Saturday, April 30

Almost Sunday





Your Taste in Music:


80's Alternative: High Influence
80's Pop: Medium Influence
80's Rock: Medium Influence
90's Alternative: Medium Influence
80's R&B: Low Influence
90's Rock: Low Influence
Classic Rock: Low Influence
Old School Hip Hop: Low Influence
Ska: Low Influence



(via View)

+ It seems to me like the best 'resolution' to the China/Taiwan issue would be to leave it unresolves, just leave things like they are. They could certainly help each other and I don't think China's wanting to pull a lot of strings there. They just don't want Taiwan to declare itself an independent state, right?

If all of that is right, then a good relationship between Taiwan's Nationalist party and China seems like a good development.

The second half of this article talks about free trade between China and Taiwan, and I certainly think that would be a good thing.
Lien said in his Peking University address that neither Taipei nor Beijing should upset the status quo which has kept the peace between them for decades. The KMT espouses eventual reunification with a democratic China.
Tom is very firm in saying we want to change our security agreement with Taiwan so that they don't do something rash and to improve relations with China, eventually culminating in a Pacific NATO.

+ President Bush's new (from him) idea about limiting social security payouts to wealthier citizens sure makes sense to me. Progressive indexation is OK with me, too. I'm not that hard to please on Social Security (as I've posted before). But personal accounts alone wasn't getting it.

What do you think? Is there something I'm missing here?

Thursday, April 28

Matthew Baldwin is a complete and utter genius

Witness his latest creation which I fully expect will take the intarweb by storm: URL ABCs. Here are mine:

These are my URL ABCs:

A is for amazon.com
B is for bloglines.com
C is for catalog.lex.lib.sc.us
D is for del.icio.us
E is for en.wikipedia.org
F is for fincheswings.blogspot.com
G is for gmail.com
H is for haloscan.com
I is for imdb.com
J is for [nothing decent] - honorary mention goes to Jaquandor
K is for kottke.org - boring, i know
L is for laputanlogic.com
M is for my.myway.com
N is for npr.org
O is for onelook.com - for crossword puzzle help
P is for paulstokes.blogspot.com
Q is for [nothing]
R is for rateyourmusic.com/yaacs
S is for shreddies.org/gmaps - with honorable mention to myself
T is for thomaspmbarnett.com
U is for usatoday.com
V is for vajentic.blogspot.com
W is for weather.com
X is for [nothing]
Y is for [nothing]
Z is for [nothing]

If you decide to do it, too, how about leaving me a comment to come and see...

Thursday again already

+ DeLay is toast.

+ A little good news: Air pollution has actually gotten better.

+ Iowa City news reflections. I just subscribed to the Press-Citizen RSS feed.
  • The school board president was my 9th grade English teacher, and another member is the father of one of my good friends.
  • I played Kurt in the 1983 (or so) IC Community Theater production of The Sound of Music.
  • I went to morning kindergarten at Hills Elementary School.
+ Tom's New Map Game is going to have embedded journalists and cultural ambassadors. Wish I could go...

+ Gmail wishlist: Please let me use some of my beaucoup 2+ gigs to host files. Then I could just throw up a picture as an attachment (or through some custom interface), and link it to a permalink. I'm tired of waiting for Odeo and [that other site] screwed up on the second try.

Wednesday, April 27

Monday, April 25

Deliver us from Wal-Mart

I'd seen this article from Christianity Today linked somewhere (if it was you I'll be happy to add the link if you let me know), but didn't click through. Then my friend, Bryan, sent it to me in an email, so I thought I'd better read it.

This article is a long, involved analysis of Wal-Mart from a conservative, Biblical perspective. You may not be interested at all. My thoughts:
  • I still think Wal-Mart pays too little, especially being such a huge employer. And calling 34 hour weeks 'fulltime' is shady. But I agree with the author that, basically, if there's a fault here, it's the free market and the drive to get the lowest price. If that's what you care about most, then, by all means, shop at Wal-Mart. But there are some unpleasant consequences, low wages not least of all.
  • Is it just me, or are a lot of the people who are crying to keep jobs in the US the same people who shop at Wal-Mart? You can't have it both ways, friends.
  • It's obvious to me that Wal-Mart's pressure to keep overtime down and get the work done results in managers who underpay. They need to get that fixed.
  • Wal-Marts supply chain should be transparent and independently monitored if they really want to insure rectictude.
  • These are things that Wal-Mart can afford to fix. It might hurt their price on the Street in the short term, but it would be better for them, including public relations, in the long term.
  • Notice what I'm not saying. I'm not saying 'legislate against them'. I'm not saying 'make them pay higher wages'. The answer here is educated consumers making informed choices. If we want lowest price at any cost, that's what we'll get, and the kind of culture that goes with it.
  • The thing I found most distasteful about this article was the evasiveness of the Wal-Mart public relations people. I conclude that they do have something to hide.
By way of disclosure, as Macon once said, Wal-Mart does not enjoy 'most favored' company status here at 'interact'. I don't shop at Wal-Mart if I can help it. I've been in a Wal-Mart fewer than 5 times in the last 10 years.

Sunday, April 24

Channel 4's 100 greatest albums

Kurt also send in this link to Channel 4's 100 greatest albums. Of course, I agree with the presence of most of them. But here are a few snarky comments:
  • it is not possible that Oasis ever did anything better than the Beatles (or two albums better than Led Zeppelin)
  • it is not possible that Alanis Morisette ever did anything better than Led Zeppelin
  • i like the White Stripes more than the next guy, but isn't it a little early to put them at 39?
  • i missed the part where a Dido album was worth owning
  • they missed a couple of REM albums
  • no New Order? sheesh. they're from there....

A nice, cool weekend

+ If you've been living in a web-cave, you can read the transcript of the Berkeley Laptop Indictment. (via Boing Boing)

+ Popular Science: This guy just won an award for a speakerless sound system and he's also got a personal, flying AirScooter. Fun stuff.

+ I usually eat a bag of Light Microwave Popcorn every day. Now I know why a few kernels don't pop.

+ More Google Sightseeing. Nice post on the Space Shuttle. Here's one, with external tanks.

+ Did you see that Google witll track your search history now, if you want? Very interesting...

+ Here's a more balanced profile of Benedict 16, if you're interested in something that doesn't say 'arch-conservative' (via Brad)

+ To be fair, I'll post How Google is like Wal-Mart, even though I don't really agree with it. At the same time, I don't feel like deconstructing it right now...

+ Tom notes that we're starting to see some apologies between the Chinese and Japanese. It's about time...

+ I'm pretty happy with the Vikings' draft so far. We needed a receiver, obviously. It'd be a surprise if Troy Williamson turns out to be a Randy Moss, but here's hoping we return to the great running game we've had in the past and that Williamson can contribute. Plus, the USC connection's fun for me. We picked up a DE, too, which is good.

+ Finally finished cleaning out my Bloglines yesterday (though it took a 'to-do?' del.icio.us tag to get it done). Now catching up on the old weblog. Next: email.

+ And, therein [re:email] I find Chris Barr Is Available On Thursday from my friend (and sometime 'interact' correspondent), Kurt. He lets people suggest ways for him to spend his Thursdays and then documents them. You should check it out! (Plus, he's from Buffalo, Jaq!)

Thursday, April 21

Thursday, Thursday

+ Tom writes on the China v. Japan row I've been logging. Short version: this fight isn't doing them any good. Interesting take: Japan should be more 'mature' in international relations than China.

+ I finally found something I disagree with Tom on: Not only is he dismayed by the new choice of Pope, he disparages JP2, too. Part of the difference here is that (I infer) Tom is more theologically liberal than I am. I think he wants more progression.

Since I'm a Barnettan, I wanted a New Core or Gap Pope, too. But this will probably be a transition papacy. How long can B16 really be expected to live? He'll probably stay the course, not be as popular as JP2, provide a little buffer. The Church can get a better fix on what they want in the next Pope. And we can cross our fingers for someone from the global south.

+ Lookee here: Baby brother's got a weblog.

+ I have been contributing links to Tim's Google Sat repository.
Tim links Folsom Prison, which has to make you think of the Johnny Cash song...

Sunday, April 17

Sunday shards

+ Did you hear that workers serving at the election of the Pope (maids, drivers, caterers, etc.) were sworn to secrecy on pain of excommunication? Whoa.

+ I listened tonight to Malcolm Gladwell's SXSW presentation on his new book. It was pretty good. A big thesis: sometimes our poorly-made snap-judgments can be improved by reducing the amount of information we have. (via kottke, I think)

+ Brief introduction to Edward Tufte (one of the guys I quote who hates PowerPoint). (I think this was via kottke, too)

+ Matthew gives Sin City a favorable review, footnoting a recommendation that Bruce Willis play Frank Miller's Dark Knight. Hard to believe, but intriguing. I used to think I'd like Harrison Ford in that role, but now I don't know what I was thinking. Ol' Harrison hasn't aged very gracefully, not like Sean Connery (who cannot play Bruce Wayne).

+ I changed my atom feed to full because that's what I like. You're welcome ;-)

Saturday, April 16

More Google Satellite Sightseeing

I wrote to perljam to suggest Wrigley Field and, wonder of wonders, he added it, added my name to the contributors at the bottom, and asked for more. Sso here's what I came up with:

The South Carolina State House
The historic Horseshoe, center of the campus of the University of South Carolina
The Iowa Capitol Building
Louisiana's Atchafalaya Basin - at 595,000 acres, the nation's largest swamp wilderness. the Mississippi runs from upper center to lower right.
Augusta National Golf Course
NC's three capes:
Bald Head Island, featuring historic Cape Fear
Cape Hatteras
Cape Lookout

A couple days worth

+ Saw on Google SightSeeing that the Google Satellite Map of Pro Player stadium is from the January 2nd, 2003 Orange Bowl, immortalizing (for now), Iowa's pitiful showing against USC on my birthday. Look, you can see 'Iowa' on the NW end zone. Ugh.

+ The Friendly Confines...Wrigley Field.

+ The world's longest bridge: Lake Pontchartrain (via perljam).

+ In case you're not familiar with George Shinn, this is the kind of stuff he pulls with regularity: Hornets Documents Show Attendance Figures Were Manipulated

+ Speaking of stuff, Terrell Owens just signed a contract a year ago, with the Eagles rescuing him from SF and Baltimore, and now he wants a new one. Yuck.

Wednesday, April 13

Unabashed political rant

Help me balance my view here if I'm missing something.

It seems to me like the Republicans are totally out of control right now. Brad said he's been 'more impressed with the tenor and tone of the president during his second term', referring specifically to President Bush conferring with Bill Clinton.

I don't see it. The President sends back judicial nominees that were already rejected. The Dems are going to filibuster it, and the Repubs are thinking about changing the filibuster rules. Have they taken leave of their senses?

The President nominates John Bolton to serve in the UN.
There is no United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world, and that is the United States, when it suits our interest, and when we can get others to go along.
I'm sorry, but in this profession if you're on the record as having said that, you shouldn't even get nominated to be Ambassador to the UN, not to mind get a hearing, not to mind get appointed.

Remember when the president said he was a uniter and not a divider? These are not the actions of a uniter.

Then you've got the whole DeLay ethics thing. The Repubs change the rules to keep him in. Then they accuse the Dems of playing politics with this situation. I liked the line I heard today about the Repubs and their Contract with America back in the day and now they're the ones abusing their majority power.

Did you see he's paid his wife and daughter more than $500,000 since 2001 to work on his staff?

DeLay is crazy point the second: During the Schiavo case he said the federal judiciary had run amok and that 'The time will come for the men responsible for [the removal of a feeding tube from Schiavo] to answer for their behavior.' (he, admittedly, apologized today for speaking in an 'unartful way').

Point 3: DeLay's list of 'Other Great Documents of Freedom' [in addition to the Constitution: The Magna Carta, The Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights, and...

wait for it...

The Contract with America. [DeLay's website]

To quote Dave Barry: 'I am not making this up.'

Anyone who concludes that politics is totally 'psychotic' (ie, has lost touch with reality) is totally justified.

But I'm open to being wrong here, or to have some of my more conservative friends offer a different perspective.

Catching up

Haven't been able to post in a couple of days. Here's what I've been saving up for you:

I think this link shows the radio telescope in Arecibo, PR. I know it's not very close, but I think I've got this right. I looked for the VLA and couldn't get good resolution there, either.

+ I really like the concept of weekinreview, but I think it's a little slanted. Wish I had/would take time to do one of my own, but I don't really think that's a good idea.

+Tom's got a long post today on China and India (scroll DOWN), especially their big summit and agreements to work together. 2 of the world's 6.4 B people pulling together can have a lot of affect. If we know what's good for us, we'll work at 'strategic partnerships' therein. The private will happen, because they know how to please the Street by following the money. But will the public?

+ More on the China/Japan row. Japan's provoking by allocating disputed gas rights. On Japan's side, they're right in saying China's hypocritical in wanting Japan to apologize for WW2 when China hasn't apologized to its own people for all of their abuses. You sure get the sense that Beijing uses this unrest to vent criticism away from itself and keep people occupied with anger at Japan. Sure, they take some steps to ameliorate the anger, but...

These two nations could do one another a lot of good if they'd mend some fences and work together. They could fix the Taiwan thing, and North Korea (with a little US involvement), and grease the rails for a new Asian Miracle that'd knock your socks off.

+ Preemptive strike: I disavow Eric Rudolph in advance, assuming he will come out and say he was motivated by Christian conviction to blow people up. Jesus said 'love your enemies and pray for them'. There's a twisted logic to Rudolph's actions, but we do not condone it in the slightest, and you can't pin it on any real Christian.

+ Folksologies: de-idealizing ontologies. Tags make for useful organization (though not ideal). They give a lot higher return on your (meager) investment than ontologies. I agree more with Shirky than with the author of this post. By using Google (PageRank=frequency of useful linking), del.icio.us (tags - including Flickr, Technorati, gmail labels, etc.), and weblogs/rss/Google alerts (subscriptions to content of particular personal/topical interest), we can effectively sort the web a lot better than ontologies.

Then Stefano talks some about his own ontologies, and my eyes glaze over, and it's worse than..., well, any geekery I'm capable of.

+ I'm glad to report that Greg is posting again.

+ Da, da da, da da da da da. That's the sound of Iowa Hawkeye Aaron Kampman maybe joining the Vikings.

+ Hmm. Two new wishlist services. One a la del.icio.us and one more traditional (import your Amazon wishlist). Very interesting, but for now I think I'll just stick with Amazon, with Froogle as an annex.

+ Can't imagine how Google Video will be useful to me.

Monday, April 11

Monday, Monday

+ I'm positive I'm the only person to ever enter 'tolkien' and 'liz phair' in immediate succession on iTunes.

+ These shots of the Seattle Space Needle (with Experience Music Project to the north) and the CN Tower (with the Rogers Centre/Skydome) are CRAZY! (via Google Sightseeing)

+ kottke interviews that rogue economist. Some highlights:
  • Economics is a worldview more than a science or a tool.
  • Police department arrests are race-linked.
  • If he were ominpotent leader of America he would:
would start by increasing the IRS budget ten-fold and doing a lot more tax audits. If everyone paid their taxes, tax rates could be much lower and otherwise honest people wouldn't be tempted to cheat. For some reason, everyone hates the idea. But we can't all be cheating more than average on our taxes. I think it would be for the better. And after I got done with that, I'd legalize sports betting, and I would also do away with most of the nonsense and hassle that currently goes into airport security.
+ I don't have much to say on the current China/Japan row, but I think it's important and bears watching. I will say I can't believe Japan hasn't done more to apologize for WW2 atrocities (is it the whole 'shame culture' thing?). China, for its part, is repsonsible for the safety of Japanese expatriates.

+ My own Google Sightseeing - Charleston Harbor.

I'm specifically interested in (top center left in link above) Patriot's Point (official site), featuring the USS Yorktown, and (bottom center right in first link) Fort Sumter (official site). Christine and I visited both of these sights on our fifth anniversary.

I'm trying to send this post to Google Sightseeing, but I think his server's getting nailed and he's down for having exceeded bandwidth.

Saturday, April 9

Saturday slew

+ Cool mashup of craigslist and Google Maps (not that I need it).

+ Wow, I'm liking Google Sightseeing, notable places via Google Satellite. Includes Area 51 and the White House.

How about something from Iowa? Say, the Coralville Reservoir in winter. Any other nominees?

Friday, April 8

Finally!

Sheesh. Blogger finally let me post. I'd been trying since last night.

+ My buddy Kurt sent me a link to this Thom Yorke interview a long time ago. Here are my random thoughts:
  • nice props to REM and Stipe.
  • his take on the 'disposability' of music these days is very interesting.
  • I like his perspective of the intangibility (my word) of the art of music, the intuitiveness of it.
  • The subjectiveness of music is on full display: he'll have an amazing experience in the studio that doesn't get captured on tape. But it feels the same as some of the cool things that do resolve into something special.
  • Thom doesn't seem very enlightened on the role if religion and values and how they are, even his, somewhat exclusive...
+ Couldn't/didn't sleep much last night, so spent a lot of time putting iTunes in my shopping cart. I figured there had to be some way to do a wishlist, and Googled it, and found out I needed to change my preferences. Now I have 158 songs in my shopping cart. I'm trying to cull those down to 1 CD's worth for my first purchase, using some birthday money. Stay tuned!

+ Finished reading Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler. I liked it, too, though I'm going to take a break from reading his stuff. He had it in for Iowa in this book, with all of his references to yokels from an 'Iowa picnic' and the hateful snoop being from Mason City. I like his usage of the word bo, which I get sometimes around here. I need to incorporate it along with other Southern slang.

+ Google's top three execs cut their pay to 1$, since they're all billionaires, stock-wise, now. Even still, another good move, more good karma.

Grab-bag

(Titled in honor of Jaq's name for these mish-mash posts of mine. And I hope you haven't minded these posts because, for my part, I've gotten my saved Bloglines posts down under 10.)

+ Google Q&A is just what I want. I've never used Ask Jeeves much, but I've been using Brainboost some.

+ Blogger says we don't have to lose posts anymore. Let's hope so.

+ I'm listening to Terry Gross' interview with Brad Bird right now.

+ I'm planning on experimenting some with Google SMS.

+ Humor tags for Matthew's latest post: Google Maps Satellite Matthew Baldwin defective yeti image lol. If any of those tags interest you, and you haven't seen it yet, check it out!

+ 25 Favorite Sesame Street Memories. This guy must be a little younger than me, but his post fires some fond memories, especially numbers 23, 21, 18, 16 especially, 12 for sure. One he didn't mention: Furry Happy Monsters.

+ Even the headlines on the Jackson case are disgusting.

+ Tom talks about how the Baathists are on the outs. Add to that the accusations of corruption in the interim administration...

+ Rolling Stone's Immortals 1-50 and 51-100 (via DJMM). No complaints from me in the top 50: either I don't know enough to quibble or I'm fine with the choices.

Had a buddy ask me the most influential American band last summer and we came up with the Beach Boys, which is what RS says.

I find it hard to believe that Aerosmith is influential enough to rate 57. Radiohead's 73 seems a little early.

Wednesday, April 6

Lots of stuff

+ kottke's right: we shouldn't have to look at file systems or file data if we don't want to. Just give us Picasa/iTunes type views, let me change info in there.

+ Have you seen Postsecret, people sending in secrets on postcards? There's some crazy stuff over there (via kottke).

+ We had weblogging your novel (like Jaq's The Promised King). But this is the first occurrence I've seen of podcasting your novel. Do it to it.

+ We've got the third worst state unemployment rate in the nation (source, but don't click through because the ads are atrocious).

+ The future of marketing: Remember the personalized messages in Minority Report? New Order has some ir/Bluetooth posters that can send promotional media to your cell phone. (via DJMM)

+ Google is going to experiment with storing video and 'video blogging'. (via Brad)

+ Matt imagines expanded uses for the iPod Shuffle. They all sound good to me.

+ Did you see Paul Graham's brief notes on writing?

+ Search Wars (nothing but Search Wars...), How Yahoo got its mojo back (warning: annoying writing style).

+ Search Wars 2, two from Google:
  1. Google Definitions is doing foreign languages now. I predict handiness!
  2. Prefetch. Google's pushing Firefox.
+ This has been sitting in my Bloglines for a long time: Drastic changes in African life expectancy because of AIDS. (via kottke)

+ Did you see The Daily Show's take on Wal-Mart back in january? There's nothing special in the video, so listen to the audio if you don't want to schlep the 6MBs.

+ Citizens Against Government Waste published their annual Pork Report today [press release]. This is about the only kind of pork I find disgusting.

+ If you're not hip to Surowiecki yet, these notes might help you crib.

That's it. I'm outta here.

Tuesday, April 5

Various and sundry

+ Well, I picked UNC to win it all and they did. What can I say? I've got skills ;-) I'm especially glad for Coach Williams. Sean May was a beast.

+ Fun with Google Maps Satellite. Here's the farm where we grew up. No cars in the driveway that day. If you scroll to the north a little, to Interstate 80, you can see cars and trucks. Crazy.

More crazy: the Link to this page 'link' in the upper right hand corner updates dynamically anytime you move the page.

I could pull up old friends' houses, but then I really would feel like a stalker...

+ Jaq's got a transcript from a customer service call in the Star Wars universe that you should check out.

+ Read my first Phillip Marlowe book last night, The Big Sleep, and really enjoyed it. Love that hard-boiled PI talk.

+ Robert Rodriguez and his movie-making methods sound really cool. Plus, he's telling the Director's Guild of America to stick it in their eye. Gotta like that.

+ I, for one, liked the David Lynch Dune and would be interested in checking out the extended edition (via DJMonsterMo)

+ Matt was bragging about Yahoo! a little while ago.

Po(pe/st)

(I did the legwork on this post yesterday, but didn't get it posted. Hope it's not too old!)

+No Italians!

That's what I said back to the radio saturday when they were talking about the possibility of the next pope being Italian. It's nothing personal. We've simply had enough Italian popes - enough European popes, too, for that matter. Personally, I'm pulling for Columbian I'm pulling for Lopez Trujillo.

Anyway, when I said 'No Italians!', Bethy piped up from the back seat, adapting part of our Edna Mode 'No capes!' routine. 'No Italians! I refuse Italians!' Funny girl.

+ New documents found in the files of the former East German intelligence services confirm the 1981 assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II was ordered by the Soviet KGB and assigned to Bulgarian agents [source].

+ Handling Tom's light work.

Some guy says the next pope should fight free-market globalization, assuming it is inimical to 'human rights and equitable development'.

Wrong. Not that globalization can be allowed to tear forward unsupervised - I would never say that. However, free-market globalization is actually the best way to raise the living standard of poor people in developing nations.

Thanks for the inspiration, Brad.