Silflay Hraka

5/31/2003


The Latest Chapter In A Continuing Exposition On The Value Of Editors In Journalism

Newsday.com - In Test, Foram Damaged Wing.

Cached version here in case they fix it.


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Picture Play


Scotty McSulu in one of his rare waking moments. He may be young, but already he regards us with a cynical and jaundiced eye, perhaps because we regularly expose his tender flesh to the bitterly chill 74 degree environment that exists outside of his onesie and blanket cocoon.

Doesn't like it, nosiree, not in the least, and he utilizes a very specific cry for those times when he's bathed or has his diapers changed, a ragged and continuous wail that ceases the moment he feels cloth on skin.




"I'm a bee"

Ngnat has decamped to Nana's house for a week, leaving us and Scotty behind. She took one of my old driver's licenses so she would have a picture of Daddy, told Mommy "I love you" totally unprompted, and screamed "BYE BYE BABY" at the sleeping Scotty M. She couldn't wait to get away.


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5/30/2003


Finding Deep Throat

Here is an interesting link offering a report of a class that worked on discovering the identity of Deep Throat for 3 years. Still sounds like a porn movie to me.


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Old Well White, Davie Poplar IPA

Beers of the mid afternoon. Why, with luck I'll have a beer of the night post as well. Nothing like having to wade through another alcohol discursion to find the Ngnat news to make Meryl and the relatives crotchety. Three words, Meryl. Lindemans Framboise Lambic. There's nothing like it the world when it comes to changing a person's mind about what beer is. Lambics taste like nothing else on the planet. If I hadn't told you it was beer you'd have never known. The Peche is also verra nice.

Was in a two hour meeting about purchasing a couple of Nortel's Alteon SSL accelerators at noon today, so it was a late lunch. The weekly N&O beer column had mentioned that Top of the Hill was going to offer a saison in June, so I figured I'd go see if it was available yet.

At Top of the Hill in Chapel Hill, brewer John Withey keeps his Summer Lager on tap year-round, so when it came to a choice exclusively for the summer, he decided to do something different. He will turn to Belgian brewing traditions, and in June, Top of the Hill will offer its first saison. Appropriately meaning "season," the saison beers of Flanders are usually bottled, champagne-style, with secondary fermentation in the bottle creating lots of carbonation. The draft version will be less carbonated, cloudy, pale and refreshing, with additions of coriander and orange peel. Saisons are wonderful with food.

Apparently the N&O jumped the gun a bit, for there were shocked looks all round when I asked for the saison. Presumably this was as much for my horrid pronunciation of the word as it was for the fact that the brew wasn't due for another two weeks, minimum. Disappointing, but as I had already decided on beer for lunch this was hardly off putting. The bartender pointed me towards the Old Well White instead, it being the closest thing to a Belgian beer in the absence of the saison.

Must of been a slow day, or else I'd already been identified as a first-class beer geek, for hardly had I gotten my white and unpacked my lunch time reading (a comic book, cause there's nothing in the world as a appealing as man alone at a bar with his comic book) than the brewer himself, John, hustled over to denigrate it.

That's right, talk bad about his own beer. He wasn't happy with it, he having experimented with a brewing process on this particular batch that didn't give the orange peel a long enough exposure in the mash to create the classic high citrus notes that characterize a Belgian White. And he was right. Belgian whites are distinctive beers, of a type that easily distinguishable from every other drink in the world, spicy and with the mouthfeel of a soft champagne, and the Old Well white, while a perfectly decent drink, was rather thin on the both citrus high note and the mouthfeel. Reminiscent of a lager, almost.

I ate my pizza, talked beer for a bit and closed out with 10 ounces of the Davie Poplar IPA. I did have to go back to work, after all. It's a mainstay at Top of the Hill, hoppy, and bitingly refreshing, with a nice backgrounded caramel overtone. The hop content has crept up over the years as the general beer palate in Chapel Hill has grown more sophisticated, though it's nowhere near the level of some of the more extreme bitters. Almost took another one, but I am alas all too responsible now I'm a parent.

I'll be back. Not only should the saison be ready in two weeks or so, but as I left they told me to ask for the cask beer next time I was in.

"It's not on the menu. It's what we drink."

Mmmmmmmm.........Secret Beer.


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The Kehaar Index

It's been a slow day at work because my boss and nearly everyone else in my office has decided to take the day off. Slow days at work often mean I get a lot of reading done. I found several stories that were interesting to me and didn't want to post them individually, so I decided to create my own "top stories" index. I figure this will give me something to post on a daily, or at least weekly, basis and will give me a vehicle for spreading the word about things that catch my eye and my interest. Plus it really doesn't take a lot of work and I am a horribly lazy blogger. And in my own private daydreams, I imagine that people will stop by and be inspired to create their own indexes on their own blogs and before long everyone will be doing it and I will be famous because I did it first. So, click the links and then go and spread the news. I can only become world-famous with your help.

Oh, and if you already do this...well, I really thought of it a long, long time ago.

Today's Keehar Index (with special thanks to New Scientist, which provided most of the material today):

Stem cell "Holy Grail" found
SEX PILLS: Taking On Viagra
Handsome men have the best sperm
Hidden danger behind the Three Gorges dam
Asymmetrical people make jealous lovers
Beautiful people spark a brain reaction
'Good' bacteria may thwart allergies in toddlers
Swimming in chlorinated pools raises asthma risk, study finds
Over time, people 'catch mood' of friends, lovers


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Women are From the Heart, Men are From the Crotch

We think differently, we act differently, we react differently, and apparently we even pray differently. This came in an email from a friend.

FEMALE PRAYER
Before I lay me down to sleep,
I pray for a man, who's not a creep.
One who's handsome, smart and strong.
One who loves to listen long.
One who thinks before he speaks.
When he says he'll call, he won't wait weeks.
I pray that he is gainfully employed.
When I spend his cash, he won't be annoyed.
Pulls out my chair and opens my door.
Massages my back and begs to do more.
Oh! Send me a man who'll make love to my mind,
Knows what to answer to "How big is my behind?"
I pray that this man will love me to no end,
And never attempt to hit on my friend. Amen..

MALE PRAYER:
I pray for a deaf-mute nymphomaniac with huge boobs who owns a liquor
store and a boat.. Amen.


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A QuasiFisk Of The Senior Senator

The latest missive from the John Edwards eList mentioned below, and viewable in its entirety here.

Dear Friend:

It seems like every time you turn around a favorite local store has been bought out by a big national chain.

That's crazy talk. Why bother to buy out the locals when you can just drive them out of business?

The prices are sometimes lower at first, but the chain doesn't have that character that makes our neighborhoods feel like home.

You mean Drunk Willie, the fella who littered the front stoop of the General store with peanut shells and frightened the preteens with his wandering eye? He's the greeter at Wal-Mart now.

Now, federal regulators up in Washington are trying to make it easier for big media conglomerates to buy out locally-owned television and radio stations.

And there's nothing he can do about it other than write letters. He's only a United States Senator, for God's sake!

Local stations are critical to making our communities feel like home.

"Because there's nothing like the local news philosophy of "If it Bleeds, It Leads" when it comes to promoting closer ties within the community.

In North Carolina, local stations offer Atlantic Coast Conference basketball games, prep football games, Billy Graham crusades, and muscular dystrophy telethons.

Now there's 3 good arguments for giant media conglomerates to own local stations. I'd be willing to pay extra to ensure that I never again had to view a prep football game, Billy Graham crusade, or a muscular dystrophy telethon.

They offer responsive and accountable coverage of local interests < spit-take > that can't be matched by big conglomerates that own hundreds of stations around the globe.

We need to protect smaller stations, which is why I have urged the Federal Communications Commission to not make it easier for media conglomerates to gobble up local stations.

"Urged?" My god man, don't bring out the heavy weaponry this early in the fight! All you've got left in the ammunition dump is the "Strongly urged", and after that we're SOL.

To read more about my efforts please click here.

Hey, another letter! When you find your groove, you stick to it, don'tcha?

Many parts of our rural way of life are threatened by today's economy.

Because they can't grow pot at all, and only as much tobacco as we let them. Television station ownership impacts this how, exactly?

Lack of capital, unfair trade practices, and a limited access to quality health care and educational opportunities are forcing young people to move out of rural areas.

That is exactly what I told Billy Bob when he came to Chapel Hill. "Billy Bob, " I said "Lack of capital, unfair trade practices, and a limited access to quality health care and educational opportunities have forced you to move from your rural area to this here den of iniquity."

He kept insisting he needed him some iniquity, and somewhat less horse manure and churchin', but that's just nonsense.


Growing up in Robbins, I understand the importance of protecting our rural way of life and values.

And you call yourself educated. It's either "Growing up in Robbins, I understood the importance of protecting our rural way of life and values." or "Having grown up in Robbins, I understand the importance of protecting our rural way of life and values." That's 10 points off your final grade, Senator Quayle......er, Edwards.

I can't help but notice you left your rural area, Senator. Was it because of a "lack of capital, unfair trade practices, and a limited access to quality health care and educational opportunities," or because personal injury lawyers don't make that much on "Farmer Jim's mule done kicked me in the berries" cases?


I recently proposed a strategy to revitalize rural America.

Did it include wiping out agricultural subsidies, or letting farmers grow pot ? Might as well have kept your mouth shut for all the good it will do otherwise.

You can learn more about it on the Senate web site.

Now there's a party!

One of the best ways for North Carolinians to reach me is by email through my Senate web site at http://edwards.senate.gov/mailform.html

Excellent. You see I am Dr Hamza Kalu, the co-ordinator of the federal government of Nigeria contract review panel of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, and I have a proposal for you.


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An Unsubtle Gorejack, or Something Worse?

Is it just me, or has Katherine Harris had some work done?


photo via yahoo

Oops, my mistake. Obviously it's the future reincarnations of Jon Benet Ramsey and Mother.


photo via yahoo

Yes, Yes, I'm a horrible man. Sorry, can't control what pops into mind.


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Foxy Daddy

This morning the first words out of Ngnat's mouth, after the obligatory crying and screams of "Nana!" that she greets the sudden shock of unwelcome wakefulness with each and every day, were "Where's that sneaky fox?"

We've been infected by Dora The Explorer. We have Dora pajamas, Dora shirts, Dora drinking cups, plates and cutlery, and a little Boots the monkey doll that craps in its hand and flings feces at the walls when you squeeze his tummy.

Well, not really, but a man can dream, can't he? Has to dream really. Gotta have something to balance out the song his daughter makes him sing to the cereal bowl every morning.

Hey, that's a Dora bowl!
It's just adorable!
It is your Dora bowl
'Cause you're adorable!


To the tune of the chorus Ta ra ra boom de ay if you're dying to know.

Last night, after another Dora full day, Ngnat announced that she was Dora "I Dora!", that Nana was Boots "Nana, you Boots!" and that they were going to cut pictures out of the 25 cent back issue comics on the coffee table and glue them to poster board. "We're gonna blue!"

No, that's not a typo. Ngnat can pronounce "Guh" perfectly well, but at some point she decided the sticky white stuff in the plastic squeeze bottle was "Elmer's Blue", and there's no point in changing now. It's cute the first couple of times, then becomes blackboard scratching annoying. Man was not meant to say "I want to blue."

"I blue now, Daddy?"

"Glue, honey, glue. Guh. Guh!"

"Glue?"

"That's right, glue."

"OK! You blue with me, Daddy?"

"Yes, yes I am blue with you."

"Ok, come on!"

And so we blued. Ngnat was Dora, Nana was Boots, and Daddy was......

"Swiper," I told her. "And I'm going to swipe your scissors!"

Shrieks of delight and pretend fear. For those you you who are happily unfamiliar with Dora, Swiper is a fox who steals things and then ineptly hides them in various places, where they are inevitably recovered by Dora and her monkey. He's prevented from this if Dora incants "Swiper no swiping!" three times before he lays hands on the object of his desire, which Ngnat attempted to do. I allowed myself be turned away by one repetition, as excitement had rendered Ngnat incapable of repeating more than once. Indeed, sheer delight threatened her ability to stand upright.

So for the rest of the evening I played the part of Swiper, with Ngnat occasionally coming over to the dark side and announcing that she too was Swiper. Other times she was content to just shriek at the sight of me. I was Swiper while we blued, and she shrieked, while she took her bath, and she shrieked, while we brushed her hair, and she shrieked and while we read books at bedtime. Since it was bedtime, she shrieked quietly to herself.

After she determined the location of the sneaky fox this morning, she ran into the bedroom and yelled "Wake up, Swiper!", shrieked yet again, and ran downstairs. It appears that was my final curtain call, however. As we walked down the driveway to pick up the newspaper prior to the morning trip trip to daycare she looked up and asked, "Are you Daddy?". Perhaps she was concerned for the safety of the News and Observer.

I assured her that yes, I was Daddy, at present.

"I like hot," she said, stepping into a sunlit area of the cement. "You like cool, Daddy."

I wonder what she would have told Swiper.


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Humorous Tempation Of The Morning

Sen John Edward's email listserv, The Edwards eList, is open and apparently unmoderated for all subscribers. This morning a member's change of address notification went out to the entire list.

Now I just have to figure out what to post.


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5/29/2003


Daily Media Titration



A relatively big jump in stories on Syria, one that I would attribute to Tony Blair's mention of that country during a speech to British troops in Basra, except that he also mentions Iran, so that's not it.

There are 114 copies of a story on the return to service of the Iraqi national airline that mention Syria, so that explains part of the rise. The story also mentions Jordan. Data showing a similar rise in news reports for that nation would probably explain it, except of course that I don't have any.

So maybe I'll add the rest of the Middle East. At the very least I could track the rise and fall of the attention paid to various parts of the region by the media, and data like this, once collected, usually suggests other uses or ways to interpret it.

Also, I'm just a very dull person at heart, and this is my way of proving it to the world.


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iTunes Music Store Sales Decline, Again

It took 7 days to sell the first million.

It took 9 days to sell the second million.

It's taken 14 days to sell the third million.

Sales aren't increasing. Sales are decreasing, most likely due to a combination of a smallish music catalog and limited availability. The downturn suggests that people are finding less and less music at the site that they are willing to pay for.

Now let's go out on a limb and predict that June 11th is the earliest that Apple will announce the sale of the 4 millionth song. That's giving the company some slack, since the data points to an increasing number of days between each million, but no matter. Sales have got to reach a definite floor eventually, right? That's what the sales execs at iTunes are telling themselves, at least.

If a million songs every two weeks turns out to be the sales minimum at iTunes, then we have a excellent idea of that company's gross revenue. At most, it will be somewhere close to $2.5 million a month. Not bad, but no great shakes, either, and that $2.5 million assumes that every song is purchased at the full 99 cent price, rather than the less expensive $9.99 per cd.

Apple's business plan is obvious; sell lots of songs, and make a few pennies off each sale. I don't know exactly what Apple earns per song, but let's be wildly, dancing around nude in the streets crazy optimistic and assume that Apple is earning a quarter each time someone downloads a song rather than the much more likely nickel or lower. Three million songs in the first month of business gives Steve Jobs a less than whopping $750,000 to cover salaries, insurance and operational expenses with. That might be enough, barely. Odds are total monies going to Apple are more like $150,000, which means that despite the glowing press iTunes is getting, it is losing money hand over fist.

Does the glowing ITunes coverage remind you of anything, say the media during the Great Bubble of '99? This is not to say that iTunes will fail. But right now the company is making less and less money every day, not more and more, despite massive and mostly positive media coverage. The only way to turn the trend around is to increase the customer base by selling to Windows users, a move that at the earliest is not expected before 2004.

Meanwhile every song bought via iTunes is potential Kazaa fodder, Listen.com has lowered its price per song to just 79 cents, and the Microsoft behemoth is turning its attention towards the downloadable music market. Less than 2 months after it debuted, iTunes is beset on multiple fronts. The company's future is anything but assured.


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WHY DID THE CHICKEN CROSS THE ROAD?

These came in an email today.

SAEED AL SAHAF - Iraqi Head of Information
The chicken did not cross the road. This is a complete fabrication. We do not even have a chicken.

GEORGE W BUSH
The American people don't care why the chicken crossed the road. The chicken is either with us, or it is against us.

TONY BLAIR
I agree with George.

JACQUES CHIRAC
We should inspect the chicken.

VLADIMIR PUTIN
That chicken owes us money.

COLIN POWELL
Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.

HANS BLIX
We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.

DR SEUSS
Did the chicken cross the road?
Did he cross it with a toad?
Yes, the chicken crossed the road,
but why it crossed I've not been told.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR
I envision a world where all chickens will be free to cross roads without having their motives called into question.

GRANDPA
In my day, we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.

JOHN LENNON
Imagine all the chickens, living for to-day. You could say I am a dreamer.

ARISTOTLE
It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

HITLER
We will breed an all-white-meat chicken.

KARL MARX
It was an historic inevitability.

RONALD REAGAN
What chicken?

SIGMUND FREUD
The fact that you are at all concerned that the chicken crossed the road reveals your underlying sexual insecurity.

BILL GATES
eChicken.NET will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your checkbook. eChicken.NET is a virtual, distributed chicken.

ALBERT EINSTEIN
Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

BILL CLINTON
Define chicken.

THE BIBLE
And God came down from heaven, and he said unto the chicken THOU SHALT CROSS THE ROAD. And the chicken didst cross the road, and there was rejoicing.

COLONEL SANDERS
Did I miss one?

HOMER SIMPSON
Mmmmmmmmm . . . . c h i c k e n


I will link a source if I can find one.


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5/28/2003


Uber Geek

Armed with the results of 1.4 million years of computer time, SETI@home scientists recently traveled to the Arecibo radio observatory in Puerto Rico for a closer listen to our 155 top "candidates". Thanks for participating in this history-making effort. According to our records, you have processed 10031 work units, the most recent on May 28, 2003. Your contribution of computer time to SETI@home is greatly appreciated.

Results Received: 10032
Total CPU Time: 13.863 years
Average CPU Time per work unit: 12 hr 06 min 18.3 sec
Average results received per day: 6.86
Last result returned: Wed May 28 16:44:02 2003 UTC
Registered on: Thu May 27 12:34:14 1999 UTC
 
SETI@home user for: 4.007 years

Your rank out of 4509421 total users is: 10582nd place.
The number of users who have this rank: 1
You have completed more work units than 99.765% of our users.


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Old Enough to Dislike That Damn Kid's Music; Young Enough To Worry About That

The 36th edition of the Carnival of the Vanities is at Dean's World this week.

Upcoming Carnival stops include;

June 4th Drumwaster's Rants
June 11th Overtaken by Events
June 18th Real Women Online
June 25th Single Southern Guy
July 2nd Amish Tech Support
July 9th Winds Of Change -- The 42nd spot, coveted by hitchhikers across the galaxy.
July 16th Caerdroia
July 23rd DaGoddess
July 30th Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics
August 6th Across The Atlantic
August 13th Outside The Beltway
August 20th Right We Are
August 27th Creative Slips


If you'd like to host the Carnival, drop us a line. Information on how to join the Carnival can be found here.


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Apropos Of Nothing

Not that I had any reason to, mind you, but I rewrote "Tiny Bubbles"

The Breastfeeding Song

Scabby nipples, are just fine,
If you're happy, as you dine,
Scabby nipples make me warm all over
With a feeling that I'm gonna Love you 'til the end of time.

So here's to the golden moon,
And here's to the silver sea,
But most of all a toast to you and me

Scabby nipples, are just fine,
Make me happy, because you're mine,
Scabby nipples make me warm all over
With a feeling that I'm gonna Love you 'til the end of time.

So here's to the milk buffet
I give to you today
And here's a kiss that will not fade away.

Scabby nipples, are just fine,
Make me happy, make me feel fine,
Scabby nipples make me warm all over
With a feeling that I'm gonna Love you 'til the end of time.

Also, I'd like deny any and all rumors that anyone close to me ever had occasion to say "Oh my god, he sucked off the scab!"

Next on the agenda, being hunted down by the ladies at militantbreastfeedingcult.com.

Zod: Not going to mention the "Song Of The Tennessee Volunteer Urine Fetishist With The Hermaphroditic Parent"?
Nope.


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Work from home?

Does anyone have any information about the work from home company "Home Business System International"? How do they work? I know it's a scam, but I wanted the specifics of what they have you do. I can't go into why I want the info, but...you can check out one of the Web sites promoting the system at http://www.theideallife.com. And no, this isn't a recommedation on how to change your life. I just need to know how it works.


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Postscript: First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself. Also, you're currently at the old site. Fresh Hraka is posted every day at our current location.


Thankfully, What The Quran Has To Say In This Case Has As Much Bearing As A Pair Of Rat Titties

The Supreme Court said in Oregon v. Smith that “It is a permissible reading of the [free exercise clause]...to say that if prohibiting the exercise of religion is not the object of the [law] but merely the incidental effect of a generally applicable and otherwise valid provision, the First Amendment has not been offended....To make an individual’s obligation to obey such a law contingent upon the law’s coincidence with his religious beliefs, except where the State’s interest is “compelling”-permitting him, by virtue of his beliefs, “to become a law unto himself,” contradicts both constitutional tradition and common sense.”

So, in light of recent events, this means "take off your damn veil and quit tying up the courts".


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Evanescent

Big Blue Marble, or Translucent Soap Bubble?


photo via Yahoo


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Titrating the Media

A visit to Somewhere in the Digital Forest yesterday raised a question in my mind. I was under the general impression that there had been more stories on Iran than North Korea lately, something that would be expected if one thinks that the Bush administration would prepare the way for an attack on Iran by salting the media with stories about the Iranian nuclear program, its harboring of terrorists, or the oppression of the Iranian people by fundamentalist mullahs.

And I was right. A quick search on Google News gave me the following totals;


Iran 10,000 stories found
Syria 8,500 stories found
North Korea 8,370 stories found


Today there are fewer stories, perhaps because of the time of search, but the order remains the same.


Iran 8,910 stories found
Syria 8,130 stories found
North Korea 6,640 stories found


I'm not the only person who thinks this, though the idea is less bothersome to me than to others. I can't say I care for the company, but the BBC World Service also subscribes to the theory. There's no transcript available, but the NPR broadcast of that program this morning included an interview where the similarities in news stories dealing with Iraq prior to the war and those dealing with Iran now were discussed. The reporter took an "of course the administration is manipulating the coverage" attitude. There was not discussion of the actual factual content or lack thereof in the Iranian coverage, just a dismissal of it as impure. To the BBC, how a story comes about is enough to trump what a story is about.

Perhaps it's because I grew up in an environment where every two-bit business in the country blast faxes a press release each time they reformulate a product or promote a marketing assistant, but the idea that the administration tries to manipulate press coverage is somewhat less than shocking.

Now, if the current media focus on Iran actually is similar to the pre-war Iraqi coverage, then two things should occur. Not only will the Iranian percentage of stories involving the three countries above continue to grow, but the number of stories on Iran as a whole should also grow. There might even be a predictable tipping point, something along the lines of "Once Google reaches 55,000 stories a day on Iran, war is just around the corner."

Not that I have any idea what that number would be. The 55K is just an example. I'm also not sure if the time of day the Google search is run has any effect on the results. I ran yesterday's search around 4:00 PM EST. Obviously the one today was earlier than that. < technical > I would set it up as a cron job, but the Google API doesn't include Google News yet. Anyone have an idea how to do this? I'll also have to figure out how to publish graphs to the net, but that shouldn't be as difficult. < technical >

And it wasn't, though the process is a bit inelegant



I'll try to remember to re-run the queries at 4.

I'm thinking there may be more info available in Google news story counts than one might expect. For one, since Google re-caches every 5 minutes or so, one could trace the evolution of a story over time, eventually comparing stories with "legs" to each other in an attempt to discover what they might have in common. If that's possible, then it may be possible to tailor one's message so that it has more or less of those particular qualities, depending on whether one wants a story to stick around for a while, or to vanish. In which case media manipulation is in its infancy.

Update: Re-ran the queries; story numbers actually declined a bit from this morning, except for the NorKs, but until I'm convinced that the time the search is run does not matter, the 4 o'clock numbers will be the ones represented on the graph.



Iran 8,470 stories found
Syria 8,080 stories found
North Korea 6,650 stories found



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Could Not Connect To Remote Server

I can't seem to find any news detailing why, but several major sites are unaccessible this morning, among them Instapundit, Daily Pundit, Meryl Yourish, Balloon Juice and Dean Esmay.

It's not just me, or a local outage. Amish Tech Support is in Texas, and seeing the same thing.

It's almost as if a major DNS server is down. An attempt to ping any of the above results in a "ping failed no such host" message.

I hate mysteries, especially inconvenient ones.

Update: I love the Internet, yes I do. On The Third Hand has the scoop. And Meryl has an email about the whole situation from Emily Litella.


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Dumbass, Not Jackass

Apparently Steve-O from the MTV show "Jackass" is actually more of a dumbass. While is Switzerland he bragged to the media that he had swallowed a condom full of drugs (which he later said was a bad joke). So, the authorities raided his hotel room and busted him for drugs. If he had died in the process maybe he could have won a Darwin Award.


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5/27/2003


Pencil Whipping

Kazaa has been downloaded 230 million times, making it the most popular download of all time. It passed ICQ sometime last week, with 2.5 million downloads.

Let's take Kazaa downloads as a general indication of the spread of piracy. There's probably not a one for one correlation between people and downloads, but it's probably close. That gives us a daily rate of just over 350, 000 downloads a day, outstripping daily population growth by about 150,000 or so. At that rate, everybody on earth will be what today's big media considers a pirate in 109 years, sometime in 2112.

There's bound to be something wrong with that calculation, aside from the fact that it assumes no changes in environment between now and then. It feels too slow, for one thing, though that may come from using just the number of Kazaa downloads rather than file sharing programs as whole.

Feel free to tell me what is wrong. Consider this algebra class and show your work, por favor.


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UnReal Money

Offshore Companies Make $1B in Deals With U.S!
Innumerate Media Flaunt Ignorance!

Let's get this out of the way to start off with. As a general principle, the federal government should direct its business towards American based companies. In practice, that may not be the most efficient method of doing things, but in general and all other things being equal, when presented with the choice between a company based in Boca Raton or a company based in Bermuda, the Feds should do the right thing and pick the American-based company.

However, what if all other things aren't equal? What if the Bermuda-based tax dodgers underbid the patriotic Americans on the contract by a hundred thou or so? Technically this is your money, after all, and you make an equivalent decision dozens of times a day. Do you buy American, or do you buy what's best for your pocketbook? Do you bother to check the national origin of every single product you buy?

I was reading the label on my favorite jelly yesterday at breakfast and found out it was from France. I was shocked I tell you, shocked.

"It's not worth checking everything to save a nickel or two." I can hear you saying. And you're right. It's a more efficient use of your time and money not to check. It's only a few cents, or at most a dollar or two. The same holds true for Uncle Sam. That billion is .05% of the total federal budget. If your household budget is $50,000 a year, $25 bucks of your money is the equivalent of what the U.S. spent on contracts with offshore companies. That's a night out at the movies, or a case of good beer.

It's...unfortunate that nearly a billion dollars in federal money went to offshore companies last year, but it's hardly an amount worth revamping the system over. Whatever moral advantage gained would be more that offset by extra costs to the taxpayer, in the form of higher contract costs, not to mention the costs of monitoring expenditures to prevent contracts with offshore companies.


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5/25/2003


Potty Mouth

Another thing that has gone well is Ngnat's startlingly swift acceptance of her little brother. She pats him goodnight and insists that he sit beside her at meals. Lie comatose beside her, a tiny little man in an over large high chair is more like it, but she demands it nonetheless.

We prepared the way for her, buying books like I'm A Big Sister Now and A Baby Sister For Frances in hopes that the positive examples within would make some impact, even though we suspected that "The Day Mommy and Daddy Ruined Your Life Forever" would end up being a more applicable title.

I'm not sure how much the books helped. Certainly they didn't do as much as the presents we gave her upon returning home, an 86 piece Geomag set, a new car seat to make up for the fact that her little brother was now in possession of the old one, and a slightly chewed Matchbox car I found in a Home Depot shopping cart.

"These are presents from Scotty, Ngnat, because he loves you! Can you tell him thank you?"

But what sealed the deal was the discovery that he pooped.

"Poop! He poops! He make poopie! In his diaper! Poopie poopie poop!" Ngnat exclaimed, over and over, reveling in the joy of circumstances where a previously forbidden word could be uttered at will, for all the world just like Bart Simpson after a Sunday School lesson on Hell.

Marge: So, what did you children learn about today?
Bart: Hell!
Homer: Bart!!!
Bart: But that's what we learned about! I sure as hell can't tell you we learned about hell unless I say hell can I?
Homer: Ehh, he has a point
Bart: Hell yes!
Marge: Bart!
Bart: Hell hell hell hell hell hell hell
Marge: You're no longer in Sunday School...don't swear!

I found it funnier than some, who shall remain nameless. Apparently laughing out loud encourages behavior such as the above, and is frowned upon.


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The Most Famous Newborn In The World

For an hour or two at least, unless a Hollywood couple had one. How many other newborns are known of by hundreds of people within hours of their arrival? Scotty McSulu owes a debt of gratitude to traffic sent his way from:

Silent Running, Amish Tech Support, Little Tiny Lies, HobbsOnline A.M., MBA Admissions Wire, The World Wide Rant, Overtaken By Events, A Small Victory, Instapundit, Red Sugar Muse, Ron Bailey, Trojan Horseshoes, Viking Pundit, Must Be Nice, Crimen Falsi, NothLit and Almost A Diary, who is somewhat perturbed by the whole thing (left hand column, no permalink).

I know it looks like bragging to list the incoming links. It feels overly self-referential as well, but I figure future selves would appreciate having the record to come back to. SW and a couple of others were interested in the comments and reactions as well, wanting to surf around and see what all was posted in the past couple of days. Special thanks to Meryl, who engineered what is surely a record for "Youngest person ever mention by Instapundit", though I suspect that record won't stand forever. My apologies if you're threw us a line and aren't on the list. I'm doing this from memory and referral logs that don't record anything prior to the 100 most recent visits. Here's some pictures to make up for it.

Just after delivery, in the heated crib, so he's warmer than he looks.


Looking very tiny in the carseat for the trip home.


Contemplating the sound of one hand clapping.



That'll be the last of them, for a while. If you absolutely must see more drop me a line and I'll forward you the ones SW and Nana are sending out to the relatives.

We checked out of the hospital late yesterday; made it home in time for dinner. We were there for less than 30 hours. This in accordance to the plan that SW laid out over a month ago, when she decide she wanted to have the baby Friday in the morning or afternoon while Ngnat was at daycare, then come home the next day. The overwhelming success of this plan has rendered her paranoid; she walks around the house muttering "Everything is going too well."


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