Saturday, September 15, 2007

Banner ads

Have you ever bought anything from a banner ad?

I think I click on a banner less than once a year, and then only because I am puzzled by something about it, never with the intention (or the result) to actually buy something.

But banners are still around, and more animated and irritating than ever, so I guess somebody is buying from them. Maybe you?
I wonder if people who actually do mistake banner ads for Windoze messages or games are intelligent enough to buy by credit card?

Black Books

Quick note: English comedy series Black Books is wonderful.

A different note: often I will start with a short post about something, and then add to it several times as the hours (or maybe even days) pass. So if you're interested in a post, it may pay off to scan it later to see if something has been added. (I don't always make a clear "update" note on it, depending on relevance.)

Pandora tailor made radio

Wow, here is something interesting: Pandora.
(Seems to be US and UK only, for the usual licencing/copyright/human-condition BS reasons. Hope they solve it soon.) (It can be circumvented by routing one's web traffic through a proxy
in the U.K., I hear. Anybody know how to?)

The music companies will hate it. Even though, like usual, it probably will be a boon to everybody, like all the past technologies they hated. (Radio included. And these days they pay to have their music played on radio.)

Pandora takes a name of an artist or song you like, and then with a little guidance creates a free online radio station, tailor made for you!

I tested it with something I thought would be obscure, Skinny Puppy. But lo, it handled it perfectly.

The music companies will think that it will discourage people from ever buying music at all. Which might happen with some people. But in fact it's a highly interesting way of finding new bands you may like, and perhaps buy them. For instant, I never heard of Nitzer Ebb before, but it turns out they have many of the qualities I like about Skinny Puppy. And even their third selection, Leather Strip, sounds really interesting.

In fact I've now listened to five or six of their selections, and I like them all. This is spectacular performance, no two ways about it. It's as good as my own iTunes favorites lists...

I wonder how they find similarities? Do they have editors who sit around and attribute qualities to songs and bands? (Update, a little info here.)

... It seems like you can't re-listen to a song you really like. Which, I guess, is consistent with the idea that it is radio, not your own music library. You're s'posed to buy it if you like it. (Update: it seems you can bookmark a song and play it later though. Kewl.) (Second update: no you can't, only a sample. Basically you can't play song you select yourself.)

Here's a strange line from Wiki: "Potential subscribers should be advised that many songs are not the original recorded versions and may sound altered in some manner." Whu? How and why would they alter songs?

I can't believe this is new to me. It just goes to show what it says in The Long Tail: that the world is becoming so complex that we have already lost what you could count on ealier: that if something was big and cool, most other people would know about it too. This is getting increasingly rare. This may be good or bad, but I think mostly good.

Wow, synchronicity (I am getting so much of that these days)... Just as I was writing the paragraph above, the speaker in the video presentation on their site started talking about how the music sold via Pandora is a long way down in the "tail". As he says, "relevance replaces marketing". What you listen to is determined by your taste (and some software), not a DJ or what a music label pays to have played.

Update: wow, the downside to this service is overload. I've now used it for like an hour in total, and already I have four or five bands I "need to check out later". I will never have the time! I already have stuff in iTunes I have bought but never listened to.

I'm impressed by the huge selection they have. They have to get licences for everything, and they have to have a person analyse each song. They even have an info page for each band. I'm trying to imagine what resources they use on all this.

Mustard and ketchup

Nikon camera lineup article.

He compares Nikon and Canon to Hertz and Avis, and to mustard and ketchup.
Love this line:
(Which one is mustard and which one is ketchup? Let's just say they each take turns playing ketchup.)

I agree with him. Surely Nikon can't do without a higher-rez Nikon D3, but even more important to some of us would be a full frame camera which is cheaper, smaller, and lighter, similar to Canon 5D. An amateur photographer, even a keen one, generally don't like carrying a 3-kilo camera around (which is what a D3 and a good lens easily comes to).

See these image quality samples. Wow.

Friday, September 14, 2007

David Lynch

David Lynch talks about creativity.
"I like a story that has some concrete structure, but also holds abstractions."

I agree strongly with that. I have long had that exact approach to pictures.

Another thing he says which I've used myself is that he stresses that all the details are in the original idea if you keep looking at it. Go back to the original concept, and more and more will come to view.

And by the way, when he talks about "bliss" and how it enhances creativity, he talks from an Eastern and a Trancendental Meditation viewpoint, which I don't know much about. But I have strong experiences with a spiritual "stillness place" which is power.
Using that place can give punishment in the form of fear, for the ego does not like it, because it's Universal. But it's a process too, in undoing the ego, I believe.

Ministry - Breathe

Ministry - Breathe
If you like hard rock chekkitout.
Some of the best drum work ever, by two drummers.

I was reminded of this by TTL mentioning this Muppet Show bit with Buddy Rich and Animal.


Hannah reminded me of this classic Muppet bit.
(What is the real title of this song? I have it in iTunes, but I can't remember the dang title.)

And a Sesamstrasse version.

And, ooh, a Sandra Bullock version! (Thanks Alex.)

Broom handles??

Spam is becoming more and more absurd.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ringtones, A Momentary Lapse of Reason

David Pogue says the ringtone market, especially its success, is insane.
"What am I missing here? How is a 30-second, time-limited excerpt worth three times as much as the full work forever? Does this not enter the heads of the people who are paying $5 billion a year?"

He is not alone.
I said: "People pay $2.50 for a ringtone? Are people nuts? What is it with people and their phones?"

And TidBITS said: "Clearly the popularity of ringtones indicates that civilization is nearing its end."

Jeffery blog

Laurie Jeffery has a very active blog about nudism, it turns out.
(It is getting many visitors and comments, but they were wiped out by a design make-over recently. The comments, not the visitors.)
(It seems that if you want bigger images, the RSS feed has them.)

Another future

Cute postcards from 1910. Some are interesting, some are a bit silly. Like this one. How does the plane hover?

Early video chat:

Me and Joe Bob Briggs

I just found a snail-mail letter exchange I had with humorist/journalist Joe Bob Briggs back in... 1992! I had no idea that was on the web. Weird world.

[Apparently my first letter and reply was not archived.]

Dear Joe Bob,
Yes, I'm a genuine Dane. But I like slang, especially American slang. It's, like, totally rad. I like the way it just goes for broke; mows em down, scoops em up; slices and dices em; chops and drops em. Total annihilation, sunk without a trace. I mean, like, no holes barred. Like, go ahead, make my day; may the best man win; take your best shot; a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. Thank you, sir, can I have another?
Is your hometown really called Grapevine?
By the by, I would like to acknowledge you for have a really rare quality, which is the ability to evaluate importances. It's amazing how rare that is--e.g., that actions are more important than thoughts or statements. Or that people are more important than color (whether one way or the other). Even that some popular super-controversial subjects are glaringly insignificant.
Is it true that condom commercials can't get on TV in the U.S.A.? Is that country for real? In Denmark two years ago we had four-meter condoms on commercials on our buses. We also can have nude broads on the front (and regularly on page 9) of the national newspaper with the greatest circulation without anybody getting offended.
Loving regards,
Eolake Stobblehouse
Copenhagen, Denmark

Dear Eolake:
Send me some Danish slang so I can use it in my everyday life. Like "Skoal me, man." Or "Your armpit smells like herring." Anything. - Joe Bob

Like, Dear Joe Bob,
You ask for it, you get it. After many sweaty hours of field work, here is a compiled, concise list of contemporary Danish slang. It turned out not to be easy, for the reason that most Danish conversations seem to be about either the state of the national soccer team (sometimes great, usually lousy), or the I.Q. of Brigitte Nielsen as compared to that of the leader of the Labour Party. (A difficult comparison, unlike the one about who has the greatest breasts. But then she cheated. She went to high school.) I don't like sports, I'm not interested in politics, I don't watch television, listen to the radio, or read newspapers, so you see it isn't easy. (For completeness' sake, I also don't smoke, drink, or date . . . or date anybody known to be a sister of mine.)
To make many excuses few, I had to invent a couple to make it look like a list. I'm not telling which ones.
"Fat Times" (Something you say when getting good news or just in a generally good mood. Means, like, "Golden Years.")
"Respect" (Said in double speed and pitch. A quote from a techno-rock heavy-metal tune. Ministry: The mind is a terrible thing to taste.)
"Don't throw books when living with illiterates . . ."
"It's colder in the country in the winter than in the city in the summer." (An old rural saying used to confuse small children as a warm-up to school.)
"You are talking too much compared to how much you are saying." (Biting retort to people who usually don't understand it.)
"A tomato as big as a balled-up child's head."
"Keep the city clean; walk a Swede to the ferry." (The Swedes can't drink alcohol until they are 21. So they come to Copenhagen.)
"Like cacti in the bed." (About unwanted guests and old lovers.)
"It's like I'm saying, always have said, and say now tearfully . . ." (Girls under 16 shouldn't look like that--or whatever you find sad or noteworthy.)
Thanks is due to my father, God rest his dear, promiscuous soul, for a few of these.
Still hanging in there,
Eolake Stobblehouse
Copenhagen, Denmark

Dear Eolake:
My favorite one is "a tomato as big as a balled-up child's head." That's really sick. I don't expect it from Denmark. Congratulations. - Joe Bob

William Shakespeare

Why are William Shakespeare's works so intensely popular and respected?

Misunderstand me correctly (as my father used to say), they are obviously well written and so on. But normally when an artist is both extremely popular and respected, his works will move me. But these plays don't, particularly. They are good, but I just fail to see how they are that good.

Of course who wrote them is a different matter entirely. I don't see the controversy as being as important as the works themselves. (In The Disappearance Of The Universe it is claimed from above that Elizabeth I forbade Edward De Vere to put his names on these plays, since plays, and particularly comedies, were considered very crude entertainment in those days, and it would sully aristocracy to have an aristocrat publish such stuff.)

In Defense of Nude Celebrities

"In Defense of Nude Celebrities" - MSN article.
"The cure for it, ironically, is to stop caring so darned much about nudity. If it doesn't rile us, then it's not going to be a route to riches. Once that happens, we can turn back the clock, perhaps even to Michelangelo's time, and we can look at a picture of a lovely human specimen and appreciate it for its inherent beauty. It's a sad thing to turn the one thing that's truly ours -- our bodies -- into a source of shame."

Update: I found the picture of Vanessa Hudgens nude, finally. (Man, they must be working hard at keeping it off the web.)
She is beautiful.
And what a totally innocent picture. I tremble to try to imagine how messed up one has to be to be very upset about this.

One has to hand it to Disney, though: at least they did not freak out enough to cancel their projects with her. Well done.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"Leave Britney alone"

"Leave Britney alone". This is a demonstration of how the Net has changed the world, for better and worse. This bizarre, disturbing plea from an androgenous fellah, Chris, is today the number one video on YouTube, and is already after a day making the rounds in the mainstream media.

Update... OK, this is funny, just nine minutes ago, Chris added this video where he says that he "can't think about 9/11 when Britney is going through what she is going through".

We should all have fans like that. On second thought... maybe not.

The broadcast-yourself web is weilding some bizarre results. This little girl is saying "please send me hate mail. I love hate mail. I only got like... none."

By the way, the excellent film Austin Powers 3 had a bunch of high-powered guest stars, and for some reason Mike Meyers had chosen to include Britney Spears. I said then that she was not in the same class or had the same staying power as the others. It seems now that this was correct.

Balmoral Castle and The Queen

This is Balmoral Castle, Queen Elizabeth's summer home. Nice place, maybe I'll get one. I bet the upkeep is a killer though.

I looked it up, because I have just watched movie The Queen, a really nice and interesting movie. (Ooh, I see now it won an Oscar. Well deserved.)

And pretty amazing, the transformation of beautiful Helen Mirren in this film, both physically and psychologically.

When I see movies like this, I can't help but wonder what the people portrayed think of them. Is the story more important than the concern for real people involved? I don't know.

Here's a note to DVD menu designers:
1: Please don't have any music running in the menus, particularly not looping.
2: Please don't insert gratuitous video clips between menus. It does not add anything, and wastes time for the viewer.
3: Please collect all options in as few screens as possible.
4: Please put commentaries under Special Features, where they belong, not under Setup, which is for sound and subtitles settings. It was only because I read elsewhere that this film had a commentary that I found it, and even then it cost me time and irritation to locate it.

ACIM blog

I have not yet formally announced my ACIM blog. There are two reasons for that: 1) it's not so active, and I don't know how active it will turn out to be, overall. 2) it is not for the general public, but for people who are studying A Course In Miracles. Others may be confabbled by unfamiliar terms and assumptions. But anyway, there you are.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Humor is everywhere, in that there's irony in just about anything a human does.
-- Bill Nye

I like this quote because it supports my increasing perception that books and films (or indeed humans) without humor are missing a vital ingredient.


High ISO tip

I have found out that many photographers with digital cameras use the lowest ISO setting (100 or 200).

With some pocket camera this might be wise (they often have noise in the pictures at higher settings), but if you're using a digital SLR (those with exchangeable lenses) you should take some test photos to find the highest ISO (sensitivity) setting you can use without degrading the image.

With many cameras you can use 800 ISO, and this will greatly help you in getting sharp pictures, you can get a deeper depth-of-focus and shorter shutter speeds.

What is this?

My friend Jeff photographed this critter in the North-West USA.
He says: "... from the side it looks like a giant ant but furry and moves very fast, about an inch long, I have only come across two of them while in the forest."

What the heck is that thing? An inch long is very big for an insect in cold climate, but it does not look like a spider. And for sure it's no mamal. What is big and furry like that, if it's not a spider?

This is a pretty amazing shot. (It's a small crop from a big picture.) Jeff had to walk fast just to follow the dang critter! Getting focus right and no motion blur is tough under those circumstances. He took it with a Nikon D40x with a standard zoom.

This second pic shows the head a little better.
I like the abstract shapes in the picture.
And the incredible intensity of the critter's color makes the picture seem like it's been manipulated.

I think we have a winner! (That was fast). Thanks to Magnetic Mary. It seems to be a "velvet ant".
The females are wingless and look like ants, but they are actually wasps! They sting, so don't handle them. (I was not about to!)

Here is a full version (and large) version of this picture, just in case you like it as much as I do. I have it on my desktop now.
Thanks to Jeff, the ole stone guy.


TidBITS has a new design.

Looks a bit "generic news portal" to me, but then admittedly it's tough to design a page with a ton of information and links on it, and still have a nice and unique design.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Seth Godin

Business guru Seth Godin (ideavirus) comments on Apple's iPhone price flub.
Here is Steve Jobs' defense for the move:
"iPhone is a breakthrough product, and we have the chance to 'go for it' this holiday season. iPhone is so far ahead of the competition, and now it will be affordable by even more customers. It benefits both Apple and every iPhone user to get as many new customers as possible in the iPhone 'tent'. We strongly believe the $399 price will help us do just that this holiday season."

Or to put it simpler: "we just lowered the price by 33%. We believe this will help sales."
No! Really?!


I may regret this, but OK, lets have a political thread then.
(Normally you won't find me using the word "thread", for this is not a discussion board, but a blog. :)

When I found out about libertarianism, I couldn't believe there was an actual movement which was that sane. Basically a policy of non-interference, live and let live.

Basic principles shown simply. What is amazing is how unpopular it is. People don't want non-interference, they want to control others.

Coincidentally, I am just now reading the 'government' chapter of the famous book How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World, by Harry Browne. And I must say, it's an eye-opener. Even though I have most of my life been pretty much an anarchist or a libertarian, this teaches me how far that rabbit hole goes. Astounding.
I think the book is out of print, but I recommend finding it, for example on or (often cheaper than amazon.)

Update: One of the things Browne addresses in this book is the question: don't we need a government to protect us from invasion? He points out that you can't subdue a country if there is no government to surrender. If there isn't, you'd have to destroy the whole country, or send men to every single household to subdue it. The second thing can't be done, and the first thing wouldn't be, what would be the point?

Also, don't we need them to protect us from organized crime? Browne speculates how, even if we for some reason imagines that we would not be able to buy at least as good protection for the money we'd save in taxes, then what would happen? And funny enough, the end result of living under organized crime rule ends up sounding an awful lot like what life is like under a government.

TTL said:
["Example in point, current Republican leadership in America."]

Don't confuse them with libertarians (no matter what they say). U.S. goverment has grown more during the republican presidency than it did during the Clinton administration.

Now, of course, the republican party used to stand for those ideals, and there is still one notable republican who does: Ron Paul.

Americans, watch this video and be amazed at what a wise and courageous man you have running for president.

Me and Baretti

I hate mankind, for I think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am.
-- Joseph Baretti

I love mankind, for I think myself one of the worst of them, and I know how great I am.
-- Eolake Stobblehouse

Headlines confusion

I am doing some vague and lazy research to see whether it will soon be time to buy a bigger home, or whether the housing bubble will continue to grow before it bursts. (I am not in a hurry, I am not going to buy a house or big apartment in a ridiculously overpriced market.)

The headlines are no help. Just look below, where I have filtered out the most pertinent headlines from a page of links to articles. Two things are very clear: 1) the housing boom is over. 2) The housing boom continues.

Is it any wonder we're confused?

(Listen to this: "House prices in England and Wales have increased by 9.1% in the year to April, one of the highest annual rises in two years." ... "one of the highest annual rises in two years". Haha.)

I should add that personally I believe that the housing boom is over. But the thing is that I also believed that three years ago, and also had good reason back then.

Nationwide: property prices slowing
Aug 30: House price inflation in the UK last month eased to its lowest level since March amid signs that higher interest rates are having an impact on the property market.

Average house price will 'top £300,000 in five years'
Aug 6: More parents will have to pay for their children's mortgages as the 40% rise is expected to bring more grief for first-time buyers.

UK housing market 'overvalued by 20%'
July 30: The UK's housing market is now the third most overvalued among the world's major economies, a rating agency claimed today.

Halifax: house prices up 11.2%
Aug 2: House prices rose at a faster pace in July than June, the Halifax says this morning, but the underlying pace of growth in the market was easing.

Nationwide says housing boom goes on
June 28: House prices unexpectedly leapt 1.1% in June, the biggest rise since December, the strongest in more than two years.

House price inflation slips below 10%

Housing market 'coming off the boil'
July 16: House price growth slowed during May as the property market showed further signs that it may be losing momentum, government figures revealed today.

Nationwide: house prices to rise 8% in 2007

Interest rates 'beginning to bite'

London drives house price growth
May 30: House prices in England and Wales have increased by 9.1% in the year to April, one of the highest annual rises in two years.

DCLG confirms April house price rise

DCLG reveals cooling house prices
May 14

House prices stronger in March

House price growth tailing off

The boom is over, the price must yet be paid

Britain faces 20-year house boom that will 'split nation'
June 7: Homes for poorest will cost 10 times their income with an imbalance of supply and demand set to be a long-term problem.

First fall in ownership since 1950s
March 27: Home ownership in England fell last year for the first time since the 1950s as rising house prices made it difficult for first-time buyers to enter the market.

The artist and making a living.

An article about being an artist and making a living.

I have put in a comment to it:
I found it to be a relief when I realized that it was not a failure if I did not make my living by painting or photographing. In fact it can remove the strain of having to please many. Like you said, how many professional photographers make their living on actual fine art?
For a life of doing more than one thing, I recommend the books "Refuse to Choose" and "The Renaissance Soul".

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Fly Away Home

An ultralight as Mother Goose.

I recommend the movie Fly Away Home, with a similar theme.


I just watched Roman Holiday, delightful film, with Audrey Hepburn.

Gawd, she was just unbelievably beautiful and vivacious. Enough to make a grown man cry.

Do we have any actresses of that caliber and beauty today?