aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Podcasting market update
The Official Feedburner Weblog “the world’s largest manager of podcast feeds” says:
After just 18 months since enclosures started finding their way onto iPods everywhere, podcasting has already made a significant impact on the creation and consumption of content worldwide. Consider:
1. FeedBurner alone manages more podcasts than there are radio stations worldwide (yep, we looked it up)
2. Podcasting is outpacing the speed of adoption of the last “most successful consumer product launch in history” (more on that in a minute)
3. Podcast directories are growing, and driving activity back to podcasters’ originating Web sites. As we saw with text feeds, distribution begins as a mechanism to drive traffic back to the originating source and then evolves to become its own consumption medium READ ON.
They got $25 million in venture capital ending aquisition speculation:
“It has never been our intention to sell the company,” said Melanie Deitch, Facebook’s director of marketing, adding that the latest funding puts the rumors of such a sale to rest. Late last month, Business Week reported the company had turned down a buyout offer for $750 million and was looking for as much as $2 billion, citing analysts saying that Viacom, owner of MTV, might make a good match. [...]
The company will eventually turn to developing three revenue streams, Sze said. Those include local advertisers, such as pizza companies or bookstores that want to post an ad for a local college audience; banner advertisers seeking to reach Facebook’s demographic type nationally; and sponsored groups, such as large companies sponsoring an online forum to interact with students.
The local ads most interest me. I’ll be interested to see how that is structured.
Mark Kleiman on a potential mass-market cognitive enhancer:
Eric Wasserman at the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke (among several other scientists) has demonstrate that a technique called transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) - essentially, running a current of 1-2 milliamps between a pair of electrodes taped to the skull - can increase neuronal firing rates and produce observable and slightly durable (in the hours range) improvements in cognitive performance in both healthy volunteers and stroke and dementia patients. The effect can be targeted at any part of the cerebral cortex by moving the electrodes.
The treatment is painless, and in fact only marginally noticeable. The requisite device is cheap, low-tech, and potentially portable, running off a 9V battery. Indeed Wasserman is quoted as claiming that “Anyone with the know-how could go to an electronics store, buy the components, and build one.”
The open - and central - research question is whether the brain builds up a tolerance, so the stimulation stops working. (The researchers claim confidence that the treatment is safe, which is puzzling if they don’t know whether it builds tolerance. Perhaps they merely mean that it’s safe for the small number of applications they’ve tried on each patient so far.)[...]
Whether the technology is electricity, magnetism, chemistry, or sensory stimulation, we’re going to learn, sooner rather than later, how to make people smarter, at least temporarily and with respect to some subset of congitive tasks. What’s scary is how unprepared our regulatory mechanisms seem to be to deal with the tricky set of questions involved. (Chemicals are much more tightly regulated than the other technologies, for no especially good reason other than history.)
Via Ed Felton’s Dashlog.
LATER: Be sure to click through to the link on test-doping, “Allowing stimulant use in the context of competitive test-taking means, virtually, requiring it of those who want to win the competition. And requiring stimulant use is likely to have some bad results in the future lives of test-takers, in addition to reducing the validity of the tests as predictors of academic and professional performance.”
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
This story’s been going on since 1999 and I missed it?
In that year two male penguins, Roy and Silo, tried to incubate a rock together in the Central Park Zoo. So the following year a zookeeper gave them an egg, which they proceeded to hatch together. This made the NYTimes - a love that dare not squeak its name - and last year became a book, And Tango Makes Three.
Shortly thereafter it was reported that Roy and Silo had split up:
At the Web site for Focus on the Family, an influential organization run by radio host James C. Dobson, who has called homosexuality a disorder and advocates converting gays, a commentator, Warren Throckmorten, wrote: ‘’For those who have pointed to Roy and Silo as models for us all, these developments must be disappointing. Some gay activists might actually be angry.’’
Well, maybe not angry. As Roberta Sklar, a spokeswoman for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, put it: ‘’There’s almost an obsession with questions such as, ‘Is sexual orientation a birthright or a choice?’ And looking at the behavior of two penguins in captivity is not a way to answer that question.’’
Said the guys who wrote the book, ‘’We wrote the book to help parents teach children about same-sex parent families. It’s no more an argument in favor of human gay relationships than it is a call for children to swallow their fish whole or sleep on rocks.’’
Now all of this comes to my attention by way of a librarian friend, who brought me this American Libraries article and suggested it as a blog post:
A week after media outlets around the world began reporting that a Missouri library system had moved And Tango Makes Three, a children’s picture book about two male penguins raising a baby together, Rolling Hills Consolidated Library Director Barbara Read was still fielding e-mails and phone calls about whether she should have restricted the title. But the book hasn’t been restricted at all, she responded over and over-just moved from children’s fiction to children’s nonfiction because it tells a true story.
Read told American Libraries that a widely circulated Associated Press report stemmed from the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press seeing in the February library board report Read’s correspondence with a Savannah couple, who had complained that Tango has a gay subtext. Read responded that she had decided to retain the book but move it to children’s nonfiction after having read it and consulted with zoologists about penguin behavior. The complainants thanked her for researching the issues, and acknowledged that while they disagreed with Read’s conclusions, they respected her opinion and that the reconsideration process made them “feel like valued patrons.”
Aren’t librarians wonderful?
NOTE: The cute little penguin in the picture has nothing to do with this story. It was the best penguin picture I had and it came from the ridiculous but fun story from almost exactly one year ago of the penguins put through airport screening devices at Denver International Airport.
Opus Dei: ordinary people serving God
The handy hook of The DaVinci Code has Diane Sawyer on GMA kicking off a special series on Opus Dei. She’s got an interview to tell us what really goes on inside the super secret organization. When asked about self-mortification, the perky spokesperson, of course, smiles and says it’s nothing.
Late last year Terry Gross had a Fresh Air interview with Vatican reporter John Allen in which they discussed his book Opus Dei: An Objective Look Behind the Myths and Reality of the Most Controversial Force in the Catholic Church. Here’s how he described the practice of self-mortification:
Well, if you wanted to be sort of flippant about it, you would say it’s a matter of whips and chains. That is to say, there are two practices of so-called corporal mortification--that is, inflicting pain on oneself--that a minority of members of Opus Dei--again, it’s just the numeraries and the priests, so about 30 percent of the members practice. The first is called the cilice. This is a spiked chain that is worn around the thigh for two hours a day, except for Sundays. Sunday are considered a kind of mini feast day. And then there is a small cloth whip called the discipline that one administers to oneself once a week, usually on Saturday, during the recitation of a prayer, like the Lord’s prayer or the Hail Mary. So in other words, it’s a very quick thing that might endure a matter of a few minutes once a week.
Now, you know, when you ask Opus Dei people, `Why do these things?,’ they will tell you, first of all, that it’s hardly just Opus Dei that does them. Many of the great saints in the history of the church, from St. Francis all the way up to Mother Teresa, have used the discipline. They’ll also tell you that it’s about reminding oneself of the consequences of sin, identifying with the suffering of Christ and the suffering of the world. They will tell you that these are very mild practices that are constantly scrutinized to make sure that they don’t get out of hand.
Now if you ask critical ex-members of Opus Dei, they will tell you that sometimes, they have, in fact, gotten out of hand, that sometimes, they have been pushed too far. If you ask most spiritual directors in the Catholic Church outside of Opus Dei--that is, moderate mainstream people--they will tell you that they find the practice of corporal mortification, at best, strange and, at worst, possibly counterproductive, because if you really want to enter into the suffering of the world, you don’t necessarily need to whip yourself. You could go serve at a soup kitchen or you could work at a homeless shelter and so on. So I would say this is a practice for which Opus Dei has some warrant, but it’s certainly something that is widely debated in Catholic circles.
You can count me in with those “moderate mainstream people.”
Best bike locks
Twenty-eight years in NYC - twenty-five with a bike - and never a theft. Lucky I guess:
[M]ost bikes are stolen because they’re not locked at all ("I’ll just be in Starbucks for a minute Ã¢â‚¬Â¦"), or because the locks are used incorrectly. But plenty of properly locked bikes still get nabbed. To find out which locks work best, I pitted nine locks against each other from Kryptonite, OnGuard, and Master Lock: five U-locks, two woven steel cable locks, and two heavy-duty chain locks.
Next, I assembled my bike-jacking arsenal: an 18-inch crowbar, 30-inch bolt cutters, a hacksaw, three special blades, and my trusty claw hammer. I used only hand tools because 1) if a criminal crew with the proper power tools and a van wants a bike, it’s as good as gone, and 2) I probably would have hurt myself. I was very eager to find out how the various locks compared. And to break stuff.
Read the ratings: from worst to first.
BTW, I had/have one of those round-key U-locks that can be picked with the plastic barrel of a Bic pen. [Video]
Monday, April 17, 2006
Happy Birthday LSD
Because of TiVo, I’m a day late. From CBS Sunday Morning yesterday:
CHARLES OSGOOD, host: (Voiceover) April 16th, 1943, 63 years ago today. The day a Swiss chemist took the a most inadvertent but momentous trip. For it was on that day that Albert Hofmann accidentally ingested a small dose of a substance called lysergic acid diethylamide, otherwise known as LSD. “In a dreamlike state,” Hofmann wrote later, “I received an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense kaleidoscopic play of colors.” Hofmann’s symptoms passed in just two hours, but the after effects can be felt to this day.
(Footage of man being tested)
OSGOOD: (Voiceover) In the years that followed, legitimate study of LSD’s hallucinogenic powers found stiff competition from high profile thrill seekers.
Mr. TIMOTHY LEARY: (Testifying) Up to 65 and 70 percent of our college students are experimenting with these mind-opening chemicals.
(Footage of hearing)
OSGOOD: (Voiceover) By the mid-1960s, Harvard scientist Timothy Leary made his notorious leap from LSD researcher to LSD cheerleader.
Mr. LEARY: LSD is the extremely powerful mind-opening agent. We are now in the psycho-chemical age. In the future, it’s not going to be, `What book do you read?’ But, `Which chemical do you use to open your mind, to accelerate learning?’
(Footage of hippies; Beatles video)
OSGOOD: (Voiceover) Soon, LSD was a much-ballyhooed element of the hippy culture. It seemed to ignore the ample evidence of the drug’s unpredictable and dangerous side effects. The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” was widely believed to be about LSD, although John Lennon always claimed the song’s title initials were just a coincidence.
(Footage of “Hair”; “Easy Rider")
OSGOOD: (Voiceover) LSD figured in a song in the Broadway musical “Hair,” later made into a movie. And a bad acid trip in a New Orleans cemetery was a pivotal scene in the film “Easy Rider.”
(Visual of newspaper articles; police; psychedelic images)
OSGOOD: (Voiceover) LSD has been in and out of the headlines over the decades, but its abuse has remained a prime target of drug enforcement agencies and public health officials, who look forward to the day when LSD is a trip no one takes.
That’s the only acknowledgement of the anniversary I’ve found. But I did find that Hofmann, the chemist who discovered LSD, said on his 100th birthday in January that he wished that the banned drug would be made available for scientific research.
GA passes harsh immigration law
The Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act, signed into law by Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue, denies many state services paid for by taxpayers to people who are in the United States illegally.
It also forces contractors doing business with the state to verify the legal status of new workers, and requires police to notify immigration officials if people charged with crimes are illegal immigrants.
“It’s our responsibility to ensure that our famous Georgia hospitality is not abused, that our taxpayers are not taken advantage of and that our citizens are protected,” Perdue said before signing the law.
Questioning the wisdom of crowds
A lot of people thought I was going to attack Wikipedia as being “wrong” and something that should be “stopped”, which is a useless argument/approach to take, especially if you’re into freedom of expression. My main thesis is that Wikipedia’s initial design and architecture, which is now changing constantly, failed to take the reality of humanity and the way people interact with information into account, and in doing so, has wasted a nearly-incalculable amount of energy and has betrayed, to some extent, it’s promises, credo and goals. You know, minor stuff.
I’ll have to listen again, contemplate and dig deeper into some of Jason’s good criticisms. [text] [audio] My gut tells me that while he measures Wikipedia against its lofty goals, I still consider Wikipedia an extraordinary experiment so I am much more forgiving. For example, I’m pleased that the design and architecture are changing. It seems obvious that they must.
To date I excuse Jimbo Wale’s rhetorical excesses, though I may have much more to learn. The part of Jason’s rhetoric that I find troubling is his assessment of the human character:
The most frustrating part about Wikipedia is the fact that that when you make a change, somebody who wants to undo that change is just some guy. Jimbo holds this up as the great aspect of Wikipedia is that everybody gets to get their hands in it and we’re all working together but they don’t realise we kill each other. We kill each other every day. Over shit, over Nintendo games, over the fact that somebody parked in the wrong space. We do this. We’re human beings.[...]
What I think we can learn from Wikipedia is to understand that people will always act this way… With Wikipedia, if you say given this set of behaviours, and given this stage that people could put things on, people will act this way, it’s a pretty good indicator of saying “OK, well the next time I set up an organisation the next time I make something editable by the public, the next time I make the going-on, this is what’s going to happen, people are going to go on and try to destroy it, they’re going to try to destroy it on the front end, they’re going to try and destroy it from the back end.”
Now I’m no Pollyanna, and I know human beings are not ants. But I believe we can be pulled up to our higher selves or down to our lower selves. I’d look to build Levitt/Dubner Freakonomic-style incentives into the culture and architecture of Wikipedia, even as I acknowledge that today I don’t know what that means.
And while Jason is critical of Jimbo’s “control of Wikipedia” - the inference I took was that it should be more democratic - I’ve pointed to Jeff Bates’ implication that Wikipedia would benefit from being more like Open Source, “In every open-source project, he said, there is ‘a benevolent dictator’ who ultimately takes responsibility, even though the code is contributed by many. Good stuff results only if someone puts their name on it.’”
Maybe Jimbo’s not the one. His style is vastly different from that of Craig Newmark - who literally did put his name on it even as his business card lists him as co-founder and customer service rep of Craigslist. Craig and Jimbo have very different styles but likely share a more optimistic view of humankind than Jason:
Some things are fairly universal. One of those is that people pretty much everywhere have some of the same values, and pretty much everyone out there is trustworthy.
I’d add “with the right incentives.” Craig’s found some. Jimbo’s found some too but he needs to find some more.
There is a wisdom of crowds. I cling to my optimism that now we have the technology to develop the tools that will help us harvest it. Wikipedia may not be the way; but I continue to believe that it is pointing in the right direction.
Akismet fights comment spam
In the past couple weeks my built-in Movable Type spam filter has been overrun by comment spam. Luckily it was just last week that I read John Battelle’s enthusiastic Akismet For MT, Death to Spam:
It’s long been known that Akismet, WordPress’s remarkable anti-comment spam technology, was the best out there. Moveable Type users (like me) salivated at the thought of having Akismet-like functionality on our sites. The technology works in an AI like fashion, learning from the edges - bloggers like us - what is spam, and what is not. It’s elegant, and it scales.
Well, thanks to the folks at Automattic (and a big assist from Scot Hacker, Searchblog’s native web jockey), it’s now possible to run Akismet as a Moveable Type plugin. Searchblog was among the first to test the Akismet plugin, and it is working beautifully. Sure, you’ll see spam on this site from time to time. But as soon as I label it “junk” in my MT backend, it’ll never show up again. Yeeehaw!
It looks like I’ve got me a weekend project.
UPDATE: It got so bad I couldn’t wait for the weekend. It’s installed…
Gay marriage, a tired weapon?
Protection of marriage amendment? Check. Anti-flag burning legislation? Check. New abortion limits? Check.
Between now and the November elections, Republicans are penciling in plans to take action on social issues important to religious conservatives, the foundation of the GOP base, as they defend their congressional majority.
In a year where an unpopular war in Iraq has helped drive President Bush’s approval ratings below 40 percent, core conservatives whose turnout in November is vital to the party want assurances that they are not being taken for granted.
I also wonder about the majority of the Republican Party feeling hijacked by this minority.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
A Wikipedia error to ponder
I’ve been a farily ardent defender of Wikipedia on accuracy, placing it in the context of a new oral tradition. But I’ve also said that it’s important to look critically at Wikipedia from within an understanding of what it is and what it aims to do.
Danah Boyd’s experience raises some great questions today:
A month ago, a discussion emerged in the Talk section about whether or not i was notable and then i was nominated for deletion. My colleagues (who are also dear friends) were accused of crafting a vanity page. People wanted “proof” that i was notable; they wanted proof of every aspect of my profile. Then, when people in my field stood up for my entry in the discussion for deletion, they were attacked for not being Wikipedians. This was really intriguing to me, especially when Barry Wellman (who is an expert on social networks and online interaction) stood up for me. (I was completely honored.) Wikipedia is not prepared to handle domain experts. Of course, this is a difficult issue - how do you know someone is a domain expert? Still, something felt strange about the whole thing.
As the conversation progressed, people started editing my profile. While the earlier profile felt weird, the current profile is downright problematic. There are little mistakes (examples: my name is capitalized; there is an extra ‘l’ in my middle name; i was born in 1977; my blog is called Apophenia). There are other mistakes because mainstream media wrote something inaccurate and Wikipedia is unable to correct it (examples: i was on Epix not Compuserv and my mother didn’t have an account; i was not associated with the people at Friendster; i didn’t take the name Boyd immediately after Mattas and it didn’t happen right after my mother’s divorce; i didn’t transfer to MIT - i went to grad school at the MIT Media Lab; i’m not a cultural anthropologist). Then there are also disconcerting framing issues - apparently my notability rests on my presence in mainstream media and i’m a cultural anthropologist because it said so on TV. Good grief.
Why does mainstream media play such a significant role in the Wikipedia validation process?
At tax time, hire a professional
That’s what the people who write the tax laws do:
When it comes to their own tax returns, many members of Congress who specialize in writing tax laws turn to professional preparers rather than completing the paperwork themselves.
“It’s onerous and everybody knows it,” said Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass.
Three of the four top lawmakers on the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees, which are in charge of writing tax laws, pay a professional to file their annual tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service.
The “Pioneers” and today’s illegal immigrants
Eduardo MoisÃƒÂ©s PeÃƒÂ±alver, an associate professor at Fordham Law School, in the WaPo today:
A number of the politicians calling for the criminalization of illegal immigrants may not be aware that they and a good many of their constituents could themselves be direct descendants of people who did some illegal migrating of their own many years ago. Much of the territory of the United States was settled by people—hundreds of thousands of them—who disregarded the law by squatting on public lands.
Of course, they had a ready reason for doing so: Like today’s immigrants, they were seeking a better life for themselves and their families. Indeed, many of the current residents of the states between the Appalachian and Rocky mountains can trace their roots directly to these onetime criminals—whom we now call “pioneers.” [...]
Eastern politicians...condemned the squatters’ defiance of federal law. They accused squatters of being “greedy, lawless land grabbers” who had no respect for law and order. In 1815 President James Madison issued a proclamation warning “uninformed or evil disposed persons . . . who have unlawfully taken possession of or made any settlement on the public lands . . . to remove therefrom” or face ejection by the Army and criminal prosecution. Henry Clay expressed a widely shared sentiment in 1838 when he dismissed the squatters as a “lawless rabble.”
But once the squatters managed to put down roots, the federal government found it difficult, both politically and practically, to remove them. Accordingly, on 39 occasions before 1837, Congress enacted retroactive amnesties for squatters illegally occupying federal lands, despite the objection that these amounted to a reward for lawlessness. Ultimately the process of moving from occupation to ownership was fully legalized in the 1862 Homestead Act, which granted free title to settlers who met the statute’s residency and improvement requirements. In one of the great ironies of American history, the lawless squatters underwent a dramatic image makeover in our collective memory to become noble pioneers.
Via David Shraub.
Daniel Gilbert says, “The human brain knows many tricks that allow it to consider evidence, weigh facts and still reach precisely the conclusion it favors.” Then he points to some research to demonstrate it:
Two psychologists, Peter Ditto and David Lopez, told subjects that they were being tested for a dangerous enzyme deficiency. Subjects placed a drop of saliva on a test strip and waited to see if it turned green. Some subjects were told that the strip would turn green if they had the deficiency, and others were told that the strip would turn green if they did not. In fact, the strip was just an ordinary piece of paper that never changed color.
So how long did subjects stare at the strip before accepting its conclusion? Those who were hoping to see the strip turn green waited a lot longer than those who were hoping not to. Good news may travel slowly, but people are willing to wait for it to arrive.
The same researchers asked subjects to evaluate a student’s intelligence by examining information about him one piece at a time. The information was quite damning, and subjects were told they could stop examining it as soon as they’d reached a firm conclusion. Results showed that when subjects liked the student they were evaluating, they turned over one card after another, searching for the one piece of information that might allow them to say something nice about him. But when they disliked the student, they turned over a few cards, shrugged and called it a day.
Much of what happens in the brain is not evident to the brain itself, and thus people are better at playing these sorts of tricks on themselves than at catching themselves in the act. People realize that humans deceive themselves, of course, but they don’t seem to realize that they too are human.
That’s only half the story, “Research shows that while people underestimate the influence of self-interest on their own judgments and decisions, they overestimate its influence on others.” Read the whole piece.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Gay Easter Egg hunters ‘moved from front of the line’
After waiting outside overnight to be among the first to enter this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll, families in line were surprised to learn that the White House had changed the ticketing policy for the annual event, PageOneQ has learned.
The unannounced change means that the families who waited in line the longest, in one case for twenty-four hours, will not be among the visitors at the event’s opening ceremonies. The first families in line, who were not part of the LGBT family group, received tickets with an 11:00am entrance time, two hours later than the opening time listed in the White House press release.
In an email exchange with Mike Rogers, Deputy White House Press Secretary Dana Perino writes:
This year, the President and Mrs. Bush invited a special group of children who volunteer from organizations like 4-H, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Campfire USA, Citizen Corps, Learn & Serve, Little Hands Big Hearts, YMCA and Youth Service America. These youth volunteer were invited to attend during the morning hours of the event.
The number of public tickets is the same as in years past and has not changed as a result of this group’s participation. Although the public tickets begin with times later in the morning, the event will have the same activities throughout the day for everyone to enjoy.
Mike says, yeah but:
In years past, with the exact same arrangement of invited guests, those that spent all night outside for tickets were given tickets to the event’s opening times.
Jay, are you there? I’ll be eager to hear all about it.
SEE ALSO: Terrance reflects on being among those who will be delayed.
Apple and Windows and DOS
A colleague, excited and exuberant over Apple’s Boot Camp, wants us to switch to Macs. I said not likely.
What do I know anyway? Robert X. Cringely:
One part of last week’s column on Apple’s Boot Camp that slipped past many readers was the idea that Apple would actually start shipping OEM versions of Windows Vista with at least some of its computers. I believe that will be the case and, if so, it is a big deal, and could lead to Apple becoming the biggest vendor of Windows computers to business, which I think is a hoot.
Some say Apple will drop OS X for Windows. Cringely says, no way:
The version of Boot Camp that will ship with OS X 10.5 will likely be very different from the version people are playing with today. The actual shipping version, I predict, will have full OS virtualization so that both operating systems can run side-by-side and a user can cut and paste data from one to the other. Apple may have already developed this capability, or maybe they’ll license or buy it from outside. Parallel Workstation 2.1 sure looks nice from Parallels, Inc. Maybe Apple should buy the whole company.
If Apple’s intent is to do virtualization, then why bother with this dual boot version of Boot Camp? My best guess is to throw off Microsoft until it is too late. Not that I think Microsoft will even care as long as they get their money, but Apple can be sneaky this way.
So Apple will at least offer the option for users to run a virtualized version of Windows Vista atop OS X, which brings with it two HUGE advantages. First, the bad guys and script kiddies will have to get through OS X security before they even have a chance at cracking Vista security. Second, by running a virtual version of Windows Vista loaded from a read-only partition, Microsoft’s recommended method of dealing with malware (periodically wipe the OS and application from your disk and load them anew) can be done in seconds instead of hours and can be done daily instead of monthly or quarterly or yearly.
By running Windows Vista this way, Apple can offer the most secure version of Vista available with the lowest Total Cost of Ownership, which could lead to a leadership change in business computing. Down with Dell and HP and up with Apple.
That would be so brilliant; I so totally hope he’s right. Read on to see why he believes this Apple strategy is the revenge of DOS.
But what about Vivi?
The epic search for Molly, the black, 11-month old fraidy-cat stuck in the wall of a Greenwhich village food store for two weeks, ended in jubilation last night after rescue workers spotted her in a small opening and quickly yanked her away to safety.
Molly’s return came at 10:13 p.m., prompting a crowd of dozens of reporters, photographers and neighborhood residents who had gathered outside the shop, Myers of Keswick at 634 Hudson, to erupt in cheers. Rescue workers said they had traced Molly’s plaintive meows to an area near the ceiling of the shop, drilled a small hole, and spotted her crouched in a dark crawl space.
I’m more a dog person than a cat person - and a small dog person at that. We’ve got two Italian Greyhounds, Baci & Jake. We have been watching for news of the Whippet, Vivi, who got loose at JFK. Newsday’s Vivi-watch said last night:
The good news is that Vivi is sighted regularly by different people now, several of whom have gotten a good look at her. She is obviously in good condition Ã¢â‚¬” one person who saw her said she looked “well groomed” which is difficult to believe but still encouraging. Although still skittish she seems to be less afraid of people. A man fishing in a pond says she was sniffing around his car, then came up when he fed her a sandnwich and even let herself be petted. A few other dogs then arrived and scared her away. A few people are now putting out food for her, in the hope that she will keep returning to the same spot.
If a dog is loose for three or four days, it does not approach, seek, or allow human help, [licensed private investigator Karin] Goin said.
“Herding breeds - German shepherd dogs and border collies - create a circuit of sorts,” Goin said. Sight hounds, such as the Afghan hound or the greyhound that hunts its prey by sight rather than by scent, often do not follow that pattern. Vivi, a 3-year-old whippet, has not been returning to places where she was seen previously, although she did appear to have settled on one neighborhood in Flushing, N.Y., for a period of time.
Sight hounds are typically found five miles away, where most other dogs are found within a mile, Goin said. [...]
Bo Bengston, Vivi’s breeder, warned that trying to catch a dog that has become feral will only spook it more. He believes if Vivi is sighted, the best approach to gain her confidence is to sit quietly and eat food that can be shared with her if she permits it.
ABC News in a story on Vivi said, “Whippets can run like the wind and turn feral, or wild, very quickly.” We’re hoping there’s a good outcome for Vivi.
RELATED: The Brits have feral robot dogs.
Friday, April 14, 2006
Green office towers
Some of the green features in the new NYC Hearst Tower (link will come when it’s out from behind the TimesSelect wall):
The Hearst Tower lobby largely relies on the radiant floor for both cooling and heating. Tubes embedded in the floor pump hot water through the system, yielding heat that provides a comfort zone to about six feet above the floor. In the warmer months, cold water is pumped through to absorb the heat generated by the sun on the stone floor. Brandon Haw, a senior partner at Foster & Partners, likened the effect to entering a church on a hot day.
“All the stone has embodied the coolness,” he said. “This is a huge space - we don’t want to just throw loads of air into it.”
The building’s roof has been designed to collect rainwater, which will reduce the amount dumped into the city’s sewer system by 25 percent. Harvested in a 14,000-gallon reclamation tank in the basement, it will replace water lost to evaporation in the office air-conditioning system. It will also be fed into a special pumping system to irrigate plants and trees outside the building - and to serve “Ice Falls,” the lobby water sculpture.
RELATED: I compare the building I work in - the most ambitious modern architecture within a 40-mile radius - to the Hearst Tower.
Limbaugh WRONG on Domenech
My mother will quote Limbaugh’s words to me as fact. Media Matters:
On the April 12 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed that after “the left-wing fringe threw a hissy fit” about The Washington Post’s hiring of Ben Domenech to write Red America, a conservative weblog on washingtonpost.com, the Post “concocted some phony excuse that the guy that they had hired was a plagiarist” and “he was gone inside of two weeks.” Limbaugh added that the allegations of plagiarism against Domenech were “a bunch of garbage [meant] to impugn his character and reputation at the same time.” In fact, on the day of his March 24 resignation, only four days after his blog for the Post began, Domenech admitted to using other writers’ work “inappropriately and without attribution.” READ ON.
Still no improvement from the hearing loss. I’m adjusting well. (Not so cranky anymore.) My mother says see a chiropractor. Some friends say see an acupuncturist. Me, I still want to find a researcher.
Vertigo continues. And aural cues to spatial orientation are gone; I’m always confused about where sounds are coming from. That and noisy rooms are probably the most disconcerting things I deal with now.
Maybe I should get me a pair of these hearing glasses:
Varibel says its glasses can detect which direction sounds come from, amplifying words spoken directly to the wearer while dampening background noise.
The company’s hearing glasses have four interconnected microphones embedded along both arms of the frame, each taking in sound. Signals are sent along the frame to a built-in processor, which localizes sounds by calculating the time it takes the signals to reach the different microphones. All sounds coming from the front of the carrier are intensified, while noise from other directions is dampened. This means that a person speaking to the carrier’s face would be clearly heard even in noisy environments.
South Park should kiss-off Viacom II
IT’S NOT OVER. IT’S ONLY JUST BEGUN.
From my South Park should Kiss-off Viacom post:
My advice to Matt and Trey? Announce they’re leaving Comedy Central unless they get, say, the same kind of total control that huge Hollywood directors and stars like Cruise get over the content and distribution of their movies.
To back up their threat, they also announce that they are “exploring” Andy Bowers’ suggestion for West Wing (which was itself derived from MIT media analyst Ivan Askwith): pay-per-view distribution of South Park.
They further announce that they are exploring distribution deals with Netflix and TiVo. What would Sumner say to that?
Matt and Trey have done so much better than that. No threats, instead they’ve produced the most brilliant pair of targeted satirical episodes yet. From Part I of Cartoon Wars (from Matthew Stintson via James Joyner):
Cartman: And in just a few weeks from now, “Family Guy” will be off the air forever.
Kyle: Off the air? But, we’re just trying to get the Mohammed episode pulled.
Cartman: It’s simple television economics, Kyle. All it takes to kill a show forever is get one episode pulled. If we convince the network to pull this episode for the sake of Muslims, then the Catholics can demand a show they don’t like get pulled. And then people with disabilities can demand another show get pulled, and so on and so on, until “Family Guy” is no moreÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
Part 2 ends with Jesus crapping on President Bush, an animated question mark over “The End” and Ayman al-Zawahiri in subtitles saying, “Oh yeah, take THAT! We burned you!”
Ted Turner invented cable networks when he put TBS on satellite; HBO invented pay cable when it became the first non-terrestrial broadcast TV network; South Park can become the first iProgam and invent individual series syndication online if it becomes the first non-telecast program.
More than mere masters of creative content, Matt & Trey have been inventive in their use of animation technology and their use of the Internet to extend the show’s reach began back when Comedy Central was carried on far fewer cable systems than it is today. They can do it!
RELATED: Tom Cruise is on Primetime tonight. Diane Sawyer will ask about Oprah, Scientology and quiet birth. But will she ask about South Park?
LATER: She did. He answered, “...no, I honestly didn’t even know about it.”