Thursday, March 31, 2005

Ampex has a new business model

Suing for patent damages! Lame.


"Dying is for wussies"

A little sick humor at the expense of nutbag Christians.


Wednesday, March 30, 2005

New York's Premier Alternative Newspaper. Arts, Music, Food, Movies and Opinion

Hmmm. No Matt Taibbi column this week, but somehow this giant snark attack shows up without a credit?
40. Frank Bruni
Food Critic, New York Times

Eat this, Frank. The former political reporter has been doling out stars like the Lucky Charms leprechaun. Bruni should be making fearful hostesses drench their panties, but instead he's a literary laughingstock more wont to dole out gilded reviews for pretty wallpaper than a chef's sweet knife skill. Such is Bruni's gonzo-style review regime, one in which he finds it "calamitous" to have olive juice dribble down his hand while fidgeting with a martini and creams his pants over a "pastry cart brimming with lollipops." Bruni's more intent on catering to Platinum American Express Card–wielding uptowners than informing passionate foodies. His "trend" pieces on the proliferation of mega-Asian emporiums and super-sized menus are as painfully obvious as his story ideas are ill-conceived. (Hey! let's visit a landmark famed for porterhouse and berate its lunch hamburger!) Restaurant industry veterans are perplexed that such an influential post has been granted to someone sans a formal culinary background. Bemoaned one chef: "If I had a nickel for every time I've rolled my eyes at that guy's column, I'd probably be able to afford a meal at Per Se." Which Bruni gave four stars, by the way.


Vintner vs. Vintner

Reason reviews "Modovino," a documentary about winemaking in the age of globalization.
"Let's be clear; wine is dead," Guibert declares amidst a damp row of vines. A hero of wine-antiglobalists, Guibert led the resistance against Mondavi, the Napa Valley giants, when they sought to move into Aniane, Languedoc. Like the other French and Italian winemakers Nossiter interviews, Guibert is a Millet masterpiece come to life, a wrinkled, aggressively authentic farmer railing against capitalism as he sweeps through his vineyard.

"It takes a poet to make a great wine," he says, apparently confident that he is that poet.

Against this bucolic decay, Nossiter posits the obscenely successful Michel Rolland, a wine consultant and a crass, comic-book villain. He is filmed either in his office or his chauffered car, making cracks about journalists into his cell phone, spitting streams of red wine between his yellow teeth, denouncing the anti-globalization "peasants" from behind a sterile glass desk, lording over a map that marks the places his business has penetrated. To Rolland, the wine racket is a high-stakes round of Risk. It's not poetry; it's conquest.

Rolland consults for men like Robert Mondavi, the world's most powerful winemaker and a symbol of Napa's ascendance. Filmed in their Italianate mansion, flanked by tour groups, Bob Mondavi and his sons shrug off Guibert's resistance. Next door to the Mondavi estate, another Polo-clad, phenomenally successful wine family shows Nossiter around its own adobe monstrosity.

"Every tree, every shrub, every bush we brought here," winemaker Garen Staglin says, "we created, out of nothing, the best of what Italy could bring." The dining room table is modeled after a Godfather II prop, Staglin's wife cheerily reports.


Monday, March 28, 2005

More idiocy from Creationists

With the lawsuit pending, the council members, defended by an organization of Christian lawyers, will not talk about the case.

But pastor and parent Ray Mummert, 54, explained their point.

"If we continue to indoctrinate our young people with non-religious principles, we're headed for an internal destruction of this society," he said.

"Evolution is just a theory and there are other theories," Mummert explained, smiling through his beard.

"There is such a complexity in life, and science wants to hang its hat on a belief that life somehow started -- they say there is no creator, no order ... I believe there is a creator," he said.

Both sides acknowledge the political context of the debate over Darwinism, and the relation to the re-election of staunchly Christian President George W. Bush (news - web sites).

"Christians are a lot more bold under Bush's leadership, he speaks what a lot of us believe," said Mummert.

"We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture," he said, adding that the school board's declaration is just a first step.

Yahoo! News - Teaching Darwin splits Pennsylvania town

Some great technical discussion of OS X with Jonathan 'The Wolf' Rentzsch

Don't bother clicking this unless you are a programmer or are willing to skim over some of the more wonky stuff in this interview.


Friday, March 25, 2005

Scientific American gives up

The opening salvo in what promises to be a fun April Fools Day season.


Thursday, March 24, 2005

New Bugs Bunny - perhaps too extreme?

If you read about the new "re-imagining" of the Looney Tunes characters with a sense of horror, then this Flash cartoon is for you. Watch the volume, though, as it's chock-full of barely-bleeped swearing.


from B3TA, which is chock-full of great stuff this week.

Next-generation X-Windows graphical goodies

I like the "wobbly windows," but they could get annoying if you are trying to move them around very precisely. The videos all play in VLC.


Watch Bolton lose it

His nomination is just another outrage in a never-ending series of outrages perpetuated by the out-of-ocntrol Bush administration.


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

New Lexus hybrid V6 sports sub-6-second 0-60 times

See, this is what America wants - kick-ass sports cars with decent mileage, not hobbled mini-cars with ridiculous mileage.


New Jetta camapign - Funny. Sort-of.

There are a couple good commercials here, plus a pretty funny extended one with Joey Pants.


Taibbi's back

After his mostly-lame, "outrageous" "The 52 Funniest Things About The Upcoming Death of The Pope", and follow-up non-apology, Matt Taibbi was losing me (despite last week's decent counter-contrarian obituary for Hunter Thompson).

Now Taibbi's back, in style, doing what he does best - telling wayward democrats to get a pair. This time he takes aim at "National Security Democrats," with his usual flair:
Described in Goldberg's New Yorker article, the political plan is centered around a new faction that calls itself the "National Security Democrats" (a term coined by that famous liberal, Richard Holbrooke) and is led by revolting hair-plug survivor Joe Biden. The position of the "National Security Democrats" is that the party should be "more open to the idea of military action, and even preemption" and that the Democrats should "try to distance themselves from the Party's Post-Vietnam ambivalence about the projection of American power." Additionally, the Democrats ought to reconsider their traditional stance as an opposition party and learn to embrace Republican heroes like Ronald Reagan.


James Wolcott on the decline of the American Empire

Call me a pessimist, a proud Eeyore, because I don't think America will smell the fine aroma of Gevalia anytime soon, if ever. This country is wearing a blindfold, staggering backwards, and slitting its own throat in slow motion. Watch the cable news, listen to our elected leaders: there's no more urgency about the economic decline in living standards dead ahead than there is about addressing global warming or loosening the chokehold of military spending. A country where "evolution" is becoming a bad word is not a country interested in facing reality. Instead, as the passage of the bankruptcy bill shows, corporate-political power is going to grind every last dollar out of the desperate and destitute rather than confront the difficult macro decisions. The elites in this country have never had it so good, and as long as they're prospering the distress will smothered under the surface, kept under a lid.


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Did I give you a free copy of Sunset Homes?

Wanna actually BUY it? has it, in DRM-free MP3 and/or Ogg format, for download.


NASA develops stillsuit 0.1

Well, it's actually a device, not a suit; but it does the trick.


Get your feeding tube on

CEA publishes "Declaration of Technology and Independence"

Our nation attracts the world’s smartest and most innovative people because our society embraces and encourages entrepreneurship. Our nation of immigrants has created the world’s largest technologies and communication systems. Currently, our leadership in innovation is being threatened by the content industry’s misguided attempts to protect intellectual property.

Read the whole thing:

HDTV tweakers - the new snake-oil salesmen

Kane arrived, lugging a laptop, a light meter and a small black case stuffed with software. His assistant, Marshall Bennett, trailed.

Gefen fired up his $12,000 Samsung front-projection television.

Everyone in the room marveled at the picture quality. Everyone, that is, except Kane.

"It's not very bright," Kane said. "Let's get a reading."

Bennett set up the spectra-radiometer, which measures the light reflected by the 8-foot-wide screen. "Eight foot-lamberts," Bennett called out. It should have been nine.

Man, if I ever need a job, I should get in on this racket.


Monday, March 21, 2005

Amazing interview about "The Future of Music"

Corante interviews Gerd Leonhard and Dave Kusek, authors of "The Future of Music" about flat-fee services, pro-rated payments for artists, and a host of other uptopian-sounding ideas that are closer to reality than you might think:
We're in a cut-and-paste culture where almost anyone can run recording equipment and make some sense of it without sounding obviously amateurish (well, at least sometimes). More recording artists can produce their music at home, directly on their computer systems, for far lower costs than going to a recording studio. And, instead of making an expensive music video for promotional purposes, you can do it yourself using iMovie and Flash. Yes, none of that will be 'professional' enough to compare to Sting’s latest record, but Corante does not have to compare to CNN to carve out a good niche, either.

So, if we can find a way for such music product /services to sell only 10.000 - 20,000 copies, the producer/artists can still do really well. With lower production costs, the product won't need to sell 200,000 - or even a million - copies to break even. An entire middle-class of artists can emerge, rather than the traditional "Rolls-Royce or Bicycle" culture that used to prevail in the music industry


FM transmitter for electric guitar/bass

Very cool. The only thing missing are effects (distortion, mostly).


Friday, March 18, 2005

13 things that do not make sense

Funny - nothing about evolution in here...


Buy DRM-free music from the iTunes Music Store

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

DRM rant o' the week

Back from China... More on that later.

Let's have a quick reality check.

If you opened up iTunes, turned up the volume really loud on your Mac, and hit Play, you could "stream" to five people within earshot. And no one would bust down the door, except possibly the neighbors. Certainly not the RIAA's paramilitaries.

Now fast forward to the "digital music revolution." The revolution is really about lower marginal costs for the producers - which is turning out to mean higher profits, as the price hasn't come down. For us, it means we get less for our faith - in this case, certainly much less than what old fashioned, speaker to ear, analog sound waves can give us.

Once again, "digital" is proving to be a synonym for "crap".


Saturday, March 05, 2005

Enough with the Greenspan worshipping

James Wolcott has had it with (as Harry Reid put it recently) "one of the biggest hacks we have here in Washington."


Wolcottt also quotes liberally from this article by Dave Lindorff.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Fun videos from BoingBoing

Phil Spector getting married?

Is there anything that loads of money and blow won't make up for?


And, link to an ILM thread I started.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Mac users rejoice - SoulseeX!

Until now, Nicotine (an X11 version of Soulseek, the world's best p2p application) was the only option for Mac people. It was slow, non-standard, and required literally a day's worth of installs to get it running. Now there is an alternative - SoulseeX. It's super-aquafied (almost too aquafied - what's up with all the semi-transparent windows?), and it has every feature of Soulseek other than a wishlist (bummer!). Personally, I would rather have a more compact UI, but this one will do just fine, and it looks way better than a crappy X11 app.


Atheism in decline?

Click below for the most unintentionally hilarious piece of pseudojournalism I've ever read. Contains gems like these:

John Updike's observation, "Among the repulsions of atheism for me has been is drastic uninterestingness as an intellectual position," appears to become common currency throughout much of the West.

I didn't realize "interestingness" was what made something true. And I think that what Updike means is that he doesn't have the intellectual curiosity or stamina to actually try and understand the world on scientific terms, so he resorts to the pathetic logic of a lazy high-schooler - "this class is boring!"

As British philosopher Anthony Flew, once as hard-nosed a humanist as any, mused when turning his back on his former belief: It is, for example, impossible for evolution to account for the fact than one single cell can carry more data than all the volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica put together.

I love it when philosophers try to act like they know anything about evolution. I love it even more when news organizations give them equal time with actual scientists. Oh, wait. In this article, there aren't any quotes from actual scientists.

This is my problem with the current religious climate. How is it that the seemingly-reasonable position of "I'll believe it when I see it" is ridiculed as preposterous?


And for anyone who actually has some intellectual curiosity, here is a link to some truly intelligent folks, fighting the difficult fight against legions of self-satisfied pseudoscientists and philosphers and their dishonest quest for theocracy in America.

Build your own broadcast-flag-free TV

If your current TV receives HD, you'll know it – the quality is so much better it's almost scary. A traditional analog TV creates its picture out of 480 interlaced lines on your screen, while a typical HDTV creates the same picture using 1,080 interlaced lines. Those extra lines mean more detail, more intense color, and an eerie sense that the picture on your screen is literally the same quality you'd get if you were watching something with your own eyes.

The FCC is acting now to shut down what you can do with this amazing quality because once consumers have something (the way they've long had VCRs that record TV), it's harder to take it away. As long as what's being taken away is something "in the future," it's hard to feel like you're losing. But of course you are.

For a perfect example of how you'll feel this loss, consider the DVD player. Ever wonder why there have been no new nifty gadgets you can use with your DVD player for at least 10 years? Seems strange, doesn't it? I mean, think of how many new hoozits and zoomies have been invented for your computer in the past decade. Given the rate of invention in this country, shouldn't DVDs be making breakfast for you by now?

There's one simple reason they aren't. A coalition of companies from the entertainment, consumer electronics, and computer industries got together in 1999 and formed a group called the DVD Copy Control Association, which enforces a strict standard on all devices that can play DVDs. Anyone who develops such a product must comply with the CCA's standards, which include forcing it to place copy protections on any copies made of a DVD. Those protections mean you can only play the DVD in "approved" devices, such as a Sony DVD player or a Microsoft Media Player. It means you can't run the DVD through a mixing board to make a video collage, or create a tiny digital copy of it to play in your cell phone when you're bored on the bus.


New Get Your War On

Go read it!


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

What country is this, again?

The Department of Homeland Security is experimenting with a controversial new method to keep better track of immigrants who are applying to remain in the United States. It is requiring aliens in eight cities to wear electronic monitors 24 hours a day.

The ankle bracelets are the same monitors that some rapists and other convicted criminals have to wear on parole. But the government's pilot project is putting monitors on aliens who have never been accused of a crime.


Another great argument against private accounts

Of the Bush plan to establish individual Social Security accounts, a lawyer friend of mine complains: It's one more damned thing I'd have to manage. I've got enough to handle already.

Isn't that the real issue? Let's forget the funding problem. Or even the risk of ending up with a lower benefit for retirement. Under the Bush plan, we'd be partly responsible. We'd have to hatch our own nest eggs. It's one more job the Republicans would give to us.

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