Archive for: March 2011

Shoe Shop lament


(L to R) Damian Moynihan (drums), Larry Björnson (bass), Scott Macmillan (guitar), and Damian Moynihan (drums), and Rob Crowell (saxophone)  played the Economy Shoe Shops’s Monday Night Jazz session to a an appreciative but subdued crowd. The bar’s co-founder, David Henry, a Halifax fixture, died of cancer Saturday after a brief illness.

Zen and the art of e-book piracy

Tech publisher O’Reilly Media does not put digital-rights management (DRM) controls on its electronic books to discourage unauthorized copying and sharing. Forbes Magazine asked CEO Tim O’Reilly if he wasn’t worried about piracy.

No. And so what? Let’s say my goal is to sell 10,000 copies of something. And let’s say that if by putting DRM in it I sell 10,000 copies and I make my money, and if by having no DRM 100,000 copies go into circulation and I still sell 10,000 copies.

timoreilly_wide-300cWhich of those is the better outcome? I think having 100,000 in circulation and selling 10,000 is way better than having just the 10,000 that are paid for and nobody else benefits.

People who don’t pay you generally wouldn’t have paid you anyway. We’re delighted when people who can’t afford our books don’t pay us for them, if they go out and do something useful with that information.

I think having faith in that basic logic of the market is important. Besides, DRM interferes with the user experience. It makes it much harder to have people adopt your product….

I just think the whole logic of DRM is flawed. There’s a bakery in Berkeley that every day dumps a lot of fresh bread into a dumpster behind the store. And there’s a bunch of people who get their bread there. I guarantee you that there are a lot more people who, even if you told them they could, would not do that. A lot of sources of free content are like going rooting through the dumpster.

Zen and the art of pitching

Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett, after picking off Blue Jay designated hitter Eric Thames in the fourth inning of a Grapefruit League game in Fort Meyers, FL, Saturday night:

He picked himself off.
I don’t pick guys off.
I just throw the ball to first.

Tamworth outpost

Oblivious to their fate, five Tamworth pigs, a scarce heritage breed, peer out from their pen at a certain unconventional restaurant somewhere in Nova Scotia.


More on this another time.

What women look like – dissent

Lawrence Boothby doesn’t think much of sculptor Jamie McCartney’s plaster vulvas:

Vulva inset - 250Pale, monochrome, rigid, dry, repeated – it was interesting to me how the medium of plaster, the context of the exhibit, the isolation of one part of a woman’s body from the rest of her body (and emotions), and repetition, alters a viewers’ perception. For artistic purposes, the 400 tiles could have been of almost any set of objects that were similar yet unique. Four hundred color photographs of the same size would have better captured the beauty of vulva including their hair, but he wouldn’t have been able to charge the women as much for photographing them. In watching the video interviews on his site, I was reminded of the recent dental casting of a broken tooth I just underwent.

McCartney, who has a background as a theatrical prop maker, does have a business making and selling many varieties of custom body casts. But I think Lawrence’s assertion that he charged the women who posed for this exhibit is not correct.

Crowdsourced radiation map of Japan

The Internet has responded collaboratively to the lack of trust in official pronouncements about radiation levels in Japan. First, Shigeru Kobayashi aggregated geiger counter readings from around Japan. Then Haiyan Zhang, self-described interaction designer, technologist and maker of things, produced a Google maps mashup of Kobayashi’s data.


Click this image to view the actual interactive map.

Alexis Madrigal comments:

One of the key problems has been that people aren’t sure whether to trust the official measurements, no matter how many of them there are. Today, sociologist Zeynep Tufekci addressed the issue of lack of trust in institutions in her essay, “If We Built a Safer Nuclear Reactor, How Would We Know?

I think I may have seen the beginnings of a way to build that trust in this crowdsourced map of Geiger counter readings from around Japan. It’s one thing to blindly trust the experts. It’s quite another to doublecheck them with a distributed network of 215 Geiger counters — forcing them to earn that trust.

This is DIY science with purpose.

Dishing it out – feedback

Filmmaker Tony Comstock goes contrarian on Contrarian:

We’ve had a smattering of inbound links from the Dish going back to his days at Time, and our experience is that a link from Andrew Sullivan doesn’t generate the volume of inbound traffic, or the cash, it used to. Not nearly.

Whatever Tina paid Andy, I think he was smart to take it. I think he’s selling while his stock is high, and with more downside than upside. Business is, after all, business.

I’m not sure. One of the highest traffic days in Contrarian’s short history came fon an inbound link from the Dish — to Rosie the beagle’s obituary.  News stories about the Dish sale speculated that Andrew’s blog accounts one-quarter to one-third of’s traffic.

The decision to sell does seem to have been all about money, a topic on which Andrew’s conspicuous silence continues.

Politicians and concerts

Contrarian reader Ritchie Simpson asks:

What is it with civic politicians in the Maritimes? They’ve jumped on the concert bandwagon with abandon and are flinging money around the way Keith Moon used to fling furniture. The long serving and long suffering mayor of Summerside is a tad closer to the chopping block than HRM’s potentate but it’s troubling the ease with which processes are ignored and checks are written. The Roman circuses were used to keep the civic populace quiet, peaceful, and accommodating. Maybe it’s time we threw a few politicians to the lions.

Presidential home movies

The Watergate scandal really began to unravel with the discovery that President Nixon had secretly tape recorded most of what happened in the Oval Office. Forgotten, until now, was that the FBI also confiscated 204 reels of Super-8 film—home movies, shot inside the White, by the likes of H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, and other officials.

Filmmakers Brian L. Frye and Penny Lane are turning this amateur footage into a feature-length documentary. They have prepared a trailer as part of a Kickstarter promotion to raise production money for the project:

Click here is the video is not visible. Andrew Rosinski elaborates on the footage:

They filmed the pivotal and the prosaic, from Nixon’s historic meeting with Mao to the bathroom fixtures in the Forbidden City. They filmed White House performances by Red Skelton, Bob Hope, Dionne Warwick, Johnny Cash and Raquel Welch, the historic 1971 May Day Protests against the Vietnam War on the National Mall, and Tricia Nixon’s Rose Garden wedding. But mostly, they filmed each other: Higby standing in front of the Eiffel Tower and waving at the camera, Chapin and Kissinger clowning around at the beach, and a hummingbird sipping nectar from a feeder. Ehrlichman was quite fond of hummingbirds.

Prosecution for the poor; free pass for Harold MacKay

In response to this, Contrarian reader Corey Clamp asks:

Another question, albeit more uncomfortable: Why does it seem acceptable to most that these funds have been lost?

We often hear people talking about abuses of our social assistance system: EI fraud, welfare mothers collecting our hard earned tax dollars for nothing, etc., etc. I work in community and have witnessed some of these ‘frauds’ that others complain of (food money being used for power? Oh my!), but I also witness every day the daunting bureaucracy these individuals must face in order to get their $514 to $850 dollars/month.

We seem to worry that those without are not equipped to deal with monies of any amount, and hence must be made to feel accountable. Unfortunately, as has been demonstrated time and again, this worry is misplaced. Those with means seem quick to play footloose and fancy free with our tax dollars, and can you blame them? What happens when they lose it all? Nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

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