P.S. Election-related: What the fuck did you people do with John Bailo? I was enjoying his increasingly Pollyanna-ish comments from an alternate dimension where John McCain was winning. It was some of the best sci-fi I've read this year.
However! The ten-or-so minute video interview version takes only ten minutes (or so), and includes discussion of the blogging vs. thinking divide, the "Bataan Death March" of campaign trail coverage, the interns who help Sullivan keep his blog humming, and the "neurotic" nature of blog-readers (and why bloggy neurosis might be justified in these times).
A church minister from Strängnäs in central Sweden has resigned from his post after his porn-surfing habits led to the spread of a virus that knocked out the local church network, Metro reports.
But the most fascinating bit is tacked on at the end:
The number of sex-related cases involving men of the cloth has skyrocketed in recent years, according to Metro....A pastor in Gothenburg recently came under scrutiny for moistening post-it notes with his penis and sticking them up in an office.
Even better, the moist-wanged pastor was allowed to keep his job. Full story here.
Indeed. From the KOMO news report on Long's arrest for criminal mistreatment of a her now 14-year-old stepdaughter:
Sheriff spokesman John Urquhart says the girl weighed only 48 pounds when contacted by deputies Friday, and had been given only little food and water for several years.
[I]nvestigators said they found the girl's mother restricted her water intake to about half of a small Dixie cup per day. The mother only let the girl shower every two or three weeks, and watched her during each shower and bathroom break to keep the girl from surreptitiously drinking water.
The girl and her brother were forced to sleep on the floor in the same room as their parents, and a heavy dresser was pushed in front of the door to keep her from sneaking out and getting water, Urquhart said. The girl said the dresser was placed there after she was caught one night sneaking out of her own room to drink water from the toilet. The girl told deputies that on one occasion, her mother duct-taped her hands behind her back and dunked her head in the toilet as a form of discipline. Detectives searched the home and found the girl's room had a double deadbolt on the door used to keep her locked in the room. They also collected evidence that the family had health insurance and that her little brother had seen a doctor in the last few years.
... and you're not drunk, you likely do a fair amount of Googling. Thusly, good news from the venerable USA Today:
Time spent Googling the latest campaign news or searching for choice eBay buys may help stimulate and improve the minds of middle-aged and older Americans, UCLA scientists suggest.
Research reported in next month's American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry is the first to assess how performing Internet searches influences brain activity in older Americans, says study author Gary Small, professor at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA.
The research included 24 healthy volunteers ages 55 to 76. Half had Internet-searching experience, and the others had none. All were asked to perform Web searches and book-reading tasks while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, which recorded the brain-circuitry changes they were experiencing.
All of the volunteers showed significant brain activity during the reading task, which stimulated brain regions that control language, reading, memory and visual abilities.
But during Internet searches, major differences flared up between the two groups, Small says. Only those who had previous Web-search experience registered extensive activity in decision-making and complex-reasoning portions of the brain.
"Our most striking finding was that Internet searching appears to engage a greater extent of neural circuitry that is not activated during reading, but only in those people with prior Internet experience," Small says. He is also co-author of iBrain (HarperCollins, 2008), which was released on Tuesday and explores how older Americans can keep up with younger generations in an increasingly technological world.
Small says that over time, he'd expect the inexperienced Internet searchers to benefit as well.
A more in-depth analysis from Newsweek, after the jump:
Earlier today, I put up a post about Obama and bookselling and terrorism. The post linked to a LiveJournal post. This came up in the comments:
Why are you sloggers always so bad about internet ettiquite? Why am I the one who told her that she'd been linked at The Slog and not you?
Posted by dee in sf | October 7, 2008 12:51 PM
I was forwarded the link to the LiveJournal post by someone named Christin, and Christin promptly came to my defense:
@8: I asked her if it was okay before sending it to Paul. But yes, it's always good in general to let people know that you're linking others to them.
Posted by Christin | October 7, 2008 1:16 PM
And dee in sf wrote back:
Cristin- I just got a reply from her that you did tell her and was coming back here to post an apology. Sorry about the mistake.
However, I do remember the LJ-er whp wrote about Wall-E who was linked here and I was the person who told her, in the comments, about that linking.
Posted by dee in sf | October 7, 2008 1:24 PM
Which leads me to inquire: are you supposed to let someone know if you link to them? I've never heard of such a thing. It seems absurd to me; postings on the internet are public, and as long as you're attributing and not plagiarizing, linking to any public site seems absolutely fine to me.
I really can't see myself posting a comment in every blog I link to saying "I linked to this post on Slog" or something like that—can non-LiveJournallers leave comments on LiveJournal posts, anyway? If someone is curious about where their hits are coming from, it seems as though a simple Google search would uncover the culprit. Some people I've asked think that alerting people to an upcoming link may be a longstanding rule of LiveJournal etiquette. If this is the case, I would like to say here, as a disclaimer, that I think LiveJournal etiquette is a huge waste of time.
Up Next: Cell Phones With Breathalyzers
posted by Paul Constant on October 7 at 2:34 PM
I thought this was a joke at first, but it's real and it's genius: Gmail has unveiled "Mail Goggles," which is a program intended to stop its users from sending late-night drunken e-mails to exes and crushes and such. You can program Mail Goggles to activate, say, after 10 pm on a Friday or Saturday night, and, once it's activated, after you hit send on an e-mail, Gmail will ask you to do some simple math problems:
...Before it sends the e-mail. Whoever designed this should win some sort of Nobel Prize.
This past Friday night, Gawker Media founder Nick Denton announced he was laying off 19 editorial positions on his blogs, and cancelling his bonus plan, which had something to do with the number of comments each post received. Denton cites a probable dearth of future ad sales as the reason for the layoffs.
One of the editors he laid off was Moe Tkacik, who was one of Gawker Media's big up-and-comers. Tkacik had just moved from Jezebel to Gawker's main site. Denton, of course, is the genius who sold Wonkette, which was the best thing Gawker Media ever produced, in the middle of an election year.
And then Tina Brown, who either destroyed The New Yorker or made it relevant again, depending on who you ask, is back with her take on the Huffington Post, The Daily Beast. The first thing I saw on the Daily Beast when I just now looked it up? Chaos. It's all black and red and there are a bunch of very confusing layout decisions. The second thing I saw on The Daily Beast when I focused on one black and red square? A story titled "When Did John McCain Become Mad Max?" by Tucker Carlson. Looking a little closer, there's something about Jeremy Piven (gross!), a contribution from Bill Clinton (grosser!), and a bunch of other incredibly boring articles that take forever to load. I'll check back on The Daily Beast periodically, to see if they improve their website design, but right now, this looks like as big a failure for Brown as Talk Magazine was, back in the day.
One of South Korea's most famous actresses was found dead in her home on Thursday in what the police called a suicide. They linked her death to malicious online rumors, a growing social problem in South Korea, which has one of the world's most active online communities and one of its highest suicide rates.
The body of the actress, Choi Jin-sil, 39, was found in the bathroom of her apartment with a rope made out of bandages around her neck, Yang Jae-ho, a senior police investigator, said at a news conference.
Already struggling with a messy divorce, she had been deeply troubled by online accusations that she had driven another actor to gas himself in his car a month earlier, Yang said. The actor, Ahn Jae-hwan, was struggling with debt, and the rumors said she had pressed him relentlessly to repay money she had lent. She complained to the police about the rumors, which she called baseless, and they were investigating when she died.
Happenings that were once only found in the science fiction novels of William Gibson are now happenings we find in daily newspapers. At some point, between 2002 and 2004, we met the approaching mirror of fantasy and entered the other side, entered reality.
Today Google turns 10, and to celebrate, they're directing users to their "oldest available index," which isn't exactly ten years old—it's from January 1, 2001—but it's still a fascinating portal into olden times.
For example, Googling "Sarah Palin" in 2001 brings up nothing on the current VP candidate until page 4, where the Frontiersman expresses it's gratitude that "Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin has approached city council members about using Wasilla’s bountiful sales-tax revenues to erect" something or other. (The link stubs out.)
Also in 2001, Googling "Chris Crocker" got you a New Zealand music writer and an Austin doctor, but no weeping Britney fans.
Experience the virtual time-traveling pleasures for yourself here.
Maybe Everyone Else in the World Already Knows About This...
posted by David Schmader on September 19 at 11:15 AM
...but until yesterday I did not.
I'm speaking of the freakish wealth of King of the Hill-related pornography readily available on the internet, which I became acquainted with after sending the words "Peggy Hill" into Google Image Search for this post. And not just any old King of the Hill-related pornography—King of the Hill-related incest porn.
I will not supply such images for you here, you sick fucks. Suffice it to say that watching Bobby Hill have intercourse with his mother while his dad looks on in horror is exactly as enticing as it sounds.
posted by Brendan Kiley on September 18 at 11:23 PM
We are witnessing the invention of "blog theater," brought to us by the merry art pranksters of PDL. (Jen gives them some love for their Starbucks/Olympic Sculpture Park art mindfuck here, I write about one of their member's glass-headstone business here.)
In this post, from earlier today, PDL has taken over the comments thread and is posting the script of a play about George Washington. Sample quote:
I am aware that it would be difficult to burry yourself up to the neck in sand and cut your own head off with surgical precision.
Posted by Earl Yeager | September 18, 2008 10:20 PM
Who had the motive?
Posted by Paul Morrison | September 18, 2008 10:21 PM
Oh it is a long list Mr. Morrison. The Saudi’s, the Roman Catholic church, Hamas, Al Qaeda, a dozen private parties, hell the CIA. Lots of people have motive, but George had the best motive. If he is dead, it’s because George wanted to die.
Posted by Earl Yeager | September 18, 2008 10:21 PM
And thus a new art form is born. And you can jump in and be a part of it now.
posted by Paul Constant on September 16 at 2:57 PM
A few months ago on Slog, I reported on the world debut of the American Booksellers' Association's independent bookseller branding campaign, named IndieBound.
...(T)here was a little light show and then [The A.B.A.] announced that the new slogan/website/philosophy of independent bookstores around the country was going to be…
As in, “I’m bound to be going to an independent store,” I guess. When they announced that bookstores around the county were going to start carrying IndieBound fliers (Changed from the BookSense 76 to the hipper-than-thou ‘NextList.’), suddenly the hall was filled with skipping girls handing out IndieBound Declarations of Indpendence and IndieBound pins and those plastic glow-necklaces that people wear at raves, only in the official color of IndieBound, which is red. People said things like “Welcome to the revolution” and “The revolution is now.” Apparently, independent bookstores are becoming Russian revolutionaries.
I wrote more about IndieBound's debut in my Book Expo America wrap-up piece in June. The next step of IndieBound has just launched. It's a social networking site where you can identify yourself as a fan of local independent bookstores and other independent businesses.
Add your favorite Indie retailers to the IndieBound.org database—so everyone can shop indie everywhere they go!
Just added: the Waddle n' Swaddle, in Poughkeepsie, New York. The revolution continues.
Comcast Appeals FCC's Net Neutrality Ruling, Notifies Customers of Gigabyte Cap
posted by Grant Brissey on September 15 at 4:16 PM
Comcast recently appealed the FCC ruling against its peer-to-peer traffic practices:
Comcast, the second-largest broadband provider in the U.S., filed a court appeal of a U.S. Federal Communications Commission ruling last month saying the company couldn't delay some peer-to-peer traffic on its network.
The FCC, on Aug. 1, voted 3-2 to prohibit Comcast from slowing BitTorrent P-to-P traffic in an effort to reduce network congestion. Commissioners voting against Comcast said the traffic throttling violated FCC net neutrality principles.
Comcast on Thursday asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the FCC decision, saying the commission had no hard rules against the company's network management practices. The FCC's net neutrality principles, adopted in 2005, set out general guidelines, but no specific prohibitions, Comcast said.
Comcast filed the appeal to protect its legal rights and to "challenge the basis on which the commission found that Comcast violated federal policy in the absence of pre-existing legally enforceable standards or rules," David Cohen, Comcast's executive vice president, said in a statement. "We are compelled to appeal because we strongly believe that, in this particular case, the Commission's action was legally inappropriate and its findings were not justified by the record."
In addition, the telecom giant began notifying its Internet customers this week about a 250-Gigabyte data transfer limit, which will go into effect in October. Jonah first reported about it on Slog here.
Over a period of twelve hours, between this Thursday night and Friday morning, American Rights Counsel LLC sent out over 4000 DMCA takedown notices to YouTube, all making copyright infringement claims against videos with content critical of the Church of Scientology. Clips included footage of Australian and German news reports about Scientology, A Message to Anonymous/Scientology , and footage from a Clearwater City Commission meeting. Many accounts were suspended by YouTube in response to multiple allegations of copyright infringement.
YouTube users responded with DMCA counter-notices. At this time, many of the suspended channels have been reinstated and many of the videos are back up. Whether or not American Rights Counsel, LLC represents the notoriously litigious Church of Scientology is unclear, but this would not be the first time that the Church of Scientology has used the DMCA to silence Scientology critics. The Church of Scientology DMCA complaints shut down the YouTube channel of critic Mark Bunker in June, 2008. Bunker’s account, XenuTV, was also among the channels shut down in this latest flurry of takedown notices.
posted by Jonah Spangenthal-Lee on August 28 at 4:30 PM
Comcast—which provides service to 14 million customers, including me—has just announced that beginning October 1st, they will cap customers' data usage at 250 gigabytes a month. Users that go over could be fined or booted altogether.
Comcast says sending 20,000 high-resolution photos or 40 million emails, Downloading 50,000 songs or watching 8,000 movie trailers would put you over the limit. However, there's already a heated debate raging on tech site message boards like Ars Technica, where one poster notes that:
250GB does sound like a lot, but by my calcs, this would limit me to roughly 30 hours of (perfectly legal!) Instant Netflix viewing on my Roku box, which streams at around 2Mbps. Please someone correct me if my math is wrong on this.
Then of course you've got to account for online video gaming, email, browsing and porn hunting in that 250gb of data. As Dominic Holden put it: "What is that, like, an hour on Xtube?"
It's unclear whether this will account for both uploaded and downloaded data. DSL Reports, citing an anonymous source, says no, but it doesn't look like there's any official line yet.
Why is this so fucked? Well, obviously if you're a heavy data user—or have several in your household—you're gonna take it on the chin at some point. It's also unbelievable that Comcast's—rather than upgrading their infrastructure, like so many other countries have done—is just cutting users off at the knees. With the huge growth in online video distribution—like the Netflix Roku box, or upcoming video streaming on Xbox Live—this just blows my mind. The internet is not a finite resource and it doesn't have to be this way.
I'm going to start looking around tonight to find out if Verizon or Qwest have rolled out any of their fancy high speed lines in my area.
Today in Revolting Spam Subject Lines
posted by David Schmader on August 26 at 8:35 AM
"Touch Her Heart with Your New Babymaker."
The spam linked to something called Canadian Pharmacy, to a page listing various boner enhancements, including but not limited to Viagra, Cialis, Viagra Soft Tabs, Cialis Soft Tabs, Viagra Super Active, Cialis Super Active, and, my favorites, Viagra Professional and Cialis Professional. (Are these meant for executives, sex workers, or executive sex workers?)
The questions don't stop there. Does a wang inflated via pharmaceuticals really count as a "new babymaker"? Is the spam's usage of "touch her heart" in a physical, sexual context the ickiest bit of vag-bashing since the Notorious B.I.G. offered to "hit you with the dick, make your kidneys shift"? And are Viagra Soft Tabs as delicious as they look?
The "lol-cats" meme gets international and druggy at lol-qats, where Pakistani-English blogger Mr. Moo replaces goofy cat antics with goofy qat addicts.
I was first introduced to the concept of ‘qat’ on my first visit to Yemen. We were travelling with family, and my father was approached by a rather enthusiastic taxi driver. As he drove around at fantastic speeds, he explained he was chewing qat and he hadn’t slept for two days. I was quite worried.
Locally, in Birmingham, the habit has been picked up again. My understanding is that the socialising habits of choice are now to chew qat, have shisha and strong coffee all at the same time. It is Halaaaaal, they proclaim, as they are off their heads.
Qat has a horrendous social impact, like any drug. Wikipedia says that 17% of income on average could be spent on Qat.
For more on qat/khat, check out Charles Mudede's Stranger feature on its Seattle impact here.
At the Delicious Milk Chocolate Mountains of Madness
posted by Paul Constant on August 19 at 11:02 AM
McSweeney's has a list of Selections from H.P. Lovecraft's Brief Tenure as a Whitman's Sampler Copywriter. Here's one:
Coconut Creme Swirl
They say that the Coconut Creme Swirl sleeps. But if the dread Coconut Creme Swirl slumbers, surely it must also dream. It is certain that while it dozes the Coconut Creme Swirl is absorbed by terrifying visions of exacting its creamy tropical vengeance upon mankind! Consume the Coconut Creme Swirl before it awakens to consume you!
Netflix is totallly fucked this week. Movies haven't been shipped on Tuesday or Wednesday, and today looks a little iffy, too. Hacking Netflix has only a little bit of news on the matter. One commenter there claims to work for Netflix and says that the internal e-mail system is down along with the shipping system. Now, I'm not an expert on these sorts of things, but this looks like a crippling computer meltdown of some sort, and not the work of hackers.
On the actual Netflix site, Netflix has released an oblique statement (image-captured in part above) regarding these outages that you can see in full here. Apparently, credits will be issued to customers, but a nearly one-week shutdown of a national company can't be good news for the ol' bottom line.
Commenters on Hacking Netflix are resorting to poetry in the wake of the tragic loss of movies in the mail:
What happens if you find out that you have an STD? How do you know who should be notified? Well some people, both male and female, keep track of whom they have slept with in either a little diary or notebook. However, this has always posed a security flaw: "What if someone finds it??".
Well, MyBlackBook has solved that problem by creating The Internet's First Secure and Confidential Online Sexual History Tracker!
By keeping your sexual encounters online in a SAFE and SECURE and CONFIDENTIAL place, you will never have to worry about someone finding your little black book.
Personally, I always get nervous when a website repeatedly uses words like "secure" and "confidential" in all caps, but I'm sure that some of you out there in the comments have been waiting your whole lives for something like this.
Tina Brown's attempt to unseat the Huffington Post (or Drudge, or possibly both at the same time) is going to be called The Daily Beast, which is a great name, adopted from Waugh's Scoop. Unfortunately, there's already a great magazine named The Beast, in Buffalo. I hope they don't get buried by Brown's latest venture.