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18 June, 2004

Ebert On Moore

Film critic Robert Ebert writes about Michael Moore's new movie: 9/11: Just the facts?

Moore's real test will come on the issue of accuracy. He can say whatever he likes about Bush, as long as his facts are straight. Having seen the film twice, I saw nothing that raised a flag for me, and I haven't heard of any major inaccuracies. When Moore was questioned about his claim that Bush unwisely lingered for six or seven minutes in that Florida classroom after learning of the World Trade Center attacks, Moore was able to reply with a video of Bush doing exactly that.

I agree with Moore that the presidency of George W. Bush has been a disaster for America. In writing that, I expect to get the usual complaints that movie critics should keep their political opinions to themselves. But opinions are my stock in trade, and is it not more honest to declare my politics than to conceal them? I agree with Moore, and because I do, I hope "Fahrenheit 9/11" proves to be as accurate as it seems.

Posted on 18 June, 2004

Banner Ad Tips

Florida Designs is a Web design company. They also offer some tips on creating effective banner ads. My favorite is Tip #5: The Fake Factor.

Many of the very successful banner ads of late have incorporated some kind of fake elements in them. There are various fake element's banner designers can use, such as fake scroll bars, fake text links, fake selection boxes, fake text boxes, fake submit buttons to mention just a few. Banners with fake elements perform so well because people think there clicking on a link to go to another page on the current site (as in the fake text links) or they think they are click on a button, but in fact they are actually clicking on a banner with a picture of a button and text link.

Ingenious! That type of ad is almost certain to increase sales. After all, people just love paying money to a company who tricked them.

Posted on 18 June, 2004

New Antipiracy Bill

From CNET: Antipiracy bill targets technology.

A forthcoming bill in the U.S. Senate would, if passed, dramatically reshape copyright law by prohibiting file-trading networks and some consumer electronics devices on the grounds that they could be used for unlawful purposes.

The proposal, called the Induce Act, says "whoever intentionally induces any violation" of copyright law would be legally liable for those violations, a prohibition that would effectively ban file-swapping networks like Kazaa and Morpheus. In the draft bill seen by CNET News.com, inducement is defined as "aids, abets, induces, counsels, or procures" and can be punished with civil fines and, in some circumstances, lengthy prison terms.

Not surprisingly, this bill is sponsored by Orrin Hatch, the moron from Utah.

I wonder if this would make email programs illegal? After all, it's very easy to violate copyrights using email.

Posted on 18 June, 2004

One Million Cows

Imagine 1,002,240 cows.

If you can't imagine that many cows, go to the MegaPenny Project, where you can visualize stacked cows (lined up 96 cows tall, 145 cows wide and 72 cows deep).

The image below depicts this stack of cows surrounded by the Sears Tower and the Empire State Building.

If these cows were lined up, they would form a line about 1,139 miles long. In other words, it would take more than 2 million cows to stretch from New York to Los Angeles.

Posted on 18 June, 2004

Controlling Clutter

Thirteen Clutter Control Rules. Here's a summary (details are at the site):

Rule 1: When in doubt, throw it out.
Rule 2: Use it or lose it.
Rule 3: Efficiency counts, so store things accordingly.
Rule 4: Handle something once.
Rule 5: Recycle it.
Rule 6: Pick a number and stick with it.
Rule 7: Use a file cabinet.
Rule 8: Do Something.
Rule 9: A place for everything, and everything in its place.
Rule 10: Items displayed in the house have to pass a test.
Rule 11: Don't do things "later."
Rule 12: Label things.
Rule 13: Call in a professional

Posted on 18 June, 2004

The Music Settlement

Remember that settlement deal that came about because of price-fixing by the music industry? From the Register-Guard: Settlement sends flood of music CDs.

More than 115,000 music CDs are flooding Washington schools, colleges and libraries this week, ranging from jazz and classical to Springsteen and hip-hop, as part of a consumer protection settlement with the recording industry.

The industry agreed to pay out $67 million to consumers - including $13.86 checks that 213,000 Washington customers got a few months ago. The CD giveaway to schools, colleges and libraries will cost the industry an estimated $76 million. The windfall will double or triple the size of many libraries' collections, the attorney general's office said.

Here's a blog entry that describes the CDs that were actually received by one library system.

So, you're asking, what kind of stuff with lasting significance did my public library system (with 10 locations) get?

382 of our 1325 settlement CDs are "new"; all the rest are either cut-outs/remainders, or in the case of three titles, "promotional use only" CDs (either stamped with that slogan or with the barcode punched BEFORE the cd was shrinkwrapped).

That means 71.2% of what they sent us is stuff currently sold in remainder bins. Dunno if the terms of the agreement said they couldn't send cutouts or not, but if I know the record industry, they are following the letter but not the spirit of the settlement.

Is sending out worthless junk CDs really costing the industry an estimated $76 million?

Yes, if by "cost the industry" you mean "free up warehouse space for copies of the new Avril Lavigne". I don't know who brokered the terms of this class-action settlement, or who is enforcing the compliance, but if you are ever in need of an attorney, I would strongly suggest not calling any of the people who are patting themselves on the back about their success in negotiating this settlement.

Posted on 18 June, 2004

Junk Fax From Loan Now Financial

It's my civic duty to report that Loan Now Financial sends illegal junk faxes. They are based in Irvine, California. Their contact info:

Toll Free: 800-646-1453
Fax: 888-903-1201
E-mail: Info@LoanNow.Com

The junk fax I received was, of course, anonymous. I called the number to find out that Loan Now Financial was behind it.

Not surprisingly, junkfax.com lists their database removal number (877-205-0886) as one of the numbers for fax.com.

Posted on 18 June, 2004

Rejecting A Rejection Letter

John Kador's rejection letter that rejects a job application rejection letter.

Thank you for your letter rejecting my application for employment with your firm.

I have received rejections from an unusually large number of exceptionally well qualified organizations. With such a varied and promising spectrum of rejections from which to select, it is impossible for me to consider them all. After careful deliberation, then, and because a number of firms have found me more unsuitable, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your rejection.

(via Magnetbox)

Posted on 18 June, 2004

Foul Ball Etiquette

You may have heard about the guy who knocked over a 4-year old kid to retrieve a foul ball at a recent Texas Rangers game. I'm happy to report that he decided to give the ball to the kid. See Foul-ball bully has change of heart.

Starr, who gained unwanted national attention when he knocked 4-year-old Nick O'Brien of Plano, Texas, out of the way to get a foul ball during Sunday's Texas Rangers game against St. Louis, said he will give the ball to Nick, write his family a letter of apology and buy them tickets to an upcoming game, according to an official with the Rangers.

Maybe he saw this site: Foul Ball Etiquette.

(via Information Junk)

Posted on 18 June, 2004

Phrenology And Art

In modern times, phrenology isn't all that popular. But it didn't used to be that way. Phrenology and the Fine Arts.

Despite its widespread popularity in antebellum America, phrenology has rarely been taken seriously as a cultural phenomenon. Charles Colbert seeks to redress this neglect by demonstrating the important contributions the theory made to artistic developments in the period. He goes on to reveal the links between the tenets of phrenology and the cultural ideals of Jacksonian democracy.

(via Penny Dreadful)

Posted on 18 June, 2004

Regsiter To Vote, Get Free Beer

In Rochester, New York: Free beer if you register to vote.

That's the plan at today's East End Festival. Monroe County Democrats have teamed up with High Falls Brewery to offer two free 2-ounce beers to those who register to vote at the festival.

Four measly ounces! It would take at least 16 ounces to get me to register.

Posted on 18 June, 2004

The Pioneer 10 Plaque

Here's the Wikipedia entry for the Pioneer 10 Plaque. I had forgotten all about this until I saw an image of the famous plaque.

Critics have argued that the message is too anthropocentric and too hard to understand. Although the message was designed to encode the most information possible in minimal space, rather than to be easily readable, almost none of the human scientists that were shown the message were able to decode all of it. It can be assumed that it will be even harder for extraterrestrial intelligences that do not share our common knowledge. If it ever found, it is expected that the finders will spend generations deciphering it.

Posted on 18 June, 2004

Cory Doctorow On DRM

This is long, but very interesting: Cory Doctorow's Microsoft Research DRM talk.

This talk was originally given to Microsoft's Research Group and other interested parties from within the company at their Redmond offices on June 17, 2004.

He makes five key points about Digital Rights Management:

  1. DRM systems don't work
  2. DRM systems are bad for society
  3. DRM systems are bad for business
  4. DRM systems are bad for artists
  5. DRM is a bad business-move for Microsoft

Posted on 18 June, 2004

Living On Mars

I guess it's never to early to start thinking about living on Mars. That's why The Mars Homestead Project exists.

The ultimate goal of the Mars Homestead Project is to build a growing, permanent settlement beyond the Earth, thus allowing civilization to spread beyond the limits of our small planet. Utilizing concepts and designs from the past several decades, the project seeks to develop a unified plan for building the first habitat on Mars utilizing local materials.

(via Wired)

Posted on 18 June, 2004

An Electric Hand Dryer That Works?

A new hand dryer from a company called Excel.

Dries Hands in 10 to 15 Seconds. Uses 80% Less Energy. 90% Cost Savings vs. Paper Towel.

I'll believe it when I leave the restroom without having to dry my hands on my shirt.

(via Meta-Efficient)

Posted on 18 June, 2004

Personal Essays

Lots of reading material at Fresh Yarn.

Welcome to FRESH YARN-the first Online Salon for Personal Essays. Part literary publication, part virtual spoken-word, all personal essays.

Twice a month, FRESH YARN presents six new pieces written by a diverse lineup of all-star writers, directors, producers, performers and personalities.

You'll read stories from this emerging genre that are humorous, provocative, dramatic, simple, sweet, raunchy, intimate, bold-and all true.

Posted on 18 June, 2004