Dean Scream was Doctored Audio

Good lord, after the hatchet job that had everyone hounding Howard Dean and questioning his sanity, it turns out that it was actually doctored audio. The sound you heard on the clip that was run 700 times post-Iowa was from the noise-filtering handheld microphone. He was screaming to be heard over this very loud crowd, which is why he got louder and louder, but the handheld, which is used for just such purposes, filtered most of that out. So, minus the context of the crowd noise increasing as he talks, you have what we saw on TV, a guy getting louder and louder and more boisterous. In the room, you saw a guy playing to the crowd. All this would have been different if they had used ambient audio that accurately reflected what was going on, but that wouldn’t have been salacious enough.

I have an ever building disgust of Big Media news. Despite the fact that we now have more news choices than ever, I watch less news lately than I have in the last few years. We don’t turn on Fox News ever in this house, rarely watch CNBC or MSNBC or CNN and less and less do I even want to watch Headline News. Things like this are the reason. I flat out distrust them in motivation of what they choose to report, and now even in execution of what they report. To be blunt, the news they report is frequently turning out to be misrepresentations or flat out lies.

I feel that Big Media News let us all down in the softball coverage of our buildup to war in Iraq, being too cowardly to even ask the obvious question of “Do we really need to do this?” I feel they failed us with the kissyface reportage of the “embedded reporters” during the war. They are failing us now with their reportage of the Democratic primary, which is pretty much serial character assassination. In 2000, Gore was the brunt of the character question, even when Bush and Cheney were laughing on hot mikes about a print reporter being a “major league asshole.” I expect nothing but the same this time out, and even as the Big Media will do an unwarranted evisceration of whichever Democrat gets the nomination, bullshit artist reactionary pundits will talk about the “liberal media” as it reports nothing but right wing stories, with a right wing slant to the benefit of conservatives everywhere. This is life with Big Media. Welcome to the machine.

Downhill Battle’s Tune Recycler

Here’s something I can get behind – a group of people are calling for using those Pepsi iTunes giveaway codes on non-RIAA music. The folks from Downhill Battle are running the site called Tune Recycler and they describe their mission thusly:

When you submit a winning Pepsi code to the Tune Recycler, we’ll redeem it for music from honest, independent labels. There are a few great independent labels in the iTunes store that give their musicians up to 40-50 cents, right from the first sale. When you use the Tune Recycler, you know that no money is going to support price fixing, payola, or lawsuits against families with children–and most importantly, the money goes to a musician.

So, if you get a cap and don’t plan on redeeming it, give the code to them and help out some indie musicians who are attempting to make a go of it without a life of indentured servitude to the major labels.

Something they say further down the page has me thinking. The other day I posted my theory that perhaps the RIAA suits are really to prevent people from downloading any sort of free music, maintaining the major labels’ place as gatekeepers of everything we hear. I’ve been thinking Pepsi was opposed to that, but maybe they actually are part of it. Watch the ad for yourself or here or here. Here’s Downhill Battle’s commentary on the ads:

Pepsi has begun airing an ad for this promotion that features 16 of the children that were sued by the major record labels for filesharing. It’s a perfect cycle: now that these kids and their families have been put in debt by the major labels, they have to sell themselves in a soda commercial to make back some of what they owe. But the ad isn’t just exploitative, it’s also wildly inaccurate. A girl in the ad says, “I’m one of the kids who was prosectued for downloading music free off of the internet.” And throughout the commercial, the words “busted”, “charged”, “incriminated”, and “accused” flash across the screen (you can watch the ad here ). Now, while “busted” and “accused” might be ambigious enough to apply to these lawsuits, no one was “prosecuted” or “charged” with any crime. Actually, none of the filesharing lawsuits has even gone to court, because the cost of mounting a defense against the major record labels is far too expensive for an individual or family. Furthermore, none of these kids or anyone else was sued for “downloading music”; all the suits have been for uploading, which can be easily turned off in the settings of any filesharing program.

I had been thinking the Pepsi ad was a slap in the face of the RIAA, but having watched it now I believe it is more FUD about downloading. Supposing you are an average joe internet user not up on the issues and you see this, will you get the impression that downloading all music will get you sued (or prosecuted as they erroneously imply in the ad)? Will you have blurred in your mind the distinction between that freely offered and not, or will it just make you scared to download anything (that is, not from iTunes) because you don’t want to be in the next ad? PR is all about making associations, and the associations this makes is that only iTunes (subsidized by the fine folks at Pepsi) is a valid way to download. Through PR juijitsu, what sounded like something opposing the RIAA turns out to be a stealth reinforcement of their core message. “Go through us for all forms of your music online or off, or you will be sued. We’ll even suggest that we have the power of law enforcement even though we don’t and get spanked in court when we try.” The message is clear: you the consumer are powerless against the mighty corporations, so only do things the ways they approve you to. This whole internet disintermediation nonsense is over, its back in the sheep pens for us all, buying what they tell us to, listening to what they want us to, behaving like obedient little wallets for the cash extraction convenience of the big companies.

Every time I get weak in my personal boycot of RIAA labels (I really want to buy some CDs from Flaming Lips and The Thrills but I’m being strong) something comes along that reinforces my belief that these sons of bitches should be starved of cash, drained of their political power and thrown on the dustbin of history.

Zephyr Teachout, Howard Dean and Christopher Lydon

Today on the train I listened to the Lydon interview with Zephyr Teachout. I have to say of all of these I’ve listened to – must be over two dozen so far – this was the hardest to listen to. I had to resist the urge to just skip over it. I found her speech patterns and her basic personality so fingernail-on-blackboard grating that I found it hard to focus on what she was saying. She had that same thing I observe in many geeks and science fiction fans, that obnoxious preciousness of speaking as if everything is an in-joke. At the same time, listening to her talk about the Dean campaign in Iowa full of her pep and enthusiasm had a different feel knowing how it turned out, knowing that the “internet story” was soon going to be replaced with an “inside the beltway” story had a cringeworthy quality. It’s like rereading the fall 1999 press releases of internet startups, knowing that they’ll have pissed away the VC money within a year.

Doc Searls collects links to some of the big blogs talking about Dean. I’ll have to say I really don’t understand why people feel so betrayed by Dean replacing Joe Trippi. They seem to feel this is an abandonment of the internet campaign that had them all so geekily enthused. Is it so hard to believe that one set of tactics that works great a year out from the election may not be optimal in the heat of the primary? I don’t think altering the strategy after Iowa invalidates the previous year+ of campaigning. I think it was just wishful thinking and naivete that led a lot of nerds to think that email and blogs could translate into primary wins. Here’s my analogy: the fact that a rocket has a second stage booster does not invalidate the first stage booster nor the third stage. They have different requirements, different needs and they perform differently. The fact that the pre-primary campaign has a different strategy than a primary campaign has a different strategy than a nominee campaign should surprise no one.

Bruce Schneier On Our Slide To Police State

Bruce Schneier is one of the voices I trust. I learned most of what I know about crypto systems from his books, I read his Crypto-Gram newsletter every month. His common sense approach to security – computer and otherwise – has affected how I think through the issues. He taught a lot of us to always ask the questions “What does this buy me, how much will it cost me and in what coin?” whenever presented with a “security solution.” Now he weighs in on America’s race to trade away our rights for the perception of increased security in his op-ed Slouching Toward Big Brother. It is good stuff, as always. He asks the hard questions that most of us are labeled “unpatriotic” when we bring up:

We need to weigh each security countermeasure. Is the additional security against the risks worth the costs? Are there smarter things we can be spending our money on? How does the risk of terrorism compare with the risks in other aspects of our lives: automobile accidents, domestic violence, industrial pollution, and so on? Are there costs that are just too expensive for us to bear?

Unfortunately, it’s rare to hear this level of informed debate. Few people remind us how minor the terrorist threat really is. Rarely do we discuss how little identification has to do with security, and how broad surveillance of everyone doesn’t really prevent terrorism. And where’s the debate about what’s more important: the freedoms and liberties that have made America great or some temporary security?

Via Charlie Stross’ paranoiac sockhop at the event horizon of singularity

All One Surface

Band of the Day! Today the band is All One Surface, which MP3s helpfully available in a side rail right from the front page. I read about these guys first on Die Puny Humans and downloaded their MP3s and liked them. Today I got email from Andy Malt at their record company (also producer of their album) telling me the album was available. Apparently, I have enough Google juice on this weblog that just from the Now Playing list on the side, I was one of the top ten hits for “all one surface”. That’s an interesting experience having the producer of an album write you about it because you talked about in your weblog or in my case just played the MP3s. I like them, good solid power pop. The album is 11 pounds, postpaid. How many dollars is that? I just might buy it.

Incan Abacus Deciphered

An Italian engineer thinks he has cracked the mystery of the Incan counting system. If he is correct, this is a fiendishly clever system. It is based on the Fibbonacci series, such that there is an area on the counting pad representing 1, 2, 3, 5, and then 10, 100, 1000, etc. At any point, you can simplify the representation by combining two counters into one in a higher region of the units section, or 10 into one in the logarithmic portion around the edge. The slide show on the page shows how that is done, by adding 9 and 7. Some are disputing whether this is the correct interpretation of what these artifacts do based on the historical evidence from writings of the last days of the Inca, but it is an elegant solution whether the actual one the Incas used or not.

Sound and Spirit on the Kalevala

In my captured radio listening was a true treasure – the two episodes of Sound and Spirit on Finland’s national epic The Kalevala – one on Jan 4 called Kalevala and one on Jan 11 called Out of Finland. I found them both fascinating, and they have kindled a strong desire for me to go and actually read some of the original text. “Original text” is kind of a misnomer, since this is a collection of ancient folk tales but it’s the best term we have. Luckily for me, this is something that is available for download from Project Gutenberg. I think I’ll start reading it soon.

Another thing I found out from those two episodes is that I dig the music. I much preferred the Finnish and Sami music to the foreign interpretations of their myths. The second episode featured some yoiking from Wimme Saari, which was cool. Even better I thought was him singing with Finnish band Hedningarna, which had this yoik (kind of like either Arab wailing or Native American chanting) with this funky techno music under it. I found it captivating. Maybe I never knew it until now but I am a Finn-ophile.

LOTR for the Straight Guy

Cory posts on BoingBoing about this Lord of the Rings slash video featuring characters kissing. He’s making a copyright ethics point, but you know one of the first things I said when my wife and I left ROTK was “Am I crazy, or was that the most homoerotic of the three films?” I thought I detected lots of sexual tension between Merry and Pippin and then in the Frodo/Sam/Gollum business. The latter has lots of jealousy, spurning, and then a tearful hugging makeup. The question for those of you who have read the book in the last 20 years or have better memories than I do – is this all in the original text, or is it an artifact of the film?

FeedOnFeeds Searching Patch

OK, I have added in my patch to add searching to the stock install of FeedOnFeeds. I added one page that contains the search submission form, altered the bit of HTML that creates the menu bar to include searching as a link, and updated view.php to both do the searching in the SQL query and to add it to the menu bar inside that page (which is similar but non-identical to the other one.) Not a huge change. [Update: I patched my 0.1 install but Steve has newer versions. DON’T USE THIS TO PATCH ANYTHING OTHER THAN 0.1, it will take your functionality backwards and possibly not work.] In order to use this, download the patch zip file and unzip it on top of your FoF installation. It will ask if you want to overwrite menu.html and view.php. Say yes, and then search away! If it doesn’t ask you this, you are unzipping it in the wrong directory!

I put two checkboxes in there which allow you to turn on or off searching of articles marked as read and current day only searching. I’m accepting feedback as to what the reasonable things to do are. That seemed like a decent first cut, but really and truly in my use of it, I have never done a meaningful search with where I wasn’t searching everything, marked as read and not. This could be even simpler, like with no options and defaulting to marked as read and everything and just included on the main view page. That’s the worst part of doing things like this – the coding is nothing, it’s the decisions that kill you.

Download it, try it, and leave feedback via writebacks here.

High School Soundtrack

Bruce Baugh discusses the music of his high school days and includes this bold challenge:

I daresay that few of you reading this know about Daniel Amos, a band of Southern California evangelical Christians.

To which I must respond with
Alarma! Somebody’s lying
Alarma! Somebody’s dying
Alarma! Somebody’s turning away, somebody’s turning away

Not only have I heard of Daniel Amos, I slipped them into the automation system at WREK. In high school before I had my anti-epiphany that led to a life of apostasy, I was a churchy boy. Daniel Amos was in the camp of Christian bands that were approved for blasting from boom boxes that also didn’t suck. There weren’t too many of these. The Resurrection Band, a group that sounded like AC/DC with Jesus in them, was the only other one that springs to mind. I still listen to my Alarma album now and then.

To do the same thing as Bruce, here are some of my picks from the high school era. It’s hard not to revise history and give yourself the stuff you wished you were cool enough to have been listening to back then like Television and Patti Smith. In truth, it was well into college before I discovered any of that (and things filter slowly into western Kansas anyway.)

Albums that Bruce cites that I also had in heavy rotation: Kansas, Point of No Return as well as Leftoverture and Audio Visions. Hey, we were in Kansas, you know. Fleetwood Mac, Rumours. Police, Ghost in the Machine and all ones earlier, me being partial to Outlandos D’Amour. Rush, Hemispheres and Permanent Waves but mostly Moving Pictures, mean mean pride that we had.

Bruce kind of dismissed Queen, but I was big into all of it. Mostly the albums of the time Flash Gordon, Hot Spaces, Jazz. In retrospect, I prefer the trilogy of Day at the Races, Night at the Opera, and News of the World most of all, but I listened to all of it I could get my hands on.

Wings, Venus and Mars. Until my later teens, I listened to this more than any individual Beatles album. Later, I became completely and totally a Beatles geek, but at the time I couldn’t get enough of “Rock Show”, “Spirits of Ancient Egypt”, and “Magneto and Titanium Man”.

Styx, Paradise Theater, Cornerstone, and Pieces of Eight. What else is there to say? Like many, I followed along until Kilroy Was Here which put me off their music forever.

Abba, you name it. I went to a show of the Suzie French Connection, mostly Atlanta band Gentle Readers with a few guests and playing all 70’s covers. Although I hadn’t heard it in years, I was able to sing almost ever word to “Waterloo” and moreover I had a great time singing it. I’m not dying to reclaim those times, but jumping around the basement singing “Mama Mia” kept many of us sane out on the prairie.

Michael Jackson, Thriller and Prince, 1999. This is when it all started getting funky. It took a long time for the white bread haven of Norton KS to negrify, but once the boogie arrived we got up and shook our honky asses.

ELO, New World Order, Out of the Blue and Discovery. I still get chills every time I hear the vaguely apocolypic “Do Ya”.

This is fun. There must be dozens of albums I missed. Once I moved to Georgia, my tastes definitely rappified towards Kurtis Blow, Ready For the World, Whodini, Fat Boys and Run DMC, but those were at the very end of high school and not quite as formative as the rest of this.

Cookies for a Better America

Here’s a flash animation of Ben of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream explaining how little defense spending it would take to be shifted for domestic social programs to be funded well enough to do their jobs. The animation is good, and the abstraction of the animated Ben somehow makes this a little more compelling than seeing his real self would (see Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics for an explanation why.) This is must see advocy.

Via Boingboing

Bamboo Forests of Chicago?

The Sun-Times carried a story about the winner in a Chicago sustainable design contest, which was bamboo groves on polluted lots. These guys found varieties of bamboo that can survive the winters, break down pollutants, and can be used in place of expensive wood in things like floors and musical instruments. That’s good thinking! I hope someone is moving on this, because it sounds like a great idea!

Via Gapers Block.

Fear of Design Documentation

The preachers at Hacknot have gotten this weary soul excited with their recent post about why developers hate design documents. They address the fallacies of the common arguments (every one of which I have also heard), and have a challenge to the agile programming community:

To the XPers who promote such fallacies, I would ask this ? if you believe you can write code in such a way that the cost of change becomes negligible, why can?t you employ those same techniques to write design documentation with the same properties? A design document does not demand the same accuracy or contain the same complexity as source code; so why can?t we just refactor a design document with the same ease with which we refactor our code? This inconsistency points to “the code is the design” argument as a failed attempt to rationalize personal preference. Twiddling with the code is fun, twiddling with diagrams is not (apparently).

They make a good case for the resistance to documenting the design or even having a design as boiling down to cover for the true cause: working with design docs isn’t as much fun as hacking code. Never mind that having a good doc makes doing the code more fun, less work and a better shot at being correct, most people aren’t willing to do non-fun work up front, even if it increases their fun later.

LibDB

Via The Shifted Librarian comes this link to the LibDB project. It is pretty early in the project, but it looks quite interesting. From the description:

“This is the development wiki of LibDB, an open-sourced Perl/MySQL library and asset management system based on and inspired by the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (pdf), triples from the semantic web, and “the end-user doesn’t, and shouldn’t, need to know this stuff”. In English, this means that you’ll be able to smartly and easily catalog your movies, books, magazines, comics, etc. into your own computerized “personal library”.

Like many geeks of my particular bents, I have written my own systems for managing databases of stuff. I did it once for comic books, kind of half did it again later for books and then abandoned it. It would be nice to have one general and standardized way of managing all “assets” like this once and for all. I suspect that if/when this standardization happens, lots of people would begin to do really cool things that would be sharable amongst ourselves. For example, once the database structure for this has been set as it appears to have been, it’s a pretty simple matter to make a matching XML schema. Suppose there were nice web UI’s to tools that would manage these asset databases, complete with the ability to share catalogs via XML. Libraries could export their lists to each other of what was available for loan simply with standard free tools, inventory lists could be imported and exported simply, “wish lists” could be in standardized formats. The mind boggles at the possibilities.

George Carlin

Mark Evanier posts a link to this interview with George Carlin. Carlin has always been and remains to this day my very favorite comedian. He’s smart and much cannier than the standard “What’s the deal with X” nonsense of most curent practitioners. I’ve loved the way his routines dig through to the heart of issues, such as the classic “Seven Dirty Words” and its examination of why some things are considered dirty why others are not. To this day, I can rip into the 7 (+3) dirty words at the drop of a hat. I think I have that better practiced and more automatic than the pledge of the allegiance or the doxology. For that, I am proud.

Buying Digital Music

Cory Doctorow is really worked into a lather in his recent post about the lockin of buying digital music with DRM. I pretty much agree with him down the line. Cory is capable of some awfully rocking posts when he isn’t lulling me to sleep with his umptyhundreth one about Disney or himself.

I haven’t bought any iTunes music, partly because I don’t have an iPod but also because I don’t like the restrictions on it. I’m going to buy some music from Magnatune soon. I like their music but I love their business model – make files of mid-level quality freely available, allow access to higher quality files with a “donation” with amount to be set by the customer, split the cash such that the artist makes more if you “donate” more thus incenting the fans to want to pay more. There isn’t much incentive to trade the high quality files on Kazaa when anyone that wants a copy can go get the mid-level files at any time. The appeal is on the moral dimension. Magnatune understands that it is a very small technical challenge to trade these files, but keeps the discourse such that anyone that enjoys the work of the artist is encouraged to help keep them paid and creating more music. I like the approach of allowing honest people to be honest, rather than pursuing those who wander outside the tight boundaries of Big Media. The latter is adversarial, the former communal. We are all in this together, bound by our common love of the music of these musicians, and thus they put out their music and we donate money for it. This isn’t woowoo hippie crap, it’s just plain good business, good living and a fine way to be.

Kill Bill, Volume 2

Kill Bill, V2 remains the movie I most anticipate, moreso after having viewed the audaciously sassy trailer with Uma staring at the camera and addressing the viewer. The first part rocked so incredibly hard, how could you not be on fire for the second? Strategically, the DVD of Volume 1 will be coming out around the same time as the second part, but although I want it I won’t buy it. I’m holding out for some kind of boxed set with both parts of the film and extra-special goodies. I Just Can’t Wait.

Searching FeedOnFeeds

I’ve made a little tweak and added a piece of missing functionality to FeedOnFeeds. Multiple times, I’ve wanted to hunt up an article that I know I have seen but marked read. After the second or third time I fired up the command line mysql client to search the text of the items I knew that I needed to add this functionality to the web UI. And thus I have.

I’ll wait a day or two to see what I want to add and how I like it, and then I’ll put a link up here so others can download my patch. I’ll also email it to the author in case he wants to use it and/or roll it into the main code line. For now I’m pleased with it. It ain’t flashy but it does the trick.