bloggin under the influence

Well, according to my copy of “'Bloggin for Dummies”, I’m required to comment on the Time Warner AOL deal. Brighter people than I have said better things about the long-term implications of this for consumers, and I’m not going to bother to link them, because everybody else already has. All the media pundits are saying the same thing: “This isn’t good for anybody except Time Warner shareholders”. That’s only partly correct; I think it’s bad for the stockholders too, in the long run. Ignoring the people who own stock indirectly (for example, through pension, retirement, or money market funds), it seems like the professional (or even serious amateur) stock trader is highly dependent on information, and the best way to ensure a fast, wide information pipe is to have a large number of sources. Sure, there are signal:noise problems, but once you get down to one channel, it’s either signal or noise – there’s no in between. Guess which one you’re going to get.

(Hey, I bet Michael Wolf of New York Magazine is getting some crap at work today – Monday’s column predicts that in 2000, “Old media buys new media with dot-com ad dollars.” so close!)

While we’re on the scary tip, have a look at That’s right, a publicly accessible database correlating name, zip code, and birth date. Nothing like making identity theft really easy, eh? If I were in a paranoid mood, I might start to rant about how this is all part of the plan to get us locked into biometric-based identification (voice-, retina-, finger-prints), which will be even more privacy-invading. But I’m not, so I won’t.

Although it doesn’t seem to think that I exist. Or The Wife. Hurm; seems more likely that their servers are Not Right.

Last week I mentioned the bag I got for Christmas, which prompted a reader to point out the excellent bags at Waterfield Designs, particularly this one. The buckle is particularly striking. As far as the bag, the news there isn’t so good. After less than a week of usage (and not terribly hard usage at that), the waist strap used to restrain the bag (when cycling, for instance) basically fell off into my hand. I mailed Amazon and asked them to send a new bag and the postage to return the old one; I’ll let people know how that works out. For the record, I’m assuming I just got a random poorly manufactured bag, and that this doesn’t reflect the normal quality. If the strap on the next one falls off, that assumption will be a’changing.

Last week, Nerve ran this striking photo as Photo of the Day. Warning #1 Bare breasts behind that link; react appropriately. Warning #2 Based on URL formatting, that picture seems likely to change after the end of January – or maybe the end of 2000. If she has a big tattoo over her lower abdomen, it’s the photo I pointed at.

ResExcellence has some served with LinuxPPC badges, for those of you serving with LinuxPPC.

The first weblog get-together on IRC has been planned (you knew it was inevitable). This Wednesday (12 Jan), 8:30 PM EST (that’s 0230 UTC the next day, right?). Get all the nitty-gritty over at Mike’s Weblog Madness page. I’ll be there, thesis permitting, probably with the nick ‘genehack’.

Data from the Galileo fly-by of Europa supports the sub-ice liquid ocean model, which is consistent with the life on Europa model. Maybe we should skip Mars, and just head straight to Europa?

Celera’s kicking big-time genome sequencing butt. They’re 90% done, think they’ve got 97% of the actual genes, are probably on track to finish this summer, and are claiming that they’ll release “most” of the sequence publicly. It would be nice, but I’m not holding my breath.

There’s more than a little whiff of right-wing crank (or is it libertarian crank?) around Undernews, but the Jan 10 entry had some good bits, notably “Rigging the Debates”, “Drug Busts”, and “The List” of questions you won’t hear at the Presidential debates later this year. The good bits are too long to pull quote; just follow the link. By the way, I signed a petition today to get a medical marijuana referendum on the ballot here. For the third time (And the first two passed. Overwhelmingly.) Ain’t democracy grand?

What makes a Fsckhead? (Spotted in

Needed to grab some desktop pictures the other day, and ended up at There’s some interesting stuff there; if you’ve got the bandwidth to handle it. It’s pretty slow going over a modem.

Hey, Jason Bring the Rock" is back from the dead, and once again bringin’ that ole Rock. Missed ya, Jason; good to see you back in the saddle.

I bumped Jason back onto more of the Daily Dose pages; there are a couple of other changes as well. See y’all tomorrow.