Friday, July 30, 2010
(AP): "AP - A Florida inmate is suing the man he's convicted of burglarizing, claiming the man and two others roughed him up during a citizen's arrest."
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Personal details of 100m Facebook users have been collected and published on the net by a security consultant ... Ron Bowes used a piece of code to scan Facebook profiles, collecting data not hidden by the user's privacy settings ... the list, which has been shared as a downloadable file, contains the URL of every searchable Facebook user's profile, their name and unique ID ... Mr Bowes said he published the data to highlight privacy issues, but Facebook said it was already public information ... the file has spread rapidly across the net.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Found this in Consumerist, and it gives an idea of how the times are a-changing. In an informal, admittedly nonscientific poll, more than half of respondents said they no longer have one of those home phones that comes with wires. Not even a cordless phone.
Cell phones have taken over.
According to a recently released study, there are more than 5 billion cell phones in use around the world today, with 20% of those just coming into use in the last 18 months. More and more, people are either ditching their traditional land lines or relegating it to a secondary role, especially in large metropolitan areas.
A few months ago, when we polled readers on whether or not they still needed their physical White Pages phone book anymore, an overwhelming number of respondents voted 'no.'
Take the survey: How Frequently Do You Use Your Land Line?
Of course, I had to take this survey, and as soon as I put my answer in I grabbed the results:
In all, 4,479 people voted in this poll.
- It's my main mode of telephonic communication -- 14 percent (643).
- As frequently as I use my cell phone -- 11 percent (499 votes).
- My cell is the main phone, but I use the land line on occasion -- 23 percent (1,010 votes).
- What's a land line? -- 52 percent (2,327 votes).
By the way, I am one of those who does not have a land line. Got rid of it seven or eight years ago, after realizing the only calls I got on it were telemarketers. My parents thought that was funny, and they thought it was even funnier that their attorney uses a cell phone for home and office use.
Landlines? We don't need no steenkin' landlines.
(By the way, I still keep a current phone directory in my office. Can't remember when I last used the white pages, though.)
Saturday, July 24, 2010
This came from the Mental Floss blog.
Now Brewing: Roadkill Beer: "
A brewery in Scotland has begun brewing what they claim is the world’s most potent beer. You’d think that would be enough of a marketing hook right there. But apparently not, because the most bizarre thing about The End of History beer is that it’s sold in bottles nestled inside the taxidermied bodies of dead animals. Yes, that’s correct ... this Telegraph article explains more, including the awful details of how the animals met their maker:
A taxidermist in Doncaster worked on the animals, which were not killed for bottling the new drink, with some having been killed on the roads.
Wow. As if dead rodent beer wasn’t unappetizing enough, now we get to picture roadkill rodent beer. After hearing that, I don’t think there is anything that could be said about this product that would make me want to buy it ...
Friday, July 23, 2010
Requires Flash enabled device. For other devices, obtain the PDF version of the records here.Surprise U.S. Senate nominee Alvin Greene frequently mentions his 13 years of military service, but records obtained Thursday by The Associated Press show the veteran who has called himself an 'American hero' was considered a lackluster service member at best.The records, which document his superiors' decisions to pass over Greene for promotion, cite mistakes as severe as improperly uploading sensitive intelligence information to a military server, and as basic as an overall inability to clearly express his thoughts and perform basic tasks.Greene, 32, won a surprise victory in the June 8 Democratic primary. Greene handily defeated Vic Rawl, a former lawmaker and judge who had been expected to easily win by the party establishment."
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
COLUMBIA -- In his first campaign speech over the weekend, U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene pledged to get South Carolina back to work and decried the state's bottom-of-the-barrel employment and public education rankings.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Call me a grumpy old codger, but I liked the old way better. For one thing, I used to have at least a rudimentary idea of how a newspaper got produced: On deadline, drunks with cigars wrote stories that were edited by constipated but knowledgeable people, then printed on paper by enormous machines operated by people with stupid hats and dirty faces ... everything is different today, and it's much more confusing. For one thing, there are no real deadlines anymore, because stories are constantly being updated for the Web. All stories are due now, and most of the constipated people are gone, replaced by multiplatform idea triage specialists. In this hectic environment, mistakes are more likely to be made, meaning that a story might identify Uzbekistan as "a subspecies of goat."
Weingarten gets into the business of writing headlines, too. A headline used to be written for human eyes, and liberties were occasionally taken with humor and taste. Like when my old editor, the late great Verne Peyser referred to the McDonalds shooting in San Ysidro (the one where the guy went nuts and killed more than 20 people) as "McMassacre." Or when the Fontana Herald-News ran the story of Redd Foxx' death with the headline "Fred joins Elizabeth." Now, that's headline writing.
Not any more. Here's what Weingarten says:
... even the best headlines will be changed to something dull but utilitarian. That's because, on the Web, headlines aren't designed to catch readers' eyes. They are designed for "search engine optimization," meaning that readers who are looking for information about something will find the story, giving the newspaper a coveted "eyeball." Putting well-known names in headlines is considered shrewd, even if creativity suffers ...
Which explains the Lady Gaga headline in the WaPo story. Weingarten mentioned the name of the pop tart du jour only peripherally, and that's what became the headline. And myself, well, I'm gonna put her in my headline too, just to see what happens.
Anyway, the whole industry has changed. If I showed up in a newsroom today, I wouldn't recognize it. Or like it.
I reckon I can complain about it. Back around 1990 I thought it was a horrible travesty when the newspaper where I was working formed focus groups among the community to shape our editorial policy. Shoot, accountants and doctors don't do this to determine how they're going to do business, are they?
But now see what's become of the news trade:
Recently some newspaper out around Pasadena outsourced much of their editorial work to ... people in India. Folks who don't speak the language, but they sure make a lot less than even a poorly-paid journalist stateside.
And news outlets like USA Today, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and SF Gate farm some of their work out to a huge Web content company. I can't complain about that; I do a lot of work for that particular Web content company (under an assumed name), and they do have a lot of good writers in their stable. But the copy is competent but colorless, and designed more for search engines than real live human readers.
Oh, yes. Extra points for mentioning pop idols; it gets them on the search engines faster.
(Photo: What's she doing in my newspaper? Photo by Billie Joe's Entourage.)
Friday, July 16, 2010
CHARLESTON - Don't look now, but they're out there. Sharks. A lot of them.
They're sneaking up behind shrimping nets in swarms, biting head-size holes in the nets to chomp away on the free lunch of shining, silvery crustaceans. Shrimpers up and down the coast are reporting a slew of them, particularly good-size blacktip sharks, which can grow to 6 feet long."
1) Make sure your getaway vehicle has enough gas to get you away.
2) Make sure you know where the keys are.
3) If you use a getaway driver, make sure he has a license ... and is sober.
Planning. Planning. Planning. Like any business endeavor.
This happened in Wenatchee, Washington, and the guy's from Tacoma. To his credit, he did manage to go 50 feet before his car crapped out.
Theft suspect arrested after running out of gas
(AP): "AP - Don't call him Lucky."
Thursday, July 15, 2010
CHARLESTON - The RiverDogs are going green: Alvin Greene that is."
Says Paul Dawson, a food scientist at the food science and human nutrition department at Clemson University, where he and his team of students tested the Rule:
In the case of the five-second-rule we found that bacteria was transferred from tabletops and floors to the food within five seconds, that is the five second rule is not an accurate guide when it comes to eating food that has fallen on the floor.
But can science change your mind on this?
That's why we're conducting this incredibly unscientific poll:
Do You Follow the 5-Second Rule?online survey
Sadly, the 'five-second rule' is not really safe [Houston Chronicle]
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
In private hands, Charleston County's recycling operation should make $1 million more each year than it does now, said County Council officials who voted Tuesday night to privatize the facility ... Council approved a contract with American Recycling of South Carolina to run the facility in Charleston, and in another waste-related vote agreed to sell the site of the former garbage incinerator in North Charleston to Shipyard Creek Associates for an as-yet undisclosed price ...
I'm not just thinking about the money angle here. See, when you take these government functions and have them done by the private sector, they generally will be a lot better run, more efficient, just better functions overall.
H'mmm ... maybe the federal government ought to consider privatizing the medical industry? Just asking.
Reuters - Hoping to lift sagging confidence in President Barack Obama's economic leadership, the White House will make the case on Wednesday that his policies are creating jobs and spurring private investment ...
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Got a visit from some guy wielding a clipboard a few minutes ago. He's with the Census Department's quality control division, doing a little spot-checking.
"I sent mine in," I reminded him. "The Bureau sent me two forms so I almost sent in two."
Turns out "something happened" to the form I sent in, he told me. Yeah, I know exactly what happened to it. I sent it in with just the information that was needed under the Constitution, i.e. address and number of people living in my place. The rest was left blank. Understand, the Census is a head count; nothing more.
As a result, I earned an interview with the Census folks. This guy is probably a little younger than me, black guy with splashes of gray in his dreadlocks. Nice enough, but a bit nervous.
He asked me my address. Is this the correct one? I said yes.
He asked my name. I gave it to him, and told him it was just hearsay.
He asked my age. With a totally straight face and no shame whatsoever, I said I was 29. When he started to write that in, I told him the truth -- 52.
"Male or female? ... well, obviously," he said as he wrote this down.
"Race?" he wanted to know.
Now, that's a sticking point with me. That is really no one's business. If you fill out a job application, they can't ask for your race. Even including a picture of yourself in your job resume is a no-no because of the race angle. And, whether anyone will admit it or not, race does determine how much government money goes where.
But considering the U.S. Census is an official government function and it's not smart to tweak the noses of the Feds, I gave him my answer.
Hopefully, this will end my involvement with Census 2010.
It just gets stranger and stranger around here, folks. Deeper and deeper.
Alvin Greene isn't just a South Carolina joke, but a national one.
Hang that, he's gone worldwide.
He told The Guardian (out of London) that making action figures of himself might help South Carolina's economy. No kidding!
As the Guardian so glibly pointed out, if the idea actually worked, it still wouldn't help the American economy. But it might help China's.
Just read the story for yourself:
Guardian interview with Senate candidate Alvin Greene reveals his economic policy: making Alvin Greene action dolls
My colleague Ed Pilkington makes the trip to South Carolina to interview the now famous Alvin Greene about his bizarre US Senate candidacy and Democratic primary election victory. Ed does unearth this gem from Greene's fertile brain:
It is clear, too, in the course of the two hours I spend with Greene that he has some pretty wacky ideas that, were he to win in November, would put him among the more unpredictable members of the Senate. At one point, he lurches off on his big idea for how to create jobs in South Carolina.
'Another thing we can do for jobs is make toys of me, especially for the holidays. Little dolls. Me. Like maybe little action dolls. Me in an army uniform, air force uniform, and me in my suit. They can make toys of me and my vehicle, especially for the holidays and Christmas for the kids. That's something that would create jobs. So you see I think out of the box like that. It's not something a typical person would bring up. That's something that could happen, that makes sense. It's not a joke.'
Except that those sorts of things – plastic childrens' toys – are all made in China these days.
The whole piece is worth reading, with a serious point, made when Ed gets a response from Greene's father:
And the suggestion that he is mentally ill? 'That's an insult!' The answer is barked out, with distinct anger. But it doesn't come from Alvin. It comes from James Sr, who is shuffling past in his slippers just as we reach this point.
I turn to him and ask why he thinks such insults, as he sees them, are being levelled at his son. 'Back in my day black people who registered to vote were turned away. They called the doctor and treated them as crazy.'
The net result of Greene's eyebrow-raising election, though, is to hand the Republicans a very easy win in South Carolina. Jim DeMint, the sitting senator, was always going to win but Greene's candidacy means DeMint's free to raise money for, and campaign in, more competitive races elsewhere – the South Carolina gubernatorial contest for starters, the Kentucky Senate race, the Florida Senate race... take your pick.
Uhh, does he have himself confused with the Governator of California, or what?
At least Arnold Schwarzennegger has this action-toy business figured out.
Greene, not so much. Not unless you figure out a way to market a completely misplaced, unqualified moonbat first.
Oh, I forgot, that's worked in a recent presidential election, too.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
I already knew I live in a strange neighborhood; I just didn't realize how strange.
I'm in my home office this afternoon when I hear noises outside the trailer. I didn't think much of it as long as nobody's trying to get in, so I continue work.
More noises. Louder. From my kitchen. So I go and check it out.
Since it's been so hot lately I've been keeping my kitchen window open above my sink. And someone's reaching through the window.
It's a young woman, and she's stoned out of her gourd. And she's washing the dishes in my sink, from outside.
It turned out she also watered my plants outside, neatened up my porch, things like that. I really don't think she meant anything wrong; it's just one of those who-knows-what, drug-induced things.
No harm, no foul, but ... strange.
I confronted her, more questioning than angry. Must have scared her off; she tottered away. I probably should have waited until she finished the dishes. Good help is hard to find these days.
Monday, July 5, 2010
An Internet store? Never happen. (Image from sxc.hu)
Here's a blast from the past:
Back in 1995, the Internet was the Big New Thing. Folks were getting used to the idea that you can go to any library anywhere, "talk" to anyone, and experience some of the world without ever leaving your seat.
But to Clifford Stoll, it was just a fad. He offered his views in Newsweek early that year, saying that while the Internet was pretty cool, it wouldn't really catch on or be truly useful.
"Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth in no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works."
Stoll wasn't a technophobe. He'd been involved in the online world from the jump. Helped track down some computer crackers who stole military secrets and sold them to the KGB. And he has a little online business going now.
But back then, he knew computers would not replace books or newspapers. He knew it. Check it out:
"How about electronic publishing? Try reading a book on disc. At best, it's an unpleasant chore: the myopic glow of a clunky computer replaces the friendly pages of a book. And you can't tote that laptop to the beach. Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we'll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure."
He said ecommerce wouldn't work all that well because, well, there's little human contact involved. Same thing with the rest of the Internet -- takes away that eyeball-to-eyeball. It's that same dynamic that author John Naisbitt pointed out in the 1982 book Megatrends -- that push-pull between high-tech and high-touch.
Less than two decades after Naisbitt's book, and about five years after Stoll's predictions, high tech won the war.
Still, take a look at Stoll's Newsweek article. While you're about it, read the comments. The whole thing is a hoot.
Link: Clifford Stoll's Web site.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
But some random Internet surfing reminded me that July 3 was the 40th anniversary of the greatest baseball game I've ever seen, when Angels pitcher Clyde Wright threw a no-hitter at the Oakland A's.
I was 12 then, and I grew up in a family of incurable Angels fans. We went to a few games every year, and we were at Anaheim Stadium, third base side in the terrace level on that July evening. My family accounted for four of the 12,131 butts in the seats that night.
OK, as I get older my memory tends to fire more at random, but it seems we were at the ballpark a lot when historic things happened. My grandmother (who was even more incurable than the rest of us) took my brother and me to an afternoon doubleheader the previous year (again the Angels were playing the A's), and when the announcement came that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin safely landed on the Moon, play stopped on the field and we got all misty. But I digress.
The left-handed Wright came off a miserable 1969 (one win, eight losses. But he was pitching like a monster in 1970. Won 22 games that year; only Nolan Ryan was able to match him four years later. Made the All-Star team, during the time the American League was always getting slaughtered -- Wright was the losing pitcher in that midsummer game.
And that no-no. It was right around the sixth inning when I noticed those zeroes on the board. And of course, there's this old superstition that no one on the bench talks about a no-hitter when it's in progress. Out of respect, neither did we.
After his great season, Wright wasn't quite the same. It turned out he had some problems, something about a well-fought bottle. It was years later when I saw a film clip of him finishing his no-hitter, and it was used as a lead-in to a commercial for an alcohol-and-drug rehab hospital. But after his career in the bigs was over, he spent some time in Japan. From Baseball Reference:
In the sixth inning of a 1-1 game early in his first season in Japan, Wright was removed after the first two batters reached. Manager Shigeo Nagashima yanked Wright, who refused to give over the baseball, then charged off the mound and fired the ball into the dugout. After leaving the field, Wright tore off his uniform and threw it into the bathtub and kicked over a garbage can. Wright was nicknamed "Crazy Righto", a name that stuck throughout his time in Japan. Fans and sportswriters called for Wright's release but Nagashima stood by his pitcher ...
1970 was a strange year for no-hitters. Less than a month before Wright's, Dock Ellis of the Pittsburgh Pirates threw one at the San Diego Padres. His control was way off; he walked eight batters that day. He later said he was in mid-LSD trip during that game (which probably explains why his fastball had a tail).
Wright's boy, Jaret, was a pitching phenom for the Cleveland Indians in 1997, coming out of nowhere to win a bunch of games for them. He started Game 7 of the World Series that year, as a 21-year-old rookie. Arm trouble, though, curtailed his career.
The Angels' leadoff hitter in Clyde's no-hitter was Sandy Alomar, who himself had two sons in the bigs (Sandy Jr. and Roberto). The Angels had some real characters in the lineup that day: Alex Johnson, who had a good bat and serious issues. Jim Fregosi, who later managed the Angels. And noted prankster Jay Johnstone, the man our household referred to as "Ol' DM" for "dirty-mouth." Seems one of us noticed Johnstone had trouble getting through a sentence without uttering a profanity. Being earthy folks, we thought it was funny.
I might as well forget about claiming I had a deprived childhood. How many kids got to see a no-hitter?
Friday, July 2, 2010
This has been the, uhh, scuttlebutt around here for at least a couple of years. But this little snippet about South Carolina's Graham comes from Outside The Beltway:
Senator Lindsey Graham has long been rumored to be light in his tennis shoes. But, in an interview with New York Times Magazine, he dismisses this rather humorously:
I know it’s really gonna upset a lot of gay men — I’m sure hundreds of ‘em are gonna be jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge — but I ain’t available. I ain’t gay. Sorry.
(via Taegan Goddard)
There are a lot of reasons why I'm not a big Lindsey Graham fan, and rumors of holecornery (y'all can figure that out for yourselves!) have little or nothing to do with it. But y'all have to admit he does have a way of making the standard denial.
Another Graham development, brought to my attention this morning by local columnist/blogger/radio personality Jack Hunter, aka The Southern Avenger: Anyone notice ol' Lindsey hasn't been hanging around John McCain lately? Shoot, the two were practically inseparable during the 2008 Presidential campaign. But now, Graham is likely thinking of his political future, and McCain isn't exactly cutting edge these days.