Life as TV

Home sick, blowing nose, changing diaper, I’ve been looking a lot at one screen or another and listening to speakers. Watched West Wing last night. Read this about Rumsfeld and a memo with questions about the war on terror today. [Today is important because CNN said this afternoon that it is actually the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the war on terror – I think it being the anniversary of the bombing in Lebanon.] So, unaware of the duration myself, it is about time that some questioning like this is taking place:

“Are we winning or losing the global war on terror?” That’s the key question that U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asks in an uncharacteristically gloomy memo he recently sent to his closest Pentagon advisers. And the answer, it seems, is far from clear. In the memo, which appeared in yesterday’s (22 October) issue of “USA Today,” Rumsfeld asks top aides like Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz –- who is seen as a chief architect of the Iraq policy — to think of new ways to fight the war on terror. He says Washington will eventually win its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but that it will be a “long, hard slog.” But Rumsfeld also appears to suggest — for the first time – that the United States may be fighting its war on terrorism in the wrong way, by focusing too much on military operations and not enough on diplomatic efforts and other forms of pressure. He also wonders if the Pentagon can be reshaped fast enough to meet the terrorist threat. Joseph Biden, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Rumsfeld appears to have had an “epiphany,” adding that while Rumsfeld may not yet have shifted policy, the memo is “the first bit of introspection that I’ve even whiffed coming out of the Defense Department.”

You would want to think that these are questions being asked before during and after any big decisions made by government. Usually they are, usually most decsions are made in good faith with best information…but why is so difficult seeing it to be done that way in public? Is that why West Wing is so popular in that it provides a comforting template for layering on the news of the day? Sort of the other end of the humanization of the decision process as that Tim Horton’s commercial as the Canadian navy in the Gulf getting its double-double. We want to know humans are involved.

Another intersting thing is the source of my quotation, Radio Free Europe, one of the few real US state / state-ish news agencies, set up to fight the commies with a form of the truth via shortwave transmissions, now hanging on being just a moderate reliable news source so Swiss and Finns who speak English will know.

My head at seventeen

Nice Logo, CEC
Surely just someone with the same name.

I came across this and a bunch of other IDs through time a while ago. I find them oddly compelling as a little pictoral history of my head and its hair.

Weather Report

I think of my friend Steven every time I look at The New York Times Weather Report – the paper version that is. That is because he is a big fan of the graphical representation of information [his love for this is pure]; and the Weather Report, found today on D8, the back of the sports section, contains more information on 3/4s of a newspaper page than any other I can think of.

There are 10 graphs, 7 tables, much text and 3 maps setting out, among other things, the state of the fall foliage peak throughout the Northeast US; the estimated normal NYC reservior level; the temperature tomorrow in Lima Peru; the highs and lows of humidity in Cental Park; the national departure of temperature from the norm; the high tides at Shinnecock Inlet; the setting and rise of Venus; the heating degree days so far this month; the range of low temperature forecast next Friday; the hour-by-hour temperature for the 24 hours preceding 4 pm the day before; the average daily departure from normal temperature this month and year; air pressure, high and low; phases of the moon; actual precipitation for the last 30 days in inches; trends of temperature and precipitation for the last 10, 30, 90 and 365 days; where the heat in Tuscon will be moving in from; the wind in knots from Montauk Point to Sandy Hook; and a daily Highlight which today is a map with graph and text explaining the exceptional national US trends in temperature [northern Maine was 2 to 3 degrees F warmer than normal last week]. Distinct from the Highlight is the Focus which today states under the title “Western Warmth”:

Daily high-temperature records were set last weekend at many spots from Rockies to the Plains. On Sunday, Bismarck, N.D., reached 89 degrees, the warmest day recorded there so late in the autumn. Strong, nearly stationary high pressure extending to 30,000 feet over the interior West has been diverting storms and promoting the unusual warmth. But the end of autumn warm spell is coming. During the next week, a series of potent disturbances will gradually erode the high pressure zone. By the end of the month, cold weather and mountain snow will envelop the West.

Simple lovely physical writing.

The corresponding webpage has none of the Times standard cool taupe, sage, sand and aqua tones or careful selection of fonts, tightly packed but each distinct – all separated using only two thin lines. Beautiful meteorology prepared by Pennsylvania State University and presented by a Times staff of unknown numbers every day of the year. Sadly, the lower right 1/8 of D8, the Information and Services Directory, does not, among its 27 telephone numbers and 26 email addresses, have one to contact and thank the people who give us the Weather Report.

[More about graphs you will want to hold close and tight here.]

Bagpipe Crime

Mike points out the following act of infamy:

…it is with great regret and a heavy heart that I announce the dark decision that has cast a terrible shadow over the 2003 World Cup of Rugby. In what can only be considered as a crime against rugby — nay, a crime against humanity — nay nay, a crime against life itself — World Cup organizers have banned the bagpipes from Scotland’s games!!

Scottish rugby fans are up in arms after learning that they will not be allowed to pipe their team on to the pitch for the Rugby World Cup match against the United States in Brisbane tonight.

The Courier-Mail reported that World Cup organisers had ruled that the din would give the Scots an unfair advantage in a game they are already hot favourites to win.

Boo hoo! I’d love to hear who was behind this decision. It’s not like the pipes are even playing during the game — they were to be played before the game! God, you might as well ban the Haka!

Nonplussed, the local Ipswich Thistle Pipe Band has decided to set up base camp outside Lang Park two hours before the evening kick-off and let rip.

Band member Joe McGhee said the skirl of the pipes would not necessarily have given the Scots a psychological advantage.

“The bagpipes is not really an offensive weapon … It depends who’s playing it,” he explained.

This is almost too much to bear. Before last week’s game against Japan, Scotland fans were barred from wearing the sgian dhu ceremonial dagger. What did they think the fans were gonna do, stab someone with … oh yeah.

The Haka indeed. New Zealand players in all sports are able to use a Moari dance for a pre-match taunt of the opposition anytime they want – it is great to see, respectful of that country’s tradition and sets the stage…exactly like the bagpipes!!! Big boos to rugby.

How Blogs Might Die

There is much talk amongst these things called blogs about their place. Dave Winer makes an interesting point about their utility being in the narrowness of blogging. Craig points us to some less optimistic opinions which reminded me of my posting five months ago comparing blogs and CB radio. I don’t know if I have changed my mind about the heights to which we can expect this format to reach – but confusing the role of blogs with the quality, resources and journalistic standards found in newspapers and other quality professional media with what are at best partially informed personal opinions has certainly inflated the idea of what can be achieved through a digital soapbox [being a two-foot tall block of wood that only places the speaker in a position of audibility to a slightly larger tiny crowd].

That being the case – and somewhat regardless of it – it appears to me that the sun always sets and that this form of discussion, too, will die. Here are some of the factors I think will kill off blogs:

– Spam – sooner or later the Nigerian investment set will realize that stripping out “reply to” buttons rather than email addresses will give them another automated means to spread the word. In addition to this, you are seeing more and more random manual acts of insipid replying such as this. At some point, either the bots or the tangential may overwhelm the reply to buttons and the patience of authors. This would merely be a repetition of what happened to usenet and is happening to email so it should be expected to expand;

– Aggregating reading apps – many readers of many blogs use applications that tell you that your favorites have updated. There may come a point that these apps become the means by which the vast majority of reading is done. This is somewhat anti-thetical to the authors point of view that this-space-and-content-as-my-space-and content – I expect you to take in the entire site as a whole. By decontextualizing my newest comments, a reader is having a different experience than intended by the writer. If I notice much misconstruing of my observations in replies and their linking on other blogs, I may just get turned off writing in this way;

– writers may just become bored – writers of blogs may tend to be optimistic, needy manics of some degree and the new is great fodder for that condition. Some dream that they are participating in an agenda, either politics or technology. If the return on the emotional investment in the dream is not there in the long term, authorship will simply die off; and

– the great catch all – a new unanticipated technology will arise which will draw off activity.

My point?   Dunno.


This Space is Reserved…

Hang on…Nomah in the park homah…Timlin perfect… Nixon upper deck…8:00 EST and the BoSox are now up 3 on the ninth at Yankee Stadium.


Later: Well, either the double curse of all time is now on and Chicago and Boston have a goat and a baby to blame…or the planets are coming into alignment.

Ah, the Beauty
Ted Williams, the man who called my buddy JR “Little Bobby” every summer at his Dad’s pharmacy in northern NB, on opening day 1947.

Happy Man

Pip Pip!  Nahw...where'd I leave the MG??
People who know me know I like beer. I like to brew it. I like to go to good pubs. I like to read about beer. I appear, however, to be but a babe in a nappy compared to this guy from Toronto who I came across on a Google search for the Rogues Roost in Halifax. Nice burns. Nice tie.