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Sunday, 01/29/06

Awesome: Wikipedia has blocked the IP address of the House of Representatives proxy server, because it was a source of hagiographic vandalism. That link contains an hilarious summary of some of the abuse. (via waxy) 02:23PM «

Wednesday, 01/25/06

I have a theory that liberty, a notoriously hard-to-quantify concept, rises with the frequency that "war on terror" is expressed in quotation marks. I would really like to see this rate charted. It would help me decide if my next residence should contain a bunker. 09:23PM «

Tuesday, 01/24/06

I don't write about baseball much, but I'm a great admirer of 43-year-old Mariner pitcher Jamie Moyer. His ability to make hitters barely half his age look silly with the slowest average fastball in all of baseball is an athletic achievement so unusual that it provokes astonished laughter. His 21-win season in 2003 was beautifully automatic -- I'd make time to watch his games with a serene confidence that he'd figure out a way to prevail, serene confidence being a wholly foreign concept in baseball. His local philanthropy and total lack of observable assholery are just icing on the cake.

I bring this up because, though Moyer is widely acknowledged to be an unusually old man for an active pitcher, it wasn't until I saw the 1933 King Kong last month that I realized just how old he really is. In the first scene after returning from Skull Island, Ann Darrow and Driscoll are being peppered with questions. You can't tell me the reporter standing between them isn't Jamie Moyer. Conservatively estimating that he was 35 when the movie was made, he is inescapably not 43 today, but 108 years old.

Jamie Moyer then and now

IMDB does list a Ray Moyer for uncredited set design on King Kong, but he has no actor credits across his whole long career, while King Kong's entry is already stuffed with uncredited appearances. So, I'm sticking with my theory that Jamie is the oldest professional athlete in the history of the world. He'll still be pitching for the Mariners when the great Felix Hernandez starts leaving his teeth in a glass of water at night. 12:16PM «

Monday, 01/23/06

Speaking of Sundance and Netflix, Netflix has pages up for the historical winners of the documentary (audience award, jury prize) and drama (audience, jury) categories. The cranky little economist in me is intrigued by the disparity of DVD availability between audience and jury prizes -- all but a couple of audience award winners are available, but lots of jury winners are apparently unreleased. Only three jury prize winners for documentary from the '80s are stocked.

I'm assuming that Netflix would stock any winners that are widely available (the lack of Strangers in Paradise jumped out at me; it's available used, but out of print). If not, then I'm just judging Netflix's acquisition strategy, and not the underlying economic factors driving DVD releases. Still, an interesting little sample.

Of all the jury drama winners that I've seen, I adored Primer almost beyond reason, and if I ever recommend Welcome to the Dollhouse to you, feel free to interpret it as a grave insult.

Update: John Clark of the NYT has additional context on the popular woes of jury prize winners. 09:03PM «

I've been beta-testing Bare Bones' newly announced data-snippet organizer product, Yojimbo, since December, and in general I like it. I've had that pleasant neurological sensation two or three times in which I'm confronted with a small info-logistical difficulty, followed shortly by "I think Yojimbo might be good for that," and thus far it has. It's an excellent place for long-term lists that otherwise just clutter the file system (like "movies that Netflix doesn't know about yet", at hand for Sundance, Toronto and SIFF), and I'm thinking about adopting it for my recipe storage.

I will share with you a tidbit that I noticed and which did not engender any response from the QA team -- there's some preliminary-looking support for an outliner in the text environment (which is Cocoa-descended and not, to my initial disappointment, the stellar BBEdit/Mailsmith text handling control). Hit Option-Tab to promote a line of text into an outliner node, after which some predictable outlinery keyboard shortcuts will have an effect -- tab promotes a node, shift-tab demotes.

[Update: The honorable John Gruber tells me that this is indeed a Cocoa feature and not a Yojimbo exclusive -- I had tested for it in TextEdit having flipped TextEdit's plain-text-only switch, while the outliner apparently only kicks in while in rich-text mode. Nuts, and no wonder QA had no comment.]

Even half-baked, this goes a long way toward replicating BBEdit's useful ability to replicate any leading tabs from the current line when you hit return, so that if you're writing a tab-indented block (like a subroutine, or a to-do list), some gentle hierarchy is maintained without you having to pound the tab key.

My one big question about Yojimbo's future: when is this thing going to become scriptable? There are a heap of useful ways I can envision tying Yojimbo to browsers and to NetNewsWire once some rudimentary scripting support exists for Yojimbo objects. I was frankly a little shocked to find that a Bare Bones product was on the ramp toward release without scripting functionality, but then, shipping promptly is one of those reasons that they are Bare Bones Software and I am not. 01:28PM «

Friday, 01/20/06

Gallant Google declares its intention to fight the DOJ's shockingly broad subpoena for a swath of aggregate search information, even as Yahoo and MSN capitulate.

Goofus Google picked a privacy-minimizing DRM architecture for its video service. Just as DVD copy protection was wholly ineffective against thinly-motivated bootleggers but forcibly subjects millions to unskippable trailers, intros, and boilerplate bloviation, this kind of scheme inevitably degrades the privacy expectations of its users in the name of falsely placating CBS. I suppose the Google threat here is no worse than that of TiVo, except that TiVo lives close enough to the knife edge for a privacy scandal to immolate the company, while for Google it would mean a week of negative publicity.

I know, it's a large organization, but Google ought to be coordinated enough to let me cling to my unrealistic corporate generalizations for a day or so. 10:29AM «

Friday, 01/13/06

Craigslist is starting to push back against discriminatory housing ads that violate the Fair Housing Act. They now link to an entertaining Clinton-era HUD memo (pdf link) outlining some dos and don'ts.

04:13PM «

Tuesday, 01/10/06

New Intel-based Macs announced today. Has Apple figured out how to thread the needle and protect its high-margin hardware sales from cheapskates who want to run OS X on their four-year-old Dells? We'll find out in a few days.

Until then, the most interesting scuttlebutt is what, exactly, was being smoked, injected and/or freebased in the runup to naming the new Intel-based Mac laptops "MacBooks Pro". It hadn't occurred to me until just now that beyond the intractable dorkitude, there is no obvious plural for this wallet-shutteringly ill-conceived name. 06:43PM «

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