Rent my background

David Weinberger, that Pygmalian of weblogging, points to an in-depth investigative report that follows on the now famous Incredible JoBlo conference held at Harvard last week.

In the report, the hard hitting news hounds at Better Bad News leave no stone unturned in their relentless search for the truth.

Do webloggers have an obligation to report who does or does not pay them? Are webloggers bound by the same ethics ignored by most major journalists? Are we webloggers credible or incredible as some people think? Are we for sale, and if so, are we cheap?

Are we boring and self-indulgently offensive as some northern reporters with frozen nuts desperately seeking stories that don’t require them to go outside assume? Are the vast majority of us worthless, as some journalist/editors from small and inconsequential technology news publications think? Or are they just jealous because we have higher pagerank, more Google hits, cuter cats, and can work in our nighties?

And just who is David Weinberger? Is he really a mild mannered philosopher with a thing for taxonomies, discussions about post-modernism, and who has seen 243 countries, all from their airports? Or is he Lenny Bruce reïncarnated, hugely cleaned up so even your Mama will think he’s a sweet boy, as has been claimed? And was that a correct use of the umlaut?

Stay tuned, for other late breaking news as it arises…

RDF Semantics

The DoD taxonomy gallery

I am writing a follow-up post to Cheap Eats at the Semantic Web Café, covering taxonomies as compared to folksonomies, when in my researched I stumbled on to the DoD Taxonomy Gallery.

Unfortunately, registration requires sponsorhip by someone with a .gov or .mil email address. I assume the data isn’t restricted; I imagine registration is to keep access to people who are working with DoD systems. Sure would love to have a peek, though.


A view of Galactica

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I agree with Dave Roger’s about the character of Starbuck on SciFi’s new Battlestar Galactica. I’m still somewhat reserved on the show, though it is a cut above many such on nowadays. But I have no reservations in how women are presented in this show, and I’m a pretty picky science fiction fan.

The character of Starbuck, though, is probably the first time I’ve seen a strong female character who can hold her own, but also screw up badly. She is neither Barbie nor Mother Theresa. And she’s not wearing the skin tight outfits that signaled the degredation of Star Trek, nor is every alien male falling in love with her as happens with Samantha in Stargate.

The other female characters are equally as strong, though not as rich as Starbuck. Even Number Six, supposedly every man’s dream, shows herself to be a creature of artifice and deceit, and I love the twisty irony of her character.

As for the guys, I also like Adama very much, and agree that Apollo is a weak character. However, I think that this is deliberate, as a counter to all the strong personas he finds himself surrounded by. He’s already had a confrontation with Starbuck that demonstrates this. In some ways, he represents that liberal, peaceful element among us that sometimes has a hard time committing to a course of action.

The story lines are realistic in that Bad Things Happen. In addition, the introduction of religion was actually pretty gutsy, as most sci-fi TV shows usually bypass religion altogether.

If I have problems with the show, it’s that it focuses on sex too much at times, as if it’s trying to demonstrate how ‘adult’ it is. I don’t think it should avoid sex, but I don’t think the show needs to focus on the boy-girl thing so much. I like the harsh, grainy light much of it is filmed in, but wish it wouldn’t quite flip around as much.

All in all, though, it is nicely different. More importantly, Battlestar Galactica is probably the first science fiction television series to provide effective role models of women. I just hope for Dave’s sake, this doesn’t end up being the kiss of death for the show.


Dances with Geese

Yesterday was a gray day with mixed rain and snow and slushy grounds and the threat of ice on the road. However, I’ve made a pact with myself to get out and walk everyday, regardless of the weather–around the neighborhood if I absolutely must, though I hate walking through city streets, and on cement.

Walking lately has gone beyond being just something I enjoy to be become both my medicine and my salvation. There is an invisible barrier on my front door that reads, “In case of assholes, stress, or malaise, break”, and I break it daily. If the weather is good and it’s been dry for a couple of days, I head for a real hike, or to find another mill or other bit of old stuff to photograph. However, if the weather isn’t so great, I just head to one of the usual places–Shaw, Powder, the Botanical Gardens, Tower, or others close in and familiar. On these close in hikes in bad weather, I don’t take my camera, but I sometimes take my radio headset, which is a rather quaint thing that fits over my hears, has a radio tuner and a little antenna that sticks up, making me look like a Martian. It isn’t sexy, and doesn’t have white ear buds, but I’m partial to the old thing and wouldn’t think of replacing it.

Not long ago Dave Rogers wrote about how we define our own worlds, sinking further into ourselves rather than paying attention to our surroundings and each other. I thought about this yesterday when listening to my favorite oldies station as I walked along the road at Shaw. It’s a rare event indeed when there is no one at this park and with the paths so mucky, I decided to walk the road that circles the lake. I was really enjoying having the place to myself and the music, as the station plays really great music on Saturdays with hardly any commercial interruptions. In fact, after a while I was walking less and dancing more, and it was when I was listening to Dusty Springfield’s Son of a Preacher Man that I decided to get off the road and into the snowy/slushy fields and do a little dancing among the geese. Though they seemed a bit confused by my actions, they eventually went back to their eating, ignoring this odd human gyrating in their midst.

Now, while I was prancing about, using my hiking stick to pretend to hit sloppy ice balls into the lake, folks may have driven by, pausing to view the crazy woman before moving, most likely hurridly, along, but I didn’t know because I wouldn’t be able to hear them over Preacher Man, Wild Thing, or the other tunes that followed. Which I guess goes to show that sometimes being in our own worlds can be marvelously liberating.

I’ve also been thinking of getting a hand held digital voice recorder to take with me on my trips to record experiences on days such as this, when I’m full of the intoxication of living the life of the village idiot. Especially after listening to Chris aka Stavros the Wonderchicken’s recording of one of his posts this week. Who would have known that the man has such as wonderful, smoky, sexy voice as that? What made it even more special was the Canadian accent. Sort of Hemingway and Nanook of the North, collapsed into one irresistable package. Seriously, if more people podcast in this manner, I may have to consider getting one of this plastic white things with the silly ear buds.

One song I had hoped they would play yesterday is Melanie’s Brand New Key. Remember that? If you do, then you’re most likely older than dirt, as I tested out to be at Ken Camp’s History Quiz. I had a terrific time with this quiz, but the reference in it to roller skate key reminded me when skates were off foot rather than inline, which led to this great, great song.

I rode my bicycle past your window last night
I roller skated to your door at daylight
It almost seems like you’re avoiding me
I’m okay alone, but you got something I need

Well, I got a brand new pair of roller skates
You got a brand new key
I think that we should get together and try them out you see
I been looking around awhile
You got something for me
Oh! I got a brand new pair of roller skates
You got a brand new key

I ride my bike, I roller skate, don’t drive no car
Don’t go too fast, but I go pretty far
For somebody who don’t drive
I been all around the world
Some people say, I done all right for a girl

Well, I got a brand new pair of roller skates
You got a brand new key
I think that we should get together and try them out you see
I been looking around awhile
You got something for me
Oh! I got a brand new pair of roller skates
You got a brand new key

I asked your mother if you were at home
She said, yes .. but you weren’t alone
Oh, sometimes I think that you’re avoiding me
I’m okay alone, but you’ve got something I need

Well, I got a brand new pair of roller skates
You got a brand new key
I think that we should get together and try them out to see
La la la la la la la la, la la la la la la
Oh! I got a brand new pair of roller skates
You got a brand new key.

Today’s lyrics with their explicit references to sex and swearing are so dull compared to the playful metaphors and lyrical winking embedded in songs such as this. Yeah, I got a pair of roller skates, boy, and you got a new key. I looked for this song at iTunes, but of course it didn’t have it. None of the online music stores had it, either in digital form or on CD. However, I did find a wav of the song online in a page with other old classics that tried to install spyware, but I grabbed the song and ran. I am so bad.

With music like that rolling around you, how can you not dance in the fields with the geese? What think, Jeneane? Would you go to a conference that played Brand New Key as anthem? Seems a good song for folks in the tail. And it sure beats looking at monkey bottoms or dreaming about RSS. Though come to think on it, I did dream about a pancreas last night. A great big, 3 story tall bright orange-pink pancreas that was standing on end in an art warehouse.

I guess that’s what you get from dancing with geese. Speaking of which, welcome home, Loren! The trail is calling, but watch out for the geese.

(BTW, if anyone has recommendations for a good but inexpensive hand held digital voice recorder that can be used to create podcasts, please drop me a note.)


Bush: Weblogged and Googled

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

This new item has hit Slashdot: Deriving Semantic Meaning from Google Results.

Seems a couple of scientists have devised a method where they take page results for pairing of words and from these determine which pairing is more semantically meaningful. They call this the Normalized Google Distance or NGD for short.

Their hope is that this work could be used to assist computers in understanding human language. Or lordy, aren’t weblogs going to mess up the works. Can you imagine the effect?

Machine: I am IGOR, automated voting system. How may I help you?

Human: I am here to vote for President.

Machine: Please input your choice.

Human: I am voting for President Bush

Machine: Just to verify, are you voting for Bush who is the scum bag dirt wad ignorant asshole?

Saaaay. Maybe this isn’t such a bad idea.