Archive for January 2005

Google Should Buy Tivo

So it turns out that google is indexing the closed captioning in video.

YAY!!!

Google will be making the dialog searchable, but instead of putting the video itself up, you will get stills and transcripts, which is good enough for what I think is the target audience — bloggers. We want to blog about what Rather and Stewart say. Google is helping this, and they want blogging to increase. People were complaining a while ago about how blogs were over represented in the google index, and that google should do something about it. I think google did do something about it — they thought about why blogs were “over-represented” over commercial sites (they are mainly text, they are frequently updated, and they link to each other a lot). Then they responded by saying “blogs are great!” and buying Blogger. After all, that is what the World Wide Web was supposed to be — Formatted text with hyperlinks to other formatted text, not Flash billboards for sugar water companies and munged newspaper articles behind javascript login scripts.

Now that they are in the video indexing game (again, I repeat, YAY!) they should keep going and fulfill the 2004 rumors of a TiVo buyout. They should keep the indexing just like it is — transcripts and stills (at least until they have a rock-solid bandwidth stream to deliver the video on) and simply put a “TiVo this Episode” link in every one. Tivo online scheduling already has links; it already has a way to link to a search. All they need to do is link the two together.

TiVo wants to start delivering content over the Internet rather than cable stations. Google is getting into indexing video. The two would make a natural partnership, with TiVo’s existing video indexing and video handling being added to google’s search technology and data delivery systems.

Economic Power

Thrasymachus has a posted the following theory:

My new working theory: By embracing the politics of equality, female influence and power has declined drastically. While some few females have been successful in traditionally male environments, the majority have lost out. Females traditionally wield power through social and family networks, the simplification and weakening of such networks tends to be a good measure of female decline. Modern social networks, rather than being inward-looking, are most often outward-looking and goal orientated, a better fit for the male psyche.

“NJ Sue” responded with this comment:

It would be helpful to specify what kind of power you believe women have lost. Are you talking about economic and political power, or emotional and sexual power? For example, one could say that a child has great emotional power over its parents when it is young and dependent, while an adult has little power to influence his parents’ lives or actions. Does that fact make the adult less powerful? Historically, women have exercised affective power over men by appealing to the masculine sense of noblesse oblige. A woman had to get a man to support and protect her, just as a young child needs a parent. This is no longer the case.

I take umbrage in the assumption that economic and political power are mutually exclusive of emotional and sexual power, and the unspoken assumption that they are somehow inferior.

Beyond that, though, the presumption that women are expected to compete toe-to-toe with men in commerce (men who are not going to have to put their careers on hold for some period of time in order to have children) has put many women into unnecessary hardship. The traditional gender roles (ones that I believe are biologically influenced) have been so perverted in the last 40 years that we don’t even seem to have a working knowledge of what they were.

Economically, the gender roles were clear. It was the man’s job to go out and earn the bulk of the income. The woman wasn’t totally dependant, of course — women often had odd jobs, especially ones that coincided with their domestic duties, like laundry, tailoring, or baking. (This was the genesis of the multi-million dollar “Mrs. Baird’s, Inc.” here in Dallas. Mrs. Baird baking bread in her kitchen.) However, one thing was clear: no matter where the money came from, it went into the wife’s hand when it came home.

I think this is the main reason that men went out drinking on payday — he didn’t really know how much his wife was going to let him spend the rest of the week, so it was better to ask forgiveness than permission. Payday was the only day he had his hands on all his money. (I’m sure this had no small effect on the temperance movement.) The wife ran the household, no ifs ands or buts. In our times, this is almost unheard of outside the Hispanic and Asian enclaves of America. You are much more likely to hear about “separate accounts” and his money and her money. The old joke of “What’s her’s is her’s and what’s mine is her’s” was funny then because it was true.

This has been the way of the world, from Cornelia Caesar to Martha Washington to Alice Kramden, and deviating from it has not, in my opinion, served society well. No woman needed to exercise “affective power over men by appealing to the masculine sense of noblesse oblige.” She exercised power over her husband in the area that she was most suited for — managing the household. There if there was no noblesse oblige. He had his job, and she had hers. He turned his pay packet over to her because she demanded it.

Science is Broken




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wrote me with the following email. I’ve posted it with his permission; these are his words, not mine. He really needs to get a blog.

Congratulations to us, science just turned 5.

Jill Goldstein, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, argues that social climates have only recently made such research acceptable.

“When I was growing up, to say there were sex differences in the brain, you weren’t even supposed to talk about it,” said Goldstein. “I think we’re living in a time now when we can look at what some of these differences are without saying they are necessarily deterministic.”

If the differences aren’t always deterministic, why bother looking for them? Goldstein explains, besides satisfying a long curiosity about possible biological explanations for male and female behavior, the research can boost our understanding of sex-specific diseases and possible ways to cure them.

That’s a science question? What’s worse, I can’t tell if it was just from some idiot health writer, or from Miss “we are (might be) old enough to say boys and girls are different now”.

Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers created a maelstrom when he suggested recently that innate differences in sex may explain why fewer women succeed in science and math careers.

He has since apologized for any misunderstanding his remarks may have caused. But is there any truth to the idea that men’s and women’s brains are, in fact, different?

Apologizing? Couched or not, since when does science issue apologies? Since when is a certain area of theory off limits? The last time things were that way, science was issuing apologies to the pope.

I had a linguistics professor once who told us that as long as a certain linguist was alive, there wasn’t going to be an ounce of progress in the field. His personality had dominated for so long that only ideas that fit in the categories he laid out were acceptable and everything else was collectively shunned.

Watching someone attempt to justify researching the differences between men an women (and so bloody delicately) made me sick, and nausea is a common affliction as science is an interest of mine. After reading your High Priests of Science tome, I thought you might be interested.

Money quote:

“Men and women are more the same than different in the brain without a question,” said Forger. “But,” she added, “little differences can go a long way.”

How profound. I suppose we should all just be grateful that it isn’t politically incorrect to study the difference between apes and humans.

–DA

see also:
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/19/education/19harvard.html?oref=login

Robert Byrd

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The NYT is reporting that Washington > Democrats Delay Final Approval of Rice for State Dept.” href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/20/politics/20diplo.html”>Robert Byrd plans to delay the vote on Rice’s confirmation.

Underscoring the Democrats’ dissatisfaction, Senator Robert C. Byrd, an outspoken critic of the decision to go to war, announced late in the day that he would not allow the Senate to approve Ms. Rice without a few days of consideration of her lengthy testimony, and at least a token debate on the floor. His refusal to join in the unanimous consent of all senators for a quick vote effectively torpedoed the administration’s hopes to have her nomination approved Thursday.

“Senator Byrd and others believe that the Senate’s advise-and-consent constitutional responsibilities are not a rubber stamp,” Mr. Byrd’s spokesman said.

Byrd is pictured to the left.

The Phelps Webdesign Manifesto

Eric has an article about Websites that ‘engage other senses’ than sight. I want to make my position on the matter perfectly, absolutely clear.

I do not want the webpages I visit to smell.

I do not want the webpages I visit to make music.

I do not want the webpages I visit to make sounds of any kind.

I do not want the webpages I visit to have dancing pictures.

I do not want the webpages I visit to have dancing text.

I do not want the webpages I visit to have more pictures than text.

I do not want the webpages I visit to specify a typeface.

I do not want the webpages I visit to specify a type size.

I do not want the webpages I visit to feature text rendered to bitmap files.

I do not want the webpages I visit to constantly reload for no bleeding reason.

I do not want the webpages I visit to have non-contrasting backgrounds and text.

I do not want the webpages I visit to have a detailed pattern for a background.

I want the webpages I visit to have lots of easy to read text with clear navigation and markups that convey brilliant and insightful ideas.

I do not want the webpages I visit to reach out and feel me up or spray perfume at me or do anything but give me something to read and respond to.

The Fifth Column

fifth column
n.

A clandestine subversive organization working within a country to further an invading enemy’s military and political aims.

[First applied in 1936 to rebel sympathizers inside Madrid when four columns of rebel troops were attacking that city.]

Blackfive (POL) has published an essay by LTC Tim Ryan titled
Aiding and Abetting the Enemy.

Almost on a daily basis, newspapers, periodicals and airwaves give us negative views about the premises for this war and its progress. It seems that everyone from politicians to pop stars are voicing their unqualified opinions on how things are going. Recently, I saw a Rolling Stone magazine and in bold print on the cover was, “Iraq on Fire; Dispatches from the Lost War.” Now, will someone please tell me who at Rolling Stone or just about any other “news” outlet is qualified to make a determination as to when all is lost and it’s time to throw in the towel? In reality, such flawed reporting serves only to misshape world opinion and bolster the enemy’s position. Each enemy success splashed across the front pages and TV screens of the world not only emboldens them, but increases their ability to recruit more money and followers.

(Read the Whole Thing.)

The media is a part of the war. This is a tactic that has defeated the American military before — Vietnam. Vietnam was not won for the communists in Vietnam. It was won in the airwaves of America. There are two ways to win a war: you can kill so many of the enemy that they can no longer present a military threat, or you can demoralize the enemy enough that he no longer has the political will to fight.

It is the goal of the guerilla to demoralize the enemy. He is unable to kill enough of the enemy to make them cease to be a military threat — that is why he is the guerilla. We are fighting a guerilla force in Iraq, just like in Vietnam.

Vietnam was not won by the Vet Cong or the North Vietnamese Army. Vietnam was surrendered by Walter Cronkite when he convinced the American people that the war was unwinnable. Vietnam was lost when John Kerry convinced Congress that it had no control over the troops. Vietnam was lost when Jane Fonda straddled an anti-aircraft gun like a giant communist phallic symbol.

There is a name for these people. Someone who gives aid to the enemy who is warring with his state is clearly defined. That word is traitor. It is the only crime in our constitution that is explicitly defined, to prevent the definition from being expanded (as the King has been wont to do in history.)

Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

Adhering to their enemies. Giving them aid and comfort. When you tell the American constituency that the enemy will win (true or not) you are adhering to our enemy. When you spread the propaganda of the enemy, you are giving them aid and comfort. Publicity is the lifeblood of a guerilla force. They can survive without ammunition. They can survive without fuel, without technology, all the things a modern army depends on. They cannot survive without publicity, and they get tons of newsprint and hundreds of hours of this sustenance every day in the American media. This is something that they can only get from us. We can starve them to death by simply not feeding them publicity.

Do the American people need to be informed? Yes — by its military and its Executive Branch. I’m done with the mainstream media. Every non-imbedded reporter in Iraq should be considered a suspected enemy collaborator. Your rights to freedom of speech and presumption of innocence end when you step into the war zone. I heard a report today on the radio about a “reporter embedded with the terrorists.” That was about five words too many. The word for that person is terrorist. Someone who observes terrorism without trying to stop it is a conspirator and accomplice.

As Sir John Harrington warned, treason has prospered long enough in America that none dare call it treason. It has prospered because we let it, and it is time for it to end.

Funniest Essay

I concur with Ravenwood: How to fail Freshman English.