Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Podcast Expo, 2007

The third Annual Podcast and New Media Expo is being held this weekend in Ontario, CA, a scant hour and ten minute drive from Chez Daniel. I went. I wish I'd gotten there earlier because they closed the place down at four PM... I got there at two.

What's it like, you ask? Well, it's a convention. Which means you're bound to see stuff like the Podcast Pickle guy.

I told him, "every time I see you it profoundly disturbs me. " He gave me a wordless thumbs up. I'm using the pronoun but it's only an educated guess.

More delightfully disturbing, the showgirl at the booth:

She was standing by my side, but just before they snapped the picture she whispered "watch your head." In heels, this woman is a gorgeous seven feet tall. Well-spoken AND has a nice rack! I hope she gets more acting work.

I managed to finally meet a couple of my fellow Podcast Network denizens. There was Scott Sherman (right) who runs the Digital Photography Show, the most successful podcast on the network. How successful? He's actually making money!

The other colleague is technical genius Ewan Spense, who runs two or three shows, including the official podcast of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I wrote email on Thursday saying I wanted to meet him and I asked for his phone number so I could locate him on the convention floor. It turns out the number wasn't necessary.

Ewan is the one in the kilt.

What did I get out of the show this year? Aside from meeting booth hotties and scotsmen, I guess the best thing is they finally convinced me to shell out for a quality mic setup. My days of using a $10 handheld to do podcasts is over. Samson Condenser mic, I got a pop screen, I got a shock mount, I got a mic stand, so I'm right back to where I was when I was using the ex's equipment. I'll call it progress.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Get Me Oliver Sacks, Stat!

I was just spending lunch time at McDonalds, enjoying a Mushroom 'n' Swiss Angus burger while turning out a book evaluation for this company that employees me for my opinions now and then. This Asian fellow, about 55, walks over to me.

"That's a nice laptop, heh," he says.

"Yeah," I reply, "It's old though. About six years. It might as well be an slide rule."

The guy walks away and I get back to work. About 5 minutes later I hear "That's a nice laptop, heh." Same guy. I say thanks. He walks away to his seat.

It happens again another 5 minutes or so later, except the sequence is more like "Heh, that's a nice laptop." Over the course of the hour we relive the same moment over and over again. I start changing up my responses: it's yours! or Do you have one? Then the people he's with, apparently his nurses, gently pull him away from me and walk him out to the car.

He seemed like a pretty likable dude, short term memory problems aside. I wonder if he spends any time trying to figure out who killed his wife?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I'm Too Busy!

Here's the big paradox of me: I tend to like structure in my life, but I get nervous when I don't have a lot of free time. I'm reflecting on this now because I'm literally booked solid until Sunday morning. After work I have an hour and a half to pump out BOX OFFICE WEEKLY, then I go to rehearsal, and then try to get 8 hours sleep. Tomorrow I get up, go to work, and when I come home I hope to clean the apartment AND design 'n' print up cards for my trip to the Podcasting Expo in Ontario CA on Saturday. And I got to do both those things by 8:00pm because I have a date.

Sunday night I have another play rehearsal too, which means I could put off the apartment until then, but that's not a wise strategy. I didn't clean the place last weekend and it's getting a little bachelor-y in there.

I'm beside myself. Actually I wish I were beside myself, because I could get twice as much done.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Send Out The Clown

The folks over at Mental Floss have a compendium of odd facts about the recently late Marcel Marceau. Interesting little guy. Among the tidbits:

-- He cracked weird jokes about magicians. “Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards,” Marceau once said, “for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.”
-- He survived the Holocaust, was active in the French Resistance, saved Jewish children’s lives, and worked with Patton’s army. “With his brother Alain, Marceau became active in the French Resistance. Marceau altered children’s identity cards, changing their birth dates to trick the Germans into thinking they were too young to be deported. Because he spoke English, he was recruited to be a liaison officer with Gen. George S. Patton’s army.”
-- He was famously chatty. “Never get a mime talking. He won’t stop,” he once said.”

Mime is a kind of litmus test for audiences. It drives a lot of people up the (invisible) wall, along with Improv comedy and children's choirs. But even people who would normally eschew mime could put up with Marcel Marceau. Adieu, mon ami. May you walk WITH the wind. May you not wake up in the box.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hound Fox!

Here's a mortifying incident - the other day I was blogging about Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers and his entertaining lawsuit against God. I noted that Chambers is a Democrat.

Belated hat tip to Where Are My Keys (see link @ right) who blogged the story before me and also noted Rep Chamber's Democrat affiliation. We both got our information from the same impeccable source, Fox News. And it was only in the comments section a day or so in on WAMK that a guy pointed out that Chambers is NOT a Democrat. In fact, the Nebraska state senate is unicameral, and ALL its members are independent.

So Fox has a problem here. It's not like this story was such breaking news that it had to rush it to publication. They went to a press conference, and then wrote the story from releases handed out by the Senator's aides. By the way, I doubt he has aides. Guy only makes 12k a year. I found this out through a little research on the Nevada State Senate Website.

I found it out.

I write for an audience of maybe five people.

Fox News, failing to find a party affiliation next to the Senator's name, apparently decided that a guy who sues God MUST be a Democrat. And that's the extent of the fact checking that they did. Traditionally, reporters verify things. Even Fox usually gets one source for something, though that source is often the very dubious Matt Drudge. But in this case, there was no source. They didn't look it up, they didn't call, they didn't even ask Ernie Chambers. And he was in the room.

The last paragraph gives Fox News the benefit of the doubt, assuming they're the worst kind of lazy and not attempting to smear the Democrats as God-litigators. Or congressional-page-seducers, as they did when the Mark Foley scandal broke. When that happened, they amended a (d) to Foley's name in the bottom-third graphic. Six times.

It's hard to write this stuff off as laziness because Fox News is, if anything, the most political of all the news channels. Party affiliation is important to those people.

Oh screw it, I'm takin' the gloves off. Fox is lying to you! They will do anything to advance a partisan agenda, as long as they get away with it. Those who decry media bias should note that their favorite news source is leaning so far in one direction that on panel shows, they have to nail down the water pitchers.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Moore's Law Finite, Says Moore

All geeks share common knowlege about a few key things. They know that dating isn't their best thing. They can rattle off the names of all the Star Trek series without difficulty. And all of them know the old saw Moore's Law. Conceived by Gordon Moore in 1965 it is the observation that that the number of transistors that can be inexpensively placed on an integrated circuit is increasing exponentially, doubling approximately every two years.

It affects non geeks in that every two years computers double in power while remaining at the same price point, which means that every two years you buy a new computer because you resent your crappy old one that doesn't do anything any more.

On Monday Gordon Moore spoke at IDF with the comforting news that no, it can't keep going on like that forever. He says it will start slowing down in about ten or fifteen years. The brakes are going to be put on not by the limits of human ingenuity but by, as Stephen Hawking put it, "the speed of light and the fundamental nature of matter." In other words you can scale a chip down to the size of a few atoms but after that, where do you go? One atom? Half an atom? Game over.

There has been talk of quantum computing, of course. The physics of very small particles poses some interesting applications in the computing world. A circuit in a computer is either on, or it's off. That's binary. But in quantum physics it's possible for a particle to be both at the same time. If clever chip designers could harness that l'il nugget, computers would become so powerful that we might as well just hand the world over to COLOSSUS and mix ourselves a pitcher of mint juleps.

In any event, it's been quite a ride in the technology sector for the past 40 years, and maybe it's time to stop long enough to let some passengers off to stretch their legs. Instead of the drive to improve technology, we can focus on USING it for something.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Mankind Gets Its Day in Court

Senator Ernie Chambers, an Democrat independente state senator* from Nebraska, is suing God. He claims that:

...senators periodically have offered bills prohibiting the filing of certain types of suits. He said his main objection is that the constitution requires that the doors to the courthouse be open to all. "Thus anybody can file a lawsuit against anybody -- even God," Chambers said.

So it's all just his little civics lesson.

Senator Chambers, this is not a new idea. People try it now and then and always with the same result: God settles out of court. Most likely you will find that your property is located on an oil reserve, or the bank will make a mistake in your favor involving some six-figure amount. Perhaps your team will win at the Superbowl.

The thing is, God is devoting resources to the suit that He could be using elsewhere. Perhaps a mail carrier will flip out somewhere; maybe a bridge will collapse. Maybe he won't have time to ruminate about an important decision and God will be forced to play at dice. Point is, your little rhetorical gesture could result in the very calamities you claim you are suing against.
The lawsuit accuses God "of making and continuing to make terroristic threats of grave harm to innumerable persons, including constituents of Plaintiff who Plaintiff has the duty to represent." It says God has caused "fearsome floods, egregious earthquakes, horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes, pestilential plagues, ferocious famines, devastating droughts, genocidal wars, birth defects and the like."
Yeah well, maybe if you'd stop pissing Him off with nuisance suits...

Serving God with a subpoena is a trivial matter because he's omnipresent, but winning the case is impossible because he's omnipotent. There's no point in calling witnesses because while they swear to tell the truth, they swear it to God. Plus you can't put lawyers and God in the same room, because the lawyers will turn into pillars of salt.

All I'm sayin' is, this is a very, very bad idea. And I'm not just trying to get on God's good side, because they're ALL good sides with that guy.

* I must remember to fact check any story I get from Fox News.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The New Guy, Mukasey

This morning President Bush introduced us to Michael Mukasey, the nominee for Attorney General to replace Alberto Gonzalez. Bush was subdued, perhaps cranky. His eyes said "why do I have to go through with again? I already appointed an Attorney General! Can't you people just leave us alone up here?"

His weariness will be further aggravated by Mukasey's probable decisions. Bush has used up all the candidates who will automatically go along with whatever he wants and he's been forced to dip into the "qualified and competent" bin. Another more Bush-friendly candidate, Ted Olsen, is apparently being kept in the wings for a Supreme Court appointment. You don't want to blow the conservative wad on a guy who might only ruin jurisprudence for a year and change, do ya?

Congress is expected to make short work of the confirmation, because they're grateful that Mukasey is not, say, Harriet Meyers. Recently he wrote an essay in the Opinion Journal which opines that the executive branch shouldn't be making laws - it should be Congress. Congress will probably like that.

Mukasey is best known for being the judge of the trial of Sheikh Omar Abdul "Top" Rahman, the famous "Blind Sheikh" who spearheaded the first World Trade Center bombing in '93. You know, the one that didn't do any damage. Even so, Mukasey says that the experience taught him that terrorism shouldn't be prosecuted like normal crime. This is the bright side for conservative bloggers, and the part I find troubling. The problem with tribunals and no defense lawyers should be obvious to folks, but let me spell it out in language Republicans can understand: If Hillary! is elected, she will be able to declare you an enemy combatant with no evidence, and put you away forever without even a chance to write a note to your pastor. It would be an incredible abuse of the system, but come on! The woman killed Vince Foster in broad daylight after her husband snorted cocaine off his naked chest. She's capable of anything.

Still, the new guy is a step up from the old guy. Hell, Miss North Carolina would be.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Sexual Politics, Chimp-Style

Now that I'm dating again, this is sobering news:

Behavioural psychologists found that female chimps mate with the males that give them the most fruit, while male chimps steal "desirable" fruits such as papaya from farms and orchards in a bid to woo potential mates. Oranges, pineapples and maize are among the most sought after crops, with bananas proving far less popular.
Oh great. Am I going to have to start stealing just to get a date?

"The male who shared the most food engaged in more consortships and received more grooming than the other males, even the alpha male. Therefore the male chimpanzees appear to be 'showing off' and trading their forbidden fruit for other currencies, for example 'food-for-sex' and 'food-for-grooming'.

I've always prided myself, even before I was married, on never having to feed for it.

I haven't been on a lot of dates so far (okay, 2) and so far only one of them involved food. Sadly neither one has involved grooming. Well, mutual grooming anyway. I did shower first.

Still, I'm on a limited budget until I pay off my moving expenses and furniture. Damn anthropologists! why can't you keep your crackpot observations to yourselves!

Wait a minute... I wonder if chicks would accept pirated software as a substitute? Hmmmm.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Nobody Wants A Free-Market Solution For Everything

Over at WAMK, we've been knocking around the whole "why are we in Iraq" question. For some reason they all insist it's to fight terrorism, even though we didn't go in for that reason and the only reason any terrorists are there now is because they know where to find us. Maybe the real reason is this, courtesy Republican congressman Chris Shays: we're there because we can't afford to let any other country control the oil. H/T to Crooks and Liars for hosting the video.

Isn't that fascinating? Whether true or not, this notion illustrates that no matter how much you believe in free-market capitalism, you think the government has to step in somewhere. In this example, we are afraid to allow foreign interests to control the price of our oil. Well, why not? If the price goes up, won't the market compensate by forcing us to find alternative energy sources, or restructure society so we use less oil? What's the matter, McCapitalist? Chicken? So rather than allow the market to correct itself, Rep. Shays is willing to endorse an expensive government entitlement that involves trillions of dollars and untold American lives.

This is an economic example, but most Republicans part ways with deregulation at the point where morals enter it. It's government meddling, for example, that suppresses prostitution. I mean, what's wrong with that deal? A man and a woman (or a man and a man, or rarely a woman and a woman) enter into a business deal which involves sex. They both agree to the terms up front. Why is this against the law? Or maybe it's a drug deal instead. And sure sometimes people are killed by the drugs, but so what? You want a nanny state?

Lead-based toys? If people stop buying them, the problem solves itself. Child labor? How is it the Government's business to protect children? It's the business of parents! Besides, some kids like to sew. The FDA is the biggest thwarter of free-market solutions ever, after the FBI. Crime itself is an efficient free-market solution to a host of conditions.

Even libertarians I've talked to say that they're okay with public roads.

So ultimately, your tolerance for government interference is a question of degrees, not absolutes. And everyone wants the government to control SOMETHING. The only disagreement is where and how much.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Waste Even More Time With Google Earth!

I loves me the GOOGLE EARTH, essentially a combination virtual globe/mapping program. You know how you use map quest to plot a route from your house to the Karaoke bar downtown? (just me again? sorry.) With Google Earth you can start from a Telstar point of view, zoom in to the top of your house, plot the route, then do a faux-3D run through of the trip, following the route the way the police helicopter would follow your slow-speed chase. Except without the inevitable blown tire, foot pursuit, and beating-to-a-pulp with nightsticks. (just me again? sorry.)

The latest update to Google Earth, which is free by the way, incorporates what is possible the best "Easter egg" ever. It you have version 4.2, fire it up, click on the globe and then hit control-alt-a, or command-option-a on the cool platform, and you get, yes, a flight simulator. There are a couple of aircraft and a handful of runways, but the important thing is you can now crash a jet right into your own house!

The really amazing thing about this is that when I first started using computers, you could buy a low-res black and white version of this for $60; now it boasts photo realistic landscapes, includes a map of the entire ***king world and it's a knocked off unadvertised freebie in an already free program.

What it doesn't include, sadly, landing and navigating instructions. Then again, if you don't have Internet access you can't use Google Earth anyway; and if you do then both those things will be online somewhere by the time I finish writing this.

O Brave New Google Earth: that has such code in't!

Monday, September 10, 2007


I don't like westerns, but I saw 3:10 TO YUMA yesterday and thought it was great. Good snappy dialog there... it's an odd coincidence that General Petraeus's testimony about the Iraq war was scheduled to take place around September 11th, even though Iraq had nothing to do with it the tragedy... Check out THE I.T. CROWD on Britain's Channel 4 -- you say you don't get Channel 4? You say it's in PAL instead of NTSC? Lad, that's why there is Bittorrent!... I worked another one of those Singles parties this weekend, but this is the first time I was actually single myself. I didn't score... they're treating me well and thanks for asking, WAMK... Oh come on, Britney was just below average.... Didn't Larry King write a column for USA Today? Whatever happened to that? It was stupendous!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Early Adopters are Crybabies

Forgive my bluntness but if you spent $600 dollars on a damn cell phone, and they drop the price to $400 dollars, it's not Apple Inc. you should be mad at. You should be mad at yourself for spending $600 on a damn cell phone.

Wall Street hasn't reacted well to the swirling miasma of controversey surrounding the iPhone price cut either. Even though Apple is only giving back $100 worth of retail goods in response, the stock price dropped today. This makes it a pretty good bargain, because the price will climb again when people realize that the actual cost of each refund is only $40, and they will be moving items off the shelves. Also don't be fooled into thinking Apple dropped the price because the iPhone wasn't selling. They dropped the price because they're finally confident they can meet demand.

Look, get over it. Why were you willing to wait in line to throw $600 at a candy bar that took voicemail? Because you wanted the latest, coolest thing before everybody else. And that's what you had. It's still the latest, coolest thing, but now more people will have it, that's all.

Incidentally, it costs about $250 in materials to make an iPhone, so that markup was just crazy. You should have seen it coming.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Quote of The Day

I have a lot of friends who share the following problem with me: Our sense of outrage is so saturated that when a new outrage occurs, we have to download some existing outrage into an external hard drive in order to make room for a new outrage.
Al Gore, proving again that he's actually a funny guy, in 02138 Magazine.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

How I Spent Labor Day Weekend: A Multiple Choice Quiz

Well, it was a long, hot 3 days. I will now report on my activities, only to make it less boring I'll let you guess which scenario actually took place.

1. Blind Date
a. I had a blind date.
b. I didn't have a blind date.
c. Other.
(answer c; I had one but she flaked on me.)

2. Swimming pool
a. I swam in the cool refreshing waters of my apartment's pool
b. I did not swim in the cool refreshing waters of my apartment's pool.
(answer b; just didn't get around to it, even after spending half a day outdoors at a birthday party in Agoura. The temperature ranged from 95 degrees to 112 degrees. As a matter of fact, the temperature in Las Vegas this weekend trailed ours by 5 degrees.)

3. Met a girl
a. Hung out with a bright-blue-haired Russian girl named Natasha at a karaoke bar in Studio City; she told me she was a mail order bride who had been abandoned by her patron and if I married her she would give me "good DJs."
b. No, that's ridiculous.
(answer a; but I'm pretty sure she was just an actress working on a character. Either way quite charming.)

4. Vision correction
a. Spent several hours looking for a hobo who would sell me his eyes.
b. Spent several hours at Lenscrafters getting contact lenses and new glasses.
(answer b; I actually had an agreement in principal with a local hobo but the deal fell through because I couldn't find a competent doctor to perform the surgery.)

Thanks for playing!