Consumer resolution: Never entertain any offers if any type on the offer page is less than 10pts.

Just got yet another DirectTV solicitation in the mail. I'd be interested as our basic cable service provides us with 12 or so channels. I wouldn't mind investing in a modest upgrade to get CNN, the History Channel, and a few others.

But...when I tried to read the soliciation, I could barely make out anything important (i.e. the actual cost and terms of the service being offered). I've toyed with the idea in the past, but now I'm implementing it: I will immediately 86 any offer that contains any type smaller than 10 pt type.


New song: Come back baby

I found myself trying to play the John Hammond version of this song today, but not quite succeeding. (I can't figure out which album of his it's on...I can't find it online....we had a bunch of CDs stolen from Sarah's car this spring...three of my best John Hammond CDs were part of the take...along on with a couple Tom Waits albums. Sigh. I suspect that whoever ransacked the car has no idea what they took. Postscript: I think it's an album that
Duke Robillard produced and Marty Ballou played bass on...the bass has that Marty feel to it.....).


File this under: "If you can think it, you can build it."

The Local: Germany published a story detailing a Saudi company's request for a German patent on a cyanide capsule activated by an RFID chip (

The idea behind this device is that it would be implanted into a human or animal, then could be triggered if the chip went past a specially encoded RFID scanner: ideal for keeping domestic servants from skipping out of the tent.


Open-source business models: Getid3's isn't gonna work

I've been poking around the idea of open-source business models since 1997. I like the idea, but they're difficult to make work. Very few have succeeded. I wanted to illustrate one model that I'm pretty sure is going to fail.

The project I'm currently working on requires that users be able to upload files and images to create interesting stories. We rely on a couple open-source modules (GPL'd) that work with the open-source content management framework Drupal (also GPL'd -- all free as in beer).


Speaking of journalism...the NY Times is doing a lot right

I LOVE this new feature:

It works great, provides great content, and I suspect I'll be using this as my NYTimes interface from here on out.

Just as an aside, I think the Times approach of subtly introducting new features is the right way to do things: it provides a good soft-launch to assist in debugging, and if it doesn't work, they can just as quietly retract the feature and work on it until it they can make it work well.


Is there any hope for civilization without rhetorical standards for journalism?

Yesterday there was a story that was covered all over the place (Reddit, Wall Street Journal, American Spectator) that stated that Seymour Hersh implicated Dick Cheney in an assasination plot that former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

I didn't even bother to click thru the links because the source was a newspaper in Pakistan, a country well-known for producing journalists who employ J. L. Austin's idea of performative utterances to make fantasy reality.


Words of wisdom from the other Capt. Bob

Bob visited us for dinner last night. As usual, we had a great conversation and good libations. He provided more than his usual number of insightful observations, and I just wanted to get a few of them down. These aren't necessarily the best ones, just the ones I remembered this morning.

"I'm not sensitive, but I'm trainable."

"We live in an age of splinter skills."

"You can't bullshit a boat. You have to do it right, or pay the price. You may be lucky for a while, but sooner or later you're going to learn about nature and yourself. Most people give up."