Open Letter to the Internet

Dear Internet:

Please stop this crap.

Via Tim Bray.

I’m not for curtailing free speech, and I don’t question your right to write/Photoshop what you want; but this sort of targeted venom, is just, well, pointless.

For the appropriate venues (chat rooms, sites devoted to X or Y and so on), well, knock yourselves out.

Really – please knock yourselves out.

Otherwise, have some balls and do it in a very public, accountable (not anonymous snarks) manner. At the very least.

But you’re hurting the Internet (yes, I capitalized on purpose for effect).

Please stop this crap.

Update 3/29/2007 Dave Winer has the best overall take on the issue that I’ve read so far.

Radio Sucks

I used to listen to the radio a lot, but – over the last half-dozen or so years – I’ve listened to less and less. There are a bunch of reasons for this:

  • The iTunes effect: While I don’t own an iPod (what kind of geek am I??), I do have iTunes installed on my computer, and – since I do spend a lot of time in front of the screen (OK, I can get the geek card back…) – I just rip my CDs to my computer and run iTunes on my computer.
  • My stereo sucks: Both my receiver (30+ years old) and CD player (decade) died almost at the same time. Rather than replace both, I got one of those small, all-in-one units. Not a good decision. When I replace the receiver and player, I’ll play more CDs. But again – not radio.
  • Radio sucks: The consolidation of radio stations has led to a really bland mix of music. I’m now relying on iTunes and friends to find new artists, instead of hearing them on the radio.

The last item, of course, is the biggest reason I don’t listen to the radio that much anymore.

And I live just outside Chicago, as good a radio market as one will find.

That sucks, and not just for me: I listen to less radio, which hurts the radio stations, the artists and the recording companies. I really don’t see who allegedly wins in this scenario.

Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

We’re all bought, and what’s more we’re bought with our own money…there’s time for everything except the things worth doing.

George Orwell

This is what weekends sometimes feel like to me.

Update: On the plus side, it’s late afternoon and still above 75°. On the minus side, it’s late afternoon and still above 75° … and I’m still inside …

Give Till It Hurts

Josh Marshall’s (group of) website is having an NPR-ish fund drive.

Marshall’s site is unabashedly liberal.

I gave to same.

I read daily; let’s do the “give back…”

Please – give to Josh or any other political site you read: conservative, liberal or whatever.

Blogs have not replaced but augmented MSM: So, support your local Sheriff – right or left wing.

Happy Spring

It’s currently 35 degrees outside right now, but it’s officially spring today.

I’ve swapped the default CSS background to the spring palette.

Hey, no one will care, but I do it just the same…

Tracking Tunes

Jay Chandrasekhar, director

Well, this is not one for the Oscars.

It’s Animal House meets Fight Club, mixing in drinking games we all did in college.

Not bad, but – for an over-the-top comedy – it just didn’t have that many laughs. Stereotypes, tits and ass, implausible situations and so on.

Not a waste of time, but not a productive use of same.

But it’s Saint Patrick’s day, so a movie celebrating beer is appropriate.

All movies

I’ve added a new feature to the blog – a “Listening To…” list in the side rail.

Basically, this is a list of my most recent listens on iTunes.

Doesn’t sound like much, but there’s more to it than meets the eye.

I’ve seen such lists on other sites; the one I recall right now is the “Now Playing in my iTunes” on

I’ve often wondered how it was done; if there is a 3rd party app for such and so on.

I really didn’t look around much; I just used this excuse to learn some AJAX.

Here’s how my listing works:

  • My iTunes runs on my main Windoze box. I run a script (shell script calls perl script) on one of my Linux boxes to pull the iTunes XML file to the Linux box.
  • The perl script then runs over the XML file, parsing out the date played (integer, not scalar time), album, track and artist. This is all done with simple perl; no XML modules are involved.
  • Elements extracted are dropped, pipe-delimited, to a flat file. (This will be all songs in iTunes.)
  • Unix file sort so most recent tracks are at the top.
  • Unix command to retain only top 10 (currently; configurable) items.
  • File FTP’d to this site.
  • When the page is loaded, an AJAX call fetches, parses and presents the data in the flat file.

A cron job runs every hour to re-create the flat file.

At the end, very elegant, but a lot of work went into this. However, it was fun and something – both for songs and re:AJAX – that I’ve wanted to do for some time.

Done! And the damn code works…

Spring Fever

Well, it’s about 50 degrees here in Chicago, and – after the crap weather of January and February – it feels like summer.

I know we’ll get hammered again before we get to the real warm weather, but this weather really makes sitting in front of a computer difficult.

Speaking of spring fever: Did you get all your computers configured to “spring ahead” tomorrow? (The new and not so improved daylight savings time….)

I got my home Windoze and Linux boxes all set; hopefully, no issues.

It’s going to suck getting up with it dark outside again….

Politically Incorrect and Politics

Well, Ann Coulter – love her or hate her (seems to be little gray area) – is at it again.

On Friday, March 2, Coulter gave a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in which she made the following comment:

I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, but it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot,’ so I’m – so, kind of at an impasse, can’t really talk about Edwards, so I think I’ll just conclude here and take your questions.

— Ann Coulter, CPAC

Coulter – whose remark was met with applause at the conference – immediately came under fire for her remarks, and both Republicans and Democrats denounced the statement, and many asked for an apology.

Coulter replied to the firestorm with an email to the NY Times, in which she reportedly wrote the following:

C’mon, it was a joke. I would never insult gays by suggesting that they are like John Edwards. That would be mean.

— Ann Coulter, email to NY Times

There have been – and I’m certain will continue to be – demands that she apologize, but what’s the point? (Edward Kennedy, [D] Mass. – “Ann Coulter’s words of hate have no place in the public sphere much less our political discourse. Not only should she apologize but those who participated in the conference with her should denounce her shameful and divisive actions.”)

I can see the calls – such as those from Howard Dean and John McCain – for leaders to denounce (or stand behind) the remarks; however, I see no reason for an apology.

What ever happened to:

I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it.

— Francois Voltaire

No, I don’t agree with what she said, and her explanation to the Times is just schoolyard.

But if that’s what she believes – or wants to stand behind – so be it.

She’ll be offended by what I said about my being offended by what she said.

So I should apologize to her?

See how quickly this gets silly?

Hazy Shade of Winter

Pirates of the Caribbean, Curse of the Black Pearl
Gore Verbinski, director

The first the Pirates of the Caribbean films, this unorthodox pirate romp is visually stunning and great fun.

There is a nice plot to it all, and Johnny Depp (of course) steals the show as a foppish, pragmatically indifferent pirate captain.

While it contains many of the essential elements of a pirate movie – parrots, peg-legs, swordplay, “arrgh!!” speak and so on – it’s almost a genre unto itself, one that just happens to be about pirates.

I resisted, for whatever reason, seeing this for too long (released in Dec. 2003), but now I want to see part two next weekend!

Highly recommended.

All movies

We’ve had a pretty easy winter, overall, here in the Chicago area.

Unfortunately, the bulk of the winter weather we have gotten in the 2006-2007 winter has happened in the last six week, just about the time most folks are getting sick of the short days and cold weather.

And then winter really kicks in, with snow, winds and cold. Lot of icy storms the last few weeks.


Sunny today, but about freezing, and that appears to be the forecast for the rest of the week, as well. With the chance of some snow, of course…

Why do I live here, anyway??