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April 30, 2003

Some ideas to pass along to "support the troops" hawks

Some ideas to pass along to "support the troops" hawks during the afterglow.

Posted by mph at 2:54 PM


Amusingly hostile Libertarian take on 'slugging' in HOV lanes, (more at the NYT)

Posted by mph at 2:49 PM

Useful Flash-killing styleshee

Useful Flash-killing stylesheet (for browsers that allow user-selected CSS) (scroll down to "Mozilla ad blocking)

Posted by mph at 2:31 PM

Night Photography

Witness the aftermath of that last collection at Lost America Night Photography (thx again to Phil)

Posted by mph at 9:01 AM

Fab collection of post-War and '50s commercial art

Fab collection of post-War and '50s commercial art (Thx, Phil)

Posted by mph at 8:49 AM

Gingrich's attack on Powell vetted by Pentagon?

Gingrich's attack on Powell vetted by Pentagon? Did the White House call the dogs off afterwards?

Posted by mph at 8:46 AM

April 29, 2003

O'Reilly's Mac guy is enthusiastic about Apple's new music service

O'Reilly's Mac guy is enthusiastic about Apple's new music service.

Posted by mph at 1:26 PM

NH Wardriving Law

NH is getting a pro-wardriving law (and WIRED is there to condescend to people who somehow don' t understand how to turn on WEP)

Posted by mph at 7:20 AM

DARPA funds TIA privacy study

DARPA funds TIA privacy study (the quest for a figleaf begins?)

Posted by mph at 7:13 AM

Cyprus Wall Opened

Hitchens on the opening of the wall in Cyprus

Posted by mph at 6:59 AM

Bush-era Democrats still unpalatable? Read

Bush-era Democrats still unpalatable? Read up then meetup

Posted by mph at 12:08 AM

April 28, 2003

Hawash clarification from Bix

Hawash clarification from Bix

Posted by mph at 11:18 PM

PBS' Manor House is thinly

PBS' Manor House is thinly veiled kink.

Posted by mph at 8:50 PM

Bix rounds up news

Bix rounds up news on new Mike Hawash charges

Posted by mph at 3:29 PM

What if Howard Zinn

What if Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky commented on the Fellowship of the Ring? via just about everywhere

Posted by mph at 3:26 PM

Zoo Pix

I went ahead and scanned a few zoo pictures in on my own. It's interesting shooting with an SLR. I forgot how much I'd come to rely on the viewer on the back of my digital camera, which introduced a few cognitive glitches. With a little thumbnail of the photo displayed on a screen on the camera, framed by the rest of my field of view, it was easy to think in terms of composition because the image was somewhat abstracted. With an SLR, the picture frame became my entire field of view, an image that occupies a different mental space from the one in which I'd become accustomed to composing photographs. Something to think about more next time I'm out.


Equipment fetish note: Everything was shot with a 35-200mm zoom, which is longer by almost 3x the optical zoom, and longer by almost half again the digital zoom on the Canon S-10 digital camera. The digital zoom on the Canon also has the unhappy habit of rendering just about everything like a frame from the Zapruder film, and its autofocus struggles with glass. Later models (Michael B. has a Canon G2) do better with this, but I haven't seen the digital zoom in action.

In the end, the 200mm zoom still fell a little shy for zoo shooting, as most of the guides I dug up on the subject seemed to predict: a 300mm zoom would have spanned the moats and lengthy stretches of open ground in the enclosures and allowed for tighter framing of the subjects. Something to think about before this summer's Yellowstone excursion, though in a related getting-old-note, I just realized that "the last time I was in Yellowstone" = almost sixteen years ago, which makes me wonder what sort of animals there will be to see this summer.

Posted by mph at 11:37 AM


I don't know how Antarctica stacks up against Mt. Everest in terms of remoteness, but Me-fi has a thread on "blogging from the top of the world with some links to other remote blogs. PuddingBowl's own iceblog! was a great record of life in Antarctica. Now that Beth's home, though, we're thinking about ways to make it into a permanent collection.

Posted by mph at 8:32 AM

April 27, 2003


Spent yesterday afternoon at the Portland Zoo with an actual film camera (a Minolta Maxxum 5 with a 30-300mm zoom and a few rolls of 200 & 400 speed film). The camera was a pleasure to use (it was my first real shooting experience with an autofocus SLR). The store I got the camera from offers a decent enough deal on developing (they throw in a roll of film in exchange for me forgoing the second set of prints), and I was happy with the results of the first two rolls I gave them.

I finished off a third roll this afternoon and took it down to the local Fred Meyer to see how their photo shop stacked up and if there was any money to be saved. I also had them prepare a CD of the roll just to see how it looked. The prints were fine, but the CD I got was disappointing: they burned low quality JPEGS with visible artifacts. Maybe they're set up in anticipation of mass conversions of large collections of photos, so the decision would make sense from that perspective, but it's a pretty big waste of money for just a few rolls: they smashed the roll down to about 23MB (including viewing software) instead of using something less lossy (like TIFF, for instance). A negative/slide scanner is looking pretty attractive about now. Anyone have better experiences with PhotoCD's? Any recommendations for getting 35mm pictures into a computer?

Posted by mph at 6:19 PM

April 26, 2003

Book examines why masturbation's

Book examines why masturbation's stigmatized (NYT, registration req'd)

Posted by mph at 3:54 PM

April 25, 2003

Take better zoo pictures.

Take better zoo pictures.

Posted by mph at 3:44 PM

April 24, 2003

Roger Ebert talks politics with

Roger Ebert talks politics with The Progressive (via me-fi)

Posted by mph at 1:47 PM

April 23, 2003

And I Suppose...

...if all the other embedded reporters were bringing back weapons of mass destruction, you'd do it too!?

(Via me-fi)

Posted by mph at 12:08 PM

Calling It Like He Sees It

I really, really like Bob Edwards.

Posted by mph at 12:41 AM

April 21, 2003

Leashing the Dogs of War?

Josh Marshall quotes Chris Nelson, who maintains that Colin Powell may have had a hand in keeping the hawks at bay in Syria and where N. Korea is concerned. He even finds cause for optimism in Palestine, such as it can be found.

Posted by mph at 10:16 PM

PAIJ Formed to Tackle Independent Press Access Issues

(Update: Bix and Noah have posted their own announcements, and the local Indymedia site also has the announcement.)

If you've been reading along the last few weeks, you might have noticed a spate of items on local Web-based journalist Christopher "b!X" Frankonis' travails when it came to getting access to a city press conference. My last writeup on the issue ended with a proposal to form some sort of organization local independent journalists could use to obtain press credentials. b!X and another local weblogger, Noah Brimhall, expressed some interest in the idea, and after a bit of sitting on the idea, we kicked off a discussion that's culminated in the Portland Association of Independent Journalists (PAIJ).

The PAIJ statement of purpose reads:

The Portland Association of Independent Journalists (PAIJ) is meant to serve local independent reporters by raising awareness of the issues and concerns they face as they exercise their right to maintain a free and open press. We seek to do this in the following ways:

The best way for local independent journalists to get involved right now is to subscribe to the Indypress mailing list at paij.org, where we'll set the agenda for our first meeting and begin the process of hammering out ethical guidelines.

In addition to the mailing list, we're about to launch a weblog to report the most important news from the group. A link will go up once the design is finalized and we start filling it with news.

Posted by mph at 10:00 AM

April 17, 2003

Taco Eaten By Bat Boy

I'll admit that I did a doubletake when a story about a time-traveling insider trader showed up in Yahoo!. Then I noticed, along with the rest of the Internet, that the item was from the Weekly World News.

Slashdot didn't have that kind of luck. But they're journalists. They promise.

Posted by mph at 1:06 PM

The New Canon Redux

Couple of mails re: the new film canon make more comment useful:

The sample group on which the author draws isn't some etablished critical body out to stir up dissent and Web traffic: it's film majors currently in college, at least from the way the author presents things.

The list the author presents is designed to exclude some obvious choices we can presume said film majors are probably including in their lists of "great movies." Of all of the films cited, The Godfather is the least "roughneck" of the lot, and I'm a little surprised any critic wouldn't consider it canonical. On the other hand, it smashed critical darling Chinatown in the Oscars that year, so maybe there's some pent up resentment on the part of "real" cinema enthusiasts (as opposed to those of us who just like to watch movies).

Noting that the author is excluding what he considered "obvious" choices from the list he considered, it's fussy to start name-checking him for choices he didn't include. Short of him telling us (which he doesn't in any detail) we have no idea what the "no surprise here" exclusions on his list were.

The engaging thing about the article, from my perspective, came from getting a little insight into what his sample population thinks is "important" when it isn't ticking off the things someone conversant in film school tastes might expect to find. Not being a film school student, and not being particularly attuned to the tastes of "serious" film critics (as opposed to the consumer advocate types you get in most Friday editions of the paper), I can only take his assertion of a common film school canon as a matter of faith, and I'd be almost completely in the dark if pressed to name its bright lights. I get a peek at it now and then when I take a film class and the name-checking starts among the front-row set, but Portland State University is known for its film program the way I'm known for my tasty feta pizza wraps, so maybe they're all crazy.

So what's left is curiosity over the more populist choices he identified as recurrent among his sample: the things that aren't embraced by the critical establishment (yet) and where my tastes overlap. Going down that list was less of an exercise in "that!?t but what about . . ." and much more in nodding and wondering why that particular film might turn up a lot. Most of them are on my shelf, and I've got a collection I'd call essentially populist with a few indy/art-house selections thrown in to balance out the existence of $9.99 "might-as-wells." It's certainly not a collection about which I'd make representations of long-term merit for a population any larger than Alison and me, and therein lies the interest of the article: wondering what someone with an eye-in-training sees in these things that elevates them from "good movie" to something that might influence a young director a few years down the road.

Posted by mph at 11:09 AM

April 16, 2003

The Joy Of Photoshop

The Joy of Photoshop Elements, anyhow, which I got for my birthday. It turns routine photos of the cheese block man at the Tillamook Cheese Factory into special paintings celebrating America's dairy workers:

His job, btw, is to intercept pieces of cheese that are too small or too large and alternately add thin slices of cheese to boost their size to the appropriate standard or remove thin slices to get them down to the correct size. The fun came from watching him never, ever miss a single piece of mal-sized cheese, even when he was distracted.

(Sized large, by the way, for a short life as your favorite wallpaper ever.)

Posted by mph at 10:01 AM

April 15, 2003

The New Canon

What's up with the film canon? According to this article:

"...Casablanca and Citizen Kane don't matter so much anymore, even if you think they should. Those two films may be, respectively, the peak product of the Hollywood dream machine and the first true indie flick; they may be historical necessities, transporting movie experiences, and, in the case of Kane, a brilliantly realized essay on American success, ego, and disaster. But their pertinence to audiences is a thing of the past."

Instead, the article argues, the up-and-comers include a list that runs from The Big Lebowski to Amelie. I didn't feel like arguing with many of the choices on the list: they'll still matter in a few years.

The author's a prat.

(The whole article)

Posted by mph at 10:20 PM

April 10, 2003

Secret Anti-Terrorist Sauce

Salon's taken the time to explain what CAPPS II is (beyond "the new credit check/anti-terrorist record check the airlines are doing"):

"When you check in to a flight, the system will feed in your name, address, telephone number and date of birth -- information that airlines already have about each passenger -- into a commercial database. This step would try to determine whether 'you are who you say you are,' Rosenker says. The computer could get from these databases the same sort of information that many businesses easily have access to -- your known addresses, your employer, whether you own or rent your home, that kind of thing. Rosenker says that CAPPS II will analyze this information to check that you're 'rooted in the community,' meaning 'that you routinely are where you say you are.'

"Rosenker describes CAPPS II as being a kind of progressive system -- it would scan as few databases as it needs to determine that someone checks out. 'If every single commercial database says, yes, there's a Farhad Manjoo with this address and this date of birth and this phone number, the system says you're OK. What this allows us to do is not complicate the lives of people who don't need more checking.' On the other hand, she says, 'if it comes up that this person has only been living here for four months and there's no sign of him before that, then we'd need to go to the next level of identification.'

"This next level would check law-enforcement databases to determine whether you're on a watch list or, 'if need be, your behavioral patterns,' she says. 'But that's only if need be -- and you don't need to do the same degree of testing for every person.'

"This last test of behavioral patterns is the most mysterious thing about the system. The TSA won't say what kind of behavioral patterns it means, because if terrorists find out what the agency is looking for, they'll change their behavior."

Posted by mph at 4:18 PM

April 9, 2003

Thank God Google's Dumping Press Releases...

...because it might save IDG from reprinting April Fool's Day jokes as if they were true. (Hit the "MORE" link for the whole gag release in case IDG takes it down...)

Sun to ship OpenBSD on its Intel-based workstations
Thursday, 3 April, 2003

Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: SUNW), in a surprise announcement, has stated that it will offer the OpenBSD operating system as the default operating system for its Intel-based workstations. The move came shortly after Sun announced the death of its own Linux distribution, internally known as "Mad Hatter Linux".

This new direction comes on the heels of a strategic partnership between Intel and Fujitsu, long-time Sun partner and manufacturer of Sparc chips, to build competing Linux-based servers and mainframe computers.

"Our polling shows a strong demand for Sun-branded Intel workstations running OpenBSD" said head of Open Source Solutions Brad S. Downey. "Customers who wish to run Solaris generally do so on our enterprise-strength UltraSparc-based machines. Anyone can sell a PC running Linux, here at Sun we strive to differentiate ourselves and produce a product with superior hardware and software. With its dedication to industrial strength security OpenBSD allows us to do just that." Both OpenBSD and Solaris have their roots in a version of Unix developed at the University of California, Berkeley. Downey stated "Sun engineers are more comfortable inside the OpenBSD kernel than they are inside Linux. Furthermore, Sun has shipped OpenSSH, an OpenBSD spin off project, for the past several releases so we already have good contacts within the OpenBSD leadership."

When asked about the recent tiff between OpenBSD lead Theo de Raadt and Sun regarding hardware documentation for the UltraSparc III CPU, Downey said "We have a good rapport with the OpenBSD team. Our assistance in gaining access to hardware documentation has been invaluable to them regarding the continued development of their UltraSparc port." When asked whether he was worried about OpenBSD on the UltraSparc taking market share from Sun's one Solaris (tm) operating system, Downey had the following to say: "We don't see ourselves as being in direct competition. While it's true that we both give away operating systems that run on the UltraSparc CPU, Solaris has a much higher version number and our customers appreciate that. Now, if OpenBSD were to release a version 10 tomorrow we might have a problem."

Posted by mph at 11:58 AM

"Free Mike Hawash" Site Launched

The Free Mike Hawash Web page is tracking the case of Maher "Mike" Hawash, an Oregon resident and US citizen who's being held without bail in a Federal prison as a "material witness" to a terrorism case. He hasn't been charged with anything, and all the warrants and subpoenas under which he's being held are secret.

Bix has pictures of Monday's "pro-Mike" rally in Portland, plus some links of his own.

Posted by mph at 11:14 AM

April 8, 2003

Little Brother

Cool: lbdb, The Little Brother's Database, is an addressbook lookup program that works pretty nicely with mutt. Since last I looked (a long time ago), it includes a module that interfaces with the Mac OS X address book.

Posted by mph at 11:04 PM

For Me To Poop On

Flipping through the channels, we stop long enough to see a bit of Cher's farewell-to-television-concerts concert. She's just gotten through defiling a U2 song (there's some pleasure to be found in imagining Cher's squeezing a coily one out of that bony ass and all over Bono's lizard-scaled chest), and now she's surrounded by women in what looks to be a sort of bikini-inspired reinterpretation of Mongol horde-wear.

Just thought you'd like to know what you missed.

Posted by mph at 9:13 PM

35 Years Ago Today...

...I was shot out into the world. I think I will celebrate by synergizing my intuitive humanity.

Posted by mph at 7:19 PM

I've Got Some Bad News For Them

Google says it's going to more clearly label press releases when they appear on its news service. Insert snarky comment about tech press "reporting" here.

Posted by mph at 6:24 PM

Token Sucking

New York City prepares to say goodbye to token sucking:

"Officially, the crime is classified as theft of Transit Authority property. But among transit police officers it is more accurately and less delicately known as token sucking. Unfortunately for everyone involved, it is exactly what it sounds like.

"The criminal carefully jams the token slot with a matchbook or a gum wrapper and waits for a would-be rider to plunk a token down. The token plunker bangs against the locked turnstile and walks away in frustration. Then from the shadows, the token sucker appears like a vampire, quickly sealing his lips over the token slot, inhaling powerfully and producing his prize: a $1.50 token, hard earned and obviously badly needed."

Complete Story

Posted by mph at 6:18 PM

April 7, 2003

Pecked By His Little Bird

This blogger is still posting away after getting busted for plagiarizing to pad out his entries and lying to his readers, who are, on balance, completely nonplussed by the whole affair, arguing that his site is "just a blog" and that it shouldn't be expected to provide frills like attribution or accurate sourcing.

Posted by mph at 8:56 AM

April 5, 2003

Who's Hysterical?

Your concerns about privacy in the face of government attempts to mine data on a previously unattainable scale are "hysterical" and "luddite" according to Heather Mac Donald, a lawyer with the Manhattan Institute, which WIRED, in its report on the annual Freedom, Computers, and Privacy Conference, helpfully identifies as a "conservative" think tank.

The Manhattan Institute's politics are not really at issue here, and the author of the piece should have set them aside, because what Mac Donald is pushing isn't so much an ideological agenda as it is an attempt to cow her audience with threats of dire consequences if we don't embrace an agenda that includes higher and higher levels of government intrusion in the foolish quest to create total security through "total information awareness."

Despite what Mac Donald says, though, she's the hysterical one, especially when she claims protests must end because they help the terrorists, and that secret arrest is a good thing.

Posted by mph at 1:02 PM

April 3, 2003

Updated: English Al Jazeera Is Back, But Akamai Pulls the Plug

The English Al Jazeera web site seems to be well and truly back online. Right in the wake of the network's decision to pull its reporters out of Iraq, unfortunately.

Update: TV Barn denounces Akamai for its decision to drop a contract with Al Jazeera. (Non-tech people note: Akamai provides services to Internet companies that help them deal with high traffic demands and could, in the case of Al Jazeera, take some of the strain off of its servers, which are under prolonged denial of services attacks). The NYT quotes English Al Jazeera's Managing Editor, who says the decision was politically motivated.

Posted by mph at 9:18 PM

Subverting Google

The Reg's Andrew Orlowski believes bloggers are gaming Google, producing a "Googlewash" effect that subverts meaning as "A-list" bloggers grab hold of memes and smooth them out to suit the technoutopian impulses of the digerati. Expect Orlowski to face a round of angry denunciations by pasty, out-of-work WIRED subscribers who will resent the implication that their hard-earned Google ranking isn't an indication of God's favor.

obSincereSideNote: I agree with Orlowski... it's creepy.

Update: Even worse than WIRED subscribers (canya believe?), Slashdot has picked the item up.

Posted by mph at 8:11 AM

April 2, 2003

Learn from the Masters

If the British seem much more at home in Iraq, it's not just because of their urbane accents... it's because they're old hands at colonialism.

Posted by mph at 11:26 PM


Iraq-o-meter has added a useful "cost per taxpayer" meter and a less clear "leadership status" board (which has Qusay as the only one at 'orange').

Posted by mph at 11:02 PM

War Jargon

The Village Voice has a glossary of war jargon:

Forward Operating Base Shell: Headquarters of the 101st Airborne Division in central Iraq. Soldiers nicknamed this and another army outpost "Camp Shell" and "Camp Exxon," supposedly because the fuel stations remind them of filling stations at home.

and so on.

(via Reason's Hit and Run)

Posted by mph at 8:55 PM

Press Conference Access Redux

Bix has more on his press conference woes, as do I:

A mail toSarah Bott, in the mayor's press office, didn't yield a lot to explain why they would have bounced an uncredentialed reporter from a press conference. In fact, she said the policy for access to the conference, held by the police, was a police matter and referred me to the Portland Police Bureau's public information office.

This morning I gave the PIO a call and talked to Sergeant Brian Schmautz, asking him if he could explain what constitutes adequate credentials for access to police press conferences, and asking why anyone would have been kept from the one held on 3/27, where Bix had his problems.

According to Sergeant Schmautz, the issue centered around the ongoing "orange alert" status, which, he said, mandates escorts for visitors to the police station, and Ms. Bott's apparent disavowal of any knowledge of Bix (which he discussed in his initial report on the matter, as well as his subsequent followup).

Given that Ms. Bott said she had no idea who Bix was (and why that is certainly isn't clear, though I'm willing to bet it was the native caution of someone who wasn't sure who was giving her name and didn't want to agree to something that would get her in trouble later), SGT Schmautz said he had no choice but to refuse admission to the press conference.

The second part of my discussion with SGT Schmautz centered around just what does constitute a "credential" to the Portland City Police. More to the point, I asked him if independent media in the area could credential themselves. His response to that was surprising, to the extent he said it seemed like a waste of effort, since the conditions that caused them to deny admission to the press conference in the first place are tied almost entirely to the "orange alert" status we're all in thanks to the war (and whatever other indicators the goat entrails reveal to our soothsayers this week). He did, however, say that would certainly work as an alternative to clearing people on a case-by-case basis. He even went so far as to say "I don't care what system people use to identify themselves as press."

So the issue seems to boil down to needing something that says "press" on it when you try to get into a press conference. I'm guessing the police aren't interested in verifying the nature of an entity, provided one appears to be there, and since SGT Schmautz said local indy media are welcome to work together to come up with a uniform press i.d. and present that as credentials, it looks like there's an easy solution in sight to keep things like what happened to Bix from happening in the future.

My inclination is to go to the effort to create some sort of "independent media consortium" for interested community reporters that issues credentials in exchange for agreement to adhere to basic conduct rules (SGT Schmautz said he hates it when people like local radio blowhard Lars Larson use their credentials to get into press conferences so they can ask no questions but make lots of assertions). I'd even go so far as to handle the organizational details, like maintaining the registry and producing press cards that look like something besides Avery inkjet business cards.

If it seems like a lot of effort to go to, getting this far into the story, I guess all I can say is that this is the sort of thing that's important right now:

We can't do much to roll back the most anti-democratic instincts of government in time of crisis (and we've been in a crisis since 9/11), but we can encourage the institutions that encourage a democratic mindset. Among them are a free, independent press. People like Bix take their own time to go out and report on government and community from a grass roots perspective. They see things the corporate reporters won't, can't, or simply don't feel free to report on. Their audiences may be small, but they provide us with another set of eyes to see and another voice to tell what's going on.

Anyhow, that seems to be that from my end of it. I'll post anything new Bix comes up with as he works on things from his side.

Posted by mph at 1:38 PM

Moz 1.4a for OS X

... is out (as it is for every other platform I guess). Tossing this up because after poking around with it for a few minutes, I'm willing to say that it's moving into "usable" territory, even on OS X. I may set it up as the default browser for a few days, but I get the feeling Safari will still kick its ass in terms of opening new windows. Still no contest at all for "first launch of the session," but my browser is probably the last app I close, so who cares?

Posted by mph at 1:31 AM

April 1, 2003

No More Lucky Charms Before Bed

Last night I dreamed I went blind.

Rather than being unable to see anything at all, I discovered that my brain had somehow preserved a snapshot of everything in my house before I lost my sight. So for the duration of the dream (I woke up twice, and returned to the dream each time until the alarm went off this morning), I was able to walk around the house and name things, or describe where something was before touching it. I couldn't see anybody around me, they were just voices coming from the space the person would have occupied in my line of vision if I had been able to see anything besides the snapshot, but I could see everything as it had last been left. So I'd pick up a book or a CD case from a stack and be able to describe the title or the illustration on the cover. One of the voices explained it was a stress-related last gasp of my brain, struggling to protect me from the darkness.

As the dream progressed, color began to fade from the things I could "see" in my mind's eye until everything was a washed out monochrome, with only hints of rusty red among the gray and charcoal. Once the color had bled out of the things I could "see," books and other objects began to become generic ... I couldn't read titles or describe the covers anymore, I could just anticipate their general shapes before handling them. The dream ended just before I lost the ability to remember the shapes, or where anything was. I was beginning to realize that I'd have to take up a new career, so I had my friends take me to a comedy club so I could get ideas for my new standup routine.

Posted by mph at 8:51 PM