Friday, September 30, 2005 Ask The Pilot: Why JetBlue's heroic LAX landing was anything but

Patrick Smith punctures the hype around the JetBlue 292 saga: “Essentially, they performed a routine landing. A bit more finesse at letting the nose down, maybe, is about the extent of it.” (John Nance, writing at ABC News, has a similar take: “Sorry. No. Routine. We train for this, and a lot more.”)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Tea Leaves: Apostate

“A grab bag of opinions that will get you in trouble if you say them out loud in the wrong crowds.” I particularly like the double-edged slight to both Cyndi Lauper and Alanis Morissette…

Dilbert 9/23/05

Sometimes the Dilbert strip still tickles me. This one appeals, partly because of the grain of truth—a lot of the work of a software engineer is internal—and partly because, well, y’know: Wally’s often a lot funnier than Dilbert.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Save Civic Park

Anti-library campaigning: “a parking garage in Civic Park (oh yeah, and a library)”. See also No on R.

Yes! A New Walnut Creek Library!

Pro-library campaigning.

Blippity Fling-Flang

“Gibberish text that looks somewhat real.” Plus a filter to apply it to any web page; here’s mine. I rather like it; although it does make the scripted-in elements a bit obvious. (via Pete Ashton, a while ago)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Joe Clark: Why is Don Knuth special?

Donald Knuth—yes, that Donald Knuth—sends a sniffy complaint to the W3C Validator team: the validator no longer accepts his ancient HTML. The W3C politely suggest that “this would be an opportunity for you to switch your content to an actually standard HTML version”. Joe Clark is less timid: “Fix it yourself. They’re your pages, not ours. Web standards are your responsibility. You can’t just order the little people around.”

Slate: The Reason for the Season: Why do television shows premiere in September?

Slate’s Explainer column on TV seasons. Their earlier column on sweeps week is also interesting. (via TV Squad; and I wrote about sweeps back in May.)

Spotted on my way to the library today: this domain and website exist specifically to sell a single house. Micromarketing in action. (VREO churn these out as turnkey Virtual Property Presentations.)

Scripting News: When RSS isn't very great

Dave Winer’s had enough of the ads in Boing Boing’s feed: “Boing Boing has run an ad for A History of Violence in its feed 17 times in the last two days.” More than that: I count 20 in Bloglines’ “last 48 hours” view alone. I wouldn’t mind the adverts quite so much if they weren’t all the same…

43 Folders: Writing sensible email messages

Nothing terribly earthshattering, but a good compedium of best practice. Summary: keep ’em concise and focused. (via Boing Boing)

Technologies du Langage: Web: Google, Blogger and splogs

Jean Véronis plays with autodetection of spam blogs. [via Google Blogoscoped]

Monday, September 19, 2005 "A betrayal of trust and abuse of power"

John Kerry on the Katrina aftermath: “The plan they’re designing for the Gulf Coast turns the region into a vast laboratory for right-wing ideological experiments.”

Friday, September 16, 2005

White House: President Discusses Hurricane Relief in Address to the Nation

For all his failings, Bush’s address to the nation yesterday was impressive and, for the first time, Presidential. Although boy oh boy, did the obligatory WMD reference feel shoehorned in, or what? (Note also the very careful use of language throughout: always evacuees and displaced persons, never refugees.)

Thursday, September 15, 2005 A resource for people with Restless Legs Syndrome

Heavily advertised on US television at the moment, usually causing me to roll my eyes and mutter “only in America” to myself: being twitchy (or as Kramer puts it in Seinfeld, having the “jimmy legs”) is a syndrome now? The Glaxo-Smith-Kline branding at the bottom is a bit of a giveaway; yep, they have a drug to push. It’s real, though: it can be quite uncomfortable and cause nasty sleep problems. More at the (non-profit) RLS Foundation. (I’m a jiggler, but without any other symptoms; never thought anything of it before.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Whatever: Reaffirming Christianity

John Scalzi reflects on the Christian communities’ response to his piece Being Poor (more; more).

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

New York Times: March of the Conservatives: Penguin Film as Political Fodder

Oh good grief: March of the Penguins is a conservative favourite that, “passionately affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice and child rearing” (handily ignoring the fact that the penguins’ monogamy is short-lived: they hook up with a new partner each year) and makes “a strong case for Intelligent Design” (handily ignoring the fact that evolution is very good at filling niches). I do quite like George Will’s comeback: “If an Intelligent Designer designed nature, why did it decide to make breeding so tedious for those penguins?” (via

Monday, September 12, 2005

Making Light: Listening to habaneros

Habanero oil sounds fun, but the chile war stories in the comments are a little alarming…

Guardian Unlimited Life: Don't dumb me down

Ben Goldacre, of the Guardian’s Bad Science column, on the dangers of bad science journalism. “How do the media work around their inability to deliver scientific evidence? They use authority figures, the very antithesis of what science is about, as if they were priests, or politicians, or parent figures. ‘Scientists today said … scientists revealed … scientists warned.’ And if they want balance, you'll get two scientists disagreeing, although with no explanation of why. One scientist will ‘reveal’ something, and then another will ‘challenge’ it. A bit like Jedi knights.” (via

Washington Post: White House Briefing: Now They Tell Us

“Judging from the blistering analyses in Time, Newsweek, and elsewhere these past few days, it turns out that Bush is in fact fidgety, cold and snappish in private. He yells at those who dare give him bad news and is therefore not surprisingly surrounded by an echo chamber of terrified sycophants. He is slow to comprehend concepts that don't emerge from his gut. He is uncomprehending of the speeches that he is given to read. And oh yes, one of his most significant legacies—the immense post-Sept. 11 reorganization of the federal government which created the Homeland Security Department—has failed a big test. […] An emperor-has-no-clothes moment seems upon us.” (via Metafilter)

Newsweek: How Bush Blew It

A frankly frightening account of the asleep-at-the-wheel handling of the Katrina: “To his senior advisers, living in the insular presidential bubble, the mere act of lopping off a couple of presidential vacation days counts as a major event.” (via Metafilter)

Guardian Editor's Weblog: Should Doonesbury be saved?

The redesigned Guardian drops the Doonesbury strip, claiming the back of the paper is “very squeezed for space”. Readers howl in protest. Some 50 comments later, the Features Editor announces: “Doonesbury will be back in G2 from [next] Monday.” All on the first day of the new design: reader power indeed. (via Pete Ashton, who comments: “For me this isn’t really about Doonesbury. It’s about how the comics, and for that matter editorial cartoons, are treated by newspapers. Generally they are looked down on as filler, not having the weight of words or the artistry of photography.”)

Famous for 15 megapixels: William Blake Revisited

“Blake was being ironic and challenging and the question marks in the poem are key to the piece. But, perversely, Jerusalem was hijacked and became an anthem for the privileged classes of Britain.”

Saturday, September 10, 2005 U.S. won't ban media from New Orleans searches

CNN file suit against FEMA for access to the New Orleans recovery operations; the Joint Task Force back down. Bravo. But surely: in a free country, journalists shouldn’t need to fight for the right to do their jobs? (via Boing Boing)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Boing Boing: Legos site treats visitors to lecture on correct trademark use

A little over-officious, yes. But do people really call the bricks “Legos”? It always seemed to me that, like “sheep” and “deer”, Lego is both singular and plural… (And wow, this Wikipedia article is comprehensive.)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005 Katrina jolts the press

“The fact that this kind of aggressive questioning of people in power during times of crisis now passes as news itself only highlights just how timid the mainstream press corps has been during the Bush years. […] For years, frustrated news consumers have wondered what it would take to finally awaken the press from its perpetual, lazy slumber. Now we know the answer: one ravaged American city and a few thousand dead civilians.”

White House: Press Briefing by Scott McClellan

The White House press corps has no patience for McClellan’s discounting of questioning as “the blame game”: “It sounds, Scott, as if the line that you’re giving us—which is, you don’t want to answer questions about accountability because there’s too much busy work going on—is a way of ducking accountability.” Bush Seeks $51.8B More for Katrina Effort

Bush, yesterday, on being urged to fire FEMA chief Michael Brown: “What didn’t go right?”. Nancy Pelosi: “Oblivious, in denial, dangerous.”

Tuesday, September 06, 2005 Jackson Writes Song for Katrina Victims

File also under “bandwagon, jumping on”. Do people really need a below-par new Michael Jackson song to prompt them to help? Legislature approves gay marriage

Same-sex marriage bill squeaks through in the California state Assembly; whoo-hoo. Schwarzenegger still has power to veto: boo. (And some dreadful puns in the final quote, from Equality California’s Geoff Kors: “heavy lifting”, “terminate our rights”. Isn’t this too important an issue for cheap sloganeering?) [Update: Governor will veto same-sex bill. Quick, but predictable.]

Computerworld Shark Tank: You Just Can't Be Too Careful

Actually, “a stack is vertical and a queue is horizontal” isn’t a bad way of visualising the two data structures…

Monday, September 05, 2005 The Modern "Let Them Eat Cake" Moment

Barbara Bush claims that things are “working out very well” for New Orleans’ homeless evacuees. (via Making Light)

allied: blogvertorial

Jeneane Sessum tries auctioning a blog post. Cute, but at $150 starting, $500 buy-it-now, surely way overpriced? $5 a post seems to be about the going rate… [Update: 0 bids.]

MSNBC: Meet the Press, September 4

Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson County: “We have been abandoned by our own country. Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms ever to hit an American coast, but the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history. I am personally asking our bipartisan congressional delegation here in Louisiana to immediately begin congressional hearings to find out just what happened here. Why did it happen? Who needs to be fired? And believe me, they need to be fired right away, because we still have weeks to go in this tragedy. We have months to go. We have years to go. And whoever is at the top of this totem pole, that totem pole needs to be chain-sawed off and we’ve got to start with some new leadership.” (via Workbench; also in video.)

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Slate: The Rebellion of the Talking Heads

Jack Shafer on a shift in reporting: “many of the broadcasters reporting from […] New Orleans have stopped playing the role of wind-swept wet men facing down a big storm to become public advocates for the poor, the displaced, the starving, the dying, and the dead.” (via MetaFilter, who also link to this astonishing piece of video from Fox News—Fox News!—in which Shepard Smith and Geraldo Rivera—Geraldo Rivera!— refuse to paint the picture as anything but bleak. Sean Hannity: “I wanna get some perspective here, because earlier today the images were all—” Smith, pointing: “That is perspective! That is all the perspective you need!”)

Respectful of Otters: Why The Aid Wasn't There

National Guard, Homeland Security keeping Red Cross out of New Orleans: their presence “would keep people from evacuating”. Rivka’s comments are witheringly sarcastic, and angry; go read. (via Making Light) Angelina Jolie Slams Storm Aid Efforts

File under “bandwagon, jumping on”. Bluntly: who gives a toss what Angelina Jolie thinks? Tips to improve your Gas Mileage

A little obvious, but timely…

Idle Words: Too Hot

Harking back to happier August weather: Maciej Ceglowski’s evocative description of summer in New York. (A Rocket To Nowhere, his lengthy, meticulously-researched, and much-linked lament for the space program is also well worth a read.)

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century: "Pop quiz, Hotshot..."

Joey DeVilla asks: how prepared would you be? (Bonus points if you can identify the quote in the title.)

John Battelle's Searchblog: Ballmer Throws A Chair At "F*ing Google"

*boggle*. This rather confirms my belief that Steve Ballmer, amusing monkey dances aside, is a nasty piece of work. The big disconnect on New Orleans

CNN is astonishingly critical of the FEMA administration. As John Scalzi puts it: “so, when was it exactly that CNN grew a pair?” Probably when they realised that there’s no swarthy terrorists to blame this time; this is a disaster of our own making.

The Amateur Gourmet: Sometimes Good Food Looks Like Vomit

An update on this link, and a good example of why I read Adam’s blog: “The thing of it is, I’ve made many things in the past that look like vomit and/or feces that tasted delicious.” Photographic proof included. Bravo. (Bonus link: a good use for leftover risotto.)

The Washington Monthly: Left Behind

Amy Sullivan: “We’ve heard the warning ‘this isn’t about politics’ over and over in the last few days. The hell it isn’t. […] We’re seeing the awful real world consequences of conservatism play out on our television screens. This is why we’re liberals. We don’t yell about poverty and racial disparities for kicks.” (via Making Light)

Bitch Ph.D.: Trent Lott Lost His House

Go. Cry. Then get angry.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Amateur Gourmet: How To Make Asparagus Risotto

“Maybe this picture will entice you”… well, if you’re enticed by cowpats, that is. Adam’s not afraid to post his flops, but this is the first one, I think, where he counts a recipe as a success while his commenters howl failure.