Archive for January, 2007

Google Gives Bush a Pass

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Searching on “miserable failure” in Google no longer brings up the Bush biography at whitehouse.gov. In fact, whitehouse.gov no longer comes up at all for that term. Google was the first search engine to really focus on link text, regarding them as “votes” for particular site. Yahoo and MSN followed suit, and indeed, searching on “miserable failure” still brings up Bush’s biography at #1 in both of their engines.

Google insists that it has simply made adjustments to its algorithm to somehow counter the effect of these “Googlebombs” (events like “miserable failure” where the term itself has no literal bearing on the content in question, it’s just a concerted effort by Netizens to express their opinions via links). I’m not enough of a mathematician to know how this could be accomplished but this thing just smells fishy. Of course, a search on “waffles” no longer brings up johnkerry.com (still there in Yahoo and MSN). Still, the paranoid schizophrenic in me thinks they’ve made specific exceptions.

The Amen Break

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

This is an enlightening bit of history about how one tiny drum break from a 1969 B-side record can go on to influence entire new genres of music. The mini-documentary is 18 minutes of audio; if you don’t have time to listen to it, Wikipedia has a nice entry covering the basics of the Amen Break.

Craigslist and The New Economy

Friday, January 26th, 2007

Las year I wrote about the New Economy, and Craigslist founder Craig Newmark just provided me with another enormous example of what I think is an emerging economic paradigm shift:

“We’re just motivated by the same values we all learn in Sunday school or the equivalent,” he says. “The Golden Rule and that it’s more important to help people.”….

The company that is indifferent to money, therefore, gushes profits.

Read the full article here.

Reunions Abound

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

Word is out that Crowded House will reunite for a tour, rumors are that the Police will reunite soon (at least for the Grammys but possibly more), and Van Halen have confirmed a summer tour, with David Lee Roth being a more likely candidate for vocalist than Sammy Hagar.

Here’s hoping these reunions will be as fruitful as the amazing Tears for Fears reunion record, Everybody Loves a Happy Ending.

The Dirigible is Back

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

As with any big step forward in technology, I am simultaneously excited and scared. Lockeed Martin’s High Altitude Airship seems like the perfect Big Brother technology[1]. It’s an unmanned craft capable of observing over 600 miles from above 60,000 feet up, unseen to the naked eye. Surveillance seems to be its main job. Hmm.

1.) Comic book fans may remember the same idea from the Watchmen in the 80′s.

Commuter Reflections

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

As I drove home from work last night, I thought about the flying car. Technological limitations aside, it could never really happen for one mundane reason: insurance premiums. Conventional car insurance rates are already hefty, and automobiles only travel in two directions, forward and backward. A flying car, potentially[1], could travel forward, backward, hard left, hard right, up and down. That’s two more sets of axes, so at the very least we’d triple our potential for accidents, and thus triple our insurance rates. Then take into account the amount of skill needed to pilot such a craft, and how many people have a hard enough time not crashing their cars as it is.

Of course, while I’m dreaming, I think really the only way for a flying car to be a viable mode of transportation for average people would be for it to somehow conquer gravity. Propellors and turbine engines are just too dangerous for Joe Sixpack. The mythical flying car would have to involve some kind of anti-gravity buffer that protects it from hitting the ground and from hitting anything else around it. A force field, I guess. Only then would the accident rates drop low enough to be cost-effective, possibly even lower than automobiles.

Anyway this is the sort of thing I think about during rush hour traffic.

1.) I’m assuming the flying car is VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) because not everyone has access to a safe runway.

Attention Television Executives

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

Television as we know it will be dead soon. Everyone will have a DV-R at some point and we will skip commercials, rendering your revenue source nearly nil. What you must do to survive is this: digitize your entire catalog of old programming (if you’re smart enough to have saved the tapes) and offer your own YouTube-style service in which you can sell website ad space. You’re sitting on a goldmine of over 50 years of programming you thought you’d only air once or syndicate for reruns. But we want that content on-demand. Especially the nightly talk shows of which there are so many episodes that DVD just isn’t feasible: classic Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin, early David Letterman in particular. You’ve got it and we want it. For example, I want to be able to go CBS’s website and search on “Mel Torme Buddy Rich” and find this choice gem from Merv Griffin’s show in 1978.

We want to be able to watch what we want, when we want. It’s your content; you control it. If you build it, we will come. So get to work. It’s your only chance to survive.

In Your Latest Little Rock Free Press

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

In the latest Freep, on page 25, is an ad for an interesting product available at RAO Video…the entire ad is encoded, though, and looks like gibberish. At first glance it appears to be an error of some kind. But keen nerds like myself will quickly recognize that it’s a simple cryptoquote wherein all the letters are simply 3 places removed in the alphabet (w = t). The encoded message describes a device for committing technological pranks, so I was kind of disappointed.

Also in the same issue is a brief piece on Butch Stone’s new music business class at UCA called “The Music Business in America.” The title of the Freep article was “How to Make It In the Music Business and Keep the Sharks Away,” which is particularly ironic given that the course will be taught by one of the region’s more notorious sharks. Butch Stone is an interesting character: ask any prominent figure (newspaper, radio, business, etc.) and they’ll tell you he’s a powerful promoter who gets big names to come to Little Rock, and as a manager is responsible for giving the world Black Oak Arkansas and Roger Clinton[1]. Ask most musicians and they’ll tell you stories about his raw deals and promises unkept. For example, click here and phrases like “Stone skimmed money from concert beer sales” pop out out at you.

For most bands, though, the recurring story for everyone from Ho-Hum to Sugar and the Raw is that Butch comes in with a smile and a handshake, makes promises to assist them, and never returns their calls afterward.

One of the segments of the course is called “More money has been stolen with a briefcase than with a gun,” and one has to wonder if it’s a “How-To” course taught by a qualified expert.

1.) Evidence enough for high crimes against humanity.

Indicators of Progress

Monday, January 15th, 2007

If anyone needs any proof that humanity has indeed made progress in the last 2,000 years, I’d like to point out that, for the most part, we no longer make human sacrifices.

Mondays Can Really Hang You Up The Most

Monday, January 15th, 2007

As if the information in the preceding blog entry was not demoralizing enough, I’ve been informed my car is NOT ready today, and its completion depends upon the delivery of a part from Oklahoma, which has been slowed due to inclement weather.

In other news, would anyone care to guess what this is? I found it in North Central China.