Monthly Archives: September 2005

USA Today Hipper Than BoingBoing?

“Downloads of the new Harvey Danger”: album got a big boost last night after the tech-hipsters at BoingBoing posted “an item”: about the online release. Pitchfork sent a bunch of traffic a few weeks back when the album hit the stores, but BoingBoing’s flow outpaced theirs. The day’s traffic almost trippled it’s previous pace.

They weren’t the first to pick up on the downloads though. For one thing, earlier in the day the ultra-square “USA Today”: posted a link, beating BoingBoing by at least 3 hours.


Traffic for the Harvey Danger download has been crazy the last couple of days. In the last 36 hours or so some popular sites have been throwing a lot of traffic their way. I’m really glad we fixed some problems with the downloads the night before last. I’m also glad I noticed that the webserver with on a 10Mbit port, rather than the planned and paid for 100Mbit port before things really hit.

I do wish I’d had time to finish writing up more of what I have learned.

Music Mogul Fires with Determination at Own Foot

Edgar Bronfman Jr, who has squandered a great deal of his family’s liquor fortune trying to be a media mogul, has been running his mouth lately about how completely untenable Apple’s 99 cent/song pricing is on the iTunes Music Store.

Similar comments cropped up “a month ago”: in a New York Times article which is no longer available on the web without paying (stupid, but the subject of another post), but as I recall, those comments weren’t attributed to someone in quite so high a position of authority, nor someone posessed of such appearant cluelessness.

RED HERRING | Bronfman Fires Back at Apple
“There’s no content that I know of that does not have variable pricing,” said Mr. Bronfman at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia investor conference.

I’d quip that he hasn’t been to the movies in the past 50+ years, but appearantly he is aware of how ticket prices work, because he doesn’t like it:

Why, [Bronfman] asked, should you pay the same amount to see a $2 million movie as you would to see a $200 million one?
“from slate”:

Um, because a $200M movie is a mass market product that needs to sell a hell of a lot of tickets to break even, much less profit, and raising ticket prices much will cut into that audience, which will reduce word of mouth, which will cut into the audience even further.

I should be applauding Bronfman’s willingness to challenge conventional wisdom, but I can’t bring myself to.

I ask again, “Why is Bush Drinking Again?”

I checked the visitor statistics for Geekfun tonight and was suprised to see that I’ve racked up an unusual number of visits over the past few hours, and most have been looking at a single post I wrote over a year ago titled “Why is Bush Drinking Again?”:

A little investigation revealed that most of them were searching for some variation on “bush drinking again” on Google, where my post is appearantly on the first page. I get a hit every couple of days from people searching for the same terms, and my first thought was that Google had adjusted their index in the last day or so, and I’d gotten bumped to the first page of results. A little investigation proved otherwise.

It looks like National Enquirer has a new story that Laura caught GWB taking a shot of booze at Crawford recently. All sorts of “blogs have picked it up”: Most of them are asking “Is Bush Drinking Again?” At this point, none of them are asking “Why is Bush drinking again?”: The difference might subtle, but it is important, something I’m sure Karl Rove can appreciate.

The Sorry State of (Science) Reporting

My trust in the media took a big dive when I saw how they covered the emergence of the Internet over a decade ago. I thought I was skeptical before, but after I saw “them” cover something I knew a few things about, I was disgusted.

I’m particularly disgusted with their science reporting. This article in the guardian hits on a couple of the major problems.

Guardian Unlimited | Life | Don’t dumb me down

bq. It is my hypothesis that in their choice of stories, and the way they cover them, the media create a parody of science, for their own means. They then attack this parody as if they were critiquing science.

One big issue, the way they dumb down their stories to the point that they carry no real information:

bq. What’s wrong with the coverage itself? The problems here all stem from one central theme: there is no useful information in most science stories. A piece in the Independent on Sunday from January 11 2004 suggested that mail-order Viagra is a rip-off because it does not contain the “correct form” of the drug. I don’t use the stuff, but there were 1,147 words in that piece. Just tell me: was it a different salt, a different preparation, a different isomer, a related molecule, a completely different drug? No idea. No room for that one bit of information.

It’s not just science stories either. In the past few days I listened to two longish local stories on the TV news that were so general as to communicate absolutely no information of any relevance, and last night I read an AP wire story on Yahoo that was similarly content free.

Even if the point of the news media is to deliver readers to advertisers, it seems dead wrong to me to dumb down stories so much that there isn’t a single sentence that might challenge even the stupidest most ignorant readers brain. Such readers might be easily swayed by advertising, but how much money can they possibly have to spend?

Getting Better All The Time?

This very interesting article by Jared Diamond challenges the idea that “progress” is really progress.

The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race

bq. One straight forward example of what paleopathologists have learned from skeletons concerns historical changes in height. Skeletons from Greece and Turkey show that the average height of hunger-gatherers toward the end of the ice ages was a generous 5’ 9″ for men, 5’ 5″ for women. With the adoption of agriculture, height crashed, and by 3000 B. C. had reached a low of only 5’ 3″ for men, 5’ for women. By classical times heights were very slowly on the rise again, but modern Greeks and Turks have still not regained the average height of their distant ancestors.

He continues:

bq. Besides malnutrition, starvation, and epidemic diseases, farming helped bring another curse upon humanity: deep class divisions. Hunter-gatherers have little or no stored food, and no concentrated food sources, like an orchard or a herd of cows: they live off the wild plants and animals they obtain each day. Therefore, there can be no kings, no class of social parasites who grow fat on food seized from others.