How great is this? Because, really, who hasn’t wondered what their grinch name is?
Mine, in case you were curious and how could you not be, is Surlybeast Rascalnose. Which is a little creepy, actually. Because that really is what Top Management has been calling me for years. Every December, at least.
A big ol' Santa Claus hat tip to blogpal Shannon for this bit o' holiday cheer.
No, seriously. If someone who got here from searching for “scott peterson update 2007” could please tell me why so many people from all over the country are suddenly doing these searches, I’d be most grateful. Thank you.
As for those of you who got here by searching for:
fort lewis truffle
Frank Zappa - Left Of The Dial
"it’s a fine fine day for a reunion"
William Shakespeare "Sign no more" what does this mean?
david bowie introverted
I hate YouTube
well...no explanations needed.
Some folks say this is the greatest five second video on teh internets. I don’t know that I’d disagree.
But this? This is almost certainly the greatest website in the known universe. In fact, I find it hard to believe there are better elsewhere. Yes I do.
Oh, sure, I've said I hate YouTube. But I don't. My love for it is mean and true. And it's not just availability of horrible videos from the 1980s—although that is awfully great.
It's also because of the way it enables creative people from around the world to present well-known art in a way that's fresh and new. And about my favorite subject, with my favorite Bach piece in the background? What's not to love?
H/T: the always interesting Charlottesville Words
I have meant to keep a list of the fonky ways folks have stumbled across Left of the Dial. But, of course, I never have. Because I am full of good ideas and plans and actually do but the smallest percentage. Which explains how someone else got around to writing Shakespeare in Love seven years after I told folks I was going to write a novel almost exactly like it. Oh, and the iPod? Also my idear. As was mint cookies ‘n cream ice cream.
Okay, that one’s not true.
Anyhoo, here’s a partial list of ways people found this here blog just in the past few days.
I am the first hit for:
"i'm not used to it" Offspring lyrics
I am the first (and second) hit for:
lyrics to " mister roboto" by sticks
For helpin’ me escape just when I needed to.
I am the second hit for:
I am the second (and third) hit for:
huck finn "i am one of you forever"
The third for:
song that sounds like the neon lights part of cult of personality
I have no idea what song that is. But I know this: it’s not as good as the original.
The third for:
robert steinback random thoughts
Got a TON of those this week—someone must have assigned a report recently.
lyrics "how can i let" "walk away" "John Mayer"
Heh. Given how I do nothing but rag on Mister Desperately Needs to Be Slapped, that one amooses me greatly.
filles de kilimanjaro pronunciation
50 DRIVE TIME ANTHEMS LISTS
The restlessness edgy anxiety bored of Daisy The Great Gatsby
On this one, Google wants to know if I mean:
The restlessness edgy anxiety board of Daisy The Great Gatsby
Yes. Yes, I do. The Edgy Anxiety Board is a panel on which Daisy served in her free time.
Ninth (and tenth) for:
john mellencamp keyboard piano pedophile
11th (and 12th) for:
gary larson the far side penguin singing i want to be me
Just that search made me smile.
minivan rooftop carrier that does not require crossbars
And the first (and only) hit for:
"Lee Phillips" Asset Protection "green arrow"
I’d really like to know the story behind that.
Can you just imagine how disappointed these seekers must have been when they actually checked this joint out?
Also of interest, to me at least, is just how many people use search engines other than teh Google. Why? It’s like choosing generic soda over Coca-Cola even though the price is the same. Isn’t it?
So a while back I was raving about YouTube, a site at which I wasted far, far too much time for a few days. Or perhaps, given how much The Bean and The Boy both loved to hang with Dear Ol' Dad and watch us some good ol’ bad videos together, it wasn't really time wasted after all.
I lamented, however, that a video I’d only seen a few times back in the 80s was nowhere to be found. Despite only managing to catch it once or twice, I found the song and the video haunting.
Well, once more, God bless America and YouTube. Here, in all its 1980s glory, is the Tony Carey video, "A Fine, Fine Day (for a Reunion)."
It’s obviously a pretty early video but I found it surprisingly well done for all that. In fact, I found bits really, really well done indeed. It’s not a huge surprise it wasn’t played more often—the singer himself is miles away from the pretty boys MTV was preferring at the time—but a few more spins wouldn’t have been out of line.
Only one problem: I remembered the video and the song all right, but the main shot I recalled, the black and white longshot of the guy running around the top of the soccer stadium, wasn’t actually in it. Back to the starting line…
Okay, this is really weird.
I’ve had tinnitus for over a year now—at least, I’ve noticed it for that long, although I don’t know when it really started.
But you may have heard about that new ring tone that only teenagers can hear, so they can notice when they get a call on their cell phone, or a text message, and us dumb grown-ups’ll be none the wiser, right?
Well, this guy devoted a page to hearing tests. Or, more accurately, towards lots of different frequencies to see where your hearing loss starts.
It’s really interesting. And if it’s on the up-and-up, I think I’m pretty weird. Yeah, I know—news, right?
So here’s the thing: I can hear all the tests up to and including the 17,000—in fact, most of them are darn uncomfortable, so consider yourself warned about that. But I can’t hear 18,000-20,000 at all. Yet I can hear the 21,000 and up again just fine. Kinda odd, no?
My ears hurt even worse now. Lovely.
Anyhoo, I’m off to roll up one trouser and unroll the other, I think.
I’ve watched a lot of talking heads and, unlike actual politicians, I’ve often seen them spin, sometimes furiously, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one simply out and out lie.
But on the McLaughlin Group just now, Tony Blankley said three times, laughing each time, "Al Gore invented the internet."
Much as I disagree vehemently with Blankley on most topics—although tonight I thought he was absolutely dead-on with one comment, although for the life of me I can’t remember what it was right now—at least I think he’s essentially honest if, you know, foundationally incorrect.
But he’s far too intelligent and learned to think for a moment that Gore ever actually claimed he invented the internet. Al Gore never said he did. And while many people repeat the falsehood without knowing the truth, Blankley is way too tuned in for ignorance to be a valid excuse in his case. He had to know what he was saying was false, which means he was simply repeating the lie for a political end.
The history of the whole smear can be found right here. The long and short of it is, Gore was perhaps sloppy in the way he phrased the claim, but he corrected it within literally seconds, in his very next sentence, and even so, the arguably sloppy phrasing still was far from incorrect, much less untrue.
I often somewhat facetiously thank Al Gore for inventing the internets, trusting that most of my regular readers will know I’m being tongue-in-cheek. But just to be crystal-clear: Al Gore never claimed he invented the internet. And if anyone ever says he did, that person is either ignorant or lying.
And now you know.
So I open up a new Google page, as I do several dozen times a day, and I’m suddenly surprised to see that where it would normally say
Web Images Groups Directory
it now says
Web Images Gwoups Diwectowy
and where it would normally say
Google Search I'm Feeling Lucky
it now says
Google Seawch I'm Feewing Wucky
and where it would normally say
Advanced Search Preferences Language Tools
it now says
Advanced Seawch Pweferwences Wanguage Toows
because, you see, she’s changed the default language from "English" to "Elmer Fudd."
Here’s a list of languages you can set your Google default to:
* Afrikaans * Albanian * Amharic * Arabic * Armenian * Azerbaijani * Basque * Belarusian * Bengali * Bihari * Bork, bork, bork! * Bosnian * Breton * Bulgarian * Cambodian * Catalan * Chinese (Simplified) * Chinese (Traditional) * Corsican * Croatian * Czech * Danish * Dutch * Elmer Fudd * English * Esperanto * Estonian * Faroese * Filipino * Finnish * French * Frisian * Galician * Georgian * German * Greek * Guarani * Gujarati * Hacker * Hebrew * Hindi * Hungarian * Icelandic * Indonesian * Interlingua * Irish * Italian * Japanese * Javanese * Kannada * Kazakh * Klingon * Korean * Kurdish * Kyrgyz * Laothian * Latin * Latvian * Lingala * Lithuanian * Macedonian * Malay * Malayalam * Maltese * Marathi * Mongolian * Nepali * Norwegian * Norwegian (Nynorsk) * Occitan * Oriya * Pashto * Persian * Pig Latin * Polish * Portuguese (Brazil) * Portuguese (Portugal) * Punjabi * Quechua * Romanian * Romansh * Russian * Scots Gaelic * Serbian * Serbo-Croatian * Sesotho * Shona * Sindhi * Sinhalese * Slovak * Slovenian * Somali * Spanish * Sundanese * Swahili * Swedish * Tajik * Tamil * Tatar * Telugu * Thai * Tigrinya * Tonga * Turkish * Turkmen * Twi * Uighur * Ukrainian * Urdu * Uzbek * Vietnamese * Welsh * Xhosa * Yiddish * Yoruba * Zulu
And out of all those, my wife chose "Elmer Fudd."
When I came back a few hours later, where it would normally have said
Web Images Groups Directory
it now said
Daqmey pat naghmey beQ ghommey mem
and where it would normally say
Google Search I'm Feeling Lucky
it now says
GoogleDaq yInej jISuDrup
and where it would normally say
Advanced Search Preferences Language Tools
it now says
nejwI' 'Itlh De' DamaSbogh Hol SeHlaw
because, of course, she had changed it to Klingon.
I laughed like hell. ‘Cuz the thing is, neither of us even like Star Trek all that much. Which just shows how perfect she is for me. Because we both thought that hysterical, for no particularly good reason. But we both did. And she knew we would.
I just love her so much.
Happy’s Mother Day, girl of my dreams.
I know, I probably should have saved this for the Fourth of July, but I couldn’t help—who could possibly wait when such glories are to be shared?
Put very simply, you are not as good an American as this guy.
And to my many readers from the UK and Canada and Australia and France and Germany and Japan and Korea (South only, to the best of my knowledge) and Lithuania (!) and Indonesia and Saudi Arabia—I gotta admit, I’m a little disturbed by how popular I am in Riyadh, although the many hits I get from Kuala Lumpur’s pretty groovy—and Egypt and Norway and Turkey—lots o’ hits from Istanbul (not Constantinople)—and so on and so forth, well…this guy is a better citizen than you are too. I’m sorry, no offense, but it’s true.
Or if not, feel free to prove it with a show of devotion equal to this fella’s.
I look forward to the proof. Go ahead, bridgekeeper, do your worst.
Okay, so here’s a story that’s been all over the internets for the past week or two. But I admit, even as someone as NetNutty as I didn’t pay all that much attention.
Now, part of that may be been because The Baby is a mere week and a half old. But it’s also that I didn’t take it seriously.
But when you’ve got my pals the ACLU joining up with the NRA to fight something, well, that gets even my sleep-deprived attention.
I wrote about how great the internets are a while back, and quoted an article from a Duke professor talking about how A Perfect Stahm had to be in place for the internets to have taken off the way they did, and how such a thang could never happen today.
Looks like the good perfesser was more right than he knew. Some folks are trying to turn the clock back and make sure this world wide web thingie works just the way they—and only they—want. Of course, the They in question have hundreds of billions of dollars. And us Left of the Dial folks? Yeah, not so much.
Basically, here’s the dealio: the government is thinking about allowing Internet Service Providers to decide what websites you can or cannot go to, and who can or cannot send you emails. In other words, if this goes through, you may not be able to link to Left of the Dial unless I’ve paid your specific ISP a fee. Otherwise I’ll get blackballed. Kinda like legalized payola.
Apocalyptic? Obviously, being denied your daily dose of The Dial would be pretty damn catastrophic. And yet Big Bidniz might just push this through if we’re not all careful.
Check this out--and you should click through to that link, incidentally, because it backs up its statements with further links for you to explore.
Background on the Issue: The internet is open because private companies haven't been allowed to block content they don't like. Now the telcos want to make it so they can block what you see.
The Threat to You is real: Telcos have already blocked competing services, censored emails, and prevented customers from reading political web sites. Why do you assume they care about your rights?
Come On, This Isn't Really Happening: Fine, don't believe me. Ignore the fact that the CEO of AT&T is on record that this is going to happen.
Explaining the Players in the Fight: It's a corporate cartel with bought and paid lobbyists versus a free market and citizens groups.
Okay. Now check this out:
* In 2004, North Carolina ISP Madison River blocked their DSL customers from using any rival Web-based phone service.
* In 2005, Canada's telephone giant Telus blocked customers from visiting a Web site sympathetic to the Telecommunications Workers Union during a labor dispute.
* Shaw, a big Canadian cable TV company, is charging an extra $10 a month to subscribers who want to use a competing Internet telephone service.
* In April, Time Warner's AOL blocked all emails that mentioned www.dearaol.com -- an advocacy campaign opposing the company's pay-to-send e-mail scheme.
You get that last one? Why on earth wasn’t that huge news? Hmm…maybe because TimeWarner controls so much the media? (He says, speaking from some experience.)
What’s that you say? You’re terrified that your Left of the Dial might just go bye-bye? Well, that’s understandable.
Still think it's not going to happen? That these companies wouldn't dare to alienate the entire Internet-using community? Well, think about how much fun it is to deal with Comcast for your cable, and how much flexibility they're willing to offer. Also consider this comment from Edward Whiteacre, CEO of SBC Comm., when he was asked about how concerned he was about losing ground to Internet upstarts:
"How do you think they're going to get to customers? Through a broadband pipe. Cable companies have them. We have them. Now what they would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain't going to let them do that because we have spent this capital and we have to have a return on it. So there's going to have to be some mechanism for these people who use these pipes to pay for the portion they're using. Why should they be allowed to use my pipes?
"The Internet can't be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment and for a Google or Yahoo! (YHOO) or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes [for] free is nuts!"
It's not about the customer, you see, it's about their profits. So if a giant retailer like Barnes and Noble wanted to screw the competition, they could pay the right ISPs, the right networks, and make sure that traffic to a site like Powells.com would run much slower. Or they could guarantee one Internet search engine that their engine would run much faster than anothers. If one of the network providers developed a music service, they could slow down your access to iTunes. Non-profits could be squeezed off of the Internet if they couldn't pay for the "fast-lane" of Internet service.
So if this goes through, it’ll be legal for your ISP to cut off service to Left of the Dial because they’re offended by my saying President George W. Bush is a liar. Or maybe they’ll cut off your Left of the Dial because they’re offended by my saying that Hilary Rodham Clinton is a power-mad weasel unwilling to take a stand on principle. [Both statements are correct, incidentally. Just for the record.] Who knows what’ll set ‘em off?
Because it doesn’t matter. If this goes through they can do it. And just think of how that’ll screw us all up. What if you can’t access Amazon anymore? Or Google?
Or Sweet Baby Jesu, what if you can’t get your Left of the Dial?
I’m pretty sure that’s the fourth sign of the apocalypse.
But it don’t have to happen. Call your Congresscritters and say "I want my internets!"
Q: How do you know that you maybe pay just a bit too much attention to politics, if such a thing is possible?
A: You actually kinda sorta care that Scott McClellan resigned as White House Press Secretary.
I know, I know. The question on everyone’s mind is who will they ever been able to get who can lie as often and as poorly as Scott?
What can I say? It’s a trait at which we Scotts excel.
Or so I claim… (Repeatedly.)
But all is not lost. Be of good cheer, my fellow earthlings, for there is hope.
He is strong. He is talented. He is hard-working. He is oh so sensitive. He is every woman’s dream and every man’s aspiration. In fact, I believe he is the next step in evolution. (For those of us what believe in such tripe, that is, and not The Flying Spaghetti Monster.)
Now, I will admit, I’ve only watched one of the pre-made movies—for the record, I can highly, highly, highly recommend the brilliantly-titled "Your Hair, It’s Perfect"—but I’m willing to bet the others are equally sublime. So if any of you Left of the Dialers (Left of the Dialians?) would like to chime in with your thoughts on other entries, please, I would be most happy about that indeed.
But me, I’ve got a rocking horse for orphans to go build. I better get crackin’ too because I’m pretty sure Top Management’s thinking of leaving me for him. And who can blame her?
Hokey smokes. I’d heard how ridiculously powerful a time-waster YouTube was, even by internets standards, but I found it hard to believe it could really be all that. Even my first time or two poking around I wasn’t bowled over.
And then. Oh yes. And then.
And then I idly thought I’d idly see if any of my favorite videos from days of yore were on there. And they were. All of them. Every damn one I could think of.
I spent much of the weekend with that peculiar feeling in the chest which is overwhelming nostalgia. When some of the songs and videos, such as The Dream Academy’s "Life in a Northern Town" actually made me feel painfully aching nostalgia even when I was fifteen, to see them at my oh so advanced age was incredibly moving. Ridiculously so.
David Bowie’s "Ashes to Ashes" is still unreasonably disturbing despite, or perhaps because of, its incredibly low-budget special effects.
And finally figuring out the narrative to Tracey Ullman’s magnificent "They Don’t Know"—well, all right, Top Management did—was a fine addition to my life.
And I must have watched Natalie Imbruglia’s "Torn" video a dozen times. My God, what a brilliant pop song. And the video is its equal.
The Bean was positively entranced. Every time she’d hear music start, she’d come running from whatever corner of the house she’d been bopping about it. She made me play Phil Collins’s "Take Me Home" (what can I say?) a half-dozen times.
Best of all was when we played her Dexy’s Midnight Runners’s "Come On Eileen." She just stared, dumbfounded, mouth open. Finally, several minutes after it was over, she said, "I really like that but…how did they know about me?"
God’s honest truth.
Oh, but that’s not all. There’s this video on there, for instance—an amazing a cappella rendition of "Over the Rainbow" from our beloved sitcom Scrubs. There's a little (too much) dialogue at the beginning, but that's just to provide (unnecessary) context.
There’re rare performances of Peter Gabriel back when he was the lead singer for Genesis.
There’re clips of Aeon Flux, which I’d only seen bits and pieces of when it was first running on Liquid Television way back when. There’s Miles and Trane playing "So What" back in 1958. There’s video of The Mats back in Minneapolis from 1981. There’s video of high school kids jumping dirt bikes and clips of a guy juggling to the end of Abbey Road. There’s everything.
Well…almost. There’s one video that I saw back in the mid-80s two or three times and I’ve never met anyone else who remembers the video or the song, even folks like my imaginary friend Chris who worked at MTV and VH-1. It was by a guy named Tony Carey, who’d been the keyboardist for the band Rainbow. He went solo and had this moody song called "It’s a Fine, Fine Day (For a Reunion)," with an equally moody video shot in black and white. I remember this haunting long shot of a guy running around the top of an empty stadium. There’s no trace of that video even on the mighty YouTube. But hundreds of things seem to be added every day. So maybe it’s just a matter of time. Perhaps one of the hundreds of thousands of my regular readers will remember and take pity on me and upload it. Hope springs eternal.
So here’s a concept with which I’ve been familiar for over ten years now, ever since I joined my first email list—I believe it was the late, lamented Luckytown, the first list devoted, of course, to Bruce Springsteen.
Anyone who’s spent anytime on a list or an online board will be familiar with this concept, but I have to admit, I did not know of the actual name of it. On the offchance there’s anyone out there as ignant as me (I know, what are the odds?) I offer the following, from the often-but-not-always reliable wikipedia.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Godwin's Law (also Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies) is an adage in Internet culture originated by Mike Godwin on Usenet in 1990 that states:
As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.
There is a tradition in many Usenet newsgroups that once such a comparison is made, the thread in which the comment was posted is over and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress.
It is considered poor form to raise arbitrarily such a comparison with the motive of ending the thread. There is a widely recognized codicil that any such deliberate invocation of Godwin's Law will be unsuccessful.
Debate and controversy
One common objection to the invocation of Godwin's Law is that sometimes using Hitler or the Nazis is an apt way of making a point. For instance, if one is debating the relative merits of a particular leader, and someone says something like, "He's a good leader, look at the way he's improved the economy," one could reply, "Just because he improved the economy doesn't make him a good leader. Even Hitler improved the economy." Some would view this as a perfectly acceptable comparison. One uses Hitler as a well-known example of an extreme case that requires no explanation to prove that a generalization is not universally true.
Some would argue, however, that Godwin's Law applies especially to the situation mentioned above, as it portrays an inevitable appeal to emotion as well as holding an implied ad hominem attack on the subject being compared, both of which are fallacious in irrelevant contexts. Hitler, on a semiotic level, has far too many negative connotations associated with him to be used as a valid comparison to anything but other despotic dictators. Thus, Godwin's Law holds even when making comparisons to normal leaders that, on the surface, would seem to be reasonable comparisons.
Godwin's standard answer to this objection is to note that Godwin's Law does not dispute whether, in a particular instance, a reference or comparison to Hitler or the Nazis might be apt. It is precisely because such a reference or comparison may sometimes be appropriate, Godwin has argued, that hyperbolic overuse of the Hitler/Nazi comparison should be avoided. Avoiding such hyperbole, he argues, is a way of ensuring that when valid comparisons to Hitler or Nazis are made, such comparisons have the appropriate impact.
From a philosophical standpoint, Godwin's Law could be said to exclude normative (emotional) considerations from a positivist (rational) discussion. Frequently, a reference to Hitler is used as an evocation of evil. Thus a discussion proceeding on a positivist examination of facts is considered terminated when this objective consideration is transformed into a normative discussion of subjective right and wrong. It is exacerbated by the frequent fallacy "Hitler did A, therefore A is evil" (Reductio ad Hitlerum). However, as noted, the exceptions to Godwin's Law include the invocation of the Hitler comparison in a positivist manner that does not have a normative dimension.
In general, Godwin's Law does not apply in situations wherein one could reasonably expect Hitler or Nazis to be mentioned, such as a discussion of Germany in World War II. Exceptions, of course, may exist and should be obvious given the preceding discussion.
A post-script: discuss almost anything long enough, especially political matters and, indeed, it becomes difficult to refrain from mentioning Hitler or the Nazis, even without your emotions playing a factor or attempting to score a most palpable hit. Hitler, the Nazis, and WWII were some of the most important people and events in the history of humankind and to automatically exclude any mention of them from a discussion is tremendously limiting. Nevertheless, with the exception of a few twisted individuals, it is true and understandable that as soon as a mention of Hitler comes up, it becomes virtually impossible to continue the discussion in a rational manner. I mean, I’ve never read Mein Kampf for two reasons: 1) I feel like I should be really rather don’t want to and 2) I don’t own a copy and am extremely reluctant to buy one or check one out of the library. I mean, I even feel slightly uncomfortable posting this. Silly, perhaps, but there it is.
Which is why in internet discussions I usually bring up Stalin instead.
Seriously. It’s an interesting thing I’ve found on lists. Bring up Stalin and the conversation can generally continue as it was, despite the fact that Stalin killed something like 25,000,000 of his own citizens; some put the number as "low" as ten million and some as high as fifty million. Anyway you cut it, that’s one serious mass murderer. And yet the mere mention of Stalin’s name doesn’t cause the blood pressure to instantly skyrocket. I’ve never tried, but I’d assume the same would be true for Pol Pot, whose numbers were far smaller but percentage-wise were greater.
Humans are interesting things.
So I’ve been ranting and raving—I know, I know, how terrifically out of character for me. But it’s been a bit more than usual lately and even if it’s all been completely, one hunnert percent justified—did I mention that the vice president of the United States shot a man in the face, has admitted he was drinking both before and after the shooting, and refused to speak with police until at least fourteen hours later? Did I mention that at any point? I wasn’t sure if I had—I can understand how it might get a tad wearing for even those who are enlightened enough to agree with me. So far there seem to be about a couple dozen of us who are all completely on the same page. It’s a start.
Anyhoo, here are some groovy links. I cannot guarantee they will make your life better over the next several decades, nor that they will get into a prime spot in the afterlife, but I can pretty much guarantee that they’ll make your life better while you’re watching them.
So. Some questions about this first one :
Are these guys spoofing? Or are they really this into the song? Because they’re phenomenal, and they keep at it all the way through. Great stuff. Their roommate, of course, nearly steals the show. What a performance.
Oh, and how long’d it take you to get the song out of your head?
And for something considerably different, there’s this.
I know, it’s been around a while. But it’s always worth going back to. I’ve probably played it twenty or thirty times. It’s simply gorgeous. I find that the video quality is improved considerably if you make the screen smaller. Just so's you know. Oh, and it might be interesting to keep in mind that the ukulele was one of George’s favorite instruments.
Well, here’s another in that series.
I know it’s supposed to be funny to take these films we all know so well and completely alter their mood with music and editing. And it is. But it’s more than that. It’s an incredible example of art and how the same piece can be transformed by context and how the art itself can be manipulated. There’s no artform where manipulation is more central to its very essence than film, and I think these are outstanding examples of that.
And finally, talk about going way, way, way back. This one’s from back in 2001; I know, practically prehistoric.
If I’ve got my history of it correct, it started with a mind-bogglingly terrible translation an animated sequence in a video game, Zero Wing, from Japanese into English. Tying some older Left of the Dial pieces together, this is a fine example of a meme. It’s also unaccountably disturbing, I find. If you’ve got the chance, watch it in a darkened room, and if you’ve got a slow connection, try to wait for the whole thing to load before watching so it flows smoothly. You don’t have to—the first time I saw it the thing stopped every seven seconds and I was still utterly transfixed. But it might make the experience more enjoyable for any of you what haven’t seen it before. If you’re interested, you can find out all about it at wikipedia, one of the handiest-dandiest sites known to humankind, even if it’s not completely trustworthy. Hey, who or what (besides Top Management) is?
So there you have it.
Absolutely no A bare minimum of rants but a maximum of raves for today. Tomorrow we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled bitchfest. Or maybe I’ll post a warm and fuzzy Daddy-who-loves-his-kiddies story. You can never tell. I’m edgy. I’ve got an edgy edgy edge. Oh, and I’m still looking for a sponsor. Just so’s you know. It’s not too late.
Left of the Dial: the repository of detritus from the internets.
And no Iraqi sleeper quails.
That you know of…
Pretty groovy—the magnificence that is Left of the Dial, boiled down to one handy-dandy rectangle.
Or maybe that's depressing. I can just post one of these puppies every so often and y'all can skp the hard work of actually reading LotD a regular basis. Just glance at the word cloud and you get the gist.
No, I was right the first time; it's pretty groovy.
Oh, and here's the link, in case you too wish to reduce your life's work to a little box.
I’m all for globalism, free trade and all that good stuff that makes us dance around and sing "it’s a small world after all."
Except when I’m not. For instance, when Microsoft, one of the largest corporations in the world, begins censoring bloggers who use their blog service. What causes them to censor someone? In this case, the blogger was writing negative things about China.
Now, this Zhao Jing guy might have a reason to write some negative stuff about China. After all, he lives in China. And by blogging about it, he’s risking his own life.
So I’d be very very unhappy indeed if China were to go after him. But given that they’re a brutally repressive, authoritarian government, I guess I couldn’t be too surprised.
But Microsoft? Microflippinsoft? Owned by Time Magazine’s Co-Person of the Year Bill Gates? That Microsoft? From Seattle? The land of grunge, coffee, Green Arrow, constant rain and the Space Needle? That Microsoft? Not that Microsoft.
Yes, that Microsoft.
How disappointing. How infuriating. And most of all, how scary.
Outspoken Chinese blogger censored by Microsoft
Microsoft’s MSN Spaces continues to censor its Chinese language blogs, and has become more aggressive and thorough at censorship since I first checked out MSN’s censorship system last summer. On New Years Eve, MSN Spaces took down the popular blog written by Zhao Jing, aka Michael Anti. Now all you get when you attempt to visit his blog [Link] is [an] error message...
Note, his blog was TAKEN DOWN by MSN people. Not blocked by the Chinese government.
This is not the first time an American company has bent over for the Chinese government, in some cases breaking American laws in order to do so. And I’m sure it won’t be the last. But I’ve damn sure given my money for the last time to one who does.
So, did y’all see this?
Feds after Google data
By Howard Mintz
The Bush administration on Wednesday asked a federal judge to order Google to turn over a broad range of material from its closely guarded databases.
In court papers filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Justice Department lawyers revealed that Google has refused to comply with a subpoena issued last year for the records, which include a request for 1 million random Web addresses and records of all Google searches from any one-week period.
The Mountain View-based search and advertising giant opposes releasing the information on a variety of grounds, saying it would violate the privacy rights of its users and reveal company trade secrets, according to court documents.
Nicole Wong, an associate general counsel for Google, said the company will fight the government's effort ``vigorously.''
``Google is not a party to this lawsuit, and the demand for the information is overreaching,'' Wong said.
That’s right—the gubmint has subpoenaed Google, asking them to turn over their search records.
a request for 1 million random Web addresses and records of all Google searches from any one-week period.
All Google searches. All of ‘em.
You know, that sounds like a pretty damn unreasonable search and seizure to me.
But that’s not all. Google has refused, and that’s getting quite a bit of attention. But as The Next Hurrah has pointed out, if you read the article you’ll see that other search engines have apparently acquiesced.
I’m always a bit skeptical of big companies, so while Google’s my personal search engine of choice and I do dig it mightily, it’s so big and got such grand schemes that I’ve been a bit wary, even as I approve of the schemes (I can’t hang with the Author’s Guild when it comes to their suit against Google’s plan to digitize works, for instance, and I say that as a guy who loves his and his wife’s royalty checks, meager though they be).
But this just won them my loyalty, for whatever tiny bit that’s worth. Screw Yahoo and Lexis-Nexus and MSN (those fine folks that are currently conspiring with the Chinese government to crack down on dissidents—and, no, unfortunately, I’m not kidding; I’ll post that tomorrow) and the rest.
And as someone pointed out, perhaps it’s not a coincidence that the biggest and best of them is the one who refused to go along with it—either because they understand the internets better than the rest (they certainly seem to), or they understand how business works better than the rest (they certainly seem to), or some combination thereof.
My government is no longer looking out for me and clearly no longer feels constrained by the rule of law, and yet it seems that, against all odds, Big Bidniz has my back, at least in this instance. And who in the hell could have seen that coming?
Big Bidniz versus Big Brother. We live in interesting times.
Okay, this is pretty groovy —it’s a panoramic view from Mount Everest.
I’ve never been one of them folks what want to climb Everest, whether it’s there or not. But I am sorta interested in a thing I heard about, which is climbing to the lowest base camp—if I’m not mistaken, there are three or four base camps, each successively higher. Apparently, it takes about two weeks of hiking through gorgeous country to get to the lowest base camp, and the views there are spectacular. That sounds about right for me. Will I ever do it? Well, it entails a month of your life and something like twenty thousand bucks, I think, so no, I don’t see it happening anytime soon, if ever. But it still sounds pretty cool.
A cousin of mine climbed Kilimanjaro. She said there was little climbing actually involved—it’s a fairly gentle slope, at least as these things go. But it’s so damn high that altitude sickness can really hammer you if you’re not in great shape. Again, though, that sounds more my speed. I’d have to get in shape first but then I’ve been looking for a good reason to do that for ten years now. A quick jaunt to Kilimanjaro might be just the thing.
Next year. Maybe. Or the year after that.
So here’s stating the obvious: them internets are pretty amazing things.
But every once in a while it really hits home. That happened to me when I read the following article just minutes after a really astonishing email from a normally quite intelligent and literate acquaintance, wherein he claimed he didn’t know or understand the word—I kid you not—"conflicted." And as it wasn’t in his dictionary and he wasn’t going to go buy a new one—no, seriously, he said that too—he asked for clarification on this oh-so-baffling word.
Now, obviously, that’s stupid and he was simply in the mood to be an utter jackass, and succeeded admirably. Anyone who’s published several books, as this guy has, can pick up the meaning of the word from its context—and that’s leaving aside for the moment the absurd notion that he’d never run across it before (such as in, say, a little tale called The Aeneid by a feller named Virgil).
But there’s another aspect to that jackassery, and that’s the clear flaw in his thinking. This exchange was via an email list. Which means he has an internet connection. Which means he has access to the mighty Google.
Thanks to the mighty Google, it took me all of seven seconds to access Houghton Mifflin’s American Heritage Dictionary, which was quite happy to provide for me the definition of the word "conflicted." As well as, just now, the proper spelling of "Aeneid" and, you know, as long as it was in the neighborhood, let me know that ol’ Virg was born October 15, 70 B.C. and died September 21, 19 B.C. Thanks, AHD and Houghton Mifflin! Y’all make a swell team.
Dictionary? We don’t need no stinkin’ dictionary. We’ve got the internets. We’ve got Google. We’ve got Left of the Dial.
Okay, so two out of three ain’t bad.
Web’s never-to-be-repeated revolution
By James Boyle
November 2 2005
The web is having a birthday. This month, we will have the 15th anniversary of the creation of the first web page. It is the birthday of Tim Berners-Lee’s amazing idea that there could be a worldwide web, linked not by spider silk but by hypertext links and transfer protocols and uniform resource locators.
How should we celebrate? We are too close to the web to understand it. And those who lost money in the dotcom boom greet any celebration of the web the way a person with a hangover greets a mention of the drink of which they overindulged. The knowledge of shameful excess produces a renunciant puritanism. No more tequila or web romanticism for me!
That is a shame, because there are three things that we need to understand about the web. First, it is more amazing than we think. Second, the conjunction of technologies that made the web successful was extremely unlikely. Third, we probably would not create it, or any technology like it, today. In fact, we would be more likely to cripple it, or declare it illegal.
Why is the web amazing? Because of what people have built on it. Some might remember when the most exciting sites on the web had pictures of coffee pots in universities far away. ("See," one would proudly say to a neophyte, "the pot is empty and we can see that from here! This changes everything!") But now? When is the last time you looked in an encyclopedia? When is the last time that your curiosity – what is the collective noun for larks? Is Gerald Ford alive? Why is the sky blue? – remained unsatisfied for more than a moment? (An "exaltation", yes and look it up for yourself.) Much of that information is provided by volunteers who delight in sharing their knowledge. Consider the range of culture, science and literature – from the Public Library of Science and Wikipedia, to Project Gutenberg and the National Map. The web does not bring us to the point where all can have access to, and can add to, the culture and knowledge of the world. We cannot ensure global literacy let alone global connectedness. But it brings us closer.
Why is the web unlikely? Prepare for a moment of geek-speak. For most of us, the web is reached by general-purpose computers that use open protocols – standards and languages that are owned by no one – to communicate with a network (there is no central point from which all data comes) whose mechanisms for transferring data are also open.
Imagine a network with the opposite design. Imagine that your terminal came hardwired from the manufacturer with a particular set of programs and functions. No experimenting with new technologies developed by third parties – instant messaging, Google Earth, flash animations . . . Imagine also that the network was closed and flowed from a central source. More like pay-television than web. No one can decide on a whim to create a new site. The New York Times might secure a foothold on such a network. Your blog, or Wikipedia, or Jib Jab need not apply. Imagine that the software and protocols were proprietary. You could not design a new service to run on this system, because you do not know what the system is and, anyway, it might be illegal. Imagine something with all the excitement and creativity of a train timetable.
The web developed because we went in the opposite direction – towards openness and lack of centralised control. Unless you believe that some invisible hand of technological inevitability is pushing us towards openness – I am a sceptic – we have a remarkable historical conjunction of technologies.
Why might we not create the web today? The web became hugely popular too quickly to control. The lawyers and policymakers and copyright holders were not there at the time of its conception. What would they have said, had they been? What would a web designed by the World Intellectual Property Organisation or the Disney Corporation have looked like? It would have looked more like pay-television, or Minitel, the French computer network. Beforehand, the logic of control always makes sense. "Allow anyone to connect to the network? Anyone to decide what content to put up? That is a recipe for piracy and pornography."
And of course it is. But it is also much, much more. The lawyers have learnt their lesson now. The regulation of technological development proceeds apace. When the next disruptive communications technology – the next worldwide web – is thought up, the lawyers and the logic of control will be much more evident. That is not a happy thought.
The writer is professor of law at Duke Law School, a co-founder of the Centre for the Study of the Public Domain and a board member of Creative Commons
"And it cannot be but that each generation succeeding to the knowledge acquired by all those who preceded it, adding to it their own acquisitions and discoveries, and handing the mass down for successive and constant accumulation, must advance the knowledge and well-being of mankind, not infinitely, as some have said, but indefinitely, and to a term which no one can fix and foresee."
The Rockfish Gap Report
August 4, 1818
You know, I’m getting a little tired of all the links I’ve been posting lately. But what can I say? There are just far too many groovy places online. I have no choice. I am choice-free. I am choiceless. I am unchoiced.
Which is another way of saying here are two more. The first is a follow-up to the filmian manipulations I’ve been linking to. It’s a bunch of classic movies retold in 30 seconds…by bunnies. Well worth your half a minute. In fact, while It’s a Wonderful Life obviously loses some of its magic—although I still got goosebumps…honest to God—Titanic is actually superior to the theatrical release.
This other one is even cooler. Top Management found it a few days ago. It’s a hidden live camera that’s set up overlooking a pond in Botswana. It’s a rather scenic-looking joint and is pleasant to view. We’ve checked out a few times over the past day and a half and occasionally heard what sounds like monkeys fighting (or something) just off-camera.
Just now, however, Top Management and Max clicked on it and witnessed an elephant walk into view and start drinking. Which is something we’ve all seen dozens or hundreds or thousands of times on nature specials. But somehow watching live on infrared camera just makes it so much more exciting, much the way a spectacular car chase on film can be routine but a fender bender in front of you in a parking lot will get your heart pounding, I suppose. And when that elephant was replaced by a mommy and a baby elephant…well, there you go. What more could you possibly want? I mean, that's just cool.
Anyhoo, here ‘tis. Pete’s Pond.
So Top Management is back in the line-up today. She’s still not at the top of her game, but her at half-speed is better than three of me at a hundred percent, so…
A big shout-out to my homeslice Sarah for providing the chillens with a brief respite from their grain and agua diet yesterday; she arrived unbidden with a big ol’ pizza pie from her favorite pizza joint in town, and one which we’d heard much about but never been able to try. Most delicious indeed. Oh yes indeed. The kids were so envious, watching me polish off half the thang whilst they sat there munching on their bread crusts.
So. One of the ways I kept the kids semi-unmiserable during Top Management's absence was by playing them the following link. Over and over and over again, per their request.
Some history behind this link: first off, it’s six or seven years old by now. I first saw it about five years ago and loved it. Then about two years ago I remembered it and Googled it, trying to find it again. I was successful. I was also oblivious to the fact that The Bean was right behind me when I played it. She watched with very big eyes and was a bit distressed when it was over so, upon becoming aware of her presence, I swept her up and out of the room and distracted her.
Flashforward to two days ago. I remember the clip once again and Google it and once again I’m successful. This time The Boy is playing around nearby, completely ignoring me, but since he’s deaf I’m not too worried. Which just shows to go you yet again that, yes, I’m an idiot.
So I play the clip and at the end he bursts out laughing. I look down and he’s looking at the computer and signing "more! more!" frantically. Well, the music has drawn The Bean’s attention so she comes running in and asks me to play it again. So, after many seconds of deliberation, I do. And when it’s over she also bursts out laughing, as does The Boy again.
Now The Rose comes in to see what’s the dealio. She, like both her siblings, laughs hysterically when it's over. This time, however, I notice that The Bean jumps like hell at the end. I find this interesting, especially as she’d seen it before, and as she still laughs. The same thing happens the next time: a big involuntary jump followed by gales of laughter.
But it’s The Boy who finds it most hilarious, even after a dozen viewings. And that difference between his idea of funny at twenty-one months and The Bean’s at about thirty months makes me wonder how much is their own personality and how much is a gender thing. Watch the clip and see what I mean:
As long as I’m sending links, here are some others worth investigating. Here’s a groovy one where you can write lyrics to a song and it’ll assemble a melody of sorts for you. Check it out:
Here’s a couple that pal T-Baby dug—totally kid-friendly:
The Moon Song (this one may be on a loop, I can't recall, but if so, you'll need to close the window or it'll play forever and after five hours it finally gets a tiny bit old)
How on earth did people waste time before computers?
Okay. So a hepful reader took me up on my speculations regarding yesterday’s entry and sent me a version with the genders reversed. And I gotta admit, the hint of violence is not only still there, it is in fact emphasized. However, I would submit that were it a generic figure as with the first one, it would not be the case.
But you can judge for yourself by clicking on this here linky-link .
An interesting sidenote: I’ve tried two different versions of both yesterday’s and today’s, and found that larger is more effective, despite the reduced pixel quality, and that it’s more effective on a slightly slower connection than a faster. Again, take that for what it’s worth, which is nothing.
So, here’s something a wonderful if unstable person sent me. It’s incredibly cool and incredibly disturbing. Also, there’s a hint of violence which is unfortunate—had the gender been switched, I don’t think it would have the same connotation, or perhaps it would have, had the race also been switched along with the gender, which are interesting things to think about as you watch. And if you watch for fifteen seconds, there’s a good chance you’ll end up watching for quite a while—it’s really rather hypnotic. Oh, and if the person gets stuck, you can use the mouse to pull the body free.
No idea what I’m talking about? Join the club. But in this case, you can check it out here.
Computers are cool. Enjoy.