(Spoof) Food for Thought?

Comedy Central – Media Player
A Daily Show piece (video) on an attempt to sell a tofu-based product to anthropology students. They could have used the "anthropo-" prefix for something else.
Actually, that product has a site too. Ah, well…

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(Spoof) History of Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame Football Announces Improvements To Its Storied History | The Onion – America's Finest News Source
Only lived in South Bend for eight months but these were the most historical five years of my life…

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Textbooks and Publishing.

O’Reilly Network: The Real Problem with Textbooks: A SafariU Editorial
Some typical tech enthusiasm coupled with a certain dose of self-praise from O’Reilly. As O’Reilly is often perceived quite positively (as a “non-evil” in the tech publishing world), the implied marketing is relatively benign.
Interesting notion about what changes in publishing imply:

A key design principle of this new publishing is remixing–putting together digital content in creative new ways. Remixing is powering new services that are shaking up traditional publishing and distribution.

Of course, other publishers are trying to adopt similar strategies by which iinstructors are able to “build” textbooks by picking and choosing textbook sections (chapters, modules, units) from a publisher’s database. There’s an issue of granularity but it does represent a bit more freedom than being forced to use a monolithic textbook. If the publisher’s collection contains a broad range of material, this can be a solution to some people’s problems with textbooks.
But mix-and-match textbooks address issues of openness only obliquely. The editorial uses iTunes and Google News as examples of remixing. The world is ready for forms of remixing which are more open-ended, like blogs and wikis.

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Montreal ISF: WiFi “Free as in Beer”

The “Île Sans Fil” Free/Open wireless network in Montreal is having a pubcrawl:
Île Sans Fil Montréal – Québec – Canada : PubCrawl2005.
Pretty cool! Beer and geekness. Cheap t-shirts. Door prizes.
And, BTW, ISF is one of the groups in Montreal where the “two solitudes” are most integrated.

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Podcasters Eyeing New iPod

UPDATE: Purchased an iRiver H120 jukebox/recorder.
For instance, on Audio Activism (a podcast about using podcasting and other online methods for political and social engagement) is a blog entry asking Does the new iPod record audio in stero?(sic)
Guess we’re all still wondering. The answer to that question will come soon enough. Well, actually, we know part of the answer but we still don’t know how the iPod can do “voice recordings” at 44.1kHz stereo or what the quality of those recordings might be. And let’s really hope that this feature isn’t crippled.

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Donny B.

Internet Archive: Details: Day In The Death Of Donny B.
Now, this is one good reason to keep archives. This one was linked from a Dailysonic episode on soundtracks from the 1970s. This one is a short anti-drug docudrama from 1969. Quite powerful. Non-moralistic, rather realistic, non-sensationalist, social… The soundtrack is haunting, the images are quite strong without being drawn out too far. As Dailysonic’s Adam Varga was saying, such a movie couldn’t be made nowadays.

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Yet Another Blog

Started yet another blog, this time on Opera.com (a “community” site based on the Opera browser, which is now free).
It’s a rather limited blogging solution but it does allow for importing from Blogger so it’s now populated with entries from here.
So the list now includes, as personal blogs:

  1. a Blogger.com/Blogspot.com blog
  2. a LiveJournal
  3. an Opera.com blog

As well as the academic blog on Thinking Globalization Through Music.


Is it too much? Well, yes. But it’s mostly about testing features. Eventually, all of the personal blogs among these could/should be merged into one reliable blogging interface.

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Audio Recording at 44.1kHz/16b on the New iPod?

UPDATE: Purchased an iRiver H120 jukebox/recorder.
According to this iLounge discussion, it seems that the 5th generation iPod (the one with video capabilities) supports “CD-quality” audio recording (uncompressed audio at 44.1kHz, 16 bits, stereo). If true, this could be a dream come true.

This is the one feature that has been on my wishlist from the start. Actually, before the original iPod was introduced, as rumors of an Apple audio device were circulating. Was in the market for an audio recording device to bring to the field (in Mali, West Africa). Ended up with a MiniDisc recorder which proved quite useful but had two major flaws: audio was compressed in the ATRAC format (which is not that suitable for audio analysis) and lossless transfer to a computer (audio “upload” as it is often called) was only available on very high-end devices. This has changed somewhat with the Hi-MD format which does allow for lossless audio “upload” to a computer and does support uncompressed formats. But there are several issues with Hi-MD devices and their audio “uploading” capabilities.

The new iPod could be miles ahead of Hi-MD recorders in terms of convenience and practicality. While 1GB Hi-MD medium can be quite useful in many situations, the 60GB hard drive of the high-end iPod is quite a bit more appealing, regardless of differences between hard drive and MiniDisc technologies. Sony’s SonicStage software to “upload” audio from Hi-MD devices to computers is allegedly difficult to use. Assuming that the new iPod’s recordings are handled in a similar way to those recorded using the Griffin iTalk, it should be possible to automatically transfer recordings to the iTunes music jukebox software which can greatly facilitate management of recordings. Altogether, the iPod might become an amazing solution for musicians and field recorders.

The iPodLinux Project does allow for even higher quality recordings to be using some older iPod models. But “out of the box” support for “CD-quality” recordings implies official support.

Of course, MiniDisc recorders are meant to be used as recorders and usually have good quality analog-to-digital converters, implying good recording quality regardless of format. In terms of size and weight, the new iPod is probably more attractive than MiniDisc devices but some MD devices have long battery life for recording.

So the jury is still out on the new iPod as portable audio recorders. Can’t wait for that jury’s sentence.

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Christopher Lydon Doesn’t Care About Blog People

Not really trying to be controversial. Just thought it was interesting.

From a recent show of "Radio Open Source," which the host, Christopher Lydon, calls "a show infused with the political energy of the Internet" (0'58").

Open Source / Blog Archive / Justice Miers: A Blogosphere Scorned

Christopher Lydon is defending his title as a blog-lover:

(20'32")CL: Don't mistake me. As a fan of the blogosphere, and I am one and I'm a blogger…

But this defense came a while after Lydon emphasized the perceived inequalities of that same "blogosphere":

(7'32")Randy Barnett, you're a blogger but you're a grown-up, shall we say, among bloggers, a law professor too, I'm just wondering…

To which Barnett replied:

(7'52")RB: First of all, I don't want to distance myself from the rest of the blogosphere… I learn a lot on the blogosphere even though they may not be law professors…this is the premise of your whole show and I think that we law professors have a lot to learn. I always learn from the bloggers.

Lydon sees himself as a blogger and tends to have a very specific perspective on blogging. That perspective can be seen in parallel with the more individualistic dimensions of online communication. For one thing, the rule is for first-person singular pronouns on this specific "blogosphere." Which, in itself, is quite interesting.
Another interesting aspect of Lydon's perspective of blogging is to see pre-Internet communication as blogging:

Thomas Paine was a blogger without the software. So was the weekly mail pamphleteer I. F. Stone, our anti-war hero of the 1960s and 70s and the only certifiable genius I ever encountered in journalism. Ralph Waldo Emerson, a fount of sturdy values (father of “the American religion,” says Harold Bloom) was a proto-blogger. And Emerson’s magazine The Dial in the 1840s, with Thoreau, Fuller, Alcott among the Concord co-conspirators, was the original group blog.

But still, the point about differentiating blogging law professors from other bloggers. There seems to be a tendency about "Old Media" people to over-emphasize prestige at every turn. Sure, it's a common trend in many dimensions of life and many parts of the world. What's strange, though, is how dissonant that emphasis is with the philosophy of democratic communication that those "Old Media" types preach once they get online. Guess equality is just unevenly distributed.

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Still Defining Art?

In a rant about one of the books chosen for Oprah's book club, Salon.com's Hillary Frey attempts to define art negatively:

His story might be shocking, but it isn't art.

The piece (which looks like a negative review of the book) is littered with opinionated bits of supposedly self-evident condescension. Interesting to see that some people still clench to this view of art and criticism. No analysis of the phenomenon through which this book was chosen for Oprah's book club ("the most successful book club in the world," Frey tells us without citing any evidence outside the U.S.). A header of "Is this even writing?" introducing the second "page" of the piece (as if writing were defined by the content). Some gushing comments about the book club and its host ("Like practically everyone else in America, I love Oprah."). Much projection of attitudes and sentiments on readers of the piece ("There is something inherently creepy…"). Vacuous predictions of the phenomenon's outcome ("Readers will dissect the "rage" Frey carries like an old blanket throughout his book."). And, of course, apparent disdain for those people who "will in the end rely on their skills in pop psychology as they try to make something of this memoir."

Not saying that the book deserves a better treatment. Haven't read it. But that's not the point. The piece isn't really a full-fledged review of that book about which Hillary Frey seems to have such a strong aversion (apparently, it has a lot to do with punctuation, for some reason). But it is a rant about a social phenomenon which is addressed only obliquely. Hillary Frey's disappointment is visibly about a decision taken by Oprah's almighty and benevolent book club (Frey cites a publisher's comment on book sales to show that Oprah herself "did a worthy and wonderful thing" with her club). But the crux of the matter is that, "[w]ith James Frey, the book club is losing its identity as a literary feature, morphing into yet another vehicle for self-help." This would have been a great opportunity for Frey to undertake some kind of analysis or even just a reflection on the implications of this change. Yet it's simply a way to introduce the previous quote about art. So, now, artists are not only responsible for their work but for the inclusion of their work in the reading list of a television personality. Fun!

Yes, self-help books sell. Whether or not they deserve respect from a would-be literary critic, they have a large impact on U.S. society. Oprah's television show certainly connects with self-help books and the very notion of self-help. For those who mostly know Oprah Winfrey through Oprah, the connection between the book club and James Frey's A Million Little Pieces seems rather unsurprising. Self-help books and Oprah are part of the same social phenomenon. One could even talk about individualism and self-reliance in the U.S. (guests on Oprah often advocate for people finding solutions "in themselves," AFAIK). And these connections may have little to do with Oprah Winfrey herself, though it does seem to relate to her television persona. Some could analyze the phenomenon in financial terms, others in psychological terms. Yet others might see changes in the very concept of "literature," happening since at least the 1950s.

It's fascinating to see how convinced some people can be of the value of their own opinions and tastes. And how unlikely it is for some people to look at the broader picture.

Ah, well…

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The Onion AV Club on W&G

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit | The A.V. Club
Haven't seen this one yet but have been enjoying the other Park/Aardman creations. This review is quite useful because it describes the type of experience one is likely to go through while watching the movie without necessarily evaluating it. That way, audience members are free to enjoy the movie for themselves but know in which context the movie should be seen.
Can't wait to see this one.

[Update: enjoyed it quite a lot!]

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South Station Pulsepoint

South Station Pulsepoint
There's an open WiFi network in Boston's South Station. It's not connected to the Internet itself but it represents a neat concept for location-specific networks. It's not available from the outside world (i.e., you need to be in the South Station to access it) but it can connect people who just happen to pass by the South Station, a major hub for those traveling to and from Boston with bus lines, subway lines, Amtrak trains, and commuter rail all in the same place.

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(Spoof) Native-American Realtor Doesn’t Believe In His Job | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source

(Spoof) Native-American Realtor Doesn't Believe In His Job | The Onion – America's Finest News Source
Broadcast in late September but quite relevant in the context of Columbus Day along with the upcoming U.S. Thanksgiving Day.
(Canadian Thanksgiving Day, which happened yesterday, on the same day as Columbus Day in the U.S., doesn't necessarily carry the same narrative about relations between Native Americans and European settlers.)

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ATPM 11.10 – Outliners: TAO and OmniOutliner Pro
Comparison between two approaches to outlining. Some interesting comments about outlining usage.
As academics often need to write structured texts, a good outliner should really be a part of any academic's toolbox. Ted Goranson's column on outliners frequently contains insightful ideas about computer-assisted writing.
This specific column could use a bit of editing, though.

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Columbian Green Coffee Beans

Joe Ferrante's looking for bloggers interesting in columbian green coffee beans

Thanks for the comment, Joe! I guess the reason you got here was that I do occasionally blog about coffee. Unfortunately, I haven't been tagging most of my posts here. I do have another blog where I posted a café review. I also reviewed the same café on WikiCities. Not necessarily because it's the most awesomest place in the world but they had wireless access and it seemed like a good opportunity to start reviewing cafés…

Now, Columbian beans. Well, I do homeroast and often use Columbian beans as a base. What I like about them is that they're quite consistent in quality, fairly versatile and fairly flexible in terms of roast. It seems Columbian beans are the ones people use to try out roasting methods. Ken Davids said something like that in his homeroasting book…
At the same time, Columbian beans aren't the most surprising beans around. Actually, some Columbian beans I've had were very aromatic, even while green.

Joe: Is there a specific reason you're interested in Columbian beans rather than other beans? Are you in the coffee business? If so, what do you think of CoffeeGeek?

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