Thursday, August 24, 2006
See it here.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
“It’s a great site,” Williams explained. “You can read news other people have posted, you can ‘digg’ it, you can comment on it, and you can post news of your own. It gives me purpose right now. It makes me feel like part of a community.”
Digg.com is a popular on-line site where users provide the content by submitting links to news stories. Members cast their vote—known as ‘digging’—on various posts and the most popular earn a spot on the front page.
“The front page, that’s where you want to be,” said Williams wistfully. “That’s what you work for. I’ve never had a story make it there, but that’s my goal.”
Williams has found the competition among members to be extremely fierce since thousands of stories are contributed every hour under a myriad of subjects. He recently posted a story that received only one Digg.
“Every story gets one dig by default,” Williams admitted. “It was a good story too, on the new Adult Swim show ‘Frisky Dingo.’ I really thought it was going to create a swarm.”
A ‘swarm’ is where Digg members begin noticing a story and rapidly vote for it, causing a virtual swarming effect around it. Williams showed me an example by going to a screen where new stories appear and users begin furiously voting on them, causing a swarm of bubbles around the story.
When submitting there is always the danger that a story will be a duplicate, like the time Williams posted a story about the House of Representatives lifting its boycott of french fries and someone commented that the story had already been posted.
“That story received one comment, a link to a different spot on Digg where the story had already been posted.”
To prevent duplicate posts digg.com checks the link to each story to see if that link has already been posted. National news often appears on multiple sites, making duplicate posting almost impossible to avoid.
“In that event, Democracy takes over,” Williams explained. “Usually the story that gets posted first gets the most digs. If a duplicate story appears people usually just don’t vote for it.”
Sometimes though, members enact a sort of vigilante justice by posting comments on duplicate stories, sometimes accusing the poster of trying to steal a scoop.
“I’ve been flamed a few times for posting a story someone else has already posted. I mean, I’m not doing it on purpose. I’m not trying to steal anything. If Tom Cruise gets fired by Paramount then fifty people are going to post links from different sites. That’s the way it goes.”
A ‘flame’ is an internet expression for a heated on-line exchange, often defending a point of view. Arguments about Microsoft versus Apple, Java versus .NET, Firefox versus Explorer, Democrats versus Republicans, are obligatory. ‘Flame wars’ are a common occurrence on the internet where virtual prestige is important.
Despite the setbacks, Williams has vowed to continue to post stories and, maybe someday, make the front page.
“I guess I’m just an optimist. I just found a news story bashing Widow’s Vista, those are always extremely popular.”
Maybe that one will create the elusive swarm Williams has been waiting for.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Wow. Crash and burn, huh, Mav? Well, it was a nice run while it lasted. From "Risky Business" to couch jumping on Oprah, Cruise has been entrenched in the shadow of the Hollywood sign for over 30 years. All it took was a woman and a little religion to make him go insane. Lessons learned, my friends.
"Destroying the world seems like a lot of fun, but supervillain Killface finds that it can be a very tedious and complicated process. His nemesis, Awesome-X, is equally ambivalent about stopping Killface, as stamping out his plot fully might crush toy sales."
Sounds like a winner. Here's a clip.
I guess what I want to know is who are these 35%? They are the truely dedicated. Like the guy who used to join us on our squadron runs in full battle dress uniform including combat boots. We were all dedicated but he had to prove to himself and others that he was the most dedicated.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
According to this six month Associated Press study "more than 100 young women who expressed interest in joining the military in the past year were preyed upon sexually by their recruiters. Women were raped on recruiting office couches, assaulted in government cars and groped en route to entrance exams."
I hate to say it but the military is also looking like the Catholic church in terms of sexual cover-ups as well. The matters are largely dealt with in-house and the stories contained so the military doesn't look bad. Recruiters "convicted" of sexual misconduct the "punishment" is just a slap on the wrist.
"Most recruiters found guilty of sexual misconduct are disciplined administratively, facing a reduction in rank or forfeiture of pay; military and civilian prosecutions are rare" the article says.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
This article gives a general overview of the movement while highlighting provocative questions like do people get more conservative with age? Why are negative adds more effective?read more
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
As Zoom began its drift towards the bottom of the bowl fans of Rotten Tomato noticed it's steady 0% rating. And now Rotten Tomatoes says it qualifies as one of the worst movies ever. Only seven movies have received more than twenty reviews without a single "fresh" rating. Those seven thus dubiously qualify as the worst...movies...ever.
Need some movies for your Netflix queue? Try strapping on these for a weekend...if you're strong enough.
Zoom (26 reviews) - Former superhero Jack (Allen) is called back to work to transform an unlikely group of ragtag kids into superheroes at a private Academy.
Daltry Calhoon (26 reviews) - In small town Tennessee, a ne'er-do-well man (Johnny Knoxville) wrestling for control over his fading golf club is reunited with his estranged daughter, a 14-year-old musical prodigy.
3 Strikes (26 reviews) - Brian Hooks plays a character who is just released from jail. And the state adopts a "3 strikes" rule for felons that involves serious penalties.
Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (36 reviews) - A group of smart-talking toddlers (Scott Baio, John Voight) find themselves at the center of a media mogul's experiment to crack the code to baby talk. The toddlers must race against time for the sake of babies everywhere.
National Lampoon's Gold Diggers (39 reviews) - A comedy about two of the world's worst gold diggers who'd do anything to be on top.
King's Ransom (44 reviews) - Hoping to foil his own gold-digging wife's plan, a loathsome businessman arranges his own kidnapping, only to realize that there are plenty of other people interested in his wealth as well.
Pinocchio - Despite guidance from the Blue Fairy, and the love of his father, Gepetto, Pinocchio (Roberto Benigni) curious spirit leads him into one wild adventure after another.
Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever (98 reviews) - Tasked with destroying each other, an FBI agent (Antonio Banderas) and a rogue NSA agent (Lucy Liu) soon discover that there's a much bigger enemy at work.
(I think it's really something that a movie could receive 98 reviews without a single positive rating. That's like hitting safely in 56 consecutive games. It's amazing and it may never be broken.)
Stay tuned for progress as Zoom mounts a charge claim the dubious honor of worst movie ever.
Read the full story here.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
The list ranked countries based on a "Commitment Index" with the Netherlands coming out on top and Japan landing at the bottom. The United States gives the largest amount of money but the smallest when compared to the size of its economy.
The top five countries were Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and New Zealand.
What I find astonishing is that there is almost an exact correlation between the countries with the highest adjusted giving, and the lowest church attendance. This deconstructs what I was taught as a child that those who attend church lead more virtuous lives.
The Netherlands ranked first in giving and 47th in church attendance. 5% of Denmark and Norway attend church each week along with 4% of Sweden.
Other countries on the bottom five (and their church attendance) are Spain (25%), France (21%), Italy (45%), and Greece. Japan bucks the trend by being both low in giving and church attendance (4%).
The United States has the highest church attendance (44%) among comparably developed countries. God may indeed be blessing America, but we're not eagerly sharing it.
Statistics provided by NationMaster.
The list of movies Allen has been forced to star in reads like cliff notes on how to ruin your career.
The Santa Claus
The Santa Claus II
Christmas at the Kranks
The Shaggy Dog
And the latest Disney approved offering is the movie "Zoom." A movie so incomprehensibly bad it has received a 0% rating on Rottentomatoes. That zero represents the average score of all 20 reviews it has received. To put this in some sort of perspective even last year's "Son of the Mask" received a 6% rating.
The one bright spot in Allen's movie career is the classic "Galaxy Quest" but that success has long since been buried under mounds of rubble in Disney's painful attempt to make a decent family movie.
Since the peak of his show "Home Improvement" Allen has been toiling away in Disney's sugar caves, much like an American Idol tied to the wheel of a giant record company. Disney's minions crank out another inept screenplay and they summon Allen from the bowels of their studios to sing and dance for us. In his eyes you can see a glimmer of the bright future that once existed when he simply hawked Binford tools.
read more digg story
I've linked the story here because it's an example of "narrowcasting" as I mentioned in my previous post about Satellite Radio. Narrowcasting is unique programming to each customer, selected by the customer, delivered by a service provider. It is made possible by the vast array of choices available on the internet, the low cost of creating and holding those choices, and the ability for each person to pick what they want. All the service provider has to do is give you what you've asked for.
YouTube is a great example of this. Out of millions of videos you get to watch what you want. You can subscribe to the channels you want. Time Warner is now stepping it to deliver your YouTube channels to your television set.
read more digg story
The Spoils of Victimhood
by Thomas Frank
"President Bush operates in Washington like the head of a small occupying army of insurgents," the pundit Fred Barnes writes in his recent book, “Rebel-in-Chief.” "He’s an alien in the realm of the governing class, given a green card by voters."
Let’s see: These insurgents today control all three branches of government; they are underwritten by the biggest of businesses; they are backed by a robust social movement with chapters across the radio dial. The insurgency spreads before its talented young recruits all the appurtenances of power — a view from the upper stories of the Heritage Foundation, a few years at a conquered government agency where expertise is not an issue, then a quick transition to K Street, to a chateau in Rehoboth and a suite at the Ritz. For the truly rebellious, princely tribute waits to be extracted from a long queue of defense contractors, sweatshop owners and Indian casinos eager to remain in the good graces of the party of values.
What a splendid little enterprise American conservatism has turned out to be.
How does this work? How does the right keep its adherents in a lather against government bureaucrats and Washington know-it-alls when conservatives are the only bureaucrats and know-it-alls who matter anymore?
Part of the answer is that, after their crushing defeat in the 1930’s, conservatives rebuilt their movement by adopting a purely negative stance against liberalism. They were so completely excluded from power, they believed, that in 1955 William F. Buckley Jr. famously depicted them “Standing athwart history, yelling Stop.” Writing in the middle of the Reagan years, the journalist Sidney Blumenthal gaped at the persistence of this “adversarial” mind-set long after the liberals had been routed. “Even when conservatives are in power they refuse to adopt the psychology of an establishment,” he marveled.
Here we are, 20 years later, and to hear conservatives tell it, every election is still a referendum on the monster liberalism, which continues to loom like a colossus over the land. Even Tom DeLay — the erstwhile “hammer” — becomes a martyr when addressing the faithful. “The national media has taken my own re-election as their own personal jihad,” he moaned in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. “So we’re fighting the fight of ages.”
That conservatives continue, as Rick Perlstein writes, to “soak in [their] marginalization” four decades after the election of the last liberal president puts this victimology beyond implausible. It is more on the order of a foundational myth, like the divine right of kings, a fiction that everyone involved must accept as fact.
A century ago, it was conservative stalwarts, not liberal reformers, who were the natural party of government. And they were forthright about what they stood for as well as what they were against: They were for rule by a better class of people, for a Hamiltonian state in which business was unified with government. And conservatism is still for those things, tacitly at least. Just look at the résumés of the folks the president has appointed to the Departments of Labor, Agriculture and the Interior. Or scan one of the graphs that economists use to chart the distribution of wealth over the last hundred years. The more egalitarian society we grew up in is gone, snuffed out by the party of tradition in favor of an even rosier past that lies on the far side of the 1930’s.
These ought to be easy things to deplore. They ought to arouse precisely the kind of simmering fury that millions of Americans feel toward lewd halftime shows and checkout clerks who don’t say “Merry Christmas.” But we have difficulty holding conservatives accountable for them, so potent is their brand image as angry outsiders. What conservatives do, as everyone knows, is protest government, protest modernity; to hold them responsible for government or for modernity is to bring on cognitive dissonance.
Or, rather, it might bring on cognitive dissonance. We don’t know because puncturing conservatism’s marginalization fantasy hasn’t really been tried. If liberals are ever to recover, this will have to change. Against the tired myth of the “liberal elite” they must offer a competing and convincing theory of how Washington works, and for whom.
Thomas Frank is the author, most recently, of “What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America.’’ He will be a guest columnist during August.
Copyright 2006 New York Times Company
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
See, space is supposed to do for radio what cable did for television. But now, six years into the voyage, satellite radio seems to be losing its escape velocity. Both XM and Sirius stock have been falling like stage-three booster rockets. In other words, Houston, we have a problem--satellite radio represents an antiquated way of doing business. Comparing itself with cable television in the early 80s doesn’t help.
Times have changed over the last 25 years. Today, if you want to listen to music, you download it off iTunes and put it on your iPod. You play the iPod on your radio on your way to work, and you take your iPod into your office when you get there. You can listen to any song you’ve downloaded any time you want. Sure, you have to pay for them but you get what you want when you want which is exactly the point.
And, if you don’t like paying, there are plenty of free ways to get what you want when you want. Yahoo Radio lets you create your own station, ranking songs, artists and albums. It will even attempt to sprinkle in some new artists based on your previous picks.
Music is just the tip of the media iceberg. Almost any type of content is available for download to watch or listen to. From audio books to off-the-cuff podcasts. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to take your pick and enjoy what you want. On satellite or terrestrial radio you have to listen to what someone else thinks you’ll like, and that misses the point.Who watches the nightly news anymore? Polls show more and more people are getting their news on-line. What started with 24 hour news shows like CNN has crossed onto the internet. Today you can go to places like digg.com or del.ico.us and find your own news, or read what others have voted as worthy. You can participate in the process and post news you’ve found, and vote on stories you’ve enjoyed. You’re the editor of your own news channel. You can set up Google News to alert you when ever a news story appears that matches your interests. You can then download the news you want onto your portable media player and listen to it when ever you want.
The internet makes all kinds of media possible on a very narrow and specific scale. Odds are there’s a podcast, blog, band, and movie for every desire. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for you can always contribute to the community yourself.
This movement of customer-dictated service will continue into the future. In the early 80s the term was “broadcasting” which cast a wide, thin net in order to catch as many people’s attention as possible. You were at the mercy of entertainment moguls to tell you what you wanted to see and hear. Today, the term is “narrowcasting” which is targeted at a very small amount of people. Have a thing for animals and vegetarianism? Then check out vegansamaritan.com. Want the latest tech updates? Visit boingboing.com. Do you like off the wall video clips? YTMND.com is just for you.
It’s a consumer-rich approach, which wins approval simply through the democratic process. 25 years ago you had to get corporate approval to release your creation to a wide audience. In-turn people had to watch what a few people determined was interesting. There was a bottle neck right between the creative forces and you. But today, you can go on myspace.com where indie bands like Boxkar are available to millions of people. You can post your video clips on youtube.com and create your own channel. And all of it can be downloaded onto portable media devices and engaged any time you want.
Cable TV too will die out. Someday you’ll just log into your personalized station and tell it what you want to watch by name or genre. No more skipping through 200 channels when all you really need is one. The people who catch on to this shift the fastest will be the winners.
Satellite radio uses technology from the 50s and a business model from the 80s. Why should you pay Sirius owner Mel Karmazin to guess what you want to hear when there are services that allow you to be explicit about it? It’s just not “long-tail” enough or “2.0” enough. That is to say it’s not specific, or communal enough. Plus, to get on-board with Satellite you pay $12.95 a month then you have to buy the equipment to run it. That’s so 1984, man. Don't look now, Big Brother is quickly dying out.
Satellite radio does have channels which might make it worth buying. Where else can you get an array of real-time sports broadcasts? XM has 23 channels just for the sportsophile in you. So, if you need sports, where real-time is most of the fun, Satellite might be for you. Otherwise, I think you can get your music, news, and talk elsewhere.
Democracy's love child is Capitalism, where people can vote with their dollars based on what they need. But now it is truly democratic where anything you can think of can be found or created for someone else to find. The leverage of creation and choice is being taken out of the boardrooms and into the hands of more and more people. Ultimately I don’t see how an idea like satellite radio fits in with this. Maybe in the future it will allow you to create your own station, catered to your specific needs, but until then it seems like glorified cable, and we’ve been there and done that.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
“The President has had a hard time lately,” said one handler. “Let's compare it to a pitcher who suddenly can't throw strikes anymore. We're talking nowhere near the strike zone. Real weird, erratic, mental type stuff. Then you know his head is the problem so you sit him for a week or two, let him relax, re-focus. That's what we're trying to do here.”
In order to still appear active on the situation the White House has sent Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the region. Rice is working on creating cease fire conditions both sides can work on, although Lebanon rejected the initial proposal.
President Bush has been noticeably inconspicuous after the G8 summet where he was heard commenting on the new wave of Middle Eastern violence to British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Bush gnawed on a roll while surmising that to end the conflict Hezbollah just needed to stop launching rockets into Israel.
“Based on those remarks we knew the President needed a break," said an administration official. "Things are getting really heated over there, we've sent more troops to secure Baghdad, and now Israel is invading Lebanon...it's all too much. We've suggested some R&R for the Commander n' Chief. He was in this thing up to his elbows, you know? It was time for a break.”
Bush began an 11 day vacation Friday at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, which, incidentally, staffers also calculated to be as far away from Lebanon as possible. According to White House Press Secretary Tony Snow Bush signed off on a U.N. Resolution draft aimed at ending the fighting between Israel and Lebanon but he was not directly involved in the final negotiations, leaving the discussions up to his diplomats. Bush got his regular daily national security briefings while at the ranch, but has spent most of his time biking, clearing brush and otherwise relaxing, aides said.
“He came out Friday with that light blue shirt, sleeves rolled up, and I knew immediately he was ready to clear some brush,” said one aid. “He puts that shirt on during major gaffs in his presidency, clearing brush is therapeutic to him. It's how he heals. To us it's a way to keep him busy while experts solve the problem.”
August is traditionally when the President vacations in Crawford, usually taking most of the month to recover from a previous year's work. Last year Bush was criticized for being slow to respond to Hurricane Katrina which destroyed New Orleans and left thousands stranded on August 29. Bush was vacationing in Texas at the time.
The President was also vacationing on August 6, 2001 when he received a memo entitled "Bin Ladden Determined to Attack the US." Bush resolved to stay the course and remained on vacation for the rest of the month.
"It's kind of a catch-22," one aid explained. "Either he vacations and things get messed up while he clears brush, or he's in the White House messing things up. You just can't win sometimes. This year we felt a vacation was the lesser of the two evils."
The President will be safely distracted until at least Monday, August 14, in what has also then become an unspoken end-date for any forward progress in the Middle East.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Conservative Republicans have found the change alarming, accusing their cohorts of 'cutting and running' in a clear victory for France and a blow to freedom everywhere.
On March 11, 2003 Republican representative Robert Ney declared that all references to French fries and French toast on the menus associated with the House of Representatives be re-named Freedom Fries and Freedom toast. In a move of decisive leadership Ney used his leverage as Chairman of the Committee on House Administration, which oversees restaurant operations in the house, to enact his "freedom" ordinance.
Somewhere a dog barked.
The short-lived "freedom fries movement" was an expression of displeasure towards France which openly questioned the United State's reasoning for invading Iraq. After the nomenclature boycott the French embassy made no comment except to note that French fries come from Belgium.
"We are at a very serious moment dealing with very serious issues and we are not focusing on the name you give to potatoes," said embassy spokeswoman Nathalie Loisau.
Later, high on his own power, Ney made an attempt to rename actor French Stewart, but was blocked.
Some on the far right are claiming the menu reversion represents a clear victory in the war on France.
"We stayed the course, and sent a clear message to the French and those who harbor them," a House Administration official statement said. "The American people have never been prouder. We are ready to stand down."
But critics are quick to point out that the boycott had no relevant effect abroad and at home most people simply call them "fries." At worst it represents an insult to the American intelligence and was a trite political move. They point out the same minds that thought an invasion of Iraq would promote regional democracy also thought renaming fries might send some kind of signal. Both shared similiar results.
Regardless, The "freeom fries movement" will serve as both an example of America's patriotic fervor and its insanity after 9/11.
America has a rich history of politically motivated food euphemisms. During World War II sauerkraut was renamed liberty cabbage, and hamburgers, liberty steaks. German measles were even called liberty measles. The term "hot dog" replaced frankfurter. This burst of gastrointestional patriotism had its effects. Any depressing war-time thoughts that might occur to Americans were eased as they sat down to a warm plate of liberty cabbage.
But sadly it looks like "freedom fries" will not share this glorius track record. It never really caught on, probably due to the simple fact that it's insane.
Representatives now have more time to not do the things they should be doing. And, despite the move from Congress, talk show host Bill O'Reilly says he plans to continue his boycott of France, remaining as vigilant as ever.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Those in the Northeast and West Coast say "soda" while the rest of the country prefers "pop" or "coke." This information is quickly being digested in the bowels of Republican National Headquarters to determine how it might be exploited come election time. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are already planning a smear campaign labelling liberals as "soda drinking pansies." Real patriots drink whiskey anyway.
see the map here.
"Given that it has been nearly two years and we have yet to see the first draft of a script, we have decided to no longer pursue this project with Icon" said ABC.
That, and ABC has just learned that Gibson doesn't like Jews.
Now Gibson can get back to the other mini-series he was working on: The Henry Ford Story.
read the whole story here.