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April 30, 2007

Rosie O’Donnell should look things up in Wikipedia first

HASSELBECK: Do you believe that the government had anything to do with the attack of 9/11? Do you believe in a conspiracy in terms of the attack of 9/11?

O’DONNELL: No. But I do believe the first time in history that fire has ever melted steel. I do believe that it defies physics for the World Trade Center Tower Seven, building seven, which collapsed in on itself, it is impossible for a building to fall the way it fell without explosives being involved, World Trade Center Seven. World Trade Center one and Two got hit by planes. Seven, miraculously, for the first time in history, steel was melted by fire. It is physically impossible.

HASSELBECK: And who do you think is responsible for that?

O’DONNELL: I have no idea. But to say that we don’t know it was imploded, that there was implosion in the demolition, is beyond ignorant. Look at the film. Get a physics expert here from Yale, from Harvard. Pick the school. It defies reason. [source]

Interesting.

OAKLAND, Calif. — A gasoline tanker crashed and burst into flames near the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge yesterday, creating such intense heat that a section of highway melted and collapsed. [source]

And, from Wikipedia:

Molten steel is cast into large blocks called “blooms”…. [emphasis added]

blast furnace

Jeesh. [Tags: ]

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Vista for gamers: A charitable assessment

Games for Windows magazine (formerly Computer Gaming World) has a frank article about the strengths and weaknesses of Vista as a platform for games. GFW is independent of Microsoft, yet when it comes time to give the overall rating, it pulls its punch. The article reports that many games run more slowly (albeit they didn’t compare on equivalent hardware…but why didn’t they?) and that whole bunches of games just don’t run. If any particular game had as many bugs and glitches, they’d drop the rating below 5 (out of 10). Instead, they give Vista 8 out of 10 as a gaming platform.

If you’re a gamer, ignore the rating and read the article. You will not be tempted to “upgrade” to Vista. [Tags: ]

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Ironic software

Adobe Acrobat 7 is refusing to uninstall. So, following advice on a discussion board, I downloaded the Microsoft Windows Installer CleanUp, which is designed to remove the Windows installer configuration information about selected products that may be confusing the uninstall process.

When I try to install the the Microsoft Windows Installer CleanUp, I get the following messages (click on them to see them full size).

windows uninstaller can't uninstall the previous version of Windows Uninstaller

Oh ho ho ho. I laugh, knowing that I’m about to lose another hour of my life. O ho ho ho.

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PS: I gave up on trying to uninstall Adobe Acrobat. When I checked the registry, there were over 1,500 references to it. So, I instead installed a free PDF viewer from Foxit Software and associated PDF files with it. I’ve just played around with it a little bit, but so far it seems terrific. I even filled in an IRS form with it. (There’s a pay version also that has some extra spiffy features.)

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April 29, 2007

Shaw’s president’s videos…good first step

The Boston Globe reports (here today, gone tomorrow-ish) that Carl Jablonski, president of Shaw’s Supermarkets and Star Markets, does a monthly, live, unscripted video broadcast for employees. He talks about what the company is doing well and not so well, interviews a guest, and reads customer letters. On a recent show, the guest was a manager who poked gentle fun at Carl. Said Carl to the reporter, Keith O’Brien: “You’re human. They see that human side of their president. And quite frankly, I think you work better for somebody who you understand.” Nice. But then he also said:

“A 20-minute broadcast with the right individuals generates the message quicker, faster, and more to the point,” said Jablonski.

Insofar as it’s about communicating a message, it’s still alienating. As Doc said succinctly so many years ago, “There’s no market for messages.” It’s still a broadcast, the one in charge speaking to the many who are not. Why not open it up? Let the employees speak — we’ve got lots of ways of enabling that now. [Tags: ]

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April 28, 2007

Support Internet Radio’s existence

SaveNetRadio.org is asking us in the US to call our representatives to urge them to support the Internet Radio Equality Act (HR 2060), introduced by Jay Inslee (D-WA). Here’s what the email I received from Live360 says:

The Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) recently denied webcasters’ requests for a rehearing on its ruling of unfairly high new royalty rates — a stunning 300 to 1200 percent increase — for Internet radio for period 2006-2010.

Internet radio is singled out from all other radio, burdened with fees not paid by AM or FM stations, and at rates at least 3-4 times paid by satellite and cable radio. The ruling even included absurd minimum of $500 per station per year to penalize the smallest webcasters with the highest rates.

Should this ruling stand, many of your favorite stations will be silenced. You will find Live365’s 260 genres reduced to the same meager, homogenized list carried on AM/FM radio, because the unfair rates would drive webcasters in niche genres with unique content unavailable elsewhere out of business.

You can, however, help protect your favorite tunes of your favorite DJs from being silenced.

The Internet Radio Equality Act (HR 2060) has been introduced in Congress by Representative Jay Inslee (D-WA). A simple phone call to your Representative to ask for their support on this Bill will go a long way toward ensuring your right to diversity and choice in radio. Better yet, please also write and fax to show how serious you are. They need to know how much your music means to you.

You can find your Rep’s number here. [Tags: ]

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April 27, 2007

Book launch at the Berkman on Monday

The Berkman Center is holding a launch party for Everything Is Miscellaneous on April 30. I’ll give a talk at 6pm in Pound Hall Room 335, and then there will be a reception at 7pm at the Berkman Center at 23 Everett Street. (Pound Hall is a block away.)

You are invited. [Tags: ]

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Chris Lydon’s interview posted

Radio Open Source has posted the mp3 of yesterday’s show about everything being miscellaneous, with me, Karen Schneider, and Tim Spalding. Chris being Chris, he drives it more towards than the broad and philosophical than, well, anyone else on radio. And best of all, you can hear me get the name of the author of Moby-Dick wrong! [Tags: ]

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April 26, 2007

Akma, Judaism, and the pleasures of blogs

AKMA responds at some length to Rowan William’s lecture on Biblical interpretation. Having just read (and blogged) Ethan Zuckerman’s post about the history of knowledge, I’m left this morning thinking: Good G-d almighty, I love the Internet. I haven’t even finished my first cup of coffee and I’ve been given access to two brilliant, engaged minds wrestling with issues that really matter and that I would never have come across without the Linkosphere.

Now, on Akma’s response to my response to Dr. Williams (which I got to via Akma’s original recommendation)…

Williams says the Bible should be read “not as information, not as just instruction, but as a summons to assemble together as a certain sort of community, one that understands itself as called and created ‘out of nothing’.” As I said in my first post, understanding Scripture as more than something to be known strikes me (a Jew) as important and true. But I remain unconvinced that the Jewish more-than-that response is to see Scripture assembling a community. I may well be misinterpreting what Williams means by “community,” but I thought he meant that Scripture creates community by binding together believers listening to Scripture together. (Clearly the community goes beyond mere listening; I’m not getting the nuance right here.) I thought that was the “out of nothing” he has in mind. But (my point was), Jews aren’t Jews because of what they believe, any more than, say, Italians are. Akma’s response to me is that the Jewish “out of nothing” was the foundational event — the calling (Revelation at Sinai?) and the convenant.

This has me thinking, as Akma’s post always do. Akma’s interpretation makes the creation out of nothing an historical event. But if that’s what Williams meant, “community” is too weak a word. Jews are a people, not a community. (Of course, Jews also form communities; in fact, the religion is designed for community practice.) And, I assumed — thus making an ass out of u and med — that Williams’ reference to communities forming “out of nothing” wasn’t (just) to the historic foundational event of Christian history. but to the continuing creation of communities by hearing the Bible read in particular houses of worship at particular times.

If my interpretation of Williams is right — and I have no confidence that I’m getting any of this right, starting with what Jews believe — then Akma’s interpretation makes Williams’ lecture right for Jews but at the expense of obscuring an important difference between the two religions…a difference that comes down to the difference between being a people and being a community.

The truth is that I am spring-loaded on this topic — being ready to pounce is not a good intellectual position — because all too often, in my experience and opinion, Christians assume too much continuity with Judaism. (Akma is extraordinarily open to the possibility of difference — he defines “respect.”) So, when I read Williams, I tripped over that one little phrase of his.

In short: Let’s take the hyphen out of Judeo-Christian. [Tags: ]

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The 18th Century Internet and Indian exceptionalism

Ethanz has yet another fantastic post. This one recounts a discussion at the World Bank at which Joel Mokyr, an economic historian, talked about what knowledge looked like in the 18th century as access to it suddenly increased. Ethan also talks about the “India fallacy,” his term for the illusory belief that one’s country can become the next India economically. Jeez, you can’t open up Ethan’s blog without learning something.

(Warning: Ethan starts off by saying something gratuitously nice about my book. So, please skip the first paragraph so you won’t suspect that I’m merely reciprocating Ethan’s praise. Thank you.) [Tags: ]

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XXClone: Software that works

My boot drive was 99% full so, I got myself a shiny new hard drive. My experience with Windows is that whenever you swap a drive, either the old or the new one dies, making the experience as painful as possible. But this time I used XXClone, a free program that clones disks. It also lets you set the new disk as your boot device (although you also need to set that in your BIOS) and swaps the drive letters so your new disk can be, for example, Drive C. For $40/year/computer, you can get the pro version that does incremental backup and can do unattended operations.

It took it something under 2 hours to clone a 120G disk. When it was done, my computer booted right up. I am having some little problems — Google Desktop can’t get a connection to localhost — but I doubt they are XXClone’s fault.

Software that works! [Tags: ]

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