Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Greenspan Retires


In honor of Alan Greenspan's last meeting as chairman of the Federal Reserve, some thoughts from Robert Reich:

Alan Greenspan’s greatest triumph was understanding that in the new high-tech global economy, unemployment could fall to 4 percent – or even below 4 percent – and the inflation genie would stay in the bottle. That’s because employees no longer had the bargaining power they once had to demand higher wages. Employers could transfer the work to Mexico or China, or install new computer software to do the job instead. And employers didn’t have the power they once had to raise prices. Consumers might switch to a cheaper product made abroad, or go to a big-box retailer like Wal-Mart.
But then something happened to Alan Greenspan. His ideology trumped his good common sense. Greenspan came out in favor of the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. His dislike of government was so intense that he backed Bush. He assumed the White House and Congress would cut spending in order to finance the tax cuts.

Greenspan was wrong, of course. By now it's clear that these cuts were the single biggest reason why the Bush budget deficit ballooned.
And because it ballooned, inflation pressures mounted. The cost of capital increased and the dollar dropped. As a result, Greenspan had to raise rates and slow the recovery, even though unemployment was considerably above 4 percent.

So two cheers for Alan Greenspan – a great pragmatic chairman of the Federal Reserve, who would have deserved three cheers if he hadn’t blown it on his last lap.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Watch Your Step


RedOrbit via Yahoo! reports:

A visitor to a British museum tripped on his shoelace, stumbled down a stairway and fell into a display of centuries-old Chinese vases, shattering them into "very small pieces," officials said today.

The museum declined to identify the man nor what the vases were.

Spots Before My Eyes

[TV, advertising, Super Bowl]

Ad-rag.com has a partial breakdown of Super Bowl XL advertisements and approximate times listed. A few sound funny, hard to tell the memorable ones from just written descriptions.

Here's one that could go either way:

Pizza Hut - Cheesy Bites (pre-game)

Summary: Showcasing the Muppets, and singer Jessica Simpson. Miss Piggy and Simpson will wear matching outfits. Simpson does a send-up her These Boots (Are Made For Walkin') music video, changing the lyrics to, "These bites are made for poppin'," in reference to the Cheesy Bites featured in the commercial.

Wikipedia Editing from Within Congress

[wikipeadia, waxy]

From Waxy.org comes the news (? was to me) that not
only have Congressional staffers have been authorized
to change Wikipedia biographies (presumably of their
bosses) but that lots of other trolling edits are
coming from a know House IP address.

Wikipedia was blocking the House IP#s at one point but
currently has stopped doing so. Even still the changes
listed are quite interesting.

Bio changes: http://www.lowellsun.com/ci_3444567
Blocked IP: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Ask Nicely and Hope

[www, free]

"Secure your systems from employee data theft, by standardizing on
the Super Security Wallpaper™ to remind your employees and
contractors how much it hurts your feelings when they steal company
data. Hey, it worked for Mom, so it should work for you!"

Stickers, screen-savers and desktops pictures:


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Wrap it Up, I'll Take It

[WWW, gifts]

No real reason to provide this tutorial now other than if I wait I might

Beautiful Japanese method of wrapping a package:

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Stop Shoulder Surfing

[www, google]

Great file/tutorial on how to go about 'Anonymizing Google's Cookie.'


Sunday, January 22, 2006

Lucky or Talented?

[film review]

Went and saw 'Match Point' tonight. Not what I have come to think of
when someone says 'Woody Allen Film' but then I have only recently
thought of him as a comedy director.

A few overlapping details from 'Snobs' by Julian Fellowes (a great
book, BTW) in that you have a group of London's upper-class and their
lives of leisure and who can marry who, but with a twist of an ending
that will have you talking all the way home.

Kudos to Allen for the scene in the rain with Scarlett Johanssen and
Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (who is every bit the opposite of the 'nice guy'
he was in 'Bend It Like Beckham'). And points to Ms. Johanssen for
being sexy enough to not have to go topless to make the point.

Is it better to be lucky or good? See this and decide for yourself.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Hide in Plain Sight

[www, privacy, search]

Welcome to the future (unless we get EuroGoogle): http://blog.outer-

At the COPA

[www. privacy]

The Department of Justice has demanded user search records from Google who so far have declined.


Yahoo!, MSN, AOL=Boo!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Thanks, Internet!

[www, cars, girls]

Turns out the internet really does have something for
everyone. This might be the second best money-making
idea since the MillioDollar Homepage (SFW):


Say Cheese! Show Us Your Nips!


Free Cheese Nips samples every day over at Kraft.

Harpoons Launched in the Southern Ocean

[whales, Greenpeace]

> Greenpeace <webmaster@greenpeaceusa.org> wrote:

> I’ve been aboard our ship, the Esperanza, fighting
> Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean for more than
> a month now. Many of you have been reading my blogs
> about my experiences here, and even writing back to
> me – thank you.
> I’ve shared my feelings with you about driving a
> small inflatable boat between the whales and the
> whalers, and protecting them from slaughter. You
> know what that means to me. I know we’ve saved many
> whales, and made a real difference.
> But despite our best efforts, we’ve witnessed some
> truly heart-wrenching tragedies. Twice in the last
> few days, we’ve seen harpooners miss their target,
> injuring but not killing the whale. In each case, it
> took more than 20 minutes for the whaler to kill the
> whale, causing unbearable pain and suffering for the
> whale.
> In the face of these tragedies, we are more
> committed than ever to put an end to whaling. We’re
> fighting hard here in the Southern Ocean, but we
> need YOUR help back home too.
> ACT NOW! Attend a whale watching party near you:
> http://www.partylaunch.com/greenpeace/
> These whales are being slaughtered for corporate
> gain and sold in Japanese markets as a delicacy. We
> HAVE to impact the corporations who sell whale meat
> if we really hope to end whale slaughter once and
> for all. At home, that means NOT BUYING ANYTHING
> from Gorton’s of Gloucester – a wholly-owned
> subsidiary of the Japanese whaling company Nissui –
> a company that is causing the pain and suffering
> I’ve witnessed this week. In fact, Nissui is about
> to sell the meat from the whales I’ve seen killed.
> We need to send a STRONG message to Gorton’s and
> their parent company to get out of the whaling
> business. On January 27, you can prove your
> commitment to saving whales, and spread the word to
> others, by hosting or attending a whale watching
> party in your local community.
> Join me by phone from the Esperanza to hear more
> about my experiences onboard, and to find out more
> about what YOU can do to save whales at home. Ocean
> campaigner, John Hocevar, and I will fill you in on
> the future of the campaign, and share our personal
> stories. Watch never-before-seen video footage of
> our activities here in the Southern Ocean. We hope
> to inspire you and your fellow party-goers to do
> more to get the word out. Help us get postcard
> signatures at local grocery stores and send in
> oragami whales that we’ll use for an event this
> spring. It will take commitment and time, but
> together, we can STOP whale slaughter forever.
> I look forward to talking to you soon.
> Sincerely,
> Nathan Santry
> Crew Member of the Esperanza

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Mrs. Henderson Presents

[film, santana row]

First of all - go see this film. Very funny and very touching.

OK, that said: I would avoid the CineArts Theatre in Santana Row. It
may not have been their fault but the print we saw was broken and
mended in several places and there was at least two obvious reel
changes (color shift, changes in sound level).

Add to that the $9.75 ticket price since we went ~4PM on MLK day, only
matinee of the day was at 11 (Camera Cinemas is only 5$ with their
discount card), and the slowest barista this side of well, somewhere
really slow.

[How long does it take to make a tepid caffe latte? About ten minutes
I would estimate.]

Upside: Nice seats.

War News Radio

[war, mp3]

The New Yorker's Talk of the Town had an amazing article about a
group of students at Swarthmore College (Pennsylvania), who had a
brilliant idea - "when you find the media’s Iraq coverage unsatisfactory, pick up the phone." Don’t call the Times, or CNN, FOXNews; call Baghdad.

And thus War News Radio was born.

With Iraqi phone books available on the Internet, they found no shortage of people willing to share their stories directly, many of them speaking decent English. When the phone bill started to get out of hand, they switched to Skype (The sound quality via Skype is often better than what can be achieved over the weak landlines in the Green Zone.)

WNR is currently on holiday and is scheduled to resume 'broadcasting' on 20 January 2006.


Existentialist Commix


Don't know why, but this made my morning:

Friday, January 13, 2006

Get Thee To a Nunnery / Canada

[news, canada]

Reuters' headline for 21 DEC 05: Canadians can have group sex in
clubs: top court

Group sex between consenting adults is neither prostitution nor a threat to society, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Wednesday, dismissing arguments that the sometimes raucous activities of so- called "swingers" clubs were dangerous.

In a ruling that radically changes the way Canadian courts determine what poses a threat to the population, the court threw out the conviction of a Montreal man who ran a club wheremembers could have group sex in a private room behind locked doors.

Meanwhile, slightly south of Canada and rapidly moving back to the 1600's, Judge Samuel Alito looks like he will be appointed to the US Supreme Court despite remaining quite mum on several key issues, including a woman's right to choose and the extent of the powers of the President.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

More OED Fun


Manky [...]A skittish (or ‘manky’) horse was ‘same as a twopenny dog’

Next on BBC2


From the Oxford English Dictionary homepage:

The BBC's new six-part TV series, Balderdash and Piffle, is being broadcast in the UK weekly on BBC2 from Monday 2 January to Monday 6 February 2006. The series looks at our fascination with words and the stories behind them, and was made in collaboration with the Oxford English Dictionary.

Each week's programme is based on words beginning with one letter of the alphabet. Guest presenters explore evidence gathered by the public after the OED and the BBC appealed for their help in tracking down the origins of 50 words—the OED-BBC Wordhunt.


Too late now, think BBC America will show this?

More on the MiniStore

[Apple, iTunes]

KIRKVILLE has a very good explanation and analysis of the iTunes
MiniStore situation. Not sure if this has reached beyond the real
hard-core privacy crowd so I hesitate to call it a conundrum just yet.

Sample: [...]there may be nothing nefarious about this, but in a time
when much software tracks users' habits with impunity, when
librarians are asked to record and report readers' book selections,
when the US government wire-taps people without court orders, and
when cellphone records are available for sale on the Internet, it is
no surprise that some people get worried about tiny encroachments to


Written Among the Stars

[NASA, space]

Send your name to the asteroid belt on the Dawn spacecraft. Your name
will be recorded onto a microchip that will be placed aboard the
spacecraft accompanying it on its mission to the asteroid belt. After
entering your name below, you will have the opportunity to print a
document that verifies your journey aboard the spacecraft.


Also - did you sign a list like this on NASA's website about 8 or 9
years ago? That list, also engraved on a microchip, travelled into
space aboard the returning STARDUST. A list of the names can be found


Podcasting Becomes Eclectic (now with video)

[iPod, mp3, free]

"Beginning Jan. 10, 2006, KCRW will offer video podcasts on the
iTunes Music Store and other outlets of live sessions performed by
unsigned, independent, and select established bands on its signature
music show, Morning Becomes Eclectic, hosted by Nic Harcourt.

"KCRW began offering podcasts of Morning Becomes Eclectic live
sessions in August 2005, with the unsigned Los Angeles band Goldspot.
Since then, KCRW has podcast guest DJ sessions with such notable
musicians as Robbie Robertson and Ry Cooder, as well as 40-minute
live performances from critically acclaimed buzz bands Sons &
Daughters, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and The Like, among others. KCRW
claims Morning Becomes Eclectic podcasts receive upwards of 20,000
downloads weekly. KCRW’s intimate live sessions will be available for
free from the Podcast section of the iTunes Music Store."

from Macword.com

iSee What You Are Listening To

[iTunes,iTMS, Apple]

As TUAW.com pointed out today, iTunes 6.0.2 now has
a 'MiniStore' to recommend other tracks based on
what you are currently listen to. What several people
quickly noticed is that now Apple knows every song
you are playing, bought from them or not.

I am not all that paranoid, (I use iTunes to mainly
listen to NPR podcasts) but is this really needed?

Actually, I object more to how ugly it makes the window
when open (which came up "on" by default on my
PowerBook)than on the privacy front. Between this and
those grey store-link arrows (which I immediately turned
off), iTunes is getting to look like the Vegas Strip.

Your mileage may vary, but it also took me some time to
figure out how to turn it off- silly me was looking in
the Preferences menu.

By the way- word on the 'net is that turning off the
MiniStore also turns off the data flowing to Apple. Still,
all this made for quite a not-so-warm feeling toward 'the
Mothership' today.


On Beyond Zebra

[apple, macintosh, software, freeware]

From Acquisition [Gnutella file sharing client] to xScope [Suite of
screen tools for UI designers], all the .apps you need according tp


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Tale of the Tape

[war, homeland security]

Last month Goodman, an 81-year-old retired University of Kansas
history professor, received a letter from his friend in the
Philippines that had been opened and resealed with a strip of dark
green tape bearing the words “by Border Protection” and carrying the
official Homeland Security seal.

“I had no idea (Homeland Security) would open personal letters,”
Goodman told MSNBC.com in a phone interview. “That’s why I alerted
the media. I thought it should be known publicly that this is going
on,” he said. Goodman originally showed the letter to his own local
newspaper, the Kansas-based Lawrence Journal-World.

“I was shocked and there was a certain degree of disbelief in the
beginning,” Goodman said when he noticed the letter had been tampered
with, adding that he felt his privacy had been invaded. “I think I
must be under some kind of surveillance.”


The Digital Living-room

new powerbooks, originally uploaded by adampsyche.

I guess not all the rumours for MWSF '06 didn't prove true. I guess getting the rights to the Clash's 'Radio Clash' ("...Orbiting your living room...") was too expensive?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Morning Becomes Eclectic Videos

[iPod, mp3, free]

From Macworld:

"Beginning Jan. 10, 2006, KCRW will offer video podcasts on the iTunes Music Store and other outlets of live sessions performed by unsigned, independent, and select established bands on its signature music show, Morning Becomes Eclectic, hosted by Nic Harcourt.

"KCRW began offering podcasts of Morning Becomes Eclectic live sessions in August 2005, with the unsigned Los Angeles band Goldspot. Since then, KCRW has podcast guest DJ sessions with such notable musicians as Robbie Robertson and Ry Cooder, as well as 40-minute live performances from critically acclaimed buzz bands Sons & Daughters, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and The Like, among others. KCRW claims Morning Becomes Eclectic podcasts receive upwards of 20,000 downloads weekly. KCRW’s intimate live sessions will be available for free from the Podcast section of the iTunes Music Store.

"Each Morning Becomes Eclectic podcast will be available for a two week window.

Monday, January 09, 2006

[www, FSM, Lego]

"For nearly as long as there have been LEGO bricks, there have been
LEGO churches. There's just something about making a little temple
for your plastic mini-figures to worship at that appeals to the
spirit. Odds are you've gotten the email with photos of the amazing
LEGO Church built by Amy Hughes."

Well now your minifigs can be 'touched by his noodly appendage,' in
this large scale LEGO building: the Church of the Flying Spaghetti
by Christopher Doyle.

It took several months to complete this model, but the results are

2 Good Literary News Bits

[www, Diane Duane]

From the To-do list of Diane Duane (outofambit.blogspot.com) comes:

The revised manuscript of Rihannsu: The Empty Chair (Star Trek) has
gone to the publisher.

Next in line to finish: A Wizard of Mars (So You Want to be a Wizard).

Now we really *do* need another Ikea bookcase!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Sweet Transcoding TiVO, Batman!

[CES, iPod, TiVO]

Word from CES in Las Vegas is that TiVO 2.3 Desktop beta is up on their site and features automated transfers and transcoding shows to a PSP or iPod.

Not that I have a TiVO or an iPod but this is getting close to the sort of situation where I could see justifying a purchase or two. You don't suppose the TiVO you will be getting from Comcast will do all of this will you?

Logo Bricks

[www, design]

With Apple switching to Intel, graphic designers and hangers-on as
well as the ever-PC faithful are taking full advantage of the internet
and bitching about Intel's new logo.

No doubt a product of great research, the overall mood so
far on the street level is that it is not that great. I don't
seem to hate it as much as some do, but Intel already has a reply-bot running to send a reply:


Thank you for contacting Intel. We sincerely appreciate your taking
time to provide your comments and feedback.

The new corporate logo signals that the Intel® brand, and what it
stands for, is evolving. It is the most visible representation of our
company, and the new logo serves a powerful tool that strikes the
right balance between building on our heritage and signaling the
evolution to platforms. This emphasis on the corporate logo aligns
with how people buy their technology today-in a complex marketplace
with many devices, people look to the source brand first. Overall the
strategy is tightly aligned with our business strategy, and our
approach to the specific markets where we are playing-mobile, home,
health, and enterprise. This change in brand identity does not affect
the Intel Inside® program.

Intel does have one of the most valuable brands in the world, but we
want to increase the value and make it even stronger. We believe this
brand evolution will allow Intel to be better recognized for our
platform vision and contributions (beyond the microprocessor),
establish a stronger emotional connection with our audiences, and
strengthen our overall brand value and position in the marketplace.

Again, thank you for your interest in Intel.

Sincerely, Intel Customer Support

For the record the new logo that I do really hate is AT&T and their
updated globe-thing. Frankly it looks like a child drew the old
logo from memory.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Speaking of Chocolate

[food, chocolate]

Now that I am thinking of chocolate, I want another one of these:

Red Fire Bar:{55% cacao} / 3.3 oz. bar
Mexican ancho and chipotle chili peppers, Ceylon cinnamon and dark chocolate.

(Bough some of the Vosges bars at Oakville Grocery two Christmas' back - this year was a Frango Christmas in case Macy's buyout of Marshall Field's ends this long running mint chocolate delicacy)

Death By Fountains of Wayne

[www, chocolate]

All this past Christmas season I was noticing all of the chocolate
fountains available from everyone from Williams Sonoma to Target.

While I have enjoyed the one at the Zinfandel Grille in the Rocklin
Park Hotel
on Mother's day, I wasn't sure who would have the space
or the need for one now that I have taken to heart the Alton Brown
mantra of only multi-taskers allowed in his kitchen. Well - turns
out Britta bought one! Guess I will have to pick her brain on its use.

Will the chocolate fountain be the next microwave or the next
yogurt maker? (Kids, as your parents about the 1970s and kitchen appliances.)

Only time will tell.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Encounter: the view from the table

...watching 2005 come to an end at 'Encounter' the retro-future restaurant in the Theme Building at LAX. A fun room with good food. Service was hit-or-miss but that just gave us something to talk about on the way back to the hotel.

Happy 2006 to one and all!

idogcow. Get yours at bighugelabs.com/flickr

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