Friday, August 31, 2007

Minnesota Travel Blogs: a Commercial Venture

"Minnesota Travel Blogs" lists 125 blogs about travel in Minnesota, by territory. Very commercial, but could be fun.

Blog Database, Again

I posted earlier about a BlogCatalog member's blog database project.

He's got a website now, called (what else?) "Blog Database."

Blog Day: My Post

Blog Day 2007It's The Third Annual Blog Day!

(Some) bloggers (almost) everywhere are finding five new blogs, posting a brief description of each, with a link: all because it's Blog Day!

Here's my contribution:Now, is that bloggish, or what?

More about Blog Day at, where else, "Blog Day."

3rd Annual Blog Day

Every day is something special. This seems to be "International Blog Day."

Another blog post says that "It's a great idea" A related post, "Participate in the 3rd Annual Blog Day!," tells more about Blog Day.

It's mid-afternoon, here in Minnesota: but there's much more of today left, for people living around the Pacific.

Princes Di

Princess Diana died 10 years ago. She was, according to her younger son, "the best mother in the world."

Somewhat less officially, a 52-year-old man had painted "Diana" on his forehead, and "the truth?" on his cheek. Like many others, dismayed by Di's death, he believes that the truth is out there.

The blogosphere isn't abuzz with "the people's princess," but we're not facing the threat of a dilessness, either. Here are a few I found, after a quick search:If you're interested, you'll find more with a 'princess di' or 'people's princess' inquiry at an adequate search site.

I can understand the fascination Princess Diana holds. She was young, good looking, dressed well, and expressed great interest in a large number of high-profile social issues. In terms of cultural icon, she has the potential to become a British Elvis.

A Macedonian nun died a few days after the People's Princess. But that's for another post: "Mother Teresa of Calcutta"

Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Mother Teresa of Calcutta died on September 5, 1997. In less than a week, we'll see the 10-year anniversary of the event. Many people seem to think of her as a social worker, but this contemplative nun was just that: a contemplative nun.

I think her failure to drop into one of the dominant culture's pigeonholes is a big reason why her chief claim to fame in today's news is the recent publication of her letters. These letters show that she
  • lost her faith and was a hypocrite (secular view), or
  • had a major-league dark night of the soul (informed Catholic view)
I'll get back to that.

Mistaking Mother Teresa for a social worker is understandable. She, and her order, have cared for the very poor in Calcutta for decades. They've also set up similar operations worldwide, including a home for AIDS patients in San Francisco, California. What sets them apart from social workers is their motivation.

One of her critics, Christopher Hitchens, said that "It was by talking to her that I discovered, and she assured me, that she wasn't working to alleviate poverty," he said. "She was working to expand the number of Catholics. She said, 'I'm not a social worker. I don't do it for this reason. I do it for Christ. I do it for the church.'"

Shocking, and quite true. She wasn't the standard-issue social crusader, out to free the masses from their oppressors. British interviewer Polly Toynbee was particularly impressed that Mother Teresa lacked the rage or indignation of many social critics. Mother Teresa "did not find it necessary to attack the economic or political structures of the cultures that were producing the abjectly poor people she was serving. For her the primary rule was a constant love, and when social critics or religious reformers chose to vent anger at the evils of structures underlying poverty and suffering, that was between them and God..... The business given by God to her and her group was simply serving the very poor with as much love and skill as they could muster."

An interview with Malcom Muggeridge revealed that "Mother Teresa had virtually no understanding of a cynical or godless point of view that could consider any human being less than absolutely valuable."

"The Hindu priests at a Kali temple were unhappy when Mother and the Sisters began their work at Nirmal Hriday in Kalighat close to the temple. Then something happened that brought about a complete change of heart. Mother heard that one of the priests of the temple was dying of an infectious disease and nobody would touch him. She collected his emaciated body in her arms and brought him to her home. The local people asked her to stay. A Hindu priest of the temple said to her with folded hands, "for thirty years I have worshipped the goddess Kali in stone, but today the goddess Mother stands before me alive." (quotes from Answers.com)

Mother Teresa is now Blessed Mother Teresa, as of October 19, 2003. In 2002, Monica Besra, an Indian woman, was cured of a tumor through the intercession of Mother Teresa. Ms. Besra says that light coming from a locket with a picture of Mother Teresa cured the cancer. Some doctors insist that it must have been the medical treatment she was receiving.

Following Catholic rules, one verified miracle puts a person in the "Blessed" category. Another verified miracle, and Mother Teresa will be an officially recognized saint of the Catholic Church.

Back to those letters

I'm not at all surprised that Mother Teresa had times when she did not feel God's presence, when she felt spiritually dry, and felt that God was ignoring her. It's called "dark night of the soul." Many saints, and many others, go through it.

The phrase, dark night of the soul, comes from "The Dark Night," by St. John of the Cross, which described and discussed this part of a soul's growth.

For some people, lack of an uplifting, "spiritual," feeling means it's time to find a new religion. Catholics, at least those who pay attention to what the Church teaches, don't work that way. "Faith isn't what you feel, but what you will."

Mother Teresa's faith was running on her will, rather than her feelings, for something like a half-century. In the two thousand years that the Catholic Church has been cataloging the biographies of saints, this stands out. As a devout Catholic, I have no intention of anticipating the decisions of the Church, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Mother Teresa is found to be responsible for a second miracle.

If some of this seems familiar, you're observant. I wrote about Mother Teresa and Princess Di on Monday, August 27, 2007.

Background: Much of the information for this post came from the Answers.Com article onMother Teresa and EWTN's Mother Teresa.

"MOTHER TERESA OF CALCUTTA - Official Site of the Cause of Canonization" requires pop-ups for viewing, so some browsers must be re-set before using this site.

And then there's the "People's Princess," "Princess Di."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Someone's Starting a Database of Blogs

It's not a new idea, but someone on BlogCatalog is starting a database of blogs. I'll be following this with interest.

"I Am Starting A Blog Database" is the discussion thread - with links to the blogs being added.

Family and Fishing: a Personal Blog

"Nathanael Fishing"

A post from the "Simply Cheryl" blog shows that blogs can reflect many diverse lifestyles. In this case, one that involves a guy fishing in Minnesota.

In his place, I wouldn't stand quite so straight.

A Cat. Watching TV. Intently

"cat watching tv." A 45-second video of a cat which has captured the essence of being a couch potato.

How Not to Usage English Wrecklessly in Writting

For those who want to take a different tact in making usage of correct English, I suggest a study of "Common Errors in English."

This Has Detailed Statistics: It Must be True

Or not.

You may have encountered something like this, in a blog or elsewhere: "If we could shrink the earth's population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following."

What follows is a list of statistics which, at a quick read, seem plausible.

Snopes.com, in "Aisle of Man"(1), compares the statistics in this sample, collected in 2001, and compares them to the real world.

Granted, things have changed in the last six years: but not that much.

And the moral of this is: Check your facts before posting.

(1) Yes, that's the spelling - if it's within quotes and misspelled here at Apathetic Lemming of the North, the odds are very good that the original source used the alternatively-correct spelling.

One Small Jolt for a Taser, One Giant Shock for a Guy

There's a story about a man, his wife, a little Taser he bought for her, and his understandable desire to test it out before giving the device to her.

I don't know where it came from, or who wrote it, but there's a copy at "Sommer net glimlag."

If anyone knows where this first showed up, with the original author identified, I'd appreciate you giving the information as a comment to this post.

Enjoy.

Math Teachers are Human, Too.

"My most embarassing moment as a mathematician." This tale of a ladder, a radio station, and an arithmetic error, is a fine example of someone turning a mistake into a learning experience.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Beautiful Bridges, and an Inspirational Snail

"Bridges:" Beautiful pictures of bridges.

"Where there is a will:" An inspirational sequence of photos and captions about an indomitable snail.

Contests and Blogs

I've no idea how effective this sort of thing is, for boosting traffic: but this blogger's contests are fun.

And, to toot my horn, I won one: "We have a free flowers winner - contest #6!."

25 Worst Websites: Don't Get On This List

PCWorld.ca's "The 25 worst websites: Complete list" (October 11, 2006) is an inspiration to webmasters everywhere: to avoid getting on future 25-worst lists.

I'm not convinced that the researcher found the 25 absolutely-worst-websites in the world, but the examples are bad enough until the worst are found.

Bloggers who tweak their blogs can benefit from studying the parade of "Scam artists, bad security, spyware and horrific design are just some of the many horror stories," and vow never to do the same.

The "Worst website of all time," according to the researcher, is the blogoid MySpace.com.

Theoretical Skills are Practical, Too

Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox post of February 26, 2007, identifies "Life-Long Computer Skills" as generalized skills like search strategies, how to tell if information is credible, and basic debugging techniques (the digital equivalent of "is the unit plugged in?).

This would be a good read for parents or educators. Learning specific button-pushing skills for this year's software can be handy, but such skills get obsolete very fast.

Learning how to think about problems, how to evaluate information, and how to search for data are getting more important as the Internet is becoming as important as the telephone.

My own experience relates here: Back in the early 1970s, I developed a search/evaluate/collect system for gathering information and quotes for term papers.

Later, in library science classes, I learned how hierarchal indexing systems worked: not just what codes applied to which subjects in one system, but why information was organized the way it was.

Much later, in computer science classes, I learned how information is stored, transmitted, and processed in computers: again, not just the 'flange A goes in slot B' stuff, but how and why data is handled.

Today, I believe I use Google and other search resources more effectively because I apply the essence of that term-paper research process to online research.

Understanding how hierarchal systems work, and the how-and-why of how computers and other information systems handle data has been a huge help at work, and at home.

If you're still reading, and agree with me, check out "Life-Long Computer Skills" - it might be useful.

Stealing Intellectual Property Isn't Nice

An earlier post today, "Worst High School Analogies, plus Gilbert and Sullivan," introduced me to a good parody of a Gilbert and Sullivan song.

It also introduced me to another example of Internet users' fast-and-loose treatment of intellectual property rights. The lyrics of "I am the very model of a Newsgroup personality" are funny, and for the most part well-written. They've also been spread across cyberspace, sometimes without an author being claimed. "Tom Holt" may have written the piece, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it.

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,"(1) but I wouldn't want to be flattered this way. It's not just pride of authorship, although that's a factor. I'm trying to support my family, partly through income generated by my writing. Writers, particularly those who are so 'inartistic' as to desire monetary rewards for their efforts, may not want their work to be distributed without
  • Consent
  • Acknowledgment of authorship
  • Pay
For professional writers, and writers trying to make a career of using their talent and skill, this sort of casual theft can be a serious matter.

A Google search for "I am the very model of a Newsgroup personality" yielded over a thousand hits. Google's de-duping system pared it down to 22. Here are the links that were still working, and had lyrics at the linked page.I ran the last entry, "c4vct," past the free version of Copyscape. The results were interesting: 10 hits, with a promise of more with the paid version of the service.

Related posts on Apathetic Lemming of the North:(1) Charles Caleb Colton, "Lacon," volume I, no. 183

Worst High School Analogies, plus Gilbert and Sullivan

For those who have been high school English teachers, and had to read them, and for those who can remember their youth, and laugh: "The Worst Analogies Ever Written in a High School Essay."

And, " Gilbert & Sullivan on the 'Net." Some of the lines, particularly in the last verses, don't scan as well as they could, but the parody song is funny.

It also will be part of another post, later today.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fordham Spire, or Chicago Spire: It's Going to be Big

Unless something very bad happens between now and some time in 2010, Chicago is going to have a new skyscraper in about three years. I'm pretty sure that it'll be described as an eyesore, a beautiful work of sculpture, and everything in between.

The project started being called the Fordham Spire. In more recent years, it's been re-named the Chicago Spire, and gotten a green light for construction.

My excuse for posting this is that at least one blog mentions the project: "The Fordham Spire was approved!" (March 31, 2006).

There's also a forum about the Chicago Spire at Skyscraper.com, the site with a pretty good fact pages on the project, starting with "Chicago Spire."

This 150-floor building reminds me, more than anything else, of some sort of flower bud. A quarter of a mile tall.

A Personal Blog from Iqaluit, Nunavut

Baffinblog ("The adventures (and, undoubtedly, misadventures) of a Torontonian in Iqaluit, Nunavut.") The Torontonian seems to have been there about two months now.

The most recent posts, to date, are "The Bones of Iqaluit," "The Call of the Caribou," "Accidental modern art, part 2," and "I'm on a road to nowhere." About the road to nowhere, the blogger says, "There are undoubtedly many roads in the world that lead nowhere, but few have a street sign proclaiming that fact."

Cuteness: Two Babies, a Kitten, and a Baby Otter

These posts contain extremely cute content. Viewer discretion is advised.

Lots of Hits! Guaranteed! And
Lots of Exclamation Marks!

Despite the rather breathless headlines and exclamation marks, these three posts, all by the same blogger, seem to have some pretty good ideas and information.

I think you'll find overlap in the links he offers.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Princess Diana of England and Mother Teresa of Calcutta

I see, on the news, and on the blogosphere, that Princes Di is still dead. Her current condition has persisted for ten years, with no signs of relief in sight.

Princess Diana of England has been called a "wonderful humanitarian," England's "greatest national treasure, your English Rose." She campaigned against AIDS and social injustice, and, in an under-reported aspect of her apparently supernal life, was an advocate of multiculturalism ("'We saw how multicultural the crowd was. It looked like a different England. It was the Diana touch')."

Even though the 'people's princess' is gone, her memory lives:I can understand the response that Princess Di still elicits: she was good-looking, wore her clothes well, publicly supported many high-profile humanitarian causes, had a romantically troubled life, and died in a gymkhana that ended in a spectacular crash.

A Macedonian nun is getting some attention, too, chiefly for her "crisis of faith," as the less breathless journalists called it. Some of the more colorful headlines:Mother Teresa of Calcutta's letters, some of them, at least, have been made public. She asked that they be destroyed after her death, but the Catholic Church decided that they should be preserved.

And a good thing, too, although I empathize with her stated preference. More about that later.

Some bloggers seem to understand what Mother Teresa's letters mean:So, what's this "crisis of faith" about?

The letters of Mother Teresa show that, for something like fifty years, she felt "dryness," "darkness," "loneliness" and "torture" in her relationship with God. Sounds serious.

To a literate Catholic, it is also a very familiar part of many people's lives, including - and especially - many saints. "The Dark Night," by St. John of the Cross, described, discussed, and named, this part of God's training program.

"Souls begin to enter this dark night when God, gradually drawing them out of the state of beginners (those who practice meditation on the spiritual road), begins to place them in the state of proficients (those who are already contemplatives)...." (From "The Dark Night," St. John of the Cross, translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD, and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD, revised edition (1991).)

Learning that Mother Teresa of Calcutta went through a dark night of the soul that stands out from two thousand years of saintly experience isn't a disappointment to me. It's an indication that her 'fast track' to canonization is justified.

New Blog, Good Writing

"Delve into the Mind of A Budding Blogger" is off to a good start. The most recent post is "IM Language Improves Grammar and Vocabulary!!" - a statement that I don't entirely agree with, but which is rather well defended.

The Mondrian Machine

The "Mondrian Machine" at ptank.com. Do-it-yourself Mondrianoid compositions. Also, a bit about Mondrian. Fun.

And, good grief, another not-a-blog.

An Art Blog, or Maybe Blogs

"Blogarians:" lots of artwork, not much explanation. This blog seems to both display the work of several artists, and links to some of their own blogs.

The artwork here is the sort that results in pictures and other patterns of color and shape that show talent and taste: not the sort of thing that involves a jet engine exhaust and effective marketing. (Remember Jurgen von Anhalt? He was so artistic, a press release about him was in French.)

Blog of "A Proud T-Shirt Hunter"

In an effort to make "Apathetic Lemming of the North" more relevant, more sensitive to the subtleties of cybernetic society, I present " T-shirts Around the Internet:" a compilation of what people wear on their T-shirts, as a "medium of art and self expression."

The Full-Contact Origami Man, and More!

This may or may not be "an actual essay written by a college applicant to NYU" - but it is definitely funny. "College Applicant." Another not-a-blog entry. I gotta watch myself!

Global Warming, and We're All Gonna Die?

I don't suggest reading "Forum: Global warming as a con" if you believe in global warming. It's an op-ed piece that gives a very plausible motive for much of the ardent promotion of this 'dire threat.'

(Big oil isn't paying me, either. Neither is Big ISP, Big Television, or Big Orange.)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Statistics for the Non-Statistician

Unless you're of the "my mind is made up, don't confuse me with the facts" school, or know more about statistics than the average liberal arts major, you'll want to read "Statistics Every Writer Should Know." (RobertNiles.com)

It's a short, relatively painless, introduction to what words like "mean," "median," "Percent," even arcane terms like "standard deviation" and "normal distribution."

Also, a little about how sample sizes, and a few links to reliable sources of information.

Are You Blogging More Now, But Enjoying It Less?

You may be addicted to blogging!

"How Addicted to Blogging Are You?" offers a 14-question test to find out. It's all quite unscientific, but fun.

I was 60% addicted, it said: and, with 6 blogs and several websites, they could be right.

Noo Ideea: Mispeling For Sukses

"Do you optimize for misspellings?" has a startling recommendation: misspelling as an SEO technique.

I've got an opinion about this, briefly discussed at "Misspelling for Success?."

X-Box, the Executioner Model: Don't Try this at Home!

"Boy Nearly Killed Trying To Cool Xbox 360" tells about what happens when a teenager with near-lethal inventiveness matches wits with dunderheaded game device designers.

Or, maybe the manufacturer was a little too clever or incautious.

I don't generally blame manufacturers or designers when equipment is misused, but the X-Box 360 seems to have at least one design (or manufacture) flaw. To see what I mean, try the following search in Google - "Xbox 360" overheating - with those quotation marks.

People Who Live in Glass Houses ...

... may have had hired these architects.

Neutra Elegant Living is a good introduction to minimalist architecture.

There's some solid human engineering though behind the segment on the bathroom. I'm not sure whether it has walls that are glass, or something more conventional.

More Trafffic is Better, Right??

This post is for the more serious, business-oriented blogger and webmaster.

At first glance, you'd think that you'd want the ads on your pages clicked as often as possible.

"Outing The Heavy Clickers" shows that you should look at who creates the hot ad traffic, before you optimize for them.

Freedom of Expression, Racial Equality, and Martin Luther King

"'A CHINESE MARTIN LUTHER KING?!'" is a page put up by an open-minded artist who believes that the three-story-tall monument to Martin Luther King should be created by the most qualified artist: as long as that artist is black.

No Chinese need apply, is how I understand the artist's belief.

(That's what the Web is for, in part: giving the oppressed a voice, in this intolerant society. Or being a platform for whatever your belief is, about whatever your view of where you live is.)

Mis-Matched and Unattributed: Double Whammy for These Blog Posts

Plagiarism is bad enough. Sloppy plagiarism makes me wonder if p-bloggers think about what they post.

(P-blogger may be my neologism, meaning "plagiarizing blogger." If someone else used the term earlier than August 26, 2007, I'd like to know. I did a quick Google search and came up with nothing.)

A previous post, "XSEED 4000: A Really Big Building, or a Very Small Mountain," has a number of links leading to blogs which purport to discuss the "X-SEED 4000." What struck me about them was that, although the text was remarkably unique in each, the graphics weren't. And, I didn't notice any attribution for the graphics.

Of course, this is the Internet, and in some circles everybody knows that if something is online, anyone can steal it. I mean, use it. Free. As if the poster made it personally.

Even given that conveniently elastic ethic, some of those posts were just plain sloppy.

I'm picking on one in particular, "X-SEED 4000: World’s tallest tower will house 1 million people." It's a well-written post, with useful links. It also contains graphics showing three very different proposed projects.

One project, represented by two graphics, actually is the X-Seed 4000 project. That's the one that looks like a sort of cross between the Eiffel Tower and Mount Fuji.

The latticework pyramid displayed in a diagram is the proposed Shimizu Mega-City Pyramid, featured on Discovery Channel.

That beautiful interior/exterior with all the green space, a spire and a pyramid is an illustration of the proposed Tokyo's Sky City, also featured on a Discovery Channel documentary a year or so ago.

I want to be very clear about one thing: The "Inhabit" post is not the only one to have unattributed graphics. For example, there's this interior illustration of the proposed Sky City: Dated, if I'm reading it right, April 11, 2007. This may be another version of the "Inhabit" graphic, with a bit of digital artistry done to the colors.

In fact, my hat's off to the "Inhabit" post. It's the one that led me to the Taisei Company, which seems to be the architectural firm which actually designed X-Seed 4000. They don't seem to stress their visionary side: I'm counting on Wikipedia's source, Emporis Buildings, as an authority.

If you're interested in pictures of visionary architecture along these lines, I suggest the many excellent graphics of the proposed Tokyo Sky City, Shimizu Mega-City Pyramid, and more visionary architectural projects. Some of the text is in English, which is a plus when viewing this page: but the pictures alone are worth a visit. My guess is that this page is more nearly "original" than some of the knockoff pages I've run into.

Here's the point of this post. There are a few courtesies which bloggers and webmasters can observe, which would add value to their posts and pages, and prevent them from looking like nitwits:
  • If you're going to steal/borrow/copy an image from another online source, do your readers a favor: tell them where you got it.
  • The same goes for text.
  • And, whether you say where you found the information (that's scholarship), or implicitly claim it as your own (that's plagiarism), take the trouble to make sure that the text matches the pictures, and that the pictures that are supposed to be of one thing are all of that one thing!
It isn't that hard.

If this architectural muddle is any guide, I wouldn't be surprised to see pictures of Mother Teresa and Mahatma Ghandi mixed in with ones of Martin Luther King, in a blog post about Albert Schweitzer.

Related posts on Apathetic Lemming of the North:

Is Social Networking Diseased?

"An Unmanageable Circle of Friends" (Washington Post, August 26, 2007) is an Op-Ed piece that might get a discussion or two started.

I think that the piece's author has a point: online "networking" can easily get out of hand, preventing communication between individuals.

On the other hand, the author could have done a little more research. The assertion that "really juiced-up message boards -- in which users meet via genuine common interests rather than simply mass friend-collect" are a "futurist prediction" is a little behind the time.

I found out about this article on BlogCatalog, self-described as "the premiere social blog directory on the internet."

It's a "juiced-up message board" in which "users meet via genuine common interests" - in this case, blogging.

Wait, I keep forgetting: We're living in the future!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

XSEED 4000: A Really Big Building, or a Very Small Mountain

I ran into quite a few posts about "EXSEED 4000", a megastructure that's on the drawing boards in Japan"I was going to discuss megastructures in this, post, but the startling similarities between these posts, and some inconsistencies, suggest another approach.

I'm running out of time today, so that will have to wait for another post.

Stumble Upon as a Promotional Tool

"Webby Online / Living as an Internet Entrepreneur's" June 29, 2007 post, How to Use StumbleUpon to Promote" says that StumbleUpon can be used to promote pages, blogs, and/or websites.

I'd appreciate knowing what others think of StumbleUpon as a promotional tool.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Death of Communication Media!!!

You'll have to read "The Death of Blogging, E-Mail, Newspapers, and Telephones" to learn what communication medium actually has disappeared recently.

It's also worth reading as an anodyne for the nearly-constant background of "(fill-in-the-blank) is Dying!" predictions by "experts."

Of Rick Springfield, General Hospital, and a Book

"Rick Springfield is Going to Sing on General Hospital....Let Me Tell You Why I Care" is Wednesday's post in a blog by a "grown-up-who-used-to-be-a-hardcore-teenage-fan and professional trying to do a job."

The job was writing a thoroughly-researched book about Rick Springfield.

"The story below, I think, is the one about who he is. Maybe it explains why it makes me happy to see him still rocking on network television the week of his 58th birthday.

"Stars in Her Eyes"

enjoy!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Traffic Report For the Internet

Another non-blog post, but one of interest to bloggers.

The "Internet Traffic Report for North America" monitors the flow of data around the world. It then displays a value between zero and 100. Higher values indicate faster and more reliable connections."

It also displays a graph of the last 24 hours' Traffic Index, Response Time, and Packet Loss for North America.

If you couldn't care less about what happens north of Colombia, the site also has pages for South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. Plus a home page showing data from all five areas.

The Dehumanizing Effects of Technology: NOT!

Deborah Schultz ("Technology changes, humans don't") has a post on human relationships, technology, and something she calls "weaving."

I didn't completely understand it in a fast skim, but it looks like she's got something to think about here.

And it isn't the looming threat of new technologies. Or, maybe it is.

Habitable Planets, a Rand Report

Steven Dole finished R-414-P, a Rand report for the United States Air Force, in March of 1964. Normally, a 43-year-old think-tank report isn't something to blog about. In this case, the report's title was "Habitable Planets for Man."

The Rand Corporation has it available, free, online. At 6.6 MB, 169 pages, it's not a small download, but I'm glad I got a copy.

It's been a reference for science fiction enthusiasts for years.

With 236 planets orbiting other stars cataloged as of May of this year, life-favorable conditions on other planets is more immediately interesting.

Some of the science is a bit dated. I noticed that particularly in references to theories of planetary system formation. But, I think the document still a useful reference: if nothing else, as a discussion of what the questions in exobiology are.

Science-fiction blogs:
  • Biology in Science Fiction ("Sounds like a useful reference if you are building a world for humans or human-like aliens.")
  • Keith Graham's Wanderings ("The Rand Corporation is a think tank. They produce high quality analysis on different problems....")
  • Cool Sci-Fi dot Com ("A classic bit of RAND Corporation speculation from the far off days of the Nineteen Sixties....")



Update, August 28, 2007.

APN received a comment about this post:
"Thanks for the link. You did leave out the place where I found "Habitable Planets". Bob Sawyer, the SF writer for all seasons, paid good money for this report many years ago, and he says it is one of the contributing factors for his many Hugo nominations and awards.

http://www.sfwriter.com/blog.htm ( Robert J. Sawyer)

Keith P. Graham
http://www.cthreepo.com/blog (Keith Graham's Wanderings)

August 28, 2007 8:06"

Thank you for leaving this comment, and Robert (Bob) Sawyer's link.
Related posts, at

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Glitchy Software Blues

For no particular reason, here's the first two lines of a song:

I got the blues, I got the glitchy 'ware blues:
It ain't no news, software gives me the blues.
I feel so low, that help ain't givin' no clues.

No link, no excuse, just something I wrote for a comment in another online community, ArtZone.

"The Future Isn't What it Used To Be"

Yogi Berra made one of the most profound statements on how well the future was conforming to predictions when he said, "the future isn't what it used to be"

People have been predicting the technological miracles and scientific cure-alls (or kill-alls) for about a hundred years now, at least. A very few were right, most were wrong, and many were funny.

For entertainment, and a reminder to take predictions with at least a pinch of salt, Apathetic Lemming of the North presents:

A website, and a blogIndividual posts

Not a Blog: Just Funny

Even though it isn't associated with a blog, this photo was too good to skip:

"Unattended
Children
Will be Given
an Espresso
and a Free Puppy
."

Blogs, Facts, and "I Saw an Article"

The U.S. Navy carrier Lincoln almost ATTACKED a Newfoundland Lighthouse in 1995!!

And I HAVE PROOF!!!

"Divert your course," a Washington blog post, dated August 1, 2005, reveals the ACTUAL TRANSCRIPT, released by CANADIAN AUTHORITIES!

If you don't believe it, a photocopy of an ACTUAL NEWS STORY is posted HERE!!!

This is how it ends:

"AMERICANS: This is the Aircraft CARRIER US LINCOLN, the second largest ship in the United States Atlantic Fleet. We are accompanied with three Destroyers, three Cruisers and numerous support vessels. I DEMAND that you change your course 15 degrees north. I say again, that's one-five degrees north, or counter-measures will be undertaken to ensure the safety of his ship.

"CANADIANS: This is a lighthouse. Your call."

THE PRIDE! THE ARROGANCE! WHAT KIND OF BULLYING FOOLS DO WE HAVE IN THE MILITARY?!!!
Now, take a deep breath, count to ten, and think happy thoughts.

This post, up to the short gray line, is bogus. Only the links are real.

The "Divert your course" link is to a Washing student's blog. State or D.C., he doesn't say. The student may not believe the story: "Divert your course" is in a "jokes" directory.

The graphic may be a joke, too. I'll let you decide, if you're interested. I'm about as certain that it's a fake as I can be about anything. I know that I could put together a "news story" like that, complete with cut-marks and blurry type. It's still a pretty good fake, though.

Snopes discusses this hoax, at "The Obstinate Lighthouse," and the U.S. Navy, "'The Lighthouse Joke'."

Apparently, the USS Coral Sea, USS Missouri (decommissioned on 31 March 1992), and USS Nimitz have been buzzing that lighthouse, too.

With all that traffic, no wonder they need a lighthouse!

I've run into the bogus news article rather frequently when bumping through StumpbleUpon. And I found it on a page on Digg where it appeared in the comments. To be fair, one of the responses to the comment read, "Stop digging this up you idiots...".

Seriously, this is a good example of why bloggers, or anyone else on the Internet, should think a little before believing what they see.

"Trust, but verify" might be a good principle to apply here. The Internet is a gold mine of information, but there's a lot of iron pyrite lying around, too.

I'd say that it's particularly important to verify information when it perfectly backs up your beliefs and is from a source you don't know, or when the story is too good to be true. It probably is.

I enjoy this story, and think that it's a good fable for illustrating hubris.

I may even re-tell it, someday.

But, when I do, I'll be sure to identify it as fiction.

Intellectual Property Rights: Creative Compiling,or Rip-Off?

The post about robots that I discussed recently, "Ten (10) High Technology Robots That May Change The World," posted by someone called Marvin, was accused of copying material, and maybe the entire post, from other sites.

One of the more recent comments read, in part "The comments on ripping off sites and copywrite etc, when are you people going to learn the whole interesting aspect of the internet is the fact it is unregulated and uncontrolled, by now people should realise there isnt such a thing as copywrite in the virtual world that is the internet."

That wasn't so much an accusation, as a celebration of lawlessness. And, I'm not at all sure that the claim that "there isnt such a thing as copywrite in the virtual world...." is accurate.

Lack of enforcement, yes. Lack of copyright and other intellectual property laws and regulations, no.

I used a handy plagiarism-checking site, Copyscape, and found no indication that Marvin's post was a straightforward cut-and-paste of someone else's post.

I did, however, find that Marvin had copied rather extensively from two sites, at least:Marvin's post is original, in the sense that the combination of text and pictures is unique to his post. However, he did use images and substantial sections of text from other sites.

Some of the pictures have their origin identified as part of the image, but that's the only acknowledgment I found in the post.

Other than one of the comments, which identified the source for some of the post's information.

I have no idea whether Marvin's post crossed the line, and violated the intellectual property rights of the authors of his post's components. I'm not saying that he didn't create a more visually pleasing and readable list than the sites he copied material from: just that his lack of acknowledgment is disquieting.

I do know that he danced closer to the edge than I'd want to.

Related posts on Apathetic Lemming of the North:

Ten Top Bots: Robots for the Future

"Ten (10) High Technology Robots That May Change The World" gives a top-10 list of U.S. robots that, among other things, learn to walk, learn to recognize and mimic human facial expressions, assemble themselves, and help surgeons.

This is an exciting era for artificial intelligence researchers and fans.

Now, if we could only have a robot that would tell me when I've written something that doesn't make sense.

The Perfect Server: Blogger's Eldorado

Google's Blogger (or BlogSpot, as it seems to be called now) was down for at least an hour this morning. You know that already, if you read the previous post on "Apathetic Lemming of the North."

I wasn't happy, when I saw Google's error message - and later learned that the "30 seconds" they suggested as a time to wait before trying again had passed over a hundred times since the service interruption had started.

On the other hand, this isn't the first time I've had service interrupted: although this is the first time it's happened to me at Google.

This situation reminded me of the quest for the Perfect Server: the server than never needs maintenance, never has down time, and provides perfect service, 24/7/365.

Perfection would be nice, but we won't find it around here. For the list-lovers out there, here's an excerpt from "The Big List of Perfect Things You Won't Find," a fictional book that doesn't exist.

You won't find the
  • Perfect Car
  • Perfect Server
  • Perfect House
  • Perfect Apartment
  • Perfect Meal
  • Perfect Man
  • Perfect Lawn
  • Perfect Garden
  • Perfect Woman
But that won't keep some people from looking.

You'll find a more "real world" discussion of the service gap in "Google Blogger Server down?" at BlogCatalog. Again, BlogCatalog.

Sorry About That!

This blog was unavailable for at least an hour this morning.

Since you're reading this, you've come back to try accessing it again: thank you for your patience!

Google seems to have been doing some maintenance: and about time! My service has been a bit 'iffy' for some time.

I'll be back with a 'real' post as soon as I can.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mini-Sculptures - Big Humor in Small Art

This one is just for fun: "bent wire mini sculpture by terry border."

The blogger calls these things "very funny little sculpture vignettes."

One of my favorites, today, is the teabag, using a cup as a hot tub.

Creative Commons: People's Panacea or Corporate Imperialist?

Probably neither.

This post is about Creative Commons, and about intellectual property rights. There are no links to a blog here, but if you're a blogger, or put anything online, you should be interested.

I was reminded of Creative Commons by a rather strident article, "Software tool promises 1-click colonialism." The article's tone was set by the first sentence: "The music industry has a long and shameful history of robbing black artists of their rights."

Apparently, the author believes that Creative Commons is going to integrate Liblicense with MIT Media Lab's One Laptop Per Child initiative (OLPC) in order to subjugate the oppressed masses of the world.

That accusation got me interested in Creative Commons. I discovered that it was another of San Francisco's contributions to the online world, that some people were opposed to it, and that it had ardent supporters.

I ran into several supporters in a discussion thread on (you guessed it) BlogCatalog.

I don't use Creative Commons myself, and don't plan to in the foreseeable future. Not because I know anything bad about it, but because I don't know anything that makes it worth my while.

The worst criticism I encountered of Creative Commons that was plausible was that it was a solution to a problem that didn't exist: that it was irrelevant.

But, I could be wrong.

My own approach to protecting intellectual property rights is to post copyright notices, periodically check for copies of my work, and read the TOS of places where I post my work.

Creative Commons, based on comments I've read that came from people whose opinions I've learned to respect, seems to be a potentially useful organization. But, like any other organization, it's just common sense to read the TOS (Terms of Service), and any other information the organization provides, about what they think can be done with whatever you give them.

Creative Commons
Creative Commons FAQ

"Blog Traffic Made Easy"

"Blog Traffic Made Easy" is a 22-page .pdf format article with a self-explanatory title. Three of those pages are a list of relevant links.

The rest is a well-written collection of good, practical advice. The fact that the author's philosophy of promotion is similar to mine has nothing to do with that unbiased assessment, of course. ;)

There's nothing new here, but it's a very good, concise, and clear distillation of what's a good idea, and what's not. There's a link to the .pdf file at "Blog Traffic Made Easy."

Monday, August 20, 2007

Writing Right for the Web

This is a close to a must-read for anyone who is serious about writing on the Web

For anybody who is serious about writing on the Web, "How Users Read on the Web" is about as close to a must-read as I've seen since this blog began. (That was July 22, 2007, not all that long ago.)

Online technology has changed a great deal since "How Users Read on the Web" was written (October 1, 1997).

Human beings haven't.

The advice is practical, and includes a table that shows a control paragraph, three revisions of the text, and a fourth revision which combines features of the first three.

Flame Warriors: Fun From Flame

Once you're in an online community, it won't be long before you encounter angry messages, prompted by
  • Insults real or imagined
  • Affronts to someone's beliefs
  • Being a newbie
  • No discernible reason
Those angry messages are called flame, and when they're exchanged in bulk, you've got a flame war.

A public-spirited netizen brought an illustrated compendium of flamers to my attention recently. Mike Reed's "Flame Warriors" is an unscientific, biased, and extremely funny mini-site.

Once again, I didn't discover this gem. It's the subject of a BlogCatalog discussion, "Flame Warriors."

Michael Vick: Who Needs a Trial?

One of the wonderful things about the blogosphere is that opinions can be published here, even if they haven't passed an editorial board, or originated in one of the traditional centers of culture and refinement. In America, that's New York City, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and to a lesser extent San Francisco and parts of Oregon.

Here are examples of the blogosphere's freedom at work.

In case you haven't read enough about the pre-trial convictions of Michael Vick, here are a few of the blog posts on the subject. This is an unusual post for "Apathetic Lemming of the North," so here's the background:

Last Saturday, I heard that the Atlanta Falcons owner, Arthur Blank, said publicly that Michael Vick lied about Vick's involvement in a dog-fighting operation.

Mr. Blank seems to base his conclusion on the fact that a dog-fighting operation seems to have been conducted at a residence owned by Mr. Vick. The owner has more to go on, of course. The men, who almost certainly were directly involved, accused Mr. Vick of participation, with lurid stories to back up their claim.

I do not blame Mr. Blank for his public accusation of Mr. Vick.

Mr. Blank is following a long tradition of executives and business owners, making irrational and draconian decisions, based on limited and dubious information.

Mr. Blank may even be right.

For those who have been away from Earth recently, Michael Vick is a football player who has been accused of involvement in a dog-fighting enterprise on a property he owns. As far as I can tell, there is at best limited evidence of Mr. Vick's involvement, apart from his ownership of the house and grounds where the dog-fighting and training took place.

Last week a news report said that Mr. Vick would most likely pead guilty.

I have been appalled at coverage of Mr. Vick, and his treatment to date. He's lost valuable promotional contracts, been effectively banned from the career he chose, and now has been accused of lying, on the basis of the accusations of two men who admit they participation in criminal behavior.

Mr. Vick may be guilty, but what's been done to him puts me in mind of the 'he's guilty: we'll hang him now, and have a trial later' situation some movies use.

Particularly after the Duke debacle, this guilty-until-proven-innocent situation disturbed me. But I didn't have a blog with a defined topic that allowed discussion of the Michael Vick phenomenon.

Finally, I had an idea: Look up other blogs about Mr. Vick's troubles, and put links to them in an ALN post, with a longer-than-usual discussion.

Update, August 20, 2007, 1:14 pm central time USA - I heard on the news that Michael Vick has entered a guilty plea: apparently on the charge of interstate movement of dogs for gambling purposes. More charges may be brought, of course.

What I said about the treatment of Vick in news media, and by the Falcons owner, stands. Guilty until proven innocent is what legal systems derived from the Napoleonic Code use. We've got innocent until proven guilty as a principle in the USA, at least theoretically.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

"BromoLuz"

There won't be very many links to blogs or pages that don't use English in "Apathetic Lemming of the North."

However, since I'm guessing that quite a few visitors here are fluent in Spanish, here's an exception: "BromoLuz / El reactivo que no ha servido para nada en ningĂșn lugar." I do not understand enough Spanish to verify this, but a pretty good source showed me a translation of the blog's 6 de agosto de 2007 / August 6, 2007, post, "¿Sensatez o Sentimientos?" Judging from the translation, this is a good piece of writing: the sort of prose that's poetic in spots.

The automated Spanish-English service used by the blog gave me a very strange set of words.

Monetizing Blogs and Websites: Ideas

"What's Better for Making Money: Advertising? Affiliate Programs? Retail?," yet another BlogCatalog discussion: This one has a variety of good ideas for making money from your blog or website.

No guarantees, of course, but the information and links should be a good starting point for the blogger or webmaster who doesn't mind monetizing their pages.

Writer's Block? What Writer's Block?

"#54 - Writing hacks (hacks for writing) Part 1: Starting" denies the existence of writer's block, and backs up the claim.

Theres good, practical, advice here: some of which doesn't show up too often. I'd be careful of the use of "alcohol ... writing’s seductive little mistress." But that's partly because of my own history.

Food for Thought

"We Don’t Know When Enough is Enough" citing sources that seem authoritative, this blog post tells a little about why people eat as much as they do.

On the practical side, you'll learn why it's a good idea to keep candy in an opaque container, and why self-refilling soup bowls are a bad idea.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Your Contextual Advertising Account: How to Keep It

I did a little research today, about contextual advertising, and posted what I found in another blog. Twice. The summary of both is: Read the TOS Terms of Service); Remember the TOS; Don't violate the TOS; and for everything not in the TOS, use common sense. Those two posts are More Advertising Advice: Read the TOS and Keeping Your Advertising Revenue: Follow the Rules

And You Think Your Job is Hard!

This is another not-a-blog post.

But this one is too much fun to skip.

Channel 4, Belfast's, "The Worst Jobs in History" is an entertaining look at grungy British jobs from Roman times to the Victorian period.

The jobs I read about, from Roman miner to Tudor groom of the stool, Stuart nip picker, and Victorian navvy, were entertainingly - and fairly accurately - described.

I wouldn't take Ireland's answer to "Dirty Jobs" as an authority on culture during the Medieval period. Their summary of social and economic conditions, "while noblemen and their ladies flounce around in sumptuous clothes and are entertained at court and tournament, an army of unlucky souls toils away in some spectacularly hideous employment," isn't entirely complete, or accurate.

Much of our impression of the Middle Ages comes from the colorful excesses of very late Medieval and early Renaissance periods. That period makes excellent cinema, but isn't typical of the half-millennia that came before.

Here's a little about the clothing angle:
  • "Medieval Textiles" (.pdf). The emphasis is on Russian clothing, but a few illustrations show what peasants and upper crust wore.
  • "Clothing / What was it really like to live in the Middle ages?" at Learner.org is a very brief description, with almost no illustrations: but is a good introduction.
  • "Some Extant Clothing of the Middle Ages" gives a pretty good picture, literally, of European clothing from 1000 to the 1500s.

A Blog about Blogs

Someone else is blogging about blogs in the blogosphere. I'd guess that there are thousands, at least, like mine and "Your Relevant." "Your Relevant" describes "Our Mission" this way: "To bring people and blogs together. There are so many good blogs out there that no one knows about. We here at 'your relevant' think that people should know about your blog."

The first half-dozen blogs reviewed were about: music; something called kiwipost (sounds interesting); music, movies and video; something called Pawhealer (with an odd picture); making making online; and fruity recipes.

A mystery I haven't solved is this blog's title, "Your Relevant." It's not clear, whether the word "Your" is intended to be an adjective, with the noun modified by the the adjective unstated - or a mis-spelling of "you're."

Either way: looks like a good source for links and reviews.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A Movie Review Blog?

Yep. "Blog Cabins / insanely important film reviews" is a blog of movie reviews.

Written, as far as I can tell, by the blogger himself.

As of today, it's got an anticipated-release poll, in case your life won't be complete unless you register your opinion, and more movie reviews than I'd care to write.

Tastes vary, so you may not agree with every review here: but I'd say this blog is worth looking at, as an alternative to what the professional critics churn out.

Writers, Editors, Publishers, and the Marketplace of Ideas

Freeland Writing Jobs' August 16, 2007, post, "Is it too easy to get published online?" is a pretty good discussion of the shift from the good old days of overworked editors deciding who did, and did not, get published, to the current age, when any yahoo can get published online, and often does.

I'm not sure if the typo in the title is intentional, to illustrate the lowered standards, or not.

The post is a good reminder of how much has changed. It also can be a reminder to unedited online writers, like me, that there's nothing standing between them and global embarrassment except their own good sense and proofreading ability.

As for the lack of those professional, old-school, editors and publishers, online, I don't think we'll miss them all that much. "Why Blogs Will Thrive" cites an example of why I think the marketplace of ideas is a better idea than a specialized caste of gatekeepers.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Writing a Book

Yesterday's Berkun Blog's post, "How to write a book - the short honest truth" reveals that writing a book is something almost anyone can do. Writing a good book is another matter.

Getting the thing published is yet another matter. Although access to self-publishing has gotten more more generally available.

"How to write a book" is a pretty good introduction to the subject, with links to more resources near the end.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Error Messages Done Your Way

This is another not-a-blog link. Make your own Error Message lets you create error messages with your own text, and any of 72 icons.

Here's the sort of thing you can create. I recommend these for personal enjoyment only, not as tools in a practical joke.

Related Post: Weird Error Messages for Fun and Traffic



Do-Before-I-Die List for Geeks.

Forget Cancun! That's for those guys with 6-pack abs.

"6 Things You Must Do Before You Die: Geek Edition" is a long-overdue guide for those whose hands are more often around a joystick than a barbell.

"Visit Akihabara" was first in the list, although the blogger made it plain that they were not in priority order. The necessity of visiting Akihabara is, of course, obvious: to a geek.

Intellectual Property Violation: What to Do

One thing to do, anyway.

I'm following up on an earlier post. Massive amounts of content had been copied by a "blog," Pretty Paws Stylin', and posted in Pretty Paws Stylin'. After being confronted, PPS cited sources for some of its more recent posts, and sent a rather shrill email back to the content's creator.

Aside from the ethics of the, ah, creative posting strategy employed by Pretty Paws Stylin', there was the matter of advertising revenue.

The person who wrote the content that Pretty Paws Stylin' ripped off has added a comment to the discussion strong, which includes a message from AdSense, detailing a procedure for sending an official complaint about stolen content.

The AdSense procedure is at (or near, by now) the bottom of this rather long discussion.

Related posts on Apathetic Lemming of the North:

Linking Tips: Common Sense Guide

Also from James S. Huggins' Refrigerator Door, "Tips for Linking to My Site" gives his suggestions and requests for linking to pages in his site.

This is a common-sense guide: something that webmasters and bloggers could emulate.

Also short and organized: an 8-point list. 9, including the 'contact me' final point.

I didn't follow his recommendations, by the way. An email to the gentleman is in order.

So far, I've tried to make my navigation robust and obvious enough to guide visitors, wherever they land. A guide like this could encourage links, by providing a sort of structure: and giving assurance that I really don't mind links to my pages!

Adult Ed, the Way It Should Be

From James S. Huggins' Refrigerator Door, "Courses for Men and Women" is a title listing of
  • 25 courses for women, taught by men
  • 32 courses for men, taught by women.
A sampling:

Courses Taught by men, for women

105: Understanding the Male Response to "Do I Look OK?"
111: The Toilet Seat: I Can Learn to Put It Down Too
114: How to Go Shopping With Your Mate and Not Embarrass Him

Courses Taught by women, for men

107: Wonderful Laundry Techniques (Formerly "Don't Wash My Silks")
120: How To Put The Toilet Seat Down
121: How To Go Shopping With Your Mate and Not Get Lost
124: How Not To Act Younger Than Your Children

How to Write Good Advertising Copy: Another 10-Point List

"Teach Yourself Copywriting - A Quick Formula For Sensational Online Profit Pulling Copy" isn't anything new. But it's still good advice.

The blogger of "The Business Marketing Blog" has taken proven advertising copywriting advice and put an "online" label on it.

It's useful if you're writing advertising: or if you're trying to figure out why you find some piece of advertising so hard to say 'no' to.

Blogging About: a Subway? No, the Tube

Pardon me. This blog is about the Tube. London's Underground. Going Underground's Blog. Quite a few photos, and what seems like a unique personal view of London's hidden landmark.

Why is Left Right, Road-Wise?

"Why Don't We Drive On The Same Side Of The Road Around The World?" answers the question in its title.

Another post that isn't about a blog. I'm slipping.

Climate Data, Global Warming, and a Y2K Bug

I thought you might want to read this. Blogger Finds Y2K Bug in NASA Climate Data

1998 isn't the warmest year on record in the United States, now that a Y2K bug has been found and corrected. The warmest year recorded in America is now 1934, with 1998 in second place and 1921 in third. "In fact," this blog says, "5 of the 10 warmest years on record now all occur before World War II."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Internet: USA Rules, UAE Rules

I don't generally get this serious on "Apathetic Lemming of the North," so feel free to skip this post.

My wife and I are in the process of raising four kids. Two of them are more-or-less grown, but the parenting role is still there: just changed.

I can understand why parents want to protect their children.

The reactions of a 12-year-old (not one of my kids), to a seemingly inexplicable interruption in service, brought the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and that country's interesting Internet policies to my attention.

Etisalat is the UAE's government-owned Internet provider. In fact, it's the UAE's only Internet provider.

Checking around, I found a GulfNews.com article, "Don't let your child roam the internet aimlessly" (July 27, 2007), quoting a parent with pre-teen children. "At the moment, the Internet connection we have is the Etisalat one and there are processes in place to stop some sites. They filter all the pornographic sites and the sites that could be harmful to children. I have peace of mind here [in the UAE]. In my home country we don't have this filter."

That sounds good, but the UAE's protectiveness goes further than that.

The U.S. Department of State's "United Arab Emirates / Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2006," (released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor on March 6, 2007) gives a mildly uncomfortable look at how this country on the Persian Gulf manages human rights.

Here's an excerpt:

"Internet Freedom

"The [UAE] government restricted access to some Web sites on the Internet. Internet chat rooms, instant messaging services, and blogs were monitored. Individuals and groups engaged in peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by email, without reports of government prosecution or punishment, although there was self-censorship apparent in many chat rooms and blogs. (Emphasis mine.)

"According to the NGO The Initiative for an Open Arab Internet, Internet access was widely available. According to January 2005 press reports, 37 percent of the country's population was connected to the Internet provided through the state‑owned monopoly Etisalat. A proxy server blocked material deemed inconsistent with the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the country; information on how to circumvent the proxy server; dating and matrimonial sites; and gay and lesbian sites, as well as those concerning the Baha'i Faith and those originating in Israel. The proxy server occasionally blocked broad categories of sites including many that did not meet the intended criteria. Etisalat populated its proxy server list of blocked sites primarily from lists of Web sites purchased from commercial companies; though individuals could also report offensive sites. In July 2005 Etisalat blocked a blog from within the country for the first time, briefly blocking http://secretdubai.blogspot.com due to a compliant that it contained "nudity"-though the site contains no images. Etisalat removed the block after the site's owner requested that the block be reviewed. There were no other reports of local blogs, being blocked. The politically oriented - and often critical -sites Arabtimes.com and UAEprison.com remain blocked without explanation. (Emphasis mine.)

"Etisalat denied having the authority to block any site, and referred all complaints and suggestions to the Media Council. Internet filtering policy and appeals are regulated by the Telecom Regulatory Authority. Each blocked site provided an email address and Web site by which a user could notify Etisalat if the site should not be blocked. Some sites were unblocked following a review. Etisalat also blocked all "voice‑chat" and Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) Web sites and services. The proxy server did not generally affect Internet access in Dubai's Internet City and Media City. (Emphasis mine.)

"In January the government enacted the Information and Privacy "cyber crime" law which explicitly criminalizes the use of the Internet to commit a wide variety of crimes. The law provides fines and prison terms for Internet users who violate political, social and religious norms in the country. In addition to criminalizing acts commonly associated with "cyber crimes" such as hacking, phishing, various scams and other forms of financial fraud, the law also provides penalties for using the Internet to oppose Islam, proselytize Muslims to join other religions, "abuse" a holy shrine or ritual of any religion, insult any religion, or incite someone to commit sin. The law further criminalizes use of the internet in transcending "family values" by publishing either news or photos pertaining to a person's private life or that of his/her family, or by promoting a program in breach of public decency." (Emphasis mine.)

All in all, I think I'd rather live with USA rules than with UAE rules.

(If you read all my blogs, some of this should sound familiar. I used the same research in UAE, Censorship, Shari'a Law, Freedom: So What?.)

Adventure Quest: For Those With Time on Their Hands

This is not a blog, but it was too much fun to pass by.

"Adventure Quest is a free fully animated single-player role playing game." That's it, in a nutshell.

The game has a seemingly non-mnemonic URL, http://www.battleon.com/, but URL makes sense, once you realize that Battleon is the name of the village where your character starts out.

There's an "Information for Parents" page, which I appreciate.

I tried the game out: it's (for me) fun, easy to learn, and free of the sort of gratuitous gore and sleaze that oozes from much of the fantasy role playing word that I've experienced.

One warning: this game is an enormous time-waster. I spent rather more time "play-testing" it today than I meant to.

Enjoy, but I suggest that you set a timer before you begin.

Postcards. Online. I'll Let You Figure This Out.

"Postcards from Sandip," "A collection of postcards that capture little moments of my life and my friends."

Yesterday's post included a photo of a cave from Devil's island near Bayfield (Wisconsin, USA, I believe), and another photo of the Kanheri Caves in the blogger's city of Mumbai, India.

There was also a sort of song or sonnet playing in the background. I didn't catch all the words, but it sounded quite romantic. Not that I'm an expert on the subject: just ask my wife.

The "Postcards" puzzled me at first. I wasn't sure what they were, or how Sandip was receiving them.

Eventually, I found "Zimoz / life on postcards." It's an online postcard / blog service.

I think.

If you can give me a '25 word or less' explanation of what these postcards are, and how Zimoz works, I'd appreciate it. 25 words? Oh, make it fifty or so if need be.

This stuff looks like fun.

Troll Poll Closing!

Several minutes ago, the Troll Poll (at the top of the sidebar, to your left) showed that there are only seven hours left to cast your vote.

This pseudo-official, non-scientific, once-and-for-a-while poll is your last chance to participate in the definition of online trolls!

Last chance today, anyway.

A definition of Online Trolls was made several days ago: but we still have no definitive answer as to which creature they most closely resemble!

Main Event Music

This should be worth looking at, if you like popular music: Main Event Music:

Today's post is about Daisy Hicks, Australian singer/songwriter. In the past, it's featured a James Blunt music video, a "What Not To Download: iTunes Top Ten" post: one post a day, as far as I could tell.

Follows a well-defined pattern in its posts. See if you can spot what it is.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mrs. Nesbitt's Place: Home, Garden, Photos

Mrs. Nesbitt's Place: her garden, friends, business, the beautiful area she lives in, and photographs about her home. Quite charming.

Tumblelog: So Many Posts, So Little Organization

My introduction to tumblelogs was a discussion on BlogCatalog (them, again), "Does anyone else here have a tumblelog?

I followed one of the links there, and learned that tumblelogs are like regular blogs, except that the post are in a variety of media, are short, and generally lack commentary.

So, visiting a tumblelog, you could expect to see a photo, a link, some quote, another photo, two videos, another quote, and so on. Not necessarily in that order.

I think of it as being a sort of sequential core dump of the tumblelogger's interest of the moment.

The BlogCatalog discussion starts with a very good set of links to introduce you to tumblelogs.

The only thing I'll repeat from the discussion is a link near its end (as of now), "Social Space Station," the tumblelogger's "views and reviews of all things socialable and connected." Also a collection of some (to me) fun-to-view retro science fiction images.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

AdSense, Shopping.com, and Eldorado

Wouldn't it be nice if we had online advertising that was pure gold?

We don't, but bloggers and other online publishers still look for something better than what they've got.

Here's a link to the blog post: " Don't settle for Google AdSense." There's a fairly lively discussion in the post's comments.

I'm sticking with AdSense for now, but there were good points brought up.

10 Blogs: Comments Welcome

A fellow-BlogCataloger posted a discussion string in that online community. Here's the link: "10 blogs you should give a chance."

He says that the blogs on his list of links are ones that "everyone should give a chance."

Only One Day Left on the Troll Poll!

If you haven't done so yet, vote now!

Only one day remaining.

The poll is over there, to your left: at the top of the sidebar.

Don't know what a troll is? This post explains everything.

But Was the Whale a Registered Voter?

I encountered "Cariboo Ponderer" today.

I'm taking the liberty of quoting the blog's description:

"The North is not just a spot on the compass, it is in my heart. Living with my wild animal neighbours in a remote area of British Columbia, Canada. Sharing day to day incidents, inspirations and other observations on my way to higher ground."

With that description, I wasn't quite expecting this post: Aboriginal Chief dies again, this time as a killer whale.

I'm hoping for an answer to the question: was the killer whale a registered voter?

Inquiring minds want to know! (Remember those ads?)
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