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Atomized junior- The Radio Weblog

Wednesday, 30 April, 2003
You can buck dharma, but instant karma is going to get you

In the minor avalance of stories on Apple's new music file downloading service. Which origniate out of their own iTune music store for 99 cents a pop and are in AAC format (a reasonably widely available compression standard similar to MP3). Steve Jobs offers an interesting gloss on the problem stated in this C|net article (the comment itself was apparently delivered from the stage at the Moscone convention center). "On the good side, (services like Kazaa) are instant gratification, showing the Net was built for music distribution," Jobs said. "On the downside, it is stealing, and it's best not to mess with karma." Thus spake the one, succinct and to the point.

Steve Jobs ought drop the pretence that he runs a computer n software company and just run with the guru thing. For myself though there was an element of practical longing amidst the instant gratification. I was never in the game of running to the record store friday afternoon and buying my stiff little fingers record and racing back home to consume it utterly until the next friday when the new Dream Syndicate might be on the shelf. I was always a radio listener and needed that 50,000 disc record library a good station had which I could never hope to match. Of course that didn't stop some folks I knew (Logan Perkins) from trying. But radio demographics will out run you unless you have ultra convential tastes or only care about whats new and selling. File sharing offered the whole stack of wax, the record companies saw it only as a dangerous leak in their preferred way of doing business and made people outlaws. But now our karmic balance will be restored and we can download cheap trick's live at buddakhan from apple.

Addendum. Originally in the above I wrote ACC format - it's AAC. I've been at Maryland too long I got ACC on the brain. Mp3s were just the audio layer from a motion picture streaming protocol. AAC is the audio layer from the follow-on format Quick Time currently uses, call it MP3.4. What they're actually calling it is: .M4a and .M4p. Here is a link to a page on MacRumors which explain this better than I can, and gives a rundown on what deals apple cut with the digital rights management devil.
9:57:43 PM    comment [];

Wednesday, 23 April, 2003
No open containers of C-4 allowed, that's a ticket

Back in early days of my youth I was a sailor of the US Navy variety (but please don't take this post as a validation or support for any kind of neo-Mahan worldview). I tend to take for granted the idea that if you're ordering paint for US govt. property overseas - subtype: motorvessel - you'll be getting something in a dark grey. Not so; however, here's a story about the fact that they have brought in the Coast Guard to control the UM Quasar waterfront. Apparentely they must have asked themselves the question 'who do we have that is good at handling small boats, patroling coastlines and running interdictions?' Answer: Orange stripes on a white hull, and a bunch of sailors saying to themselves 'Hey, this doesn't look like Galveston, where the heck are we?' . This would please my brother-in-law a great deal. He's a former Coastie who addheres to the belief that the Coast Guard are innately better sailors than the Navy who wouldn't know a half-hitch from a bollard unless they found it in the gedunk compartment*.

(*snackroom) pb

U.S. Coast Guard reservists are standing watch on Iraq's offshore oil terminal [U.S. News & World Report]
8:17:06 PM    comment [];

Wednesday, 16 April, 2003
My Library look-up, isn't

I've been trying off and on for the past several weeks to get a Jon Udell inspired library look-up bookmarkletto work. A bookmarklet is a little slice of java script that functions and can used as a browser bookmark or toolbar button. Udell's library look-up will extract an isbn from an URL - such as you would have in a results page from or Barnes and etc. - and redirect it as a search request to your library. Provided that your library uses one of about a half dozen recent generation online catalog venders, and it's on one of his lists or you get good results from his bookmarklet generator. The system my library uses: our recently purchased mighty Aleph 500 from Ex Libris is not on Jons list. Someone had written in to say they had put together a script that would work with their Ex libris system, and it does. Unfortunately U.Cal Santa Barbara is over in California and I'm here in Maryland. Our Aleph system supports 16 separate institutions and doesn't seem to do number searches from the basic search page (the default url) but from a form on a subsequent "advanced page", I'm not having any luck so far. I've tweaked this a couple of dozen different ways. This is the current version:
javascript:var re=/[/-](d{9,9}[dX])|isbn=(d{9,9}[dX])/i; if(re.test(location.href)==true){var isbn=RegExp.$1;if(isbn.length==0){isbn=RegExp.$2};void(''+'func=find-c&ccl_term=020%3D'+isbn))}

Eventually I'll hit the right combination, even if only by accident.
11:18:19 PM    comment [];

Sunday, 13 April, 2003
chicken little

I read this story and felt crushed. There are only a handfull of museums in the world which are hometown archeology exhibts for one of the human races cultural hearths. This one was smashed and ransacked. Urns and objects that made it five thousand years or so, and found a home in a museum only to be wrecked by by neighbors harboring only a dull and narrow count of its present blackmarket value, the value that mankind seems to place on its own history. I also kept seeing in my mind Sec. Rumsfeld's press briefing the other morning. The Henny Penny one where he kept insisting that no looting was actually taking place, that it was all just one clip of one man carrying a vase out of a building shown over and over, and why was the press dwelling on this rather than considering the beneficence on our giving the gift of democracy to the Iraqi people. I'd link to a clip of that, I know I've seen it on ABC and the BBC, but the Google search I just did on Rumsfeld: waving his hands in the air and babbling incoherantly like some diesel-exhaust huffing spastic didn't seem to turn that event up. If this administration wants to be taken seriously it needs to start owning a bigger piece of reality than it currently aspires to. It's not a contest to seem like a bigger loon than the Iraqi information minister. pb

Pillagers Strip Iraqi Museum of Its Treasure. It took only 48 hours for the National Museum of Iraq to be destroyed, with at least 50,000 artifacts carried away. By John F. Burns. [New York Times: NYT HomePage.
4:13:22 PM    comment [];

earning my cap

Here is something that happens to me a lot with the news aggregator that comes with Radio. I come across a line in the news page telling me there is a new Quentino Taretino movie coming out Kill Bill (MetaFilter link, figures). And for a brief moment this is the most important fact in the entire world for me and I am consumed by the impulse to hit post and publish buttons and share this with- well whoever. Then I stop and ask myself: "Have I ever seen any other of his movies ?" The answer comes back, "no, not one. missed 'em I guess. Although i did see an ad on tv for one of them once." There after the feeling wans. There is a line in an old Beatles song: "someone needs to know the time, glad that I'm here." You'll find the current time in either the upper right or lower right corner of your screen. Hey don't thank me I'm just doing what I can.

I was walking down a street one day when I came across two people, street people, a older man barrel-chested gone to pot, but with sharp eyes and a gone-to-seed youngish middle aged women who was sitting with him hanging on to everthing he said. "Where did you get that go-to-hell cap", he said, referring to the cheap cotton ball cap I had on, which I had dyed an abnormal shade of green on my own. Bought it from a store down the street, I told him. He paused and scanned me intently for a moment, then in a brusque inquisiting tone snapped; "know any foreign languages?" No I answered simply. He waved his hand dismissing me: "pass on by".

It's hard to be of help to others. Hard to know what to do. It takes thought, planning, research, consideration, Knowledge of other languages. It's 1:07 pm.
1:07:26 PM    comment [];

Monday, 7 April, 2003
At the corner of Jihad and MacWorld

I always look to see whats playing at the bijou, by which I mean the web site All Consuming. This is a site which identifies links to online book retailers found in syndicating weblogs and displays them on its page as a glimpse into the reading habits of the blogsphere. Which I hear is a world superpower now. A lot of it is fairly predictible: wide eyed books on the new worlds technology is creating out of a mob of small bits however loosely joined (and smarter for it). Or the latest book by William Gibson or Neil Stephenson. Every so often the mood changes and this is one of those times. George Orwells 1984 popped in to the list yesterday, Today Jihad vs. MacWorld appeared. I set down my copy of Nicholas Negrepontes' Soft Architecture Machine and took a closer look, sure enough. That book came out in 1995 I thought, what's this about?

Benjamin Barber, the author, teaches in my department at Maryland. I say my department technically this is true, I have seven credits to go on a degree in Government and Politics, its largely a hobby, mainly I work at the University of Maryland for a living. I am a clerk; a clerk of a type they call a copy cataloger. It seems to involve books, MARC bibliographic records, and barcodes. I'd love to say it is skilled and exacting work but I'm reasonably certain I could train a goose to do it. Barber came over and gave a lecture at the library a little over a year ago. Part of a lecture/discussion series the flacks from the upper stories of McKeldin had organised. (I hold to the general, though not fixed, belief that the higher you go in any building the less real work gets done.) The discussion was multiculturism.

People were a little taken aback when Barber came in and stated that multiculturalism was not an all purpose un-alloyed good, but rather one that was arrayed in tension and considerable opposition with other goods that people will try to hold and pledge allegiance to simultaneously - the longing for the relationships and sense of belonging of a "thick" society in the midst of the ordered, legal and contractual relations of western "thin" society. He spent some time discussing how this works at the workplace level and while the gathered were still trying to decide how they felt about that - segued into a broader discussion of cultural approaches to modernism along the lines of his book. The Arabic world has a complex relationship with modernism and a tendency, somewhat justified, in seeing modernism as a synonym for westernism. The west provides the primary example of modernism, but it is not in essence solely a western phenomenon. Modernism is a transformation of culture under the aegeis of technological change. In the mass cultures that exist today this process lies somewhere between adaptive and forced; under the sword as much as the shield. That the west has "done" modernism well and the islamic world not well may not be the story that is actually being told. There was a period about the time Dr. Barber gave this talk (afterwards he was off on book tour) when it briefly seemed a real dialogue was shaping up to understand what had happened on 11 September 2001. How the Islamic world had produced such extremism in its culture. A small and clearly political reaction forming, which none-the-less in its facist retrenchment spoke with what was/is taken as moral authority. Much was written, and there was a lot of food for thought on the table. Then it all seemed to die out - there were those that that seemed to feel that the entire project to understand - which is the natural inclination of most writers, teachers, and researchers - was just not getting us there fast enough or was even just completely wrongheaded from the start. So the more direct [B]omb 'em back to the stone age approach was adopted in its stead. I recently heard the Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, et al coterie described as intellectuals for the extent and daring of their grand experiment in social engineering - building a truly Great Society in the Arab world. Maybe, I say. But this war policy will not be what proves that. I spent four years in the Navy two of them working in the Pentagon in the Naval Operations Center. I know a kill them all - let God sort them out strategy when I see it; however nuanced martial techne can make it. I heard it often enough during those four years and I know it doesn't take much thought to get there, and you don't get any real answers out of it. It's just not that type of thing. It's as likely as not that all anyone gets out of this is another fragile authoritarian regime albeit one that will keep Dick Cheney's picture on its walls rather than Saddam Hussien's. Frankly in some ways I think we were closer a year ago and much further away now.
11:53:49 PM    comment [];

Thursday, 3 April, 2003
hey kids, it's Kracky the colossal killer squid

To think I almost passed this piece by, But I'm a sucker for giant squid stories. My favorite parts here are, of course, the swiveling razor sharp tentacle hooks . And of course the fact that even as it was being brought out of the water in the net it was still attacking the other fish in the net. From this group of urls I followed the New Zealand Herald link. I think metafilter has a thread going on this as well

New huge squid specimen caught in Antarctic waters. Ananova - Fishermen off New Zealand have made an extremely rare catch: a Colossal Squid with eyes as big as dinner plates and razor-sharp hooks on its tentacles.
Sighting raises fear of giant killer squid
Giant sea monsters are real Stuff
New Zealand Herald - BBC - Canton Repository - CNN Asia - and 28 related » [Google News]
9:30:56 PM    comment [];

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Last update: 5/01/03; 09:12:08.