Tell me something I didn't know
In an interview with the New York Times
, Bill Gates acknowledged today that the company's error reporting service indicated that five percent of all Windows-based computers now crash more than twice a day." Interestingly, in the same interview, Gates "said the company was considering the possibility of charging for some of its software updates that are now made available free over the Internet."
Meanwhile, in another part of the Death Star battle ...
I missed the last Star Wars Fan Film competition, but the winner was Pink Five
and it's absolutely hysterical. Make sure you pay attention to the background -- and the background sound effects.
There's always more stuff to find out on the net, and ResearchBuzz
is dedicated to helping you find it. I've been on a list of
computer book authors with Tara for a long time and she's always got great information.
Don't know how much longer I'll be using Blogger. (Probably until I have time to find something else with comment support, which, with my schedule, could be years.) But I'm really interested in looking into Trackback
Congress fights back
It's easy to think that "government" is the enemy of freedom, but here in the US, government isn't just a nameless, faceless entity. It's hard to remember it sometimes, but it's made up of real live people who do, on occasion, listen to the people they are supposed to represent. Especially when enough of us talk loudly enough. Witness today's news that the House of Representatives has voted to stop the FCC
from raising the cap on the number of television and radio stations a single company can own. The provision still has to get through the Senate, but the President's going to have a tough time making this one go away.
(It's worth noting, however, that the House did not succeed in reversing the FCC's plans to allow a single company to own a newspaper, television station, and radio station in the same market, nor their plans to allow a single company to own two television stations in some markets.)
Still, it's good news, and reminds me that it's worth speaking up. Which brings me to three very important matters. The ACLU has forms that enable you to send a free fax to support bills that will provide oversight for the secret FISA court
, defund (yes, deFUND) TIA
, and protect people's right to read
what they want.
The "Freedom to Read Protection Act"(H.R. 1157
) by exempting libraries and bookstores from laws that allow the FBI to conduct searches of personal records without warrants. (These laws, part of the USA PATRIOT Act, also make it a criminal act for a librarian to tell you that your records have been searched.)
TIA is a data mining system that was originally called Total Information Awareness. It specified that the goverment would collect all sorts of records on every single person in the US, including not just your public records and your credit report, but also the type of information places like Wal*Mart collect: what you buy and when you buy it. These records would be searched for "patterns" that suggested you are a terrorist. In a brilliant piece of political marketing, the program has now been renamed "Terrorism Information Awareness." This program is so reviled by the technical community that would have to implement it that engineers have started to publish articles explaining how to keep your data useful to you while making it useless to TIA.
Finally, the FISA Court set up by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows the government to basically wiretap anybody without any public record of it, as long as the court approves. In the decades the court's been in existance, its only turned down ONE request, and in the wake of September 11, it's use has soared. According to the ACLU, "A bipartisan group of Senators, including Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), have introduced legislation called the FISA Oversight Bill (S. 436) that would ensure our elected officials are able to provide appropriate oversight over the secret FISA court. This bill would not hinder law enforcement but instead would simply require the public accounting of basic information such as the number of Americans subjected to surveillance under FISA and the number of times that FISA information has been used for law enforcement purposes."
I know that the web in general has been influencing the way that people find information, a fact that was driven home to me when my son's report assignment specified that no more than two of his three sources could be web sites. I also knew that people were turning more to the web than to books -- my own financial statements can attest to that! But there's one thing I didn't figure on: Google indexes PDFs, but few books are online as PDFs, just articles. As this article
on MSN points out, "Assuming this practice continues, and assuming that Google continues to grow in influence, we may find ourselves in a world where, if you want to get an idea into circulation, you're better off publishing a PDF file on the Web than landing a book deal."
Read the article with a grain of salt, though. MSN, the publisher, is planning to compete with Google
in the near future. Is this the first salvo in the PR war?
Some notes for myself: I'm trying to get a good strategy together for my main XML
website, and Jack Herrington
and Dave Taylor
have provided some examples.
Now the question is, once print-on-demand
really comes into its own and anybody can write their own book, will the ability to mount an effective ad campaign replace the ability to write a good book? Just remember what we used to day about the web: "The great thing about the web is that anybody can have their own site. The bad thing about the web is that anybody can have their own site."
(And another note, on the economics of print-on-demand
I'm sure there's some good information here, and if I can ever get more than five minutes to read it, I may actually absorb some of it. It's about stigmergy
, which "is a communication strategy used by ants to tell each other where to find sources of food. This same strategy can be used on a Web site site to induce people to cooperate and collaborate in the sharing of information."
When people find out I write books, they think I must be rich. HA! If only! Check out The economics of writing a computer trade book
to understand why you (usually) won't get rich doing this. And while we're on the subject, you know those books that show up under "Used and New" on Amazon? Don't buy them, folks. Yes, they're cheaper. Wanna know why? Because with very few exceptions, they're publisher's remainders. That means that the author didn't get a penny for them. Not one red cent.
Ever wonder why groups tend to implode when they reach a certain size? Apparently there's an innate tendency for groups to follow self-destructive patterns. If you've ever seen a club grow, you're certain to have seen it, but apparently it applies to online groups as well. Clay Shirky has a terrific commentary in A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy
Now here's a potential happy ending. Apparently three quarters of a million people got off their behinds and submitted comments to the FCC regarding the proposed loosening of Big Media ownership rules, and 99% of them were opposed to it. So where the media companies thought they were a shoo-in to be able to expand their reach beyond the illegal levels they already occupy, they now find themselves and their backers in a difficult position. Last week the House of Representatives added a rider to Commerce, Justice and State Department's spending bill that prohibits a single corporation from owning stations that cover more than 35% of the country, and the Senate is expected to do the same. Thing is, President Bush has already threatened to veto it.
Of course, to do that, he'll have to veto the entire bill, which also pays for everything else the Justice Department does, such as anti-terrorism activities. As Brooks Boliek points out
, "The Democrats have to be salivating, as a veto would make it easier to paint Bush as being a tool of big business."
If, that is, anybody finds out about it on the handful of stations that aren't owned by Big Media.
When I was younger, I thought I wanted to write the Great American Novel. Eventually I realized that my frame of reference was just a little bit too skewed for that. So I settled on the Great American Science Fiction Novel. My first rejection slip put the kibosh on that for a while, but I've got five non-fiction books under my belt now, so one day I'll try again. But if I really, really did what I wanted, I'd be a screenwriter. Maybe one day I'll take $5K and become an apprentice
. Too bad they don't do non-fiction. Maybe I could get them to pay me to be a mentor.
Apparently you don't have to have thousands of dollars to build a real live robot, complete with not only movement, but also speech recognition
. You just have to know Java.
When I started putting this thing together, I wondered why anybody would care what I think. I finally decided that I don't care whether anybody cares or not; this thing is for me. George Orwell, on the other hand, was blogging for a newspaper back in World War II, though of course it wasn't called that. But apparently "George Orwell's wartime columns have much in common with today's blogs: They were often trivial and idiosyncratic, but bore within them the seeds of something greater," according to Eric Weinberger at Salon.com, in Homage to Blogalonia
Weinberger asks the question: Do we really care about the author's rose-buying adventures, even if the author is George Orwell?
My personal feeling is that an interesting person who writes well will usually come up with something that's worth reading, at least some of the time. The best writers touch on the human spirit whether they're blasting their current political target or waxing poetic about their cat. That's why it's more than half a century since Orwell stopped writing his column, "As I Please," and we're even bothering to ask the question.
I'm astounded. I tried Netscape 6 when it was out and was tremendously disappointed at how ponderously slow it was, so it was a little bit of a struggle to get me to try again. But I was reading Tim Bray's call-to-action
, of sorts, and decided to try again. Man, I'm glad I did. I'm currently using Mozilla 1.4
, and I cannot believe how much faster it is than IE 6! Do yourself a favor and give it a shot
And in another case of hype outstripping reality, surfers everywhere rushed to see the new White House email system after reading an article
about how bad it was. The article claimed that you have to navigate as many as nine pages to send an email to the President, and that you have to start off by announcing whether or not you support his policies.
Well, that's not quite true.
First of all, you can still
write to firstname.lastname@example.org
. (Though to be fair to the article's author, I understand the address was temporarily removed from this page.) Second of all, the pages in question are a new automated system that asks not whether you agree with the President and his policies, but whether the comment you're sending in at this moment
is in support of the policy or offering a differing opinion. It then asks you what policy you're writing about. The system is automated and you get (I assume) an automated response, but at least they're honest about it
. They state right there on the page that "due to the large volume of e-mail submissions, we cannot assure that each message will be personally reviewed. If you are interested in commenting on other topics, or if your message is sensitive or requires personal attention, please do not use this system. Please write President Bush at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC 20502 or fax to 202-456-2461."
My wife gets quite aggravated over those popups and ads that look like system error messages
. You know the ones, telling you your system isn't optimized, or you have a message waiting. Finally someone's filed suit
against Doubleclick, the advertising network on which these ads run. Not sure how this is going to fly. First of all, they want to make it a class-action
suit, with damages of $500 per person and $5.00 per incident for anyone who's encountered these ads. Well, that's just about all of us, methinks, but it'd be difficult to prove. Second, did Doubleclick actually create the banners, or just run them?
I'll be happy if the court simply agrees to force Doubleclick to stop running the darn things, but the real gold here is if they can get Doubleclick to stop tracking what pages users view.
But that's a whole different ballgame.
It was inevitable that somebody would start writing scholarly works about Harry Potter
. And why not? You can write a scholarly work on anything. In college, I wrote a semester-long term paper on the circle motif in the Star Wars trilogy. It's all based on psychology in one way or another, you might as well enjoy what you're writing about.
I know he's got problems back in England, but I have to say that I like Tony Blair. I missed his speech to Congress but was fortunate enough to find the transcript
. I also caught the subsequent press conference with him and President Bush, and the contrast is amazing. He's incredibly well spoken -- and knows how to pronounce "nuclear," which is always a plus -- and I particularly enjoyed the required humor at the beginning of his speech.
In his speech, Blair challenges us to tell people why we're proud of America. Now, I do a fair bit of Bush-bashing here -- or will, if I haven't already -- so I thought this would be a good opportunity to tell you that I love America. With all of our faults, with all of the terrible things we've done, and are doing, and likely will do in the future, I still think this is the greatest country in the world. Why? Because this is a country where at least the groundwork for universal freedom is in place. Where -- at least in theory -- any person can be anything they aspire to be, whether it's a hermit in the mountains or the President.
Are we perfect? Of course not. We're human, and that's one of the things I like best about America. Our entire governmental structure is based on the idea that somebody, somewhere, is going to make a mistake. If you don't like a king, you don't really have too much alternative other than to wait him out and hope for better luck with his heir. Don't like your Senator, or even the President? Vote him out. Or if he's just too egregiously bad, impeach him. It's a self-correcting system, even if it can take a long, long time to get to equilibrium on any particular issue. (Take civil rights. We're still working on it, but we're a heck of a lot closer than we were 50 years ago.)
Some say that I'm an idealist, that it's not really free. I've heard people say that the entire election system is bogus, and after the last one, that's a tough, tough argument to fight. But that's partly because of our own apathy. I'll be interested to see how many people who've never voted before come to the polls in 2004 based on the idea that 564 (or so) votes essentially decided the 2000 election. (Some would say that it was 9 votes -- those of the Supreme Court -- that decided the election. I'm inclined to agree.)
But even with media consolidation, even with government crackdowns and laws that scare the heck out of me, we still live in a society where a person with a strong enough will can make a difference. Now that person doesn't always have the common good at heart, and that's why we sometimes get leaders -- both political and social -- that we really don't want. But as a whole, there are more good people here in America than there are those with less noble motives. We saw that in the aftermath of September 11, when everyone was falling over themselves to help each other. We are a good people, a strong people, and if enough of us stand up for what is right, we can make a difference.
And that's why I'm proud of America.
Is it really this easy
to build a projection TV system?
And while we're on the subject of blogging, here's an interesting article about Googlebombing
. That's when people get together and decide that they're all going to link to the same page with the same phrase, in the hopes of increasing the page's rank in Google. For example, that link will help Microcontent News's article rise in the ranks for the keyword "Googlebombing".
The interesting thing here is how the net is almost like a living organism, adapting to its environment. I mean, search engines come around and try to present meaningful results based on the page's content, so page authors adapt their page content to score higher. So Google comes around and ranks pages based on what other people do, supposedly taking it out of your hands and providing better results. Then page authors figure out how to manipulate that. (And sometimes it's much more nefarious. See Operation Clambake
's discussion of the Church of Scientology and the possiblity that they've purchased a bunch of domains so they can link to each other and direct searches to sites that present a favorable view.) So what will Google do to adapt? And what will page authors do to adapt to that?
Now here's a great idea. The Walk-a-thon applied to blogging
. The idea is you stay up all night and get people to sponsor you for every hour you're awake, or every timestamped post you put up there, or whatever, and at the end they send the money directly to the charity you're blogging for. I wonder where I'll be on July 26th ...
It's about time somebody named a "newspaper" Universe Today
. Actually, I think it's fascinating how many places
are starting to treat space news like real news, instead of science fiction. The distinction line is disappearing faster and faster. I love it.
It's one of those mornings. Here I was about to write a scathing post about how somebody over at mtv.com needed to be slapped for not realizing that one of their sources was a joke, when I realized that the article I was commenting on was a joke. A good joke, but a joke nonetheless. The joke: Metallica sues Canadian band over E, F chords
. How do I know it's a joke? Check the URL, folks. That's not really mtv.com
For the last couple of years I've been noticing that while people become increasingly isolated from the real world because they're spending so much time online, they are paradoxically reaching out for community online, with things like blogs and instant messaging. Now things seem to be swinging in the other direction, with people using online contacts to meet people they can spend time with offline. And I'm not just talking about online dating, either, but rather sites like Meetup.com
, which lets you find people with a common interest and arrange a group get-together. Meetup is gaining a lot of publicity right now because they have been instrumental in helping Howard Dean
supporters get together. Well, that and the fact that Dean mentions the site on just about every stump stop. I haven't checked it out yet. I don't have time for a real life at the moment.
If you grew up in the US, you probably have heard of the fourth amendment to the Constitution, which puts strict limits on unreasonable searches by the government. That has always (well, usually) translated to law enforcement needing to get a warrant to eavesdrop on a specific person, with requirements to minimize its interception of non-relevant communications. So it might surprise you to know that the FBI has for some time been running a system called Carnivore. Carnivore is a system that they force an ISP to attach to their network that monitors each and every email that comes through the system, whether it belongs to a suspected terrorist, or to you. Now, this is certainly a time when we need to be careful, and I'm just as much for stopping terrorism as anyone, but as citizens we must keep an eye on what our government is doing. It's not just our right, it's our responsibility.
Now, you may say, "Hey, it's not a big deal. If you aren't doing anything illegal, what are you worried about?" Just for the record, I don't do anything illegal. What I worry about is our government thinking it can do things like ... oh ... putting American citizens in a concentration camp, like we did with Japanese Americans in World War II.
"Wait a minute," you may say, "that was 60 years ago. We wouldn't do that now." Wouldn't we? The Attorney General is trying to push through a new domestic security act that is widely becoming known as PATRIOT II. What does it do? Remember when the PATRIOT Act came through Congress and Congress insisted that it's most eggregious portions be limited to non-US Citizens? Well, PATRIOT II would allow the Attorney General to strip American citizenship from any person found to be a member of a "terrorist group".
OK, that sounds reasonable in this time of terrorism, right? I mean, if someone came over here from ... well, I won't single out any country in particular and got citizenship but were actually a member of Al-Qaeda, you'd want law enforcement to be able to do whatever was necessary. But that's not nearly the extent of it.
A "terrorist organization" is any organization the Attorney General says it is. Supposedly it's supposed to be decided to violent action or somesuch, but essentially John Ashcroft has the last word. (For example, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or in a more liberal administration, the National Rifle Association.) That means that any American citizen, natural born or naturalized, can be stripped of his or her citizenship. And once they're stripped of their citizenship, they can be deported. But of course, since they didn't come from somewhere else, there's nowhere to deport them to. Which means that INS can hold them in jail indefinitely.
So that means that if this act passes, the government can legally imprison just about anyone it wants to silence.
What can you do? For starters, check out the ACLU to talk to Congress about Carnivore
and PATRIOT II
and other related issues. Other than that, I'm really not sure. But at the very least, spread the word.
Alexander Payne answered
my FOAF question. Thanks, Alex. I guess I'll let you live. For now. Now I've just got to figure out how to put my own together....
Phillip K. Dick scares me. He's the guy who wrote Do Androids Dream Electric Sheep
, the basis for Bladerunner
-- one of my all-time favorites -- and lots of other reality bending films, like Total Recall
and Minority Report
. He scares me because he imagines a world in which it's tough to tell what's real and what's not, and I can see that happening all around me. Erik Davis has an interesting posthumous interview
with Dick -- you'll have to read the explanation -- and I particularly like the final quote, which seems to solve at least part of the problem: "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."
Gotta remember to check out the last call for the Cascading Style Sheets 3 Basic User Interface Module
I've been having some difficulty with my hard drive lately. As long as I don't have to shut down my machine, it's fine, but if I do, it takes several tries for it to recognize the drive again. Could it be the fact that I installed Windows 2003 on a spare partition? Interestingly, I didn't start to have a problem until I started to actually use it. (And until I installed Office 2003. Hm.) Now I'm back in 2000 -- the 2003 partition is impossible to boot -- but I'm worried about that drive. Maybe it's fate that Morris Rosenthal just let everyone know about the troubleshooting poster
he's got online.
I've decided to become a hippie.
Just when things were starting to settle in, yesterday was Medical Emergency Day. My father in law, who lives with us, started having chest pains. The problem here is that he's got some pretty significant Alzheimers, so he can't tell the difference between a heart attack and gas. Fortunately it was gas, but he still managed to make me nervous.
Then, the dog. Just when we were getting ready to hit the grocery store -- about 11:30 -- thank goodness for 24 hour grocery stores! -- our Yorkie, Raz, starts to choke. Well, not really. Just kind of a snorty noise, like he's got something in his throat. He wasn't suffocating, or anything, but he's my wife's baby, so off we went to the emergency vet. (A very clever idea, that; it's only open from 6pm to 8am.) One exam, two X-rays and $150 later we find out that it's not something stuck in his throat but rather an allergy of some kind that's caused a little bit of bronchitis. Maybe.
So today my wife will babysit the dog while we wait for the antihisamines to work. Can't blame her, really. This is the same dog who, at the age of 9 weeks, bit the cat's tail so hard that the cat swiped him with his claws and inadvertantly gave him meningitis. A day later the poor little puppy was curled up in a stiff little ball and screamed if you even touched him. Thank goodness for vets.
I wish RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury) were as simple as today's Dilbert
. Now that I've finally gotten a working ergonomic keyboard, maybe this cyst the size of half a golf ball will finally start to shrink.
A few items I don't have time to comment on right now:Moblogs Seen as a Crystal Ball for a New Era in Online Journalism
. How will bloggers with Internet-enabled camera-equipped cell phones change journalism?The World Blog
shows you not only what blogs were updated in the last few minutes, but where they are.Feed on Feeds
, a server-based feed aggregator. Haven't tried it yet.
Yoda goes to Ireland.
What more can I say?
OK, is it just me or is there an inherent contradition in patenting technology for ethical artificial intelligence
so that nobody can use it without paying the owner?
I hate sensationalist claims, particularly when they distort the truth. The EFF (with which I normally agree) has managed to get the Ninth Circiut court of appeals to withdraw an opinion
that "framing" of content (or "inline linking") is copyright infringement. That's when Site A takes content from Site B and embeds it in a page or frameset in such a way that it looks like the content is coming from Site A and not Site B. So don't believe the hype that the ruling "that threatens to make all linking on the World Wide Web a copyright infringement," as the EFF claims
Things have been pretty quiet on the chaos front lately. Well, except for the server that crashed and took a bunch of unbacked-up data with it, and the project where the deadlines change on the client's whim. But you know, the server isn't my responsibility, and while it's brought me to a dead stop on one of my projects -- and I'll be the one who has to explain it to users -- I've decided not to stress over it. Ditto for the other project, where the client hasn't been managed at all, I think. I'm not the project manager, I'm just a hired hand producing material, and it's not my problem. Just tell me what you need from me and when you need it. If I can do it, it's yours.
This really is a new attitude for me. I just hope I can maintain it.
Snookered again. And why is it always Star Trek? I've only ever had to retract two items I've posted over at VSFR
, and they're both Star Trek-related. This time apparently Dark Horizons
inadvertantly published a bogus
interview with Jonathan Frakes claiming there won't be any more Next Gen movies. (I happen to think that's probably true, but the interview itself was made up.)
I'm still pissed
at Wil Wheaton
for an "April Fools prank" he played last year, when he claimed that there had been a write-in campaign to get him onto Enterprise, and that it had succeeded. He apparently thought it was funny. I did not.
Yes, I understand that people should be able to write whatever they want on their blogs. Heck, that's the whole point of this one. But he's got to know that when he says something like that it's going to get picked up, and it's just not fair -- particularly since I went to his site especially to get an authoritative source on the rumor.
So the newest crazy is antigravity lifters
. I'm disappointed that they don't work in a vacuum. I didn't think that the high-voltage toys were really counteracting gravity, but I thought that maybe the electric field was interacting with the electrons in the object on what they were sitting, but now it looks more like ion wind. But that's OK. They look fun anyway.
Big Dave needs a kidney.
I don't know Dave Johnson. Never met him, never even heard of him before today. But he's dying, and so are thousands of other people. Ever considered being an organ donor? You don't have to be brain dead to do it anymore. Check out LivingDonors.com
for info on donating a kidney
. (Dave's insurance would cover all your expenses.)
I'm registered as a potential marrow donor
. Are you?
When I hear "United States Chamber of Commerce," I think "branch of the US government," but apparently that's not so. Or at least, I hope so. Because apparently the US Chamber of Commerce is working hard
to oust pro-consumer (read: anti-business) judges and Attorneys General. (Or here's the short version
Adam Curry has a point.
With all of this hassle over RSS, is anybody listening to the customer? Even more scary, though, are his comments about marketing: "But I don't care about the technology of it all, I'm a marketing guy. I spent years promoting rss and see no benefit as a user to have to go through the entire process of validation again, nor do I look forward to 'fixing' all those rss and xml icons and links. This is destructive to the architecture already in place imho. The inability to create a descriptive useful name already shows a lack of marketing savvy. Where are the docs explaining the big advantages to me as a user/writer/publisher/reader/subscriber? Isn't is just more of the same?"
Why is this scary to me? Because the BigCo's everyone keeps screaming about can be very, very good at marketing.
I kind of wish everyone would just get together and say, "hey, let's just unfreeze 2.0, make the necessary changes to solve these problems, and be done with it." But I'm not naive enough to think that'd work.
I've had Google's Adsense
running over at The Vanguard Science Fiction Report
for a week now, and I've made $1.56, and that's just because I wanted to see what sites were advertising on mine. I may give BlogAds
a try instead. Or maybe I'll buy one. I'll let you know how it goes either way.
I'm a little bit excited about a free Online Trial of Visual Studio .NET
. Three hours free. Hm. Have to look into that.
The Illustrated Catalog Of ACME Products
from the Warner Bros. cartoons. Don't you wish this was a real catalog? I could really use a Time-Space Gun
When Sims go bad
-- Some people just have way too much time on their hands.
Well, I've gone and stuck my neck out on this whole RSS thing for an InformIT posting
. Normally I try to stick to the news and not venture and opinion, but I'm trying to change that. Let's hope it garners some comments, whether or not they agree with me.
I never thought about just how many accents
there were in the world.
Now that AOL's gotten into the blogging business
, we'll be hearing about all kinds of non-technie types with blogs, but how about this one to beat all. Science Officer Ed Lu, part of the current mission to the International Space Station has been blogging from space
, talking about the mission and what life is like on the station.
The Register has an article that shouts about a Court worried over Microsoft compliance
but even I have to admit that the complaints seem, well ... petty? Microsoft won't allow companies to look at licensing agreements without signing an NDA. OK, maybe I'm being naive, but I don't think that's really worth of this headline. Personally, I'm much more concerned over the royalties that MS is charging companies who need to licence MS communications protocols to make their browsers, media players, and messaging clients work easily with MS servers. Is it really a punishment if the injured parties have to pay exorbitant amounts to the defendant in order to gain redress?
From crumbling post-Soviet republic to online haven in 10 years
. Should we be pleased, or worried that we're all going to be subsumed in this electronic world?
To do list item: learn reverse engineering
According to a an associated professor at Harvard and expert in Attention Deficit Disorder, people who are "always on" -- as in connected and receiving information -- may be doing it to feed and addiction. "It's like a dopamine squirt to be connected," he says. I also tend to multitask, but this article
may just cure me. These mega-multitaskers think they're speeding things up, but apparently research shows that multitasking causes you to spend about 50% more
time on tasks than if you'd just finished them individually.
Fiona Williams has an interesting article on Science Faction
, or the dodads we see in sicence fiction that are really here with us, or close to being so.
"A federal court has ruled that pop-up ads for rivals of U-Haul International, placed atop the moving company's own site by a third-party software application, are legal.
" The argument is that users who download this ad-ware, (such as Gator) agree to receive ads, and that they should own their own desktops. But this is just plain wrong (morally). I mean, look, if I broadcast a pirate ad over a television commercial, the FCC would put me in in jail, and they'd be right. A company builds a website and pays for it, and (potentially) sells ads on it. Another company shouldn't be able to hijack those eyeballs.
Nobel prize winning retrovirologist and cancer biologist Harold Varmus has gutted the science
in 28 Days Later
, but makes some interesting social points. Would we be better off if epidemics were abrupt, fast, and so deadly that the victims die before they can spread the disease around the world?
Back in the days of vaudeville, the straight man used to get paid more than the comic. The theory was that it was tougher to be a good straight man. Maybe that's true, but I gotta tell you: the straight man is nothing without a good comic. I'm a good straight man. A very good one. But my wife's the comic, and there's not a thing I can do about that. She's just funnier than I am. Period.
According to Hollywood Reporter, NBC-based Pariah is going to try and make an American version of Father Ted
. Now, I love Father Ted. It's one of my all-time favorite TV shows. But I just don't see how this can possibly work.
The original was produced several years ago, before all of the Catholic scandals really broke. Back then you could make a show about what basically amounts to three terrible priests and it was funny, because you knew that the show was really about these three, and not about the Church in general. In politcally correct America, though, I'm really, really, afraid it can't be done. Not now, at least.