll have lost so many motor skills under the stress of the moment that your fingers won't be able to pick out the buttons on the phone.

I'd run quarterbacks through a live-fire exercise at Quantico. I'd have them spend the offseason working with a trauma team in South Central L.A.

It is only through repeated exposures to genuine stress that our body learns how to function effectively under that kind of pressure. I think it's time we realize that a quarterback needs the same kind of exhaustive preparation for combat that we give bodyguards and soldiers.

The worst thing about the Super Bowl is the two-week layoff. I think teams get over-coached in the second week. In "Blink," I talk about how we can turn ER doctors from terrible decision-makers in diagnosing chest pain into great decision-makers simply by limiting the amount of information they are given about a patient. Load them down with every conceivable piece of data, and they have real difficulty distinguishing heartburn from a heart attack.

Limit them to three or four crucial pieces of data, though, and they do a great job. How can that not be true of football players as well? It's quite possible right now that Tom Brady or Donovan McNabb simply know too much about each other. " <Interview: Malcolm Gladwell>

torsdag, februari 03, 2005

[humor] Fifty Ways You Know You're an A**hole

"It's official, you're an a**hole if:..."

(John Mayer, don't click on this! Move on to the Eiffel Tower! Piece below! To your bottom! 'Tis so not fair, mon cherie... And nok, you're not a bottom, you're a top! You're The Top! Yoou're Gershwin, You're Tower of Pizza! Totally Domino's!... With pepperoni cheeks and garlic thighs! And belly button like.. feta cheese!... and rosemary, and thyme!)

(Call Paul Simon. Work on a new song, "Fifty Ways to Sing a Sequel!" Simon Cowell could do chorus! He'll back up! He's free. He's not on The List! Ain't no A-hole, he, but just 'other bloke trying to make rent on his six-million-dollar mansion!)

[copyright] Eiffel Tower Repossessed, Mon Cherie, Via Le Light... Ting!

Fast Company Now: "You need look no further than Mickey Mouse in the US, or Elvis in the UK, to understand how copyright, for better or worst (sic), affects the marketplace. But while Disney resorted to legal means to get more life out (of) Mickey, those that oversee the Eiffel Tower came up with something far more clever.

The Eiffel Tower's likeness had long since been part of the public domain, when in 2003, it was abruptly repossessed by the city of Paris. That's the year that the SNTE, the company charged with maintaining the tower, adorned it with a distinctive lighting display, copyrighted the design, and in one feel swoop, reclaimed the nighttime image and likeness of the most popular monument on earth. In short: they changed the actual likeness of the tower, and then copyrighted that."

It isn't just the Eiffel Tower, a reader comments that http://www.stockindustry.org/resources/specialreleases.html has a long list of things you can't take pictures of, including the Hollywood Sign, and a tree called "the lone cypress" in Pebble Beach, CA.

According to http://www.midrealism.paxtonfineart.com/Pages/Articlecoastweekly.html, it might actually be legal to take pictures of the lone cypress but no one has truly challenge the company that owns its copyright.

And what happens when blind people start getting electronic eyes (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/10.09/vision.html) which would record images? Would they be compelled to turn off their peeps? *Click!* Conundrum!

I must wonder also how an EuroDisney replica of say, the Golden Gate Bridge, would apply to this curious Gallic ruling. How 'bout those Vegas miniatures of 'round-the-world landmarks?

And what about paintings and billboards on the side of buildings? To layer it even more, what if I take a photograph of a painting on the side of a Gallic landmark, and sell it to a London tabloid? Could I start a World War III? Oh my. We'd need a new Berne Convention for the Copyrights, if not a Geneva for the War.

And what if the New York Police Department should decide it will follow suit and copyright its uniform blues and detective accoutrements? Could there then be imposed restrictions or even bans on shooting photos of Sipowitz beating up some scuzzy suspect, because it would constitute copyright infringement of the NYPD?

But what if Sipowitz could only speak second-rate French? "Oui, mon cherry, you're undar ar-rash!" Would it still hold up in court? Would Law & Order be secure in its berth? Or will CSI:NY take over, no buzz and all? What would Judge Amy sayth?

---------------------------- ------ -------------------------
UPDATE via post above: La Juste Amy is indisposed, subbing at Tufts and prepping for sweeps.

Le Sipowitss zays, "Spread 'em, John Mayer, you Heffear Zang A-hole you!... Um, can I say A hole, Man Amour? That ain't no Janet-Jackson-sacrilege to your Messieur Gonzalez now, would it huh? FCC, right? FTC?... JOA? DOJ? One of those C's or J's!... Welll, Excuze-za-mwharr! "

[blog] Really Not Worth Blogging. Really

"So glad I don't have the time to blog about EVERYthing. If I blogged about every alarm, then a few weeks ago I'd have been raving about the NYC subway fire that knocked out an entire local line and struck an express line down to one-third its normal capacity, and how it was going to take 3-5 years to restore it, and the impact it was going to have not just on New Yorkers but on New Jersey commuters who come in on a bus over the George Washington Bridge. But I didn't, I was too busy. But then a few days later when the original timeline was brought back to a matter of months, I said, you know, I should write about how quickly things change and how sometimes it makes sense to hold your opinion back. But I didn't, I was too busy. And so now, today, that local line that was supposed to take years, then months, is actually working as of today.

The moral of the story remains: don't blog everything. " [via tom tomorrow.]

Which elicits this response from reader ishbabiddle:

"I've just had a commenter pull the old "why didn't you blog about X?" routine -- for which I updated my FAQ. Feel free to copy this language:

This is a blog. A collection of writing and links in chronological order. It's not:

1) A news organization, with responsibility to cover every issue.
2) A comprehensive statement of anyone's political (and other) beliefs.
3) Something we spend 24 hours a day on, to the exclusion of my work, family, sanity, etc.

So, omitting to write something on any given topic cannot be taken as evidence of anything -- except as evidence, perhaps, that (my blog) is at best an unreliable place to get all of your news."

[tech] Rivals Aim to Displace IPod With Portable Music Subscriptions

There's no way any of the current vendors could overtake Apple's iPod in the short term, as that lil' gadget has graduated to cultural icon status. But a couple of year down the line, who knows? When Dell gets into the market, you shouldn't count anything out. Story.

"The system works by essentially putting a timer on the tracks loaded on the player. Every time the user connects the player to the PC and the music service, the player automatically checks whether the user's subscription is still in effect. Songs stop playing if the subscription has lapsed. If the user doesn't regularly synch up the player with the service, the songs go dead as well.

Marketing will be crucial to persuading consumers accustomed to buying CDs or owning digital music tracks purchased online to switch to paying a monthly fee for music, like they might do for cable television programming."

[tactic] Reader Experience with NY Unemployment Office

"My experience with NYS unemployment stipulated that you had to accept any job that you were qualified for that paid a certain percent of what you were making before and was within X miles of your house. If (an employer's) interested, he could drag the papers out of the file. It sounded very restrictive.

However, in reality, unemployment was so understaffed during the early Bush administration that they didn't have time to check up on you and see if you were really applying for all these jobs or not. Plus, you can easily fake your way out of coercion. They want you to interview for something you hate? Blow the interview. Of course, that doesn't change the fact that the system is coercive.

There are some people who abuse unemployment. Not that I think (the system) does a good job of really catching the pros at this. But it does frustrate the rest of us. "

onsdag, februari 02, 2005

[punctuation] Same Letter, Changed Punctuation, Completely Opposite Meaning!

An excellent example from the the little book on punctuation, Eats, Shoots and Leaves, via Begging to Differ. I love it. Zero-Tolerance Approach to Love Grammar!

Dear Jack,

I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart. I can be forever happy -- will you let me be yours?


Dear Jack,

I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men I yearn! For you I have no feelings whatsoever. When we're apart I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?


UPDATE: I added color boxes to the two letters (ain't they be-uutiful!) & looked up the title.
Eats, Shoots and Leaves is not a grammar book, insists author Lynne Truss at her every media appearance; like a self-help volume, it "gives you permission to love punctuation". And it became a runaway bestseller. See, miracles do happen.

[image] Purple Fingers for Iraq, Orange Scarfs (or Ties) for the Ukraine

"Serious question: would you be annoyed if the Republicans had all worn orange ties after the Ukrainian election? If not, is it because that was not an issue of partisan contention, whereas Iraq was?
If the Republicans want to wear rose boutonnieres in their velvet suits with orange scarves and purple fingers, that's fine—but the gesture would stink if they were scheduling Silly Day without telling the Democrats. Yes, Orange Scarf Day would stink less than Purple Finger Day because the Ukrainian election was a less contentious affair. But because Iraq is more contentious—put another way, more important to Americans—there's all the more reason to have Purple Finger Day (even if aesthetic elitists like me think it's stupid). And all the more benefit if you can be solely responsible for PFD and make the other guys seem like they're anti-PFD.

The fact is, this stuff probably goes on all the time. Silly hat days are part of the job description for any congressman, and Dems and GOPs do wear different hats—I'm not trying to make a hard and fast rule. But the Iraq election is important enough that it ought to have occurred to the GOP to extend the invitation to the Dems. It's such a small gesture but important issue, why not?"

I think we should have both purple fingers and orange scarfs (or ties). Gestures are not meaningless; they set the stage for real, substantive changes. Never mind the silly hats, think long-term reform. And yes, why not make it bi-partisan?

[graphics] So What it's a Cartoon?

Iconize Me! Just loved looking at this.

[blog] Great Blog, Little Blog

UK Commentators - Laban Tall's Blog: "In the approximate words of de Morgan and Jonathan Swift :

Great blogs have little blogs upon their backs to bite �em,
And little blogs have lesser blogs, and so ad infinitum.
And the great blogs themselves, in turn, have greater blogs to go on;
While these again have greater still, and greater still, and so on.

Swift also noted a motto which would suit one blogger :

Libertas et natale solum:

Fine words! I wonder where you stole �em.
(Verses occasioned by Whitshed�s Motto on his Coach. Translates roughly as Liberty And Homeland.)

UPDATE - Kernon Gibes did this in September 2003.

Great blogs have little blogs that seek a link for free,
And little blogs have lesser blogs, their end obscurity.
And the great blogs themselves, in turn, seek greater blogs for profit;
While these again seek greater still, to end at Instapundit."

[media] Insufficient Skepticism

Jack Of Clubs: "We have learned recently that we shouldn't trust the media to get the story straight. It is useful to note that this rule applies even if the story seems to vindicate our own suspicions. In fact, scepticism in circumstances where we want to believe the story is even more crucial than in cases where we feel insulted or falsely accused. People are not often fooled into believing things that they don't want to. But if a story sounds too good to be true... it probably is."

[phil] Ayn Rand Shrugged Off at 100

ProfessorBainbridge.com: "Robert Fulford opined:
[Jeff] Walker classifies Objectivism as a cult, and certainly it has cultish qualities: It insists on conformity, judges members by loyalty rather than merit, shames and excommunicates dissenters, interferes in the private lives of members and claims to have an answer for everything. But it doesn't entirely fit the cult pattern: no street solicitation, no begging, no barracks or dorms, no techniques of sleep deprivation, etc. It more closely resembles an old-fashioned political movement, always splitting into smaller parts, like the Trotskyites."

[blog] Blogging Viral Freedom in the Arab World

Spirit of America: "Arabic Blogging Tool - Viral Freedom
Support independent new media and free expression in Iraq and the Arab world.
We are funding the development of an Arabic blogging (Web logging) tool and, with donor support, we will host the blogs at no cost to the bloggers. This will allow blogs to be created easily. It will give voice to those working for freedom and democracy in the Arab world. And it will enable them to more easily connect with and share ideas with their peers. "

"Putting these tools into more languages extends the power of citizens everywhere to question authority, spread democracy, and find truth. This is historic." -- Jeff Jarvis, Buzzmachine

[media moronics] Xrlq Debunks Daily Telegraph Story

Xrlq/damnum absque injuria (posted 1/31, 7:45a):
"Snopes is reserving judgment, but I’m not. This story is officially bunk, with pieces of it cribbed from another story about an unemployed woman in Berlin who was inadvertently referred to a “bartending” job at a facility which, unbeknownst to the agency, was in fact a bordello. Unlike Clare Chapman and her rag of a newspaper, the unemployment agency has already apologized for their error. Kudos to Amptoons for swatting this down early as well.

All further blogger speculation on this subject should end immediately, and if the Daily Telegraph wants to retain a shred of credibility, (it should end) Clare Chapman’s career and that of her editor. Such “fake but inaccurate” sensationalism has no more of a legitimate place in the British media than Dan Rather and Mary Mapes have in ours. I’ve refiled this entry under Media Lameness, Morons and Urban Legends."
damnum absque injuria � Idiot Journalist of the Year (posted 2/1, 2:29p):
"The year is only a month old, but it’s not too early to start taking nominations. So far, at least two three journalistic numbskulls are definitely in the running.

The first is Sarah Boxer of the New York Times, whose baseless speculations about Ali Fadhil and his brothers at Iraq the Model put all of them in danger.

The second is Clare Chapman of the Daily Telegraph, who used bits and pieces from a story in a German tabloid to essentially make up a story about German unemployment agencies supposedly coercing unemployed women into becoming prostitutes.

The third is Robert H. Reid of the Ass. Press, who proudly broke today’s story about the capture of G.I. Joe by Iraqi militants insurgents terrorists idiots."
EDIT. Fixed typo "newspaper," italicized titles, html'd [strikeout] words.

[correction] Daily Torygraph Story of German Fraulein Denied Benefits for Refusing Brothel Position is Simply False

Earlier today I ran a news story originating from the Daily Telegraph about a German fraulein who lost her unemployment benefits because she refused a job offer from a brothel. Well, that story appears to be false!

Through Ginny's-mother-in-law in Chicago Boyz, I get the following correction:

"The article in the Daily Telegraph seems to have been cobbled together from several German sources.

The information about the waitress who was told to interview for a job that turned out to be at a brothel was taken from an article on "jungle-world.com," which calls itself a "leftist weekly." That article was posted July 30, 2003 (!!).

The 25-year-old waitress was told to contact the company "Reni Massage." The woman found the company's website and figured out that it was a brothel and decided to not get in touch. According to the Berlin employment center, the job posting had been sent to the woman by mistake. The job offer had been for bar staff (not for "sexual services," as the Telegraph article claims) and it hadn't been obvious from the information that the employment center had received that the company was a brothel.

The second part of the Daily Telegraph article contains information also found in an article from the leftist alternative Berlin daily "tageszeitung," filed on December 18, 2004. Both articles quote a Hamburg lawyer called Mechthild Garweg (note that the Telegraph misspells her first name). In the "tageszeitung" article, Ms. Garweg notes that there is nothing in the law regulating unemployment benefits that would prevent an employment center to force a woman to work as a prostitute if she wants to keep her benefits. It is clear from the article that this is merely a theoretical possibility. German employment centers have meanwhile asserted that they would not be passing on job offers for prostitution."

[speech] Dear Mr. Bush: Keep it Simple, Direct, & Understated for Your SOTU Address Tonight

NYT Op-Ed: Building a Better State of the Union Address: "My favorite edit from last year's State of the Union involved Ashley Pearson, a 10-year-old girl in Rhode Island who had written a lovely letter to the president asking that he please 'tell me what I can do to save our country.' This simple note called for a simple and gracious response, and one was dictated by the president himself, telling Ashley to be good to her mom and dad, and to be sure to thank any soldiers she might meet.

This was not enough for one editor, whose redline copy of the speech exhorted the girl to write to Afghan children, do volunteer work, join the Peace Corps, become a teacher. In all we counted eight great tasks - a life-plan of unending service for poor little Ashley."

[follow-up] Weimarer Republik News - German unemployment hits highest level for 70 years

Y! link: "The last time the jobless total was above five million in Germany was in the 1930s, when the record stood at 6.128 million in February 1932, even if the situation in Germany before World War II is not really comparable to post-war Germany. "

[follow-up] Post-Weimar Unemployment Passes 5 Million Mark

Yahoo! link: "The unadjusted jobless rate in Germany rose to 12.1 percent, with 5.037 million people out of work in the nation of 82 million, as a new benefit system swelled the ranks of the registered jobless, the government's Federal Labor Agency said. The total rose by 573,000 from December. "

And Heisenberg still senile. Yet no Nazi.

[clip] Super Rollerblade Jump!

Clip here

[net] While Googling "A Similar Fate"

... I got this fromPersonality Tests and Tools: "Jung tests are similar in underlying theory to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator �" Fun site, BTW.

[net] Windoesn't

The Daily Grind: Windoesn't: "So far as I can tell, the main (only) route in for malware is via Internet Explorer, which I only use for Windows Update. And yes, I have had situations where checking Windows Update and then immediately running Ad-Aware has revealed the presence of exploits, which strikes me as damned clever but not exactly admirable. What I haven't yet tried is the (beta) of Microsoft's own malware-removal tool, which from the reviews is an excellent piece of software. However, from what I can gather, when it goes final they're going to - get this - charge for it. That is, quite frankly, unbelievable."

[academic] Germane Greer Prick! Hold the Front Page!

The Daily Grind link: "She's occasionally funny and very occasionally incisive. She probably wrote some significant stuff some time ago. But enough, already."

[hx] So Why Did the Weimar Republic Collapsed? Hindenburg Senile, Not Nazi

Weimar Republic - Wikipedia link Following up on my Weimar train-of-thought this morning, I looked up its entry in the Wikipedia. (Weimar in the Wiki, hehe... I wish Google would index Jared Diamond's Collapse; I'd be willing to pay for the privilege -- you read that, Publishing Row?) Anyway, beyond the problems of economic trouble and the 1919 constitution, consider the personal element. The personalistics, if you will. Wikipedia:

"Another focus seems to be Paul von Hindenburg, who became Reichspr�sident in 1925. He certainly was a representative of the older, authoritarian 1871 Empire and it is hard to label him a democrat in support of the 1919 Republic. It is also known that at least during the later years, being well over 80 years old, he was senile.

He was, however, no Nazi. One could wonder if a different President with solid democratic beliefs would have allowed Parliament to be so extensively circumvented with the use of Article 48 decrees; more specifically, would a different President have signed the Reichstag Fire Decree?

It has also been speculated why Hindenburg appointed Hitler as Reichskanzler in the first place on January 30, 1933; after all, Hindenburg waited one and a half days before making that decision. Some claim that Nazism would have lost much public support if Hitler had not become Chancellor."

[tech] Unintended Outcomes

sociable thinking: Unintended Outcomes: I was looking up something to follow up on my previous post on the unintended consequence of the new German unemployment law, but a comment spam re-directed me onto Sociable Thinking. We gotta fix that comment spam problem soon, or this whole blog interaction process is gonna ossify.

Anyway, this following entry is fascinating and merits reprinting. You can't really comment in the original blog, however; it's totally trashed by the spam. Alas. Maybe the thread could pick up from here? (Or until my comment section suffers a similar fate? Alas, indeed).

"Maybe it just reflects the trend in American society in general for a split to develop between the coastals and non-coastals, but it strikes me that there is an implicit bias in developing new gadgets, which are always conceived of in terms of their use in cities and/or by the young.

Any designed thing that targets any other population is for a 'niche market.' This is because our environments have such a profound impact on how we conceptualize objects and problems. Using the trucker example, since my concept of a road (narrow, busy, etc.) is different from that of a long-distance trucker (long, monotonous, etc.), I cannot help but think of the problems drivers face in a different way. The other day, before reading this article, I was discussing technologies to help drivers, and parking and traffic just came to mind so much more easily than, say, boredom or helping disabled vehicles.

So unintended consequences are good. They get me thinking about how my conceptions of everyday things differ from the conceptions of others, and also how technology can address their problems, not just mine.
Posted by Scott Golder at December 8, 2003 12:53 PM

One reason designers-- or probably more accurately, marketing people-- divide the world into 'the young and urban' and 'a million other niches' is that a lot of them are young and urban; the another is that strategic marketing tells them to. Read Regis McKenna, Geoffrey Moore, Theodore Levitt, et al, and you learn that this is how you have to introduce new technologies: you've got to find the beach-head of early adopters to guarantee your success, THEN you diversity.

This argument originally was presented as a way to counter the habit of trying to reach a broad mass market quickly, and to focus attention on what different groups (early adopters, mainstreams, laggards, etc.) want in technology: some want it to be transformative or disruptive, others to be an incremental improvement, an upgrade. (The trick is to sell the same technology to all these groups.) But after 20+ years, it's starting to ossify.

McKenna, at least, does talk about the importance of watching what users do, for clues about how to upgrade products and find new markets; but he doesn't go as far as to suggest the more constructivist view your entry takes.
Posted by: Alex Soojung-Kim Pang at December 11, 2003 04:43 PM"

[follow-up] Weimarer republik

link Poster from 1932, courtesy Wikimedia.org.

[offbeat] How Not to Skip the Monthly Rent

UPDATE: THIS STORY APPEARS TO BE FALSE, cobbled together from old stories. My apologies. SEE MY ENTRY THIS AFTERNOON.

link: "A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing 'sexual services' at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year.

Prostitution was legalized in Germany in 2002 because the government believed that this would help to combat trafficking in women and cut links to organized crime.

Under Germany's welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job -- including in the sex industry -- or lose her unemployment benefit.

The government had considered making brothels an exception on moral grounds, but decided that it would be too difficult to distinguish them from bars. As a result, job centers must treat employers looking for a prostitute in the same way as those looking for a dental nurse.

"There is now nothing in the law to stop women from being sent into the sex industry," said Mechthild Garweg, a lawyer from Hamburg who specializes in such cases. "The new regulations say that working in the sex industry is not immoral any more, and so jobs cannot be turned down without a risk to benefits."

Unemployment rose for the 11th consecutive month last December to 4.5 million, taking the number out-of-work to its highest since reunification in 1990.

Is Das Deutschland going the way of the WeimarRepublic all over again?
And do you remember what happened after Weimar?

[offbeat] How to Skip the Monthly Rent

Mainichi Interactive - Top News: "I was having trouble paying rent. I thought I wouldn't have to pay it if the entire apartment complex burned down," she was quoted as telling investigators.

[taste] What Al Franken and Bill O'Reilly Have in Common

link The horseshoe curve in their customer reviews. You may be familiar with the bell curve from your (most dreaded? *grin*) professors. Well, there is apparently an inverse correspondent of that in the surveys and ratings of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, et. al. Customer feedback on controversial books and authors tend to go either extremely positive or extremely negative; seldom do you see patterns of moderation.

But is this a true reflection of actual value? How could it be, how do you tell? With what criteria do you process this information?

Which is another way of saying: How do you judge a controversy?

And what weight and upon what hidden standards do you give to the scandals du jour?

There's an asst. professor of Russian lit at Dartmouth who tries to quantify this extremity in audience reaction. He's been looking at Limbaugh, Franken and the other controversial authors and has developed a "controversiality index" to measure this knowledge. It's going through the patenting process now, and should bring some sweet coin to Dartmouth via its technology transfer office. I guess we'll next be seeing this -- hmm, CI? I of C? IC? -- splattered all over the book ads soon.

tisdag, februari 01, 2005

Gossip...What people were overheard saying on the London Underground

Underground link: "We all eavesdrop on the tube. (Except if plugged into walkman/Ipod/mother) The following are quotes I have overheard.

Are they real? Or are they just the feverish imaginings of a diseased mind? It's up to you to decide...

27th January 2005
1. Like my mum always says: you don't polish the best china with wire wool.
2. I like that advert where the car pisses on the dog.
3. The more I see Nicole Kidman, the harder it is to believe that she ever married Tom Cruise.
4. How's dad? Still got that beard?
5. Ten years ago I was in college and she was twelve. Twelve!
6. We have to change at Earls Court. The trains on the District Line are very picky about where they go.
7. One day all this will be scorched earth.
8. They killed 90% of the Jewish population of Poland. I'm sure the Poles didn't object.
9. I am a loser. I am always a loser.
10. How old is John Terry? He looks about forty."

[book]] How the World Ends Before This Blog Does

The New York Times Sunday Book Review, 1/30/5> 'Collapse': How the World Ends: "Taken together, ''Guns, Germs, and Steel'' and ''Collapse'' represent one of the most significant projects embarked upon by any intellectual of our generation. They are magnificent books: extraordinary in erudition and originality, compelling in their ability to relate the digitized pandemonium of the present to the hushed agrarian sunrises of the far past.

"I read both thinking what literature might be like if every author knew so much, wrote so clearly and formed arguments with such care.

"All of which makes the two books exasperating, because both come to conclusions that are probably wrong."

Reviewer is Gregg Easterbrook of TNR, who carries high cred with me. If Easterbrook (GE) finds Diamond (JD) wrong, then I, August Arrived (AA), will need to re-evaluate.
To Diamond's thesis, that environmental coincidences are the principal factor in human history, the critic essentially agrees.

JD: ''Our world society is presently on a nonsustainable course.'' The West is in peril: ''The prosperity that the First World enjoys at present is based on spending down its environmental capital.'' Calamity comes quickly: ''A society's steep decline may begin only a decade or two after the society reaches its peak numbers, wealth and power.''

Now GE's rebuttal: "Like most species, most people do not live on islands, yet ''Collapse'' tries to generalize from environmental failures on isolated islands to environmental threats to society as a whole...

"If trends remain unchanged, the global economy is unsustainable. But the Fallacy of Uninterrupted Trends tells us patterns won't remain unchanged. For instance, deforestation of the United States, rampant in the 19th century, has stopped...

"He thinks backward 13,000 years, forward only a decade or two. What might human society be like 13,000 years from now?"

Oh man, hopefully it'd still be in fine enough shape to take good care of my AA blog!

(Please excuse AA for feeling so presumptuous today; just wait till he overexerts himself and into bed he Collapses! Ha! )

[blog] Make title relevant to overall theme, use keywords to rank well

1 good point in otherwise useless article - Search Engine News Journal 1/31/5: Many blog titles "contain no relevance to the overall blog theme. Keep that in mind when selecting a title.
Keywords within the blog title and URL are very powerful in ranking well"

[culture] What are you?

Blogcritics.org link: "Thanks to sites like BlogExplosion and BlogClicker I've been finding out all kinds of neat things about myself."

China cracking down gambling rings [pos. link w/ Taiwan??]

Fujian police smash online gambling rings: "China recently launched a nationwide assault on gambling websites, Chen said.
'Fujian's security forces will do their best in this campaign and crack down on online gambling wherever it may be in the province.' "

ALA | Guide to Great Web Sites for Kids

ALA link: "Last updated: 03/28/2003"
The American Library Association merits high cred, but the site's been dormant for almost two years. Has the Bush cutbacks been that severe? *grin*

PCWorld.com - Tax Software: The Scoop on Shrink-Wrap

PCWorld.com - Tax Software: The Scoop on Shrink-Wrap: "For taxpayers with complicated tax situations, TurboTax remains the best tax program, but TaxCut and TaxAct may suit others better." From Jan. 31.

[pc security] Basics for Home Users

HNS - Home User Security Guide: "basics for securing your home computing environment. " From Jan. 31.

[pc] 100 ways to master your PC (like control-a!)

The Advertiser link: Short, sensible advice for the newbies. And a couple that could help those who think they're all that already. Control-a would do what?! Oh, thank you. Some excerpts:
"66. Stuck on you
A simple paper clip will open a disc drive that stubbornly refuses to open and release the CD trapped within. Unwind the paperclip and insert it in the little hole on the drive tray usually located near the eject button. You can now open the tray manually. Be sure the drive isn't spinning.
67. Mastering the dark side
Web pages containing dark text on a dark background are a result of either the background not loading properly or bad Web page design. The solution is to hit Ctrl A. This will highlight all text on the website in a readable combination, such as white text on a blue background.
68. Empty the recycle bin
Deleting desktop icons and files is a two-stage process. Anything you delete ultimately ends up in the recycle bin, which must be periodically emptied. To do this, right click on the rubbish bin icon on the desk top and click 'empty recycle bin'.
69. Old e-mails
While deleted messages will disappear from your inbox, they are simply moved to a deleted items folder. Clear these deleted files by deleting them once again to save drive space. "

måndag, januari 31, 2005

[ad] Ba Da Ba Ba Ba! I'm Freakin' It!(tm) American Slang as McForeign Language?

world champion: McDonalds Wants You To F*ck Its Sandwiches HeHeHe. I don't know about this, guys. Could it be the start of a corporate urban legend? Could the marketers at McFreak Yourself(tm) be smarter than they seem? Too hip to be square, or too cunning to be hip? Indeed.

From the original entry: "Nothing is better than when a giant company makes an attempt to be cool with their marketing, only to do something that is completely moronic causing the very audience it is chasing to mock them."

One poster's response: "Don't have sex with hamburgers! I screwed a Big Mac a few weeks ago and Now I'm pregnant with Chicken Nuggets!"

[humor] How to fake it on Super Bowl Sunday......... ... (Some advice here surprisingly good, sensible)

FOXSports.com - NFL Playoffs- How to fake it on Super Bowl Sunday: "You also need to be careful not to bring the wrong beverage. It is not the time to share your prized Pinot Noir from last weekend's getaway to the vineyards. Beer is always the safest bet. And you won't be labeled a loser if you bring soda as well. After all, plenty of people 'take it easy' on Sunday. Now here is a clincher -- if you really want to be the hero, call before you leave to see who wants a Starbucks coffee (or Dunkin' Donuts for our pals back in Boston!). It is not always easy to stay perky for eight hours of pregame hype and a drawn-out game, no matter how captivating the sport may be."

[play] Messing w/ Google on Photoshop

FARK.com: (1322360) In anticipation of Google's upcoming Video/TV searching program, photoshop other sectors Google could intrude into: Lotsa hijinks here. Here's one instruction:
"go to google.com, go to view/source (or whatever that command is in your respective browser). dig through the source code and change any text you wish to change. save the file as a .html on your harddrive. open that file with your browser. on my system it didn't load the picture (probably could be achieved through 'save site with pictures' options many browsers have, but anyways). then combine screenshots. be careful to not have a focus on any text fields or your mouse pointer in view when taking screenshots.
Or: more effective to save the entire webpage. In IE it is File -> Save As and save it into a new folder. It will save the logo.gif in the appropriate subfolder and you can then edit that directly and also edit the html on the main page."

[ad] That's the Way We Banned the Ad, Banned the Ad, the Super Bowl Ad

So Early in the Morning! Yes, banned. <------Click on it now, decide for yourself!

Banned banned banned. And for what? A piece of unused lingerie hanging on a chair? You've got to be kidding, guys.

Bud may be afraid to make trouble. But we're not, are we?

[dvd] Mad About You "Hand-picked" Collection: Before the Jumped Shark, Better Than South Park!

TWoP Forum link: I love "Mad About You"! And now there's going to be a 8-1/4hr, 22 ep DVD boxed-set out next week! Yea! It was such a warm, goofy congenial show about domestic lifebliss -- so nourishing, it's like Rob and Laura Petrie redux! (Luvved Laura in those capri pants!) Only on second thought did I realize, Hey, actually I haven't see that many episodes, however. Its network carrier simply doesn't feel... quite right for me. Let me see if I may say it again in a clearer but not-as-simple way. Okay, when I watch this network, with its particular branding style, it sometimes feel as if I'm stuck in some po' sufferin' dowager's abode with too much incense and floral display and the curtains are all drawn and closin' in -- sorry, I do like incense and florals, but just, mmm, in less measure.

(And maybe mo' apologies to any po' sufferin' dowager out there, I was actually going after the station, and needed a fast mad metaphor about the station. Got incensed instead.)

There's something about the Lifetime Channel that sets off my finger on the remote, so I'm far behind on the series, I think. Probably. Seven seasons, right? Really wouldn't know for sure, because Paul and Jamie are like buds or pal-sies who happen to drop by, you hang, we chat, she laughs, we laugh, andwhataboutthattime oh what time is it again? Ooh, really, must've lost track.

So a DVD collection (4-disc boxed set, 22 eps "hand-picked" by the two stars, about $32, out Feb. 8) would be the best fit for me. Great performances come dear or cheap, but this one, if disc'd, this one I'll keep.

Every generation must, in its own turn, in its own lingo and wit and humor, express its conception of the way and use of marital union, of marital bliss. MAY is an excellent expression of ours.

Well, that is, until the writers went dry and smothered Jamie with that quasi-affair and quicksanded Paul in those deadly moody blues (jumped the shark with the Desperate Baby-vibes). I lost interest then, 20% because of the loss in its comedic integrity, 80% because of the sheer drought in script quality. If this collection is indeed the best of the eps, then maybe that stoopid melodram'ic arc would get another viewing -- the finger on the remote will get a two-minute warning... but it'd better be better than what I've seen, or that's it: Next! Heaven, babe: Return to marital bliss!

Thank God for the DVD
We'll skip the jumped shark
Paul and Jamie still happy?
Is better than South Park!

'Tis smart to go disc
And irksome to go Lifetime
Heaven may prefer no viewer
But this viewer prefers heaven.


"What does everyone think of the episodes Paul & Helen picked for the DVD collection? I agree that the Alan Brady ep is a great one that they included, and I'm pleased as punch they're including the Giblets for Murray Thanksgiving turkeys ep. from Season 3 and The Conversation shot in one take in front of the crying baby's room ep. from Season 6.

I really wish they would have included more episodes from Season 3, though, as I thought that's when MAY was at its peak. The Mad About You wedding ep., the My Boyfriend's Back Queen Talon comic book ep., the Money Changes Everything Cyndi Lauper ep. and so many others are classics that could have been added to the DVD set. (Of course I just wish they would put out that whole season on DVD.) I also wish Season 4's Ovulation Day, the Debbie Buchman tells everyone she's gay ep mentioned a couple posts upthread (which I probably consider the funniest MAY ep, either that or Giblets...), was included.

Anyone else have any thoughts? Since I was only able to watch MAY sporadically after Season 4, how did they do picking out Season 5, 6, and 7 episodes?

Since I didn't see the episode list posted anywhere else, here it is. Also, has anyone heard about what any of the extras will be?

Disc 1
The Pilot (a.k.a. 'Romantic Improvisations'; Season 1)
Met Someone (Season 1)
Virtual Reality (Season 2)
Cold Feet (Season 2)
Giblets for Murray (Season 3)
Special Features:
Exclusive extras with participation from Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser
Other Sony Previews

Disc 2
Our Fifteen Minutes (Season 3)
The Alan Brady Show (Season 3)
Yoko Said (Season 4)
The Finale (Parts 1, 2, & 3; Season 4)

Disc 3
Citizen Buchman (Season 5)
The Penis (Season 5)
The Birth (Parts 1 & 2; Season 5)
Letters to Mabel (Season 6)
Moody Blues (Season 6)

Disc 4
Le Sex Show (Season 6)
The Conversation (Season 6)
Paved with Good Intentions (Season 7)
The Final Frontier (double-length series-ending Season 7 episode)"

söndag, januari 30, 2005

[deleted entry]

[webdesign] Google's "I Feel Lucky" button unused but beloved! {U krazy humans!}

Peter Van Dijck's Guide to Ease � 2005 � January: "Rashmi�s Blog: Google�s pragmatic, data-driven approach to user interface design: so at Google (being a data company with a huge customer base), they user test with data: make a small change, show it to a subset of users, and track the results. Amazon uses this approach too.
Also: �The �I am Feeling Lucky� button is not used much. But their focus group participants always tell them they like it, and ask Google not to remove it (even though these participants have never used that button, nor do they ever intend to use it!). So its not all rationality and data driven design at Google!�
Peterme also follows up."

[culture] Keywords Reflect Bent & Values of Society

Amazon.com: Books: Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society: "Keywords focuses on the sociology of language, demonstrating how the key words we use to understand our society take on new meanings and how these changes reflect the political bent and values of society."
Book not recommended, text is highly academic, but point of focus intrigues me.

Future of search rides on relevance | CNET News.com

Future of search rides on relevance | CNET News.com: "at Ask Jeeves. 'People are usually coming to us looking for a specific answer. The focus for us can't only be on adding new kinds of content, like audio or video, to search--it has to be centered on what the users are really looking for.' "
Amen. Stop focusing on the addition and implementation of ever mo' bells and whistles, and zero in instead on the ordinary man in the street or at the home who cares not a whit about your latest technologies, only on how your tools can make his life better, or at least more entertaining.

[webdesign] Ugh at... STEP1 Software Home Page

STEP1 Software Home Page
"Folks, you have to stop using FrontPage themes. They're horrible, they will hurt your business, and they're the spawn of all bad web design. While you can buy some very nice templates for FrontPage, I haven't seen one decent FrontPage theme. Not one. Stop in the name of all that's holy. Remember: even Microsoft doesn't use FrontPage."

Web Pages That Suck -- Examples of Bad Web Design

Web Pages That Suck -- Examples of Bad Web Design: "The second largest library in the Netherlands has given birth to a new dimension of 'suckness'." Thank you, Daily Sucker. I'm marking you for regular visits. Learn while I laugh. Best way to study *major grin*

[webdesign] Bibliotheek Rotterdam ...sucks!

Bibliotheek RotterdamOverwhelming graphics and a big mess of colors make this one disaster of a website. Instructive for this neophyte webmaster. Go simple. Think Google.

Unless, of course, your site suffers from too much bandwidth and you need to drive the netsurfers off your domain!

Google cheatsheets and more

link (from Things to Remember. Cluttered code from Link2Blogs.com; I may have to drop their service.)
All things Google...
Good starting point is Google Cheatsheet.
More helpful hints on how to use Google.
Search your own PC using GoogleSearch your own webpage using GoogleSeems not working on blogspot... Am I wrong?
Unofficial gmail FAQUse gmail account as network drive!Want to warn you that network drive is experimental software and not official Google service.
Very funny blog about googleGooglefight! Find out what is more popular search on Google.Simply awesome
TouchGraph Google Browser.
And finally financial information: search google using stocks:GOOG

[verbal] The 5:55 Question, Courtesy This Flying INsomnia

Mary's father has five daughters: Nana, Nene, Nini, Nono. What is the name of the fifth daughter?

Do you have the answer? Good, say it out loud. (Well, not if there's somebody in bed besides you! Just mouth the word.)

Okay, the entry immediately below? I predict that you're going to read it at just... about... now!

tO U Silly Crystal Blue Goose U: My Answer Re Heaven (Entry) Above

You're wrong, bub. Read the question again. Think, NoNO!

(Tricky, eh? Hee-hee)

[visual] Words jumbled, but mind, not

link: "Illusion? No. But it does play on the mind. What is it in the brain that allows things like this to work? Even though the letters are jumbled in the following paragraph,most people have no trouble reading it!

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe."

[vision] Deutsche prof. h'pg w/ nifty creations (& easter egg!)

Michael Bach homepage: " Freiburg Evoked Potentials
53 Optical Illusions & Visual Phenomena "

[phil] 162 names of the most common fallacies

Fallacies�[Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]: Hmm, more promising, less ambiguous. Another marking for later perusal.

"A fallacy is a kind of error in reasoning. The alphabetical list below contains 162 names of the most common fallacies, and it provides explanations and examples of each of them. Fallacies should not be persuasive, but they often are. Fallacies may be created unintentionally, or they may be created intentionally in order to deceive other people. The vast majority of the commonly identified fallacies involve arguments, although some involve explanations, or definitions, or other products of reasoning. Sometimes the term 'fallacy' is used even more broadly to indicate any false belief or cause of a false belief. The list below includes some fallacies of this sort, but most of them are fallacies in arguing informally in natural language."

[paradox] Pos. good ideas, of Fiction

The Paradox of Fiction [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy]
But it's all written in that academic muck. I'll log it and come back later.

[persuasion] Crystal blue, baby

English Blogger: It's 4:33 Sunday morn and I'm giggling like a silly schoolgirl over this blog entry:

"Crystal Blue Persuasion
Persuade? Me? Never. Ok, so this one time, at band camp, wait wrong story. Persuading is something I don't like to admit I've done. The word itself just sounds so sly and devilish. But I am human and humans are naturally selfish, so I have tried to persuade people to get my way. In fact, I can think of several occasions where I have persuaded someone. Shame on me, I know...

So it was time for the final installment of the Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King. I was able to drive at that time, but my parents didn't want me driving that late because I wanted to go to the first showing which happened to be at midnight. Well I talked to my friend and he didn't seem too excited about seeing it that late. So I made up a little untrue information that they were giving out five custom fit 'one rings' from the movie at the midnight showing. He thought that sounded cool and I had got him to drag along with me. When we got to the theatre and all they were raffling off was cheap radio station t-shirts he was angry. He vouched never to see another movie with me again, but I did get to see the movie."

Dear Blogger.com: This is Blogger Spam, Deceptive Page Title to Boot

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