Going on Hiatus

My dear readers, Small Thoughts has been a labor of love for a few years now, resulting in nearly 1000 posts. In that time, readership has grown to a stable several hundred a month. I thank each and every one of you.

Small Thoughts has long been a creative outlet, bringing balance to my life dominated by the verbose and the serious. I've come to a point in my life and career where that creative need is sated daily by my work and family, so I am taking a hiatus from the blog to focus on both.

Thank you, and I hope to see you around on the nets!


Just Take That Money And Help the Homeless

A $200 Herman Miller top. Beautiful, but admittedly less comfortable than his office chairs, these baubles are completely useless. Still getting a bonus? Blow it here! Or maybe now is not the time for $200 passe children's toys.

Don't Get Too Winning-y Now

When the most expensive team in baseball wins it all in the most expensive stadium in the sport, that's ok. Thing is, you don't want to repeat that feat too often, lest baseball aficionados start to squeal about parity...and then where would the bronx billionaires be?

Congrats to the Golden Boy, Judas, Matsui, and Hank the Crank. Hank, you are, in fact, still an idiot.



I likes me some e-readers. I think most of the readers here know that. Kindle wasn't bad. iRex is still too expensive. Sony is too expensive relative to Kindle. And now we have the nook and the Alex, which combine a large e-ink screen with a smaller color capacitive touch screen. The nooks just lists the books you can get on the machine (at least from what I've seen.) That's just a waste.

Alex, reviewed in depth here, builds on the concept. While it does not have the 3G anywhere connectivity of Nook and Kindle, Alex has a larger color touchscreen running Android. The plus - greater functionality and an on screen keyboard. The minus - once the color screen is large enough, it starts to dominate the experience. Are you reading documents or watching movies and checking the internet? Do one and you waste the other interface on the device. I predict the device evolves quickly or dies.

Enter PlasticLogic's "Q", which is the first "business reader" and will be sold next to the Nook at BN. I hope to see a device sub $600 with a zippy touchscreen that permits document markup. Yes, I plan to be a bit disappointed.

Back! Been really busy

The problem with jury duty is that it takes all day, which doesn't leave you a lot of time to do everything else that takes all day. Now I have had two weeks of lost time, so I am just getting back into the blogging.



How Drunk, Exactly?

That is impressively drunk. In other news...look how LONG it takes the poor shlub.



I can't even describe this, except to say that it is disruptive and I want it.


How about some kewl video.

Here's an incredible video about them dino-puppets I mentioned a while back. What a beautiful implementation of that technology:

And, why, pray tell, are you just getting video link instead of a serious, well-thought-out blog post? Because I am not feeling well, that's why. Apropos that:


Pariticpation Award

Obama received the Nobel peace prize this morning in a move that surprised even him. WHPS Gibbs had to wake him up just before 6 a.m. this morning to pass along the message. I woke up on my own this morning around 6 a.m., where's my Nobel?

I support the President, but I think my reaction was along the lines of what Gibbs had to be thinking: "Oh god. How are we going to live up to this one?" If W was master of anything it was keeping expectations low. Obama's chief fault may be the flip-side, and the Nobel, coming so early in his presidency and predicated presumably on his diplomatic world tour, doesn't help in that department.

Put bluntly, one could not be blamed for thinking that Obama didn't do much to earn this prize. The panel must have known that when they voted, which I think means two things. First, there was no other stand-out candidate. Indeed, thinking back over the year, I can't think of someone who fits the bill. Of course, that doesn't mean that the panel was without options. There are many, many unknown crusaders for justice and peace out there to choose from. Instead, it appears that the popularity-contest-cum-Nobel trend continues. Gore won it and some people pursed their lips. This year, the physics prize was explicitly aimed at those who had created technologies we use every day - Charles Kao, Willard Boyle and George Smith, creators of fiber optics and the CCD. If that is the prism through which one views the Nobel, Obama is a good choice.

Second, and perhaps more important, is the fact that there is no anti-Nobel prize. That is, even if Obama didn't do much yet, what he has done is a diplomatic 180 from the Bush administration. I don't know exactly how large that looms on the world stage, but I saw the shots of the Berlin rally and the for once favorable European press reviews of the current travels. The distinction is not in standing above the rest, but in so quickly returning from the void to stand with the rest that makes Obama special. If this was the reason for the prize, however, it is hardly about Obama at all. Instead, it is an abject lesson in just how bad W was as a leader, how painfully obvious that was to everyone else (like that girlfriend of yours they won't talk about), and how much damage that did to U.S. power and standing on the global stage.


Getting NASCAR 'Round

This is a NASCAR "Hauler Parade" from Vegas 2008. It is simply a lineup of all the team trucks as they motor from wherever to Vegas IMS (International Motor Speedway). Impressive huh? Each truck holds 2 cars in the back, a mobile garage + awning for unloading into the garage at the track + a communications/telemetry system in the front. The crew, driver, and team administration travel separately - many times also in RVs/buses.

Velveeta Chocolate Caramel Fudge

I don't know what is more disturbing, the notion of taking a processed cheese product and combining it with 2 chocolates and a caramel, or watching a dixie mama drip white goo all over a lesbian's face. You're gonna watch now, aren'tcha?


Auto Photoshopping.

PhotoSketch: Internet Image Montage from tao chen on Vimeo.

Feel like photoshopping yourself and Michelle Obama in the gym working those arms, but don't feel like, um, doing anything? For that matter, feel like having something else do stuff for you - like even the fun stuff? Then this technology is for you.

Seriously, though, damn.



For you Animaniacs fans, perhaps you missed its related series, "Histeria!" Imagine Animaniacs but all about history. To wit:


Separated at Birth?

The top is Lisa Edelstein, Dr. Cuddy from House. The bottom? Nadia Comaneci - fmr. Soviet olympian and apparently now a Chi town booster. Thanks SI.com.


Mmmm, Time Lapse Pop Art

Robert Burden likes doing pop art. Better than that, he likes filming the process. I present to you the battlecat from HeMan...

Seeing how much work actually went into the piece in time lapse might actually raise its value. IMHO.


U2's 4 Legged Monster

U2 is on their 360 degree tour right now, playing under a mega-chuppah in the center of packed stadia. Being that this is the middle of football season, the stage has to be in, up, played under for several shows, down, and out in about a week. Not bad for something 150 wide, long, and (nearly as) tall. That, however, doesn't begin to explain how cool this giant 4-clawed structure looks from every angle. Arced legs, a column of lights, waves of speakers, and a 360 degree jumbotron above the stage that breaks into shards and expands down to nearly touch the band.

Want to see how it was built? Check out the designer's site here.


Palin Comparison To Someone of Substance

Sarah Palin spoke to a group of investors - hedge funders and the like - in Asia yesterday. The meeting was closed to the media and the fee was rumored to be in the low six figures. She claimed to tell them what "Main Street USA" believes about the big issues of the day. Given everything we've seen from this woman for the past 2 years, what prompted these investors to think (a) that she had any expertise, (b) that her expertise could be related in a cogent manner, or (c) that the result would be worth six figures, no matter how "low"?

Cynical response 1: This is part of Palin's gearing-up for the next election. There, too, she will seek national attention not necessarily for the presidency, but for the name recognition it will bring. She will claim to be a woman of the people. Of course, the endeavor will be largely financed by 6 figure speaker fees and their attendees.

Cynical response 2: Low six figures isn't much for hedge fund managers, and getting a speaker with this much tabloid appeal is hard without drawing embarrassing amounts of attention. The Donald is, well, too smart. Paris Hilton, too flashy. So we're left with a D lister who's been quiet but can still pack a house.


Net Neutrality

Let's start a post on net neutrality a little differently: What kind of shameless econo-political whore do you have to claim with a straight face that net neutrality is a government attempt to limit internet freedom through regulation? I guess you could be a Republican, a conservative pundit, or Fox News, all of whom railed against government intrusion into the internet.

Either these people don't know a thing about net neutrality, or they don't know a thing about free markets. I am guessing it is a little both. Net neutrality is regulation of big business to ensure the free flow of information -- at its core it prohibits a telecommunications company from preferring one type of content over another. The network must be neutral to the bits flowing across its lines. Comcast could make a lot of money making sure that YouTube videos got preferred bandwidth while startup video providers were stuck in with rest of the data.

Lest you think that big companies dealing for bandwidth is a pie-in-the-sky proposition, none other than Google has tried to pen such deals - using ISP servers to cache its searches and proposing the construction of Google server farms next to ISPs with dedicated lines. There is a business logic to this: there are a lot of Google users and this would help them access Google faster. Thing is, it also gives a big player in the market an unfair advantage in the medium of communication.

This is not unlike the vertical monopoly Rockefeller created with Standard Oil. By owning every stage of production, from the oil derrick to the railroad, JDR both lowered his own cost and, more importantly, prevented others from using the same means to produce competing goods. That type of monopoly has since been heavily regulated.

The truth in a free market is that not everything is free. Rather, a free market functions most effectively when information flows freely. Any attempt to limit or alter the flow of information -- insider trading, collusion, etc. -- creates an inefficient market and represents an attempt to stifle competition. That reality gets interesting when one talks about telecoms. The lines are all run and maintained by private entities - in particular those providing the fiber that carries data signals. While we want enough competition to spur innovation in that area, we don't want these companies crossing the outer lining of their own wires and meddling with the substance of the data itself. The only thing that can come of that is to prefer one type of content over another.

Rather, these companies should put effort into making the whole system run faster for everyone. But won't that just reduce the cost of the service? Yes, and we'll use more. But what motivation will telecoms have to lay more cable if service is cheaper? Well, the federal government pitches in for that. Wait, there's federal money underlying all of this? Yes - now don't you feel a little better about ensuring that we all get equal access to the cable we helped fund?



Kanye may have been maligned, but mah boy has his own meme. Eat that Taylor Swift.


Things You Already Knew Because You're Smarter Than Me

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo

Turns out that the sentence is grammatically correct. It means "THE buffalo FROM Buffalo WHO ARE buffaloed BY buffalo FROM Buffalo ALSO buffalo THE buffalo FROM Buffalo."

It is classic, but worth repeating.

NYC Considering A Smoking Ban in Public Parks

NYC is a small city, which means that Central Park is crowded - very crowded. Sheep's meadow at the base of the green rectangle looks more like Waikiki beach on summer weekends than it does its pastoral namesake.

In that context, I understand the proposed ban on smoking. Having someone light up 3 feet away there is not much different from having someone light up at the next table in a restaurant. It'd ruin the whole experience for me.

That said, Sheep's meadow is one place at one time. There are a few more select spots with this type of outdoor population density: Screen on the Green...the north (and now south) sections of the Great Lawn on Shabbat afternoon. In any other context, a smoking ban seems, well, needlessly paternalistic. Times Square is more crowded on a regular basis. Shouldn't we ban smoking there first? Same goes for most NY city streets at commuting hours and at lunch. Same deal? If the reasoning can't be applied consistently in city ordinances, I say drop it. Heck,the expense of putting up no smoking signs in all the parks is enough to sully the notion in my mind.

And Now for Something Completely Different

Thanks to D. Holmes for this jem. The translation:

I’m driving Skoda 100 to camp here on Orava.
That’s why I’m hurrying, taking a risk - going through Morava.
The monster lives there comes out of the bog.
Who eats mainly Prague citizens, his name is Jožin.

Jožin from the bog creeps through swamp,
Jožin from the bog closes in on the village.
Jožin from the bog edges it’s teeth,
Jožin from the bog bites, strangles.

To defend against Jožin from the bog, who could imagine-
Only works an aircraft to crop-dusting.
I crossed through the village of Vizovice
The village mayor greeted me, and said to me over some slivovitz
The one who brings Jožin in dead or alive
I’m going to give him my daughter as a wife as well as half of a collective farm


I said: give me a aircraft and powder, mayor,
I’ll bring you Jožin, I see no trouble about that
The mayor helped me, in the morning I went up in the sky
The powder from the aircraft prettily fell on Jožin.

Jožin from the bog is already all white
Jožin from the bog is escaping from swamp
Jožin from the bog hit the stone
Jožin from the bog it is the end of him
I caught him, I’m keeping him
Money is money, I’ll sell him to Zoo

Somehow, the translation manages to enrich the whole experience and yet add nothing at all.

Ex Libris

Stifle your murmurs of, "You keep using that [phrase]. I do not think it means what you think it means." Philadelphia's Public Libraries - every one - will be closing Oct. 2 due to budget shortfalls. I haven't been to a public library in nearly a year. I'd venture to guess that most of my yuppie friends (those without kiddies) have gone much longer without setting foot in one. That said, I fully recognize their important place in making knowledge open and free to everyone.

This kind of post usually devolves into a heady diatribe about the need for an informed electorate, and that's true. But besides that, a library is a cultural node. It is a community center - often the site of many organizations and activities. It promotes the arts to those often unlikely to encounter them. Today, it provides those who cannot afford it at home access to the internet. Turning that off is literally shutting them off from the mainstay of the new economy in which we expect them to compete.

It is, in short, a very, very bad idea.


It's Not What Wilson Said, It's How He Said It

Rep. Joe Wilson shouted "You Lie," at the President during his health care address to a joint session of Congress last week. Perhaps you heard of it.

He called to apologize to the President that night and got Rahm Emanuel instead. Oh, what I would have given to be a fly on the wall for that call.

In true House fashion though, that's not enough. The House has threatened to sanction Wilson for a breach of decorum. Actually, a fair point. Thing is, if there isn't bipartisan support for the move, I think it would serve little value. Based on what happened in the chamber at the time of the outburst, there should be support across the board. On C-Span, the faces of Republicans showed the same shock and dismay as those of Democrats.

Yet, now, a week later, the conversation is shifting. Republican King has circulated a letter to other representatives noting, among other things, that Obama called "prominent politicians" liars in his speech with regard to the charge of death panels. With all due respect to Rep. King - and I owe him some respect for this deft machination - that's not what the Wilson sanction is about. Calling the President a liar in front of Congress is bad, but the breach of decorum comes in the exclamation itself, not the content. That is, the House would sanction him for yelling at the dais. It is that action which is unacceptable. You want to call the President a liar on your own time? Call a press conference.

Can we coin a phrase? An unwelcome outburst shall henceforth be known as "Shouting liar in a crowded chamber."


Global Warming of One Kind or Another

The arctic ice near Alaska has receded so far that shippers are now starting to send cargo through the Northeast passage, something previously impossible even in the height of summer. The shippers, a German company called "Beluga", had to traverse not just detached flows (e.g. icebergs), but also the Russian permitting authority, which has never before had to issue permits for such a crossing. The Russians, seeing the opportunity to supplant the Suez canal for certain routes are making noises about reducing cost and permit paperwork. Sure, the route is eco-friendly in that it cuts 3,000 miles out of the trip from Rotterdam to Yokahama, but that seems to miss the real ecological point, doesn't it?

And on to a more direct form of global warming. One patch of sand in Utah got particularly warm at the hands of NASA's new Ares 5 first stage booster. It doesn't look like much, until you realize that the rocket is the size of a warehouse - larger than the current shuttle boosters - and packs 22 million horsepower. Hi ho NASA away!


@TWITTERHEADS Could Twitter Die?

I have made clear that I don't tweet. Given that I full-blown blog, I don't see the need to micro-blog. In Twitter, that last sentence would have been the last sentence. Makes it hard to make a point.

Twitter has two problems, perhaps three that make me think it might be the technological equivalent of pogs. First, the service has no natural revenue model. Where can you put in an ad in 140 characters? I suppose you can add them to feed pages, but tweets are already freely syndicated. Reining that back in would be really hard. It is reported that Twitter has a revenue model in place. Interestingly, the company is tossing around whether to get bought first based on others' pie in the sky assumptions about the service or turn on the revenue stream and risk having to be judged on actual performance. The waves that revenue will likely send through the Twitter stream are inevitably going to (a) turn off some and (b) cause enough turmoil to make potential suitors wring their hands.

Second, Twitter is the "League of Extraordinary Gentleman" of technologies. The superhero flick starred Sean Connery who, when asked why signed on to the colossal bomb, said that superhero films were really in and he wanted to get in on it. The movie picked superheros nobody cared about, was made by people who didn't understand the comic/superhero culture that attracted young audiences, and thus failed with the only demographic that mattered.

Blogging and social networking technologies have generally been bottom-up endeavors. MySpace and FaceBook had a young, committed base of early adopters and then grew into corporate behemoths. Blogs ran the same route in the publishing space. Twitter bypassed that as media outlets like CNN and ESPN, desperate not to miss the next big thing, dove headlong into Twitter. The result is that Twitter's user base is predominantly 34+. More importantly, I think it is made up of people who feel they need to Tweet to keep up, not because they like it. Consequently, if popular opinion turns against tweets, I would expect usage to crash.

Third, Twitter is a technology that doesn't work as intended. The platform was created to broadcast tweets from one phone to many. Now the whole thing is online, where the space and text-only constraints of SMS make little sense. Even those using twitter on mobile devices are using it in apps or browsers, not in SMS. Why are we shoe-horning the SMS experience on the web, or vice versa.

I have been looking around for that thing in the first decade of 2000 that we'll look back on in 10 years and think, "What were we thinking?" More and more I think Twitter is that thing.


Placebos Gaining Market Share

Wired has a great feature on the placebo effect. Pharma is paying more attention as more and more drugs are losing to the placebo. And it isn't because the drugs are less effective. They have the expected positive effect. Thing is, the placebo has recently started to have an increased positive effect to rival that of the drugs.

If that's the case, could doctors just make the judgment call to prescribe a placebo in some cases and see what happens? You have a tough-to-place pain in your arm. Doc tries a few things and then decides to prescribe Panaceanol(tm), a new Merck placebo that is just sugar. A week later, you feel fine. You've triggered your own body's ability to deal with the injury/illness, introduced fewer chemicals, and done so more cheaply. The cost was, in part, having to fool you into doing it. Is it worth it?

Most importantly, is there any way to permit Drs. to do while mitigating any chance for abuse?

POTUS Addresses Our Kids

I don't know why there isn't more disbelief and outrage from every thinking American at the reaction of conservatives urged on by a Florida crackpot. Seriously, keeping your kids at home so they won't hear the president speak? What if it was president H. Clinton? or president Biden? Or basically anyone else who was possibly considered for the job this past go-around? Liberals didn't keep their kids at home when Bush spoke even though they had ample evidence that his ideals were truly repugnant to them, ranging from torture to the dismantling of health care to the unbridling of big business.

He was the president, first and foremost. Kids should be able to look up to the office - they are likely too young to truly grasp the politics of the man. Second, how controversial could a speech urging kids to work hard possibly be? Reason won out and liberal kids stayed in school. There was no story because there was no question in our minds.

Look, I won't call the conservatives over-reacting to this a bunch of cowardly racists. I'll leave that to Michael Daly of the Daily News. I'll just say this - this is jingoistic politics at its best. It panders to fear and to prejudice and any conservative who respects his or her ideals and the party that supports those ideals should stand up and state clearly, "I am an American, and I show due respect to our democratic process and to the office of the president. Anyone who does not should be ashamed."


Giant Jumping Shark! Do I have your attention yet?

This is the photo the NY Daily News ran to accompany a story about Chatham (Cape Cod) beach closing due to recent sitings of 3-4 Great Whites. The article describes the sharks "Great White Sharks, like this one off the coast of South Africa, have been spotted off the coast of Cape Cod." Not really.

Sure, it is unusual to find Great Whites in the Atlantic, but the researchers certainly didn't find them leaping 10 feet out of the ocean. That behavior is reserved for particular feeding frenzies and has only been observed a limited number of times by people. Also, that shark looks quite a bit bigger than the 8-10 feet noted in the article (I am going by wave/ripple size), so the shark is both bigger and badder than anything close to what we're seeing off the coast of MA. Oh, and did I mention that Great Whites aren't among those sharks generally considered dangerous to humans? If these were hammerheads, black tipped reef sharks (I have scuba'd with these - they are more scared of us, yadda yadda yadda), etc., get out of the water.

Did anyone in the editorial department stop to think that this photo might be inappropriate fear-mongering, or is that a legitimate editorial aim at the NY Daily News?


iPod Touch and Skype = Awesome

I recently acquired a Skype Account + unlimited US calls for $2.95 a minute for work. I also have Apple's iPHONE headphones for my iPOD. The microphone laden headgear was acquired when my prior pair had an unfortunate incident with a treadmill. The microphone is the only phone hardware the iPod lacks, and Apple was nice enough to permit a line-in mic. The result = Skype on my iPod.

Just tried it and the sound is magnifique. Color me converted.


People of Walmart - legal.

www.PeopleOfWalmart.com is the latest addition to the embarrassing reflections of modern life segment of the blogosphere already populated by www.cakewrecks.com, www.thisiswhyyourefat.com, and, most famously, www.failblog.org. Indeed, it appears that the authors have decided that instead of focusing on the product of our ineptitude, they'd point the camera at the inept themselves.

Why is this here? Because the upsurge in interest has caused people to ask whether the site is legal. Specifically, they ask if including these people's photos is defamatory. First, truth is a complete defense to a claim of defamation. Done. That said, the question was not asked by a lawyer, so lets look at "defamation" claims in the vernacular sense, including portrayal in a false light, public disclosure of private facts, and privacy. These photos are not flattering, but they don't seem to take anything out of context. Scratch false light. To be liable for outing private facts those facts need to be private. I imagine the decision to wear some of these outfits in public does away with the expectation of privacy. Finally, there is the right to privacy. Generally, it was created for public figures, not regular people. It is meant to defend against reporting of fact that is nonetheless private. It doesn't really apply to the average person. Moreover, it generally doesn't apply to photos taken in public - you were out in public. You can't expect that to remain private.

Let's get one thing straight - the law protects you from embarrassment from that which is untrue or which you make an attempt to conceal. If you're embarrassed by seeing what you do in public reflected on the screen and it makes you unhappy, isn't that why we humans developed the emotion in the first place? The law has done nothing to change that.

Travel Much?

Duracell Instant Power - $20 to provide backup to any USB device you own. It is certainly the right price for backup power. HT: Gizmodo.

National Singles Cougar Convention

I find the concept of Cougars interesting from a 'moral equivalence' standpoint. Let me provide you two inverse scenarios. An older woman with a younger man is a cougar, prized for her voracious, youthful spirit. An older man with a younger woman is dirty gent plying a young thing with his money. The young thing isn't helpless. Worse, she's a gold-digger - the non-fat term for whore.

Then there's the student/teacher relationship. A male student gets props for nailing Ms. Johnson the science teacher. A young woman nailing Mr. Johnson the math teacher? She was raped.

We have really inconsistent stances on these relationships. I don't claim to know if of how to solve this, but I will admit that it makes them eerily fascinating.


Dive Pirates

Cayman Brac is second in size to Grand Cayman in the trio of Caribbean islands. RSC and I dove with Reef Divers on Little Cayman a few years ago. This video is of their sister resort on Cayman Brac. First off, yes, it is always this nice.

Second, Dive Pirates provides scuba experiences to the disabled. I didn't believe it could be done until I saw this video. How awesome.


eBay Sells Skype Stake For Wash

Ebay bought 100% of Skype a ways back for $3.1B. Today, it sold 65% of the company to a group of investors for $1.9B. For those keeping score at home, that means ~0% gain on sale. Query: Given the current state of affairs, is that a huge coup for the faltering auction giant or a loss in disguise?

On the one hand, the service has grown to produce revenues of $550M/year. That means the purchase price represents a 6x valuation multiple (i.e. the whole company is worth 6 times yearly revenues) - not particularly high. Most analysts expect Skype's revenue to rise.

On the other hand, this is a very down economy. Despite Skype's allure, cash is hard to come by and risk is unsavory, making buyers wary and, therefore, cheap. More importantly, the company is being sued by a UK company for violation of a technology license. The technology, called Global Index, is essential to Skype's architecture and function. If they lose the license, they shut down. eBay has said as much in its filings. The two sides are scrambling to settle, and you can bet it won't be for a paltry sum. With these risks and the economy, is it impressive that eBay got even that much for the Company?

On the other, other hand, eBay will retain a 1/3 share of Skype - also a mixed signal. Is it that eBay still believes in Skype and wants the upside or is it a requirement of the new investors so that eBay retains some skin in the game in case it all goes south?

Hard to tell.



Belichick gave Tedy Bruschi the greatest compliment today, calling him the "perfect player." Bruschi - 36 and a stroke survivor - retired today, having played over a decade for the Pats and nowhere else.

Me? I just bought a Bruschi jersey this month, so color me surprised. That said, better to wear 54 in his one and only set of colors, than to wear, say, No. 4 in a rainbow. I suppose it is more a tribute jersey now and that is bittersweet.


Gimme Some of that Ole' Time Law-Talk

I was researching the satire/parody distinction in copyright today. (A quick primer: Copyright permits others' "fair use" of the material so that (c) does not inhibit communication in the same way patent can stymie innovation. Fair use includes newsworthy content, etc. Parody is permitted as a fair use because criticism of a thing often requires creating a likeness of the thing itself. Satire, which is using something to criticize something else, is generally not permitted.) Not surprisingly, the distinction is eroding because it is hard to demarcate. In the mean time, lawyers have to rationalize their client's work as parody as best they can. Witness this beauty of a parenthetical explanation:

Abilene Music, Inc. v. Sony Music Entm’t, Inc., 320 F. Supp. 2d 84,
89–92 (S.D.N.Y. 2003) (commenting first that the relevant inquiry
was not whether rapper Ghostface Killah intended his song as a
parody of Wonderful World but whether the song differs from the
original in a way that may reasonably be perceived as commenting
on what a viewer might reasonably think is the unrealistically
uplifting message of Wonderful World, and consequently holding
that Ghostface Killah’s song could be perceived as commenting on
the innocence reflected in the lyrics of the original, in order to
drive home its hard-knock life message more effectively);

A "Vhimper."

The Eagles played last night. In case nobody saw them, they were the guys standing around Michael Vick for those infamous six plays last night. They continued to do something after he stepped off the field. I don't know that for sure, all sports TV went dead after that for the night, having lost its sense of purpose.

Seriously, that is what it felt like listening to the coverage. Now, of course, we know Vick did little, showed less, and left a lot of people wondering whether all the money, time and effort will lead to anything resembling a QB, let alone the QB phenom that Vick once was. I'd need to see more. A lot more.


I've Got It! We'll Make it Harder!

While the rest of the world is working towards usability, Londoners are apparently above that. Enter the Cockney Rhyming Slang ATM. I can't believe this is seriously being considered, but here you go nonetheless: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/money/consumer_affairs/article6808494.ece.
Locals might like it, but the rest of us are in Barney. Don't know what that means, check it:

Basher: So unless we intend to do this job in Reno, we're in barney.
[everyone pauses]
Basher: Barney Rubble.
[they look bewildered]
Basher: Trouble!
Ocean's Eleven.


This is a rant against Fox masquerading as a Ted Kennedy retrospective. I understand that we'll likely get too much Ted for the next 24-48 hours. His history, his family, his commitment to healthcare. Maybe tomorrow it will be too much already, but this morning it is indubitably the top story. CNN, MSNBC, and the local stations got that. Fox and Friends had on their friend Lou Holtz from Notre Dame. So they asked him about Ted Kennedy. Twice. Then moved on.


Not a Newsflash

The CDC has just released a report indicating that the average US gamer is male, 35, overweight, aggressive, introverted and unhappy. Glad to know my perception and reality match up on this one. Mind you, these aren't casual players, those with a Wii and Wii sports, or iPhone gamers. These are gamer gamers. "Dedicated" might be disturbing, but I think it is the right word.


Tough but worth the time.

This is a longish video, walking through good visualizations of the 10 theoretical dimensions. It's worth the 11 minutes, considering you will not find a clearer explanation.


Memphis Naughty, Stripped

The NCAA is going to strip Memphis of 38 games in its run up to the Final Four of men's basketball in the 07-08 season. The move comes after an investigation into Memphis practices of having third parties take (academic) tests for players, etc. How much is this going to cost offices around the country who now have to revisit their pools and recalculate payouts? Just think of the cost of tracking down employees that have left or - worse - were laid off in the recent downturn and now have to return their winnings. I jest, but if you won or lost thousands in Vegas pool, how would you feel right now?


My Hero

Calm, collected, but unafraid to call a spade a spade. This is what is so great about Barney.

HT: Dorkowitz

Further Favre Flappings

Actually, this isn't about Favre per se, but the havoc he has wreaked on the Vikes. No position is more deeply affected by this move than QB, where folks like Don Banks have noted that Jackson - erstwhile savior of the Vikes - and Rosenfels - the spurned favorite to start - are likely pissed. He points out, I think correctly, that neither man will want to pony up a ton of effort if and when Favre is either injured or too gassed to be effective.

That's all fine and good, but let's not forget the Third Man - John David Booty. One of USC's super passers for two years, he broke convention before the draft and stated clearly that he wanted to be a Viking. They obliged, though at a much later stage in the draft that JDB might otherwise have been taken. That left him as the number 3 man on the roster, wearing #4. As of Monday, he's now the #4 man wearing #9. To me, that's insult and injury in one tasty package.


Vikes Pack Pack's Punch

Or so they would have you believe. The Vikes have signed Favre. Ding dong the legacy is dead folks. He's coming in with an unresolved injury - one his good sense has told him was serious up until the first week of pre-season. Then his competitive spirit took over and decided, "Heck, why not make percentages on a whole new set of Jerseys?" (And don't forget the folks over at http://www.judasfavre.com/shop/judas-favre-t-shirt.html). Mark my works Minnie. This will not end well, though at the very least it will most likely end this year.

24.6 MegaPixels. Now You Can Actually Tell That Ugly Is To The Bone

Sony just announced the price for its 24.6 MegaPixel DSLR and Gizmodo is complaining that the $2900 price for the body is nearly 50% than the expected $2000 price. Let me say that again - this is a 24.6 MP camera - nearly 5 times the resolution on my DSLR. The Nikon D300 is $1300 for a 12.3MP camera. MegaPixels don't achieve an economy of scale. If anything, it is the opposite. Take the Canon 1Ds Mark ii as an example - 16.7MP with a professional body for $2500 (at the very least). With these as the comparators, the Sony is a steal.

Wait Wait Highlights.

Wait Wait..Don't Tell Me had a wonderful reaction to Obamacare protestors:
They don't want anyone giving them healthcare. Their motto is, "Live Free and Die."


Brady and Vick

[NFL Network highlights from last night.]

The mechanics looked like they needed a touch of work when he aired it out - neither really long pass to Moss hit the superstar WR in stride. That said, the short to medium game looked really good.

Things were a little more confusing on the other side of the ball with Eagle's acquisition of Vick. That makes 5 QBs for the Birds. I understand that rookie Adam DeMichele isn't coming off the practice squad for a while, but that still leaves McNabb, Feeley and Kolb (Kevin). Is this a sign that McNabb really is done? And, if so, isn't Feeley good enough to step in? And, if not, what was the point of drafting Kolb in the second round of 07 and developing him only to leave him in the cold now? Or is this all a ploy toward a multi-QB package using Vick in a modified Wildcat? And then there's always the possibility that the 1000+ rushing QB could end up as a running back. See? I have now idea what the thinking was. That said, if there was a team and a town that could accept Vick back into the fold culturally, it is Philly, with its hard edge and solid urban backing.


Anarchist's Cookbook II

Absinthe and flamethrowers is much prettier than the black and white photocopied version of the Anarchist's Cookbook that my high school buddies got their hands on, but isn't it basically the same. Perhaps including Absinthe, a product that is increasingly legal in the U.S., in the title is an indication of a more tempered approach. Nevertheless, the presentation may be novel, but the idea is seriously dated.

HT: Uncrate.com


U.S. Air Guitar Championships

So...this was in town last week and I missed it. Um. Yeah. Just watch this and decide for yourself - do you have "airness"? That, and I loved the poster.


A One Man Iso Booth

Paul Carr over at TechCrunch just published this rant on unreliable sources. His point: If you lie to me off the record, and I find out, I'll consider it on the record and out you as a liar. Maybe that's a good idea if you have a lot of influence, so people want to go to you to the exclusion of others. I don't know Paul - perhaps he has this power. I know that if I did this, I'd simply be turning of the source spigot. That's bad, because from the source flows the information that becomes a scoop. Didn't we used to pay journalists to sniff out the BS? Oh, right. We used to pay journalists.

Vatican 3.0? Presbys...I guess not.

via: Flickr


Apple Tablet. Take $1.2B and call me in the morning.

Do you believe that the Apple Tablet is the next big thing? It is part of a budding segment of products, like Michael Arrington's CrunchPad, known as "Mobile Internet Devices" - MIDs. These are touch-based, keyboardless netbooks, whose main purpose is web surfing in all its glory. I for one already have a perfect MID - the Touch. It travels, it has internet, and I am happy. That said, could we see a revolution in home computing as the paper is replaced by the pad? Between the Kindle and other readers + the MIDs, it is a possibility. On the other hand, this has been tried before, recently by Nokia and in the receding past by Palm. Even the analysts see this more as a niche product, like Apple TV, so I'd dampen those hopes a bit.

Things You Already Knew Because You're Smarter Than Me

Here's Krugman's take on the mobs swarming the healthcare townhalls being held by the recently on-recess members of Congress. I don't cite the man much, but there were two items of note in the article:

"Astroturf organization" - A fake grass-roots organization.

and this bit:

There was a telling incident at a town hall held by Representative Gene Green, D-Tex. An activist turned to his fellow attendees and asked if they “oppose any form of socialized or government-run health care.” Nearly all did. Then Representative Green asked how many of those present were on Medicare. Almost half raised their hands.

Healthcare is a complicated issue, made all the more so when it butts up against the other challenge we face as Americans - ignorance.

Just Gorgeous

This is a stepwell - a well in which access is had through the use of multiple staired tiers. I had never seen one before, and this one - Chand Baori in India - is among the world's deepest at over 100 feet. It is also eye-poppingly impressive.


Sony Reader Might Best Kindle

As someone who unhooked from the ever-online world of BB to an iPod Touch and realized that I didn't need to be that connected, I think Kindle's whispernet is nice, but not a killer app. Gimme WiFi and we're cool.

With that as a premise, check out the new Sony Reader and Reader Touch ($200 and $300 this fall). With 1 million free books, the ability to read office docs (for FREE mind you), and Sony's tight hardware design, I don't know that its worth waiting around for Kindle or its DX big sister. Seriously.

[HT: Gizmodo]


Hammacher Schmammacher, This is Awful!

Hammecher Schlemmer is known for outlandish stuff, but it is supposed to be outlandish COOL stuff. Just watch the game-play video. The humans are stuck in little ravines with one, easily defended hole through which to put the ball.

Hammacher: So it's a trampoline?
Schlemmer: Yes.
Hammacher: But it is no fun at all?
Schlemmer: Exactly.
Hammacher: Novel. I like it!

Cash for Free

Politicos have had mostly plaudits for Cash for Clunkers - the magnanimous government subsidy plan that pays $4500 for your trade-in when you decide you want something newer and sitting-forever-in-inventorier. Car dealers were far more enthusiastic, taking orders and making sales on the plan well before it was fully implemented. Now, having racked up thousands of sales and fronted rebates in the millions, they are wondering why the government can't process their claims fast enough. Seems to me that the government reasonably expected a conveyor belt of claims and instead got an upturned dump truck. I sympathize with Uncle Sam to this point.

But Uncle Sam and I parted ways on this program from its inception. While this stimulus clearly stimulates buying, the sheer number of people to take advantage of it indicates to me not that it is wildly successful, but rather that it is too generous. If I gave out one dollar bills in Washington Square Park in NY at lunch, I might have maybe 10,000 show up from a few square blocks. But if I gave out $100, you can expect that many times that would show up. Same thing here. Clearly Americans needed a kick in the pants to show up and buy, but I think we may have kicked too hard. I think it is a good thing that dealer inventories are finally shrinking, but this is a blip. It doesn't mean that car sales next year or the year after will return from the current 6M/year level to the prior 10M/year level. It means that, for the next few weeks, there is a fire sale on cars.

What is a Congress to do? This is populism at its best - giving the people bread and circus in the same bite. Having fed the masses and been lauded for it, Congress can't stop now. They can't lower the incentive or risk cries of "unfair!" On the other hand, they can't give away money forever. Representatives took one look at this and 2010 election and voted "Yea" for $2B more. Senators with a little breathing room are doing just that and asking, if they can't lower the amount, whether perhaps they tack on a few riders. $4500 requires a certain improvement in fuel efficiency. Under the plan, people are already trading down in fuel consumption by themselves - prompting Sen. Schumer to quip, "If it ain't broke..." But I say it is broke and we can't fix it because the backlash will be too great. Instead, let's tweak it to get what we can for our money. Let's restrict the rebate to cars achieving over a certain MPG and those with ULEV ratings (ultra low emission vehicles). That's your small cars, small SUVs, cross-overs and most Hybrids (I am looking at you Escalade). Perhaps we can salvage something from this program after all.


The Elusive Tablet

Bill Gates sees tablets as the next big thing in computing. Actually, he's seen it as the next big thing for about a decade. Steve jobs has seen it as the next best thing for longer - ever since the Apple Newton showed up, was amazing, and then totally bombed. Even with tablets well under $1000 and TechCruch's CrunchPad and Apple's Tablet coming out in the fall - offering pure tablets with less power for "couchtop computing -- I am still very skeptical. I have long looked for a tablet myself. Avid readers will know that I eventually settled on an iPod Touch and have never looked back. At best, I see them as a niche product. I don't know why users don't rush to these most natural of form factored devices, but the ample data shows they don't.


So you get bike racing and action sports on this blog. Go figure.

X-Games 15 just wrapped up in LA and it proved to be a tad mediocre.
Mediocre even with 90 foot drop ramps to 70 foot skateboard jumps, no
handed back flips on dirt bikes, and gnarly landings in bmx vert.
Thing is, by now, a lot of this has been done, as evidenced by the
fact that best trick in moto x this year was just a repeat of the best
trick last year. What the audience wants to see is innovation, nit
execution. Missing the newest inverted 900 Ollie spin fakir nose
gainer and exploding in a hail of safety gear is always better than
perfecting that double back flip I have already seen 5 times today. I
know I am picky, but execution is what traditional sports are about.
This is entertainment through danger.

And speaking of danger, I was sad to see safety equipment disappearing
at X. Moto X, rally, and the huge air events have better safety
equipment then ever before. But on skate park, bmx park, and other
sports performed on an impressive array of concrete and metal helmets,
knee pads, etc. were markedly absent. These are precisely the sports
kids will emulate, so it's up to the worldwide leader in sports to
suit up thier atheletes as an example.

If you need an example, look at Andy Macdonald. A contemporary of Tony
Hawk's, he is still competing at 36, thanks to a helmet and some very
serious padding. Think, "Go big AND go home."

Some other thoughts
- The loss of sponsorship cash was obvious as helmets etc were
emblazened with energy drink logos and not much else. On the track,
the only logo in prominent position was Dell's.

- I like Rally. I don't know how extreme it is, but I like it.

- The female supercross champ is deaf and nobody cares. Awesome.

- Jam session format is a new addition to the games. You get 30
seconds, and they score you immediately as I immediately drop in for
my run. It's fast and awesome. The cameramen must be exhausted by the
end of the half hour.

Sent from my iPod



So Favre is not joining up with the Vikes. Fine. There's way too much coverage for me to add much, other than to ask: If he doesn't start for a team this year, is there any chance he would somehow reconsider next year? If so, would anyone take him? The real question is: Did Brett's call to Richard (Childress) effectively end his career?

I, for one, think Favre did tremendous damage to his legacy by returning to the Jets, despite the massive windfall in jersey sales. Imagine if he had walked away, tear-filled, as the golden boy of Lambeu two years ago and never looked back. He'd be the golden boy forever. Everything since then has served to tarnish that image. Even his ability to rally the lackluster Jets to a near-playoff run. I, mean, it was near the playoffs. It wasn't the playoffs. And did you think he could lead them to a Superbowl? I don't know anyone who did. At Green Bay, he didn't need to - and that's really the point.

Now Favre leaves as the injured and indecisive former golden boy who held out for a bit on an offer to play for his one-time greatest rival, the Vikes. And, of course, there will be speculation all this year and next about his possible impending likely rumored return. That is something quite a bit less than golden.


MySpace Isn't Dead. Actually Maybe Evite is Dead?

Myspace just surpassed evite as the top invitation service. Wierd. I thought MySpace had started to go the way of the Republican party (zing!), but I guess I was wrong (maybe about both, d'oh!).

Evite has recently partnered with FaceBook to bridge invites across platforms. I don't think it's going anywhere any time soon, but perhaps that will help it regain its dominance.


Tour de Classe


Lance didn't win, yet he emerged the better for it. At 37, he did something the Lance of 27 would not have done: He made sure his teammate won. He kept to the party line amidst the constant stream of media attention. He kept his cool. And when his teammate was secure in yellow, he put on some of the most impressive shows of cycling I have seen in a long time. Covering a 2 minute gap up a mountainside, not once, but twice, borders on the heroic.

Contador, Schleck, Hushovd, and Pellizotti are all champions. (Yellow, Youngest, Most Consistent - e.g. sprint, and King of the Mountains). Perhaps it is not fair that Lance get so much attention when he didn't win. Still, he really did emerge looking like a champion and a gentleman. What more could you ask for?


Palin steps down today. I know 75% of conservative Republicans still like her, which means we'll likely be seeing a lot of her for a long time to come. Still, I can't keep the "Hi, ho! The Wicked Witch is dead!" refrain out of my head.

Before I get flamed out here - I like that she's gone not because her ideas are bad or shouldn't be aired. I like that she's gone because she practices the sort of vapid politics of distraction that lowers the level of discourse in this country. If you need a reminder of the incoherent buzz word babbling that exemplifies her style, just look up her resignation speech.

Well Aren't You A Class Act

I encountered this wireless network this morning:
You do know your wireless network name is transmitted far and wide, right?


Walking with Dinosaurs


There are few things that make me stop and stare. The video preview on
the Verizon Center jumbotron made me do just that. Pictures of 20 and
30 foot tall dinos walking around the arena smoothly and majestically
were mezmerising.

Now, I am pretty sure my impression of this show is better than the
reality. I imagine a serious, sciency talk - like a zookeeper talk or
something. The actual show is likely more like The Land Before Time.

Oh well. For that moment it was pretty cool.

If You Just Noticed, You Deserve It

Behold, another brilliant report:

The Drawbacks of 'Owning' Digital Books


It says that those who own kindle books have fewer powers than do people who own, y'know, books. Worse yet, they are surprised. At least the few thousand that had bought 1984 were when they woke up and discovered it was no longer on their machine one morning. Amazon had agreed with the publisher to take it down and remove it from the machines. 

You can tell just how much sympathy I have. You own a proprietary format work on a proprietary machine. You therefore don't control anything. Think of it like Tivo. You buy the unit but they retain a lot of lattitude. You are ok with that because of the convenience of the service. Sure it's annoying if the company takes something back or changes the terms on you, but that was always the deal and you knew that. 

If you wanted an ebook to keep, buy  a sony reader ir similar product that requires that you download a full version of the book and sync it. Or buy a paperback. What did you think was happening when Amazon was selling you whole books at 30% the price? Seriously. The pissing and moaning you hear is just that.



Death of a Salesman

Congress has refused to continue funding the F22. (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124821970259970233.html). To this I say congratulations.  

This is the right move even though it is tough politically. Lockheed, which builds the now decade old next generation fighter, is the nation's largest defense contractor by a long shot. More importantly, lockheed has the political savvy that comes with owning over 30% market share of the huge defense contract spending budget. 

Lockheed builds the F22 in 44 states and several allied countries, so the jobs argument is spread far and wide. Far enough that 15 dems voted against the budget cut. That, despite the fact that the F22 never flew in Iraq or Afghanistan.   

Of course, thirty percent market share  means that Lockheed builds both the F22, which lives in the dreams of grown boys like me, who still long to go to work at the crack of dawn, strap on several thousand pounds of thrust and blaze into the dawn sky, and also the UAVs that made the F22 obsolete. Why send a man at all if dogfighting is done over the horizon by missile. The atmospheric controls, ejection seat, and control consoles have moved out to make way for more ordnance.  Not to mention the fact that even dogfighting - were it ever necessary - would be best off in a UAV, which can pull g forces no human could sustain. Oh, and they are a fraction of the price and the pilots have breakfast with their families before heading to their remote piloting centers and they always come home. 

And before I get a lot if comments on bloated budgets or the lack of dem military support, know that Chambliss tried to keep this program alive with $850m from the defense maintenance account. That the bread and butter account, sending parts, armor and fuel to the troops currently in harms way. Folks on both sides of the aisle and nipped it in the bud. It was gross behavior and I am glad congress rose above it. 

Sent from my iPod


Who Are You And Where Is Lance?

Warning - this is a post about cycling; the Sick Man of Europe of sports.

Alberto Contador of team Astana took the overall lead in the Tour after today's stage. The other pillar of Astana - the New York Yankees of the TdF - Lance is second, but lagging by over a minute and a half. Given the hills and dales to come, that lead could prove insurmountable for another rider unless Contador was going to collapse. But this is Lance Armstrong. Seven time winner. International superstar. Surely, Astana is his team. Let's get his reaction.

The interviews boil down to this: I was not the best man out there today. I will ride the rest of the Tour as Contador's lieutenant (In French - "domestique" - the term for all the rest of the guys on a team who attack to tire out the field, ride in front to give you a draft, etc.).

This is the equivalent of having Peyton Manning sit after a lousy first quarter and say, "You know, I just didn't have it out there today. I'll review the photos during the first half, throw my support behind our backup QB, and hope we can win as a team today." Ain't gonna happen.

And yet, it did. More impressively, it happened after a blow out on Team Astana in stage 7, when Contador broke from the team at the end of the stage to accelerate on to personal victory. Reporters clamored around a meeting on the team bus at the end of the day. Riders emerged stone-faced. Now, Lance, famous for years for his style, equal parts ice and vitriol, has not only bowed his head to become a domestique to his domestique, but did so after that self-same domestique showed him up a week before. Depending on who you are, this is either a sign of maturity or the golden boy has lost some of that competitive lustre.

I, for one, couldn't tell you which it is.


It's New to Me, OK?

Heard on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me from June 27, 2009:
Michael Bay is to movies what Hurricane Katrina was to urban planning.
I couldn't agree more. Ooh, look! A Megan Fox. Ooh, a shiny object! Ooh, explosions. Wait, wait, this still sucks martian balls.


You Just Have To See This

This is not a fake. Seriously. Enjoy!


I'm Too Sexy for My Own Good

"The Frisky" at CNN (God, is this even a news outlet any more?) asks, "Is narcissism keeping you single?" and cites a report that nearly one in 10 younger Americans is a narcissist. We can't be in good relationships because we think we're too good to need to compromise. The culprit is our 'feel good' culture having succeeded so well in raising our self image. I'm not worried. After all, it's just one in 10. I'm probably better than those people anyway.


When Ads Go Bad

Papa Johns has an radio ad in the DC area touting "cheese made from
one hundred percent mozzarella." Guys, you make pizza. Should we have
to point out that mozarella is the product and milk the ingredient?
Unless, you 100% mozarella is indeed just an ingredient and "cheese"
has become something of a fuzzy concept for you. In which case, "Ew."
And stop touting it!

Sent from my iPod


Those Shoes You've Seen Me Wearing

If you've seen me walking around any time in the last month, you've likely seen (and commented on) the above. They are Vibram Five Fingers classics, a pair of so-called barefooting shoes. This all started about two summers ago when I broke my right foot for the second time. Going in to the Orthopaedist, I learned that, in addition to the break, I had bone spurs. I have still have the x-rays here. Then five months later, I had pain near my hip flexor. Another visit to the doc, another relatively clean bill of health, but this time with a warning that the spurs would worsen with time and more running.

Now, I don't run that much. Maybe 15-18 miles a week. On top of that, in the summers, I play Basketball once a week and Frisbee once or twice a week. Nothing too serious. I don't get shin splints or achy knees. Instead, the nerves in my right leg feel like they are tightening and pulling my lower back causing my gait to go off-center. That assumes, of course, that my form was right to begin with - something I cannot confirm having never been coached or analyzed by video or even watched by someone with a critical eye for this stuff.

Which brings us back to the orthopaedist. Now there on my third visit, I was following up on my hip and took the opportunity to ask about my shoe choices. Rockport - his favorite kind. Soft and -- good for an orthopaedist -- with removable insoles. The doc recommended inserts. Not custom, at $300+, but still $95 a pair. For 4 pairs of regular use shoes, I bought 3 pair, turning every $50 pair of New Balance into the equivalent of a top-of-the-line running shoe. And I'll need to start replacing them soon, along with the new Size 10 shoes that I needed to buy to accommodate them. My old 9.5s just couldn't contain all that cushioning.

Perhaps you are starting to feel the same sense of bafflement that I did at this point. Why is this so complicated? How much equipment do I need just to walk? Worse yet, if I need this much now, what will I need at 40 and 50 and 60 to ambulate?

So I started looking into other options. I had seen the Vibrams on the Frisbee fields the previous year and asked about them. How could I not? I learned they were basically a rubber sole on a bare foot and very comfortable despite that. Digging a bit further, I found a community of barefooters. These folks are hard core and a little quirky. Not a lot of credibility there. Still, they loved the Vibram. And they linked to a Runners World article on barefooting: http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-240-319--6728-0,00.html. Great runners run barefoot. More importantly, amateur runners who run without shoes see no ill effects of going barefoot. Then I read Born to Run, which is more fun than fact intensive, but still contains about 2 chapters of the science of barefooting. I was sold, at least to try a pair of shoes that cost less than one of my orthopaedic inserts, with the promise that I might be able to one day do without the inserts altogether.

The results so far are as promised. The shoes take a bit of getting used to. It took me 3 hours. Not because of the shoes, but because I don't walk barefoot very much. It is amazing how different the gait is. Much more forward without nearly as tough a heel strike. I find myself using the rise of my foot when I strike the ball as a shock absorber. The movement uses a different set of muscles than do shoes, making the first few weeks a workout, but now I walk 2-3 miles in them without noticing. I spend all day in the now on paternity leave and feel better at the end of the day than I did in shoes. No more hot feet, squished toes, blisters, or the more serious and important leg and hip strains.

While they may not replace my running shoes, I have seen improvements there as well, where a forward tilted step is the ideal. That, and going out for a run without having the leg and hip pains to work out in stretching or warm up is a real boon.

Safeway's Useless Affinity Card

Safeway issues an affinity card, like just about every other retailer in America. The card permits you to take a few cents off a few items in the store. Thing is, the register attendant always has a spare card to scan if you - like me - constantly "forget" your card. The thing is, I don't get anything for the information I give Safeway about my shopping and eating habits. Give me reward dollars, better deals, special circulars, ...something for all that information. Instead I get nothing.

So I found out how to get around the card without losing the benefits...or having to schnorr someone else's number at every transaction. Safeway permits customers to enter their phone number instead of swipe their card. This is what really got my goat, since the market is most likely selling this phone number + the detailed customer metrics to third parties for a pretty penny. That means they are making more while I still get nothing. I entered my number, which I know does not work, only to hear the klangon that tells the teller the same thing. I asked, as I do, if she has a spare card, and she just entered a number on her keypad. So I watched.

To get all the savings on a bogus number, just enter 617.555.1212 in a Safeway keypad next time you're in the store. Voila! Worth reading to the end of the post, wasn't it?


I do not think that means what you think it means.

Here's a short article from the WSJ regarding the current US/Russia arms talks. What you'll find in the article is that there has been moderate progress. What you won't find is any description of the START treaty being discussed, or of the state of arms control now, or even what the key points of discussion are for the two sides. This is a 200 word headline. How about a little reporting?!

U.S., Russia Move Forward on Arms



Sports from the Fourth

Did anyone out there see the last lap of the Coca Cola 400? Simply
amazing. The lesson - block me once, shame on me. Block me twice,
anything goes. Stewart was exceedingly gracious in victory. Maybe when
you are an owner, inflicting damage that expensive strikes a little
closer to home.

The tour de France is on. It's nice of them to show a sport that only
I watch. Well, I and some groggy expats. Seriously, even with a
dampened Armstrong, is there enough audience for VS to bother?

And E-Trade is sponsoring the standings board on the World Series of
Poker. Is this really the message they want to send, now or at any
time really?

And now back to the 10 lb bag of wonderful in my arms.

Sent from my iPod


You've Got Some Serious Stones

For once, you really can say, "Ha! We didn't have [blank] , we just had rocks!" Just pick up these whiskey stones, chill them, and place them in your spirit for all that cold with none of that pesky, flavor-altering water. And here I thought that adding a touch of water to Single Malts, Single Barrels, etc. broke the internal hydrocarbon bonds and released the aroma. In fact, I suspect it does, but Whiskey drinkers are all adamant that their various and contradictory drinking strategies are the only right way. C'est la vie.


I just punched in "How to Rent" into Google and got this: http://rent-a-negro.blogspot.com/. Exactly how did that get to be the 3rd most popular site for this search string?!


Officially a Father

Right down to the pitiable attempts at humor. While watching a Discovery special last night on the salmon run, I let loose with the following original:

You know how modern salmon swim up-river? Lox.

It's all downhill from here.


Al Franken

Congratulations to Al Franken on being awarded a Senate seat. With an election that close, I'll openly admit that it could have gone either way. If you don't believe me, just work in a polling place some time.

Oh, and don't equate Al with the Governator or Jesse Ventura. He's been a political animal for a very long time, and I get the sense this much of a departure for him that it would be for, say, an attorney, and that happens all the time.

And for good measure, here is Al recreating a bit he did on SNL years ago (well, the skill is the same, the bit is different):