Talking Points Memo: pretty damn impressive

Josh over at TalkingPointsMemo is digging up an amazing amount of info on the Trent Lott gaffe. He’s the one that found the old amicus brief in favor of Bob Jones University (which was used as a source in the WSJ). He brought up an old article about Lott not voting in favor of a day to recognize lynching victims. This is a prime example of what can happen when people have tools available like the web to publish cheaply and reach a wide audience, it’s great seat-of-your-pants journalism.

those wacky jehovah’s witnesses

I just got a visit at my door from some concerned citizens that wanted to warn me about the horrors of video games. I suppressed my laughter at first — you know you live in the suburbs when you have to entertain visits such as these.

The “horrible new game” they described is the runaway hit Grand Theft Auto 3. While I’ll admit GTA3 definitely has some serious edge and pushes some boundaries, I don’t see why it shouldn’t be available for sale to adults (even though I don’t own it myself). When I laughed after hearing them mention GTA3, they asked if I was familiar with the game and I said I was. I told them it was a game marketed to adults, isn’t available to minors, and why should I as an adult not be allowed to play it due to irresponsible parents making it available to their children (by the way, kids have a good handle on the differences between fiction and reality, but I doubt anyone can make a connection between GTA3 and a rise in violence)? They didn’t have an answer so I stated that I wasn’t interested in what they had to offer.

To lighten the mode, one of the women made a joke asking me that since I played the game, had I gotten an increase in traffic violations? I answered with no, it’s just a game that you play, not to be used for driving instruction. After they left, Google let me in on my suspicions: they were jehovah’s witnesses with a copy of “awake” magazine. It makes me wonder though, did they change the name of “the watchtower” because people slammed doors upon seeing the well-known publication?

subverting copyright with Doujinshi

In an interview on the SXSW site, Lessig talked about comics in Japan. I knew that comics were huge, on a scale of popularity nothing like we see in the states, but I hadn’t heard of “Doujinshi” before. Thousands of people are creating their own comics based on popular characters, re-telling stories, and/or making up new characters and situations completely, all with the support of the original comic artists (copyright law preventing derivative works be damned). It’s fan fiction on a completely different level and definitely worth watching (though I must admit, Google gives me almost nothing besides galleries of work for searches about Doujinshi).

update: a good intro on doujinshi (thanks waxy)

SBC PacBell intends to phone spam everyone

From a local email list, definitely worth spreading:

“SBC PacBell is about to give your phone #’s to companies “…within the SBC Pacific Bell family of companies …” Look in your November statements and you’ll find an innocuous white postcard with a ‘Business Reply Mail’ header on it. If you read the statement, they’re telling you that unless you contact them, they’ll give your phone number to other companies within the SBC ‘Family’ so they can call you and sell you more stuff. I usually throw out the extra crap that comes with my phone bill without looking at it, but someone tipped me off. We have less than 40 days to contact them either by mail or web or by phone: 1-800-310-2355

If you _want_ to get lots more tele-SPAM then simply _do nothing_—what a great deal!”

KnowNow finally comes to its senses

I’m glad to see KnowNow re-embracing open source by releasing some of their application server technology. It appears to be the same code that wowed people almost two years ago at the first big KnowNow demo, and it’s good to see the company get back to its roots. Back when I was a part of the company, I (and others on the web app team) sat in meeting after meeting in total disbelief as plans were made to abandon all developer relations, to stop being an open-source friendly outfit, and instead become an enterprise software corporation. Why they chose to abandon all the great buzz and community support they had in March of 2001 just to try turning a big buck (instead of free code, price tags in the tens of thousands were stuck to everything) on unproven software should be a lesson for MBA courses everywhere. Market buzz is about the best momentum you can have in a new startup, and doing everything you can to kill it is giving yourself the kiss of death.

Mark my works, once someone ports the code to an apache module you’ll start seeing some wicked-cool applications using it. Heck, I’d finally make the switch to apache just to use it on MetaFilter (real-time message counts/comment output/instant messaging).

Verizon sucks, as always

I’ve been looking for a new cell phone for a while, and looked longingly at the t-mobile hiptop. I’ve been looking for a phone that has some serious memory for numbers, has a usable calendar, and some form of internet connectivity. The always-on web access, AIM client, and digital camera are all just gravy on my initial requirements, but definitely make it more useful.

The thing that’s holding me back is that my old cell phone number is used by a few dozen friends and family as a primary way to contact me, and I’ve also got a couple hundred business cards with my old number. I recall hearing some news about how hard it was to transfer a mobile number from one company to another a couple years back but figured it was taken care of by now. I asked around and looked online for info and undercovered some astonishing stuff.

Even though you pay a good deal in taxes for mobile phones, the FCC has dragged their feet on the number portability issue, due mostly to Verizon’s insistence. I love the way this site puts it: “Imagine an industry where customers are leaving more quickly than they are joining. If you were part of that industry, would you: 1) try to increase your level of customer satisfaction? or 2) fight any provision that would increase competition in your industry?”

It looks like another attempt by some companies to (ab)use obscure laws and regulatory agencies to protect their business models.

bottom of the weblog posting barrel

You know, if I was really busy working on a big launch, and I had nothing to say for a few days, I might actually hit the bottom of the weblog barrel and talk about my cats. Or even worse, talk about cat litter boxes. If I actually stooped that low, I would mention the night-and-day change a simple (tad overpriced, but worth it) product called Litter Pearls has made in our house. I would mention that having multiple cats in a small space sometimes leads to bad smells, but substituting pure moisture-absorbing desicant in place of litter knocks it all out in a way that comes close to being revolutionary.

But I’m not, so I won’t.

the big xmas gift this year.

I’ve been trying to figure out what the big holiday gift this year is. eBay’s ‘holiday trends‘ list includes role playing card games and karaoke machines, but I haven’t seen either in very many places. I’ve seen tiny R/C cars everywhere I look, so I’m guessing that’s approaching xmas trend status. For adults, it seems like robot vacuums and iPods are getting a lot of play. I’m guessing this pointless gag gift will also be big in the gag shops that sprinkle malls across the land.